Sailing out of a beautiful port as the sun sets and the nightlife kicks off can bring on a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and it seems that several cruise lines have cottoned on to this.
They are now offering more mid-cruise overnight stays in cities and small towns along the waterways, on top of pre- and post-cruise accommodation (in hotels or on the ship) that is included in the overall cruise package.
Scenic’s 14-day South of France itinerary from Lyon to Marseille has no overnight sailings at all – the ships stop at Chalon-sur-Saone, Tournus, Macon, Lyon, Tournon, Viviers, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Avignon, and Tarascon. Its 11-day Unforgettable Douro cruise, round-trip from Porto, also has overnights in Entre-os-Rios, Regua, Vega de Terron, Pinhão and Porto – both cruises are big sellers for Scenic.
U by Uniworld’s itineraries include several overnights in port. Passengers can take guided city walks with destination experts known as U Hosts, who take you out on the town to find fun spots off the beaten track; on the eight-day Northern France at a Glance cruise, for example, they do a bar-hopping trip through Rouen’s historic quarter and in Cologne, on the Rolling on the Rhine itinerary, the “Bottoms up Cologne” tour weaves its way through the bars and cafes of the Rudolf & Brusseler Platz area.
Viking’s and APT’s 13-day Russian river cruises both include three nights each in Moscow and St Petersburg; APT puts its guests up in a luxurious, centrally located hotel for one of the three nights in each city because, a spokesperson says, the ports are about an hour’s drive out of the city centres, so the hotels provide a great base for touring as well as convenient locations for the start and end of the cruise.
Crystal River Cruises’ five ultra-luxury ships feature at least one overnight stay on each cruise, many offering two or three overnight calls; depending on the itinerary, these include Budapest, Vienna, Passau, Amsterdam, Koblenz, Rüdesheim and Cologne.
It’s not always clear from online itineraries – from these and other river cruise lines – whether overnights are offered, so it’s always worth asking the cruise line or your travel agent to clarify. Europe’s historic towns and villages have just as much to offer by night as by day.