Our 5 Best Europe River Cruise Blogs

Our 5 Best Europe River Cruise Blogs

By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert


I have written 47 blogs about Europe River Cruising—this will be number 48.  So, after some refection, I thought I’d provide you what I consider the 5 Best Europe River Cruise Blogs we have written and see if you agree with me that there is value for you to read these blogs, with the goal of helping you to get a better understand of a Europe river cruise vacation and experience.

To organize my thoughts, I thought I would first provide you a little background about how I write and research these blogs, and the goals of the blogs.

I also want tell you about other blogs/websites/books that might prove valuable in your search for accurate information about Europe river cruises.

Next I will provide you my selection of the best blogs we have written.  In my selection process, I decided not to include company specific blogs or food, service or cabin blogs—these are great for more detailed looks at a specific company or aspect of Europe river cruises but not the best overall works about Europe river cruising.  For each blog, I will provide a summary of the blog and then tell you why it matters—and provide a link to the actual blog.

Ready, to learn more?—let’s GO!

How I write and Organize Our River Cruise Blogs

Our blogs, by design, are much more detailed than most other blogs—usually 2000 words or more.  There are two types of blogs we use to help you understand characteristics of Europe river cruises.

In the first type, we try to tell the story of each topic in a way you can see yourself there—can we capture the experience for you? 

While some blogs easily fall into storytelling type of blog, others are designed as informational, data blogs, our second type of blog. This blog is more the informational type blog.

Both have immense value, in my opinion.  Sometimes you just need the data in a form you can understand and make comparisons.  But this alone is not enough—you need to know what you will experience on a Europe river cruise to get the full story.  A key element of the blogs is a clear separation of facts (usually there is a source) and our opinion.  When possible, we use many pictures in each blog to help enhance our descriptions.

As you can see from this blog, we break up our blogs into sub headings to make it easier to understand.  Often, there is quite a bit of research that goes into the content—we try to sift through the overwhelming amount of information and advertising to paint an easily understandable summary of each topic.  Most is first-hand information from our experiences, but some is news or research, or information facts (internet, blogs, books, travel publications, company brochures or other sources) you need to know to become a better traveler.

Our blogs have two goals—the most important is to inform you so you can decide if a Europe river cruise is right for you.  The second, a bit more subtle, is to help you decide if we are the right folks to help plan your river cruise.

6 Good Blog/Website/Book Sources on River Cruising

This section is based on my opinion and Google rankings.  My comments about these sources are based on my knowledge of the Europe river cruise industry and my opinion of their effectiveness describing the vast Europe river cruise topic—they are not designed to be critical.  Also, do not read anything into the order I list them—it is entirely random.

The River Cruise Lady (Linda, a Canadian travel agent)—her website and blog are excellent (ranks # 1 on Google search of river cruise bloggers due to her extensive use of video).  By far, the best vblogger (vblogger is shorthand for video blogger).  Weak on pre/post cruising locations in blogs and website, but her extensive first-hand knowledge of luxury river cruise lines is a huge plus and she may just not publish Europe destination information on her website.  Blog is published sporadically—maybe once a quarter or so.

My copy of the Ultimate River Cruising Guide

My copy of the Ultimate River Cruising Guide

The River Cruise Advisor (Ralph Grizzle, a travel journalist)—has an excellent website, writes short blogs (publishes quite often) and has just recently published a book about river cruising (The Ultimate River Cruising Handbook).  I talked to him for one of my blogs (about food on river cruises) and found him interesting, a little reserved, and much more into bike riding than food and wine.  He has taken over 50 river cruises but all are sponsored (he didn’t pay for the experience—ah, the perks of a well- known travel journalist!).  Fairly objective and tells about the different company lines in a story-telling style.  Very good source.

River Boat Ratings (Richard Turen, editor, and a travel agent)—has an extensive site devoted to river cruising.  He really emphasizes the luxury aspect of river cruising and uses this tag line to describe his site: “The nation’s most respected, consumer oriented, Ad-free website devoted to the World’s top rated river boats.”  The site really points out some of the disadvantages of river cruising and things like low/high water, security issues, over-hyped brochures, and other flaws—sometimes over the top, in my opinion.  He offers his services for a $100.00 fee to match you to the right river boat line (we provide the same service for free).  He also is a highly respected travel agent with a large agency, so his firms can handle your entire booking if desired.  He writes for Travel Weekly magazine and often posts his published river cruise articles on his website.

