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With the spread of cruising in Asia and South America, the river cruise season never stops —there is simply no month where a river cruise in China, Asia, Europe or the Americas can’t be found. But the vast majority of river cruisers are still choosing Europe, and it may come as a surprise how broad the offerings are in the early months of 2015. Sure, spring may evoke tulip-themed cruises to Belgium and Holland, but there is far more available for the traveler who wants to cruise the rivers of Europe.
Spring temperatures have never discouraged cruisers headed for the tulips of Holland, and temperatures in Paris and Prague run about the same as those in Amsterdam, with average highs around 45 degrees and into the 50s in March. Porto, Portugal — the gateway port to the Douro — averages around 50 degrees, and Budapest peaks in the 50s to low 70s in March.
The advantages of sailing early are clear: Agents say one of the barriers to selling river cruises to seagoing travelers is that they are booked up so far ahead, but there is typically some availability on the early sailings.
In addition, travelers are encountering the residents of the cities and towns they visit, not other tourists. Airfares are much lower, and the cruise lines offer some very attractive discounts, including two-for-one fares. Major sights are uncrowded, and normal cultural events and festivals are in full swing.
As one early spring cruiser in Germany said, “You give up the swimming pool and get the destination.”