What to expect

River cruising is an exhilarating and relaxing way to visit and discover magnificent destinations. The main things to expect on a European river cruise are comfortable accommodations, good food and fine dining, sightseeing and leisure pursuits, cruising, and professional service, taking into consideration variations due to level of comfort and quantity of passengers.

Accommodation (Staterooms/Cabins)

River Ships

Though generally smaller than hotel rooms, river ship staterooms are comfortable singles or doubles, with en suite bathrooms. Usually the staterooms are outside cabins, meaning that they face the water, though some ships have a few inside cabins as well. There is usually a selection of suites and rooms with balconies available upon request, for a higher price. Air-conditioning and heating are standard in passenger areas. Typically the staterooms have a window (which may or may not open) and may be equipped with TV, minibar, and Internet access.

Barge Cabins

Similarly to staterooms on a river ship, barge cabins are smaller than hotel rooms, relative to the space available, yet comfortable and functional. The singles or doubles often have hotel beds that can be put together as a king or kept separate as twins, especially on more recently-refurbished barges. The décor usually reflects the region and the cabins include en suite bathrooms, with modern and effective showers. All cabins are outside cabins, meaning that they face the outside of the barge and will have a window or two, usually quite small, which may or may not open for safety reasons.


The cuisine is an important part of the journey and river cruises are known for delivering pleasurable dining experiences with gastronomical delights simple or gourmet enough to please any taste and tantalize even the most discerning of tastes.

River Ship Cuisine

One of the most important and often remarkable things about cruising is the food. The cuisine can vary from basic buffet to elegant gourmet, depending on the river ship, but in general it is delicious. When it comes to food, this is where you get what you pay for in terms of quality and excellence. Gourmet choices are generally available on more luxurious cruises, catering to fewer passengers, and immaculately prepared with choice, fresh ingredients. The food on less expensive cruises may be prepared from frozen or pre-prepared or packaged products. The chefs on river ships make sure to have international choices available and prepare food to appeal to a variety of different nationalities. Generally speaking, they will also make an effort to prepare some dishes in the style of the region, including local specialties. As wine is an important accompaniment, there is usually quite a nice selection of local, regional, and international wines available to complement your meal choices and a wine specialist available to assist you should you require. The ships typically have one main restaurant, but snacks or high tea may be served outside of mealtimes at the bar or in the lounge. Certainly you will never go hungry on a cruise!

Barge Cuisine

The culinary experience on a barge is typically the crowning glory of the cruise. Chefs are chosen for their skill and mastery in the kitchen and each meal is a gastronomic delight. Breakfasts are buffet-style, with juice and your choice of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. In addition to the typical fresh-baked and freshly delivered pastries and bread, eggs or omelettes can be available upon request. Lunches are usually served buffet-style as well, with a delectable variety of starters, main courses, salads, and desserts. Dinner is a sit-down affair and usually consists of four or five course meals. Naturally, wine is a highlight, especially on barge cruises in France, and companies often feature two at lunch and dinner, one white and one red, with the exception of meals and regions, where a typical rosé might be the perfect accompaniment. Cheese is also a staple, especially in France where there are more than 400 varieties, and are served after the main course or can be chosen in lieu of dessert. At the end of a week, passengers will have typically tasted upwards of 20 to 30 different wines and cheeses.