Cruise Critic (owned by Travelocity) is by far the giant of the internet and their opinions are sometimes pretty good.  More focused on ocean cruising then river cruises.  It does have articles on each individual river cruise company but you have to search through their list of most cruise companies.  Uses forums to allow folks to ask questions.  Very hard to know who writes the articles and responses and their level of experience.

My copy of the Berlitz guide

My copy of the Berlitz guide

Berlitz River Cruising in Europe & the USA (author Douglas Ward)—he claims to be the world’s foremost authority on cruising.  With over 50 years of experience, he is the most objective source about river cruising, in my opinion.  He has rated over 300 different river boats and the guide is updated every year.  I consider him the best overall—he is reasonably objective source on river cruising.

Dream Destinations Blog (author Hank Schrader)—he has been on 16 river cruises, led groups and been traveling to Europe since 1971.  A little biased towards AmaWaterways (he favors, like most of our clients and friends who have been on a river cruise, the first cruise line they sail on in Europe), but defends his opinions with examples and pictures and has a good overall view of Europe river cruising.  Some blogs rank on first page of Google or second or third page.  In 2018, his blog averaged over 360 readers each week.  Tries to publish 40 times or more a year.  Far less known than others cited in this section but has a small, devoted following.  He Has written over 136 blogs (47 on Europe river cruises).. Here is the link to our Blog Archives

Our Top 5 Blogs

Our # 5 Blog—How to Get the Right Europe River Cruise for Your Next Vacation

Orthodox Cathedral in the Iron Gates of the Lower Danube

Orthodox Cathedral in the Iron Gates of the Lower Danube

Summary--Every time we plan a river cruise vacation, in some form or another, we have several steps we go through to get the right match for our clients.  Our goal is to get our clients the best river cruise trip possible, based on what is most important to them.

In broad terms there are really 5 factors we consider.  They are 1) the route (destination); 2) the desired activities during the cruise; 3) what do you want to see during the cruise? (We consider both while on the river and while in port); 4) time available for the vacation; and 5) what company do you want to sail with on your upcoming river cruise?

So, let’s explore these factors together to help you get the best possible river cruise for your next trip.

Why it Matters—after reading this informational blog, you should be able to objectively decide if the 5 factors we use are enough for you to get the right cruise for your vacation.  We believe that better information + understanding the nuances of each company=a great travel experience. 

Did we get it right and help you learn what to ask about during the planning process?

Our # 4 Blog--Are We River Cruise Experts?

Anne and Hank Schrader at the Captain’s Table on an AmaWaterways cruise

Anne and Hank Schrader at the Captain’s Table on an AmaWaterways cruise

Summary--Almost every blog I write starts with the byline—Europe River Cruise Expert.  Great sounding words, but are we really Europe river cruise experts?

According to the 2015 Census, there were 105,085 travel agents in the U.S.  To evaluate what constitutes an expert in the travel industry, I believe there are 6 good measures that can provide a comprehensive and objective evaluation to determine if a travel advisor is truly an expert. 

Here are the measurement factors:  1) experience; 2) certification; 3) knowledge of the industry; 4) first-hand knowledge of the industry; 5) professional organization membership and 6) can you trust them?  We can use these 6 factors to determine the difference between travel advisors and help you decide—what makes us special about our knowledge of river cruises?  How do we use that knowledge to help you get a better river cruise vacation experience?

So, let’s explore what makes a travel advisor a river cruise expert and try to answer the question—Are we Europe river cruise experts?

Why it Matters—it is easy to claim to be an expert, but what backs up that claim?  The real important factor is can we use this expert knowledge and information to help you have a better river cruise experience.  This is clearly an informational blog with one short story added.

After reading this blog, do you agree we have unique qualifications as Europe cruises advisors and can we help you?

Our # 3 Blog—River Cruise Vibes ( I will update this one soon with 2019 River Cruise Comparisons and update on the 8 lines covered in this blog)

Ornate Carriage on display during our Scenic Opal Danube cruise

Ornate Carriage on display during our Scenic Opal Danube cruise

Summary--I have wanted to write this blog for a long time.

Since 2009, I have studied Europe River cruising to try and learn all I could about the river cruise industry. A few industry experts have tried to make comprehensive comparisons of the different lines. Each has a slightly different approach.

