Fave Five River Cruise Shore Excursions

Cruise Editor Marilyn Green reveals her five favorite European river cruise shore excursions By: Marilyn Green
Tauck offers an "Imperial Evening" in Vienna that includes dinner and performances at a private palace, Palais Pallavicini, which dates backto 1784....
Tauck offers an "Imperial Evening" in Vienna that includes dinner and performances at a private palace, Palais Pallavicini, which dates backto 1784. // (c) 2010 Tauck

For passengers, river cruising develops a love affair with whatever region you travel to, but the shore excursions, both included and optional, take clients farther into the countryside and deeper into the culture. Among the greatest are my following favorites.

Mount Pilatus With Amawaterways
Amawaterways’ tour and cable car ride to the top of soaring Mount Pilatus, named for Pontius Pilate, who legend says rises from the glacial waters to wash his hands again every Good Friday, is one of my favorites. The mountain overlooks Lucerne, Switzerland. This shore excursion is part of the line’s Enchanting Rhine river cruise from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Basel, Switzerland. The views are spectacular, depicting a separate world of the Alps, and there is a large restaurant at the top with a patio and walking paths. The descent is a thriller via the world’s steepest cogwheel train.

Wine Tasting With Avalon Waterways
Avalon Waterways’ Vinothek Wine Tasting in Bernkastel, Germany, takes place in one of the most charming wine villages along the Moselle River, known for its excellent Moselle vintages. Guests are treated to an open wine tasting at the Vinothek, a specialized store for wine tasting, where they can also view more than 120 wines that are on display in its underground cellars. After a brief introduction, Avalon passengers are provided with soft pretzels for palate cleansing and wine glasses, and they are free to wander throughout the cellar, helping themselves to local wines. Since it is only a short walk back to the ship, wine enthusiasts can linger for as long as they like. The experience is included on the Windmills, Vineyards and Paris itinerary.

An Imperial Evening With Tauck
Tauck’s Imperial Evening in Vienna, Austria, is offered on several European river cruises and includes dinner and performances at a private palace, Palais Pallavicini, which dates back to 1784. This was the former headquarters of the famous dance school, Tanzschule Elmayer, which was responsible for the choreography of the Vienna Opera Ball for years, and it is recognizable as the house where Harry Lime lived in the film classic “The Third Man.” Guests are greeted with champagne, followed by dinner. Throughout the evening, they are also treated to a variety of period pieces (music, dance and opera) performed in full period dress. It is fun and elegant, without being stuffy.

Dracula’s Castle With Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
I really enjoy Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s visit to Bran’s castle, a fortress and a national monument in Romania, sailing from Bucharest, Romania, on the Eastern Europe Explorer. Located on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, it is known as Dracula’s Castle, associated with Vlad Tepes and his raids into Transylvania during the time he ruled Wallachia, which was during the mid-1400s. By all accounts, “Vlad the Impaler,” as he was known, was a far more horrible figure than the traditional vampire, Dracula, and the picturesque castle has atmosphere galore.

Art With Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises’ Paris & the Heart of Normandy itinerary, which sails roundtrip from Paris, allows guests to have the opportunity to create their own works of art in the world of Impressionism by taking painting classes. Classes are held among the cobbled streets of Vernon, along the banks of the Seine, just a little more than three miles from Claude Monet’s home in Giverny. In this shore excursion, passengers participate in a tradition that dates from 1886, when the area first began attracting American artists.

Adventure Travel JDS Africa Middle East JDS Destinations