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River lines are experimenting with shorter cruises – three to seven day itineraries – to tempt passengers who are new to cruise and those who want to mix a river cruise with other holidays.

You will be able to enjoy the scenery and bask in European culture without having to stay too long on the ship. It is the perfect holiday for families with small children, an add-on to an existing trip or for those who simply want a quick getaway.

Here is our pick of the best six short river cruises.

Avalon Waterways

Avalon has a range of short cruises of less than eight days for guests looking for a short break with limited time. You can take a four-day cruise from Budapest to Vienna on the Danube River cruising through Austria and Slovakia. Board your ship, at Budapest, often called the Pearl of the Danube and glide through the middle of the two countries for a 58 mile stretch at the centre of the Danube. You will pass through the picturesque Wachau Valley, stopping at Bratislava, Melk and Vienna.

At Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, you will visit the gothic St Martin Cathedral and you can also go underground crypt to visit the catacombs of significant historic figures. In Melk, you will be taken for a guided tour of the Benedictine Abbey.

The ship, Avalon Envision is the newest addition to the line’s suite fleet with panorama suites featuring wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows that transforms your living area into a unique open-air balcony. The ship has a fitness centre, an adventure centre for bikes and active gear and a club lounge serving 24-hour beverages. Departs 10 July 2020 with prices starting from $1,099 per person.

Crystal River Cruises

Crystal River Cruises has also added short journeys to its European river offerings. There are now four to six day sailings on Crystal Mahler and Crystal Mozart, two of the luxurious ships in Europe, which can be added to an exiting European holiday. The cruises are shortened versions of the line’s 10-day trips which are being used as samplers. Crystal Mahler can only accommodate 106 guests and offers an all-suite and butler service itineraries in Europe.

The ship has a six-night cruise on the Danube from Vienna to Budapest departing on 13 September 2020 with fares starting from $5,049 per person. Passengers will sail the magnificent Danube to visit the Wachau Valley and discover treasures such as the Benedictine Abbey perched on top the city of Melk and visit St Martin’s Church in Bratislava. The itinerary include visits to Durnstein, Melk, Linz, Krems, Bratislava and Budapest.

Crystal Mozart

Riviera Travel

Riviera Travel has a four-night cruise onboard MS Oscar Wilde for solo travellers departing Amsterdam on 30 March 2020. The itinerary will visit Enkhuizen, Rotterdam/Kinderdijk and Keukenhof before arriving back at Amsterdam.

The 169-passenger ship include excursions, many with a packed lunch. Passengers will visit the stunning windmills at Kinderdijk, explore Ijsselmeer, see the tulip bulb fields in the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens where seven million blooms are on display and tour vibrant Amsterdam. Prices start from $2289pp with no single supplement.


Riviera Travel, France


CroisiEurope Cruises has a four-day Christmas cruise on the romantic Rhine departing Strasbourg on 23 December this year, visiting Rudeshiem, Boppard, Mainz and Strasbourg. The cruise onboard MS Leonard de Vinci will call at the famous Christmas market of Strasbourg, one of the biggest in Europe, where passengers can revel and immerse themselves in the festive celebrations of Yuletide. They will also attend a midnight Christmas Mass in Boppard and discover the traditional cities of Rudesheim and Mainz. There will a gala dinner onboard the ship on Christmas Day. Prices start from $1,129 pp

CroisiEurope: Singles


German river line, A-Rosa also has a four-night Christmas cruise on the Danube departing Passau on 23 December this year and calling at Vienna and Melk before arriving back at Passau. Passengers have a choice of two ships, A-Rosa Bella and A-Rosa Donna with prices starting from $1,134 pp. Passengers can forget the stress of Christmas and concentrate on enjoying themselves cruising the Wachau valley decked in a white frost, attend mass in St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, visit Melk Abbey and the old post office which is considered the most beautiful in the country.

A-Rosa Mia


In Asia, Pandaw has a three-night cruise from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap where you can combine visiting Cambodia’s bustling capital city of Phnom Penh to the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Prices start from $1,699 pp (US$1,156) onboard the 48-passenger RV Mekong Pandaw.  Passengers will sail up the Mekong and Tonle River to visit Koh Okhna Tey, also known as the Silk Island where they will be able to see a demonstration of the ancient Khmer martial art of Bokator. The next day, they will greet the sunrise at Wat Hanchey and visit 8th century structures, some of which have been destroyed by American bombings during the Vietnam War. The area is known for its bizarre fruit and animal statues. The ship will cruise downstream to Kampong Cham and call at the local Chiro Village before sailing downstream to Siem Reap.

Onboard a Pandaw ship on the Mekong

Onboard a Pandaw ship on the Mekong