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Hi Tammy, Cheri and Bety:

We are thinking about taking a trip to Europe to do some river cruising exploration. Do you have any suggestions for us?

Sincerely,

The Cruisers, Sun Lakes, AZ

Dear the Cruisers:

The rivers and canals of Europe are open for travel. As many as 20,000 total miles of inland waterways let travelers absorb European culture at a relaxed, leisurely and up-close pace. Traveling by river is one of the best ways to venture out and take in the heart of the continent.

A traveler can journey Europe’s waterways in a variety of ways. Popular itineraries include the Danube visiting Hungary, Austria and Germany and the Elbe River through Germany and the Czech Republic. In France, the Rhone and the Soane meander through Provence and Burgundy, while the Seine takes passengers through Paris and Giverny. In Northern Italy, the Po offers exciting opportunities with a variety of river cruise companies. Finally, the Volga, connecting St. Petersburg and Moscow provides a decidedly different way to port between these two magnificent cities. River cruises tend to be affairs of luxury, with an emphasis on informal, but upscale travel. Relaxation and intensive sightseeing are the main activities, as organized entertainment is somewhat limited on most river cruises, except for the occasional lecture or sing-along.

Cabins on larger river vessels vary in size from 90 square feet on older ships to over 200 square feet on newer. Most rooms are outside cabins, meaning they have windows for optimal sightseeing. Cabins come with basic amenities, such as hair dryers and televisions and are often very nicely furnished. The larger river cruise vessels have telephones and even Internet service.

Many first time river cruisers are delighted to discover that, unlike ocean cruising, there is very little boat motion. The mandated slow speeds and flat waters of the rivers ensure a quiet, placid voyage. It is often difficult when not on deck to even know the vessel is underway!

Meals have always been a special part of cruising and river cruises have maintained that tradition. On river cruise vessels, food is a key part of the experience, prepared by a dedicated chef, the ship’s captain, or a restaurateur in a small village. Europeans take great pride in their culinary skills and practically everyone who has ever cruised along the rivers and canals of Europe has at least one story about an unforgettable meal or food experience.

The peak season for river cruising is much the same as European travel in general, late spring through mid-fall and early November. The shoulder season, a real value, ranges from early March through mid-May.

Europe and its waterways await you!

If you have a travel question or problem you would like to submit please contact Tammy Sikorski, Cheri Sigurdson or Bety Dar at El Sol Travel-located at 10325 E. Riggs Road, Suite 105, Sun Lakes, AZ 85248. Call 480-895-9362, or e-mail [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected] View our website at www.elsolvacations.net.