Top four best river cruise lines for port excursions
Whether you’re cruising the Danube, the Rhone or the Mekong rivers, port excursions can make or break your trip. We’ve rounded up a selection of the best river cruise lines for port excursions, based on our river cruises survey.
Taking a full or half day at a time, it’s vital you choose an itinerary full of stop-offs that suit you. Port excursions may only be a whistle-stop tour of a city or only take in a historic building, so if there’s a particular place you have your heart set on visiting that’s not included you may be better off going it alone.
The table below contains the highest-scoring brands, rated by cruise fans for offering all-inclusive ease or a variety of options at each port.
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Five things to consider when choosing your river cruise line
Looking to book your next river cruise? Here are five things to consider:
1. Port excursions
These will form a big part of your trip, so ensure you’ll actually enjoy the excursions set out on the itinerary. If you’re on a budget or you want a bespoke itinerary, consider booking a cheaper cruise line, and picking and choosing from the paid excursions it’ll have on offer. Alternatively, book with a land-based tour company.
2. Book well in advance
You’ll find the best prices by booking early. Unlike flights, last-minute deals are rarely found on river ships, so if you find a cruise that you like the look of, book it to avoid disappointment – we’ve seen savings of up to £200pp by booking in advance. And make sure you have travel insurance in place from the moment you book.
3. Check what's included in the price
Some cruise lines offer an ‘all-inclusive’ experience, where onboard facilities, food, drink and all excursions are included in the price. However, you may still have to pay extra for port taxes, tipping the crew, or premium drinks, so triple-check you know what’s included in the final quote.
4. Drinks packages
It may be tempting to purchase an all-inclusive drinks package but most passengers tell us that they struggle to get good value for money with this add-on, especially as you’ll have to purchase a package for everyone travelling in your group. For most, it’ll probably be better to pay as you go, but it’s worth doing the sums to see if you’ll consume enough to justify buying a drinks package.
5. Travel off season
If you want to avoid the crowds or are on a tighter budget, plump for an April or an October cruise, when the weather will still be fair. Popular tourist attractions will be quieter and prices will be lower. If you’re a family, you won’t be able to avoid school holidays, but look out for cruise lines that cater for children, such as CroisiEurope, where kids under 16 often go free.