We have taken a unique approach by creating a PowerPoint presentation. Our 73 slide 2016 Comparison Guide is very good but even that lacks one factor—the vibe of the line and its ships.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines vibe as “the feeling that someone or something gives you.” So, here goes—my evaluation of the vibe or feeling you will get on 8 river cruise lines.

Why it Matters—there is little information of the company vibes in one place together available to the consumer. This blog goes beyond just facts—it tells the story of each river cruise line.

Did we provide a good summary of each lines feelings?  Will that help you decide on which line best fits your desired vacation experience?

Our # 2 Blog—Why Buy a Europe River Cruise from Us?

A Sun Downers Party on our Scenic cruise

A Sun Downers Party on our Scenic cruise

Summary--There are about 75.000 to 100,000 professional travel agents in business in the United States.  There are also the giants of the internet (Travelocity, Expedia, etc.) and wholesalers (Costco).  You can also buy direct from many travel vendors.  To be sure, you the consumer, have a lot of choices and ways to buy travel.

With the plethora of options, it got me to thinking—Why should you buy a river cruise or for that manner, any travel from us?—from Anne & Hank Schrader, of Visit Dream Destinations, LLC!

I will begin by answering this question by explaining what the Europe River Cruise Trends are and then talk about sellers of travel (travel agents and others).

For sellers of travel, my game plan here is to define our competition first, and then tell you who we are, what we stand for and who are customers are. 

Finally, I will explain why you should buy a river cruise from us.

Why it Matters—you have lots of choices and deciding if we are the right folks to use is critical to your success.  Europe river cruising is a wonderful vacation but is often sold by agents who just don’t know enough about the product to make a good vacation an exception one that exceeds your expectations.  Only 17.5% of travel agents sell river cruises regularly—they report 10% from river cruising (source Cruise Lines International Association). We regularly sell 60-70% of all sales from Europe river cruises.

Did we convince you that we are the right folks to use to plan your Europe river cruise?

Our # 1 Blog—Our New 2018-19 Europe River Cruise Comparisons

Cover Slide of our 2019 River Cruise Comparisons PDF

Cover Slide of our 2019 River Cruise Comparisons PDF

Summary--As many of you know, we have one of the best, in-depth, Europe River Cruise Comparisons available anywhere on our website.  We have updated our 2016 version to provide even more accurate information on the ever changing Europe river cruise scene.

We want to emphasize all of these river cruise lines are good values and special trips.  Many have won awards and there is really no official ranking system to provide you a valid comparison method. 

To help overcome the lack of an official ranking system, we have found that The Berlitz River Cruising in Europe & the USA guide to be as fair an evaluation as presently available to the public.  This book evaluates individual ships in its rating system instead of entire companies, so we have decided to compare the best rivership from each company to determine a ranking system as our method of comparison.

We have also provided our own personal rankings of each line with comments.

So, let’s explore these ranking together, or if you like, just go directly to our full PDF presentation at this link:


Why it Matters—this is an excellent summary—it ranks always on the first page of Google (this is earned—we have never paid to boast anything on the internet).  Getting unbiased information about the various river cruise companies is difficult.  There is no one company that is right for everyone.  We believe we know enough to guide you to the right company that matches your travel style. 

Did we convince you?

My Final Thoughts

It is my sincere hope you agree with us, that we have met our two goals—great useful, information and we are the right folks to help you plan your river cruise.

Now it’s your turn!  What is your favorite river cruise blog?  Please let us know! 

Also, don’t be shy, if we can do something better let us know your thoughts.

When you are spending your hard-earned money for a vacation, especially a pricey Europe river cruise, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip.  You want someone who will understand your expectations and fuel your anticipation (or excitement) to get you the best possible trip experience.  And, you want someone who can help you with the decision making process.  We think we have all these qualities.

Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you!  We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel.  Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at hschrader@dreamdestinations.com.  We want to help you:  Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations!  Your journey begins here!

Hank Schrader of Visit Dream Destinations, LLC

Hank Schrader of Visit Dream Destinations, LLC

HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years.  He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA).  This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years.  He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees.   His other Certifications:

  • AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist

  • Viking River Cruise Specialist

  • Scenic River Cruise Specialist

  • Emerald Waterways  Specialist

  • Avalon Waterways Specialist

  • Brit Agent