Three favorite trips with river views 🌉

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community! Some of you may have noticed that last week’s newsletter finally went out on Friday. Chalk that delay up to tech troubles that also took down the website. I’m grateful to have found a fantastic tech specialist who fixed all the issues in an hour this weekend, thanks to the referral of a trusted colleague. Sometimes it does take a village, and our communities, like this one, show their value in times of difficulty.

Continuing with ‘wet February’ as announced in last week’s newsletter, I’m excited to tease that I will be in Europe this March in the Netherlands attending a River Cruise Expo for the second year in a row. What I love about this conference is that I stay overnight on the ships, eat the food they serve to clients, experience shore excursions, tour the ships and staterooms, and meet key staff. Basically, it’s an immersive experience resulting in my expertise for Hidden Gem Travel clients interested in river cruising.

Read on for the scoop on river cruising with more to come after my Expo attendance with the latest updates…

Favorite Experiences

River cruises compare in rather sharp contrast to ocean cruises, last week’s newsletter topic, because the ships are small (100 passengers on average), the water is calm, and you’re never far from shore. In fact, it’s always in sight! And like ocean cruises, you can visit multiple countries in Europe on a river cruise and also see the world with sailings in Asia, South America, Africa, and other exotic destinations.

I’ve been on a few European river cruises, each on a different river cruise line, and I can attest to the fact that it’s like a floating boutique hotel with the convenience of unpacking once. What’s also appealing is that you can choose from a variety of shore excursions or DIY your time in port, similar to ocean cruising. Many river cruise lines include a choice of shore excursion in the overall price and a few make it an add-on.

Three favorite experiences that I’ve had on a river cruise are:

  • Sailing around the Venice (Italy) canal and islands taking in the beautiful scenery while sipping an Aperol Spritz.
  • Docking in walking distance to Regensburg, Germany and strolling the festive Christmas markets in the gentle falling snow.
  • Standing on the ship deck as we sailed past the majestic Parliament building in Budapest before docking close by in the heart of the city.

These ships all docked in walking distance to the main area of these cities allowing me to leave or return to the ship at any time.

Did you know that most river cruise lines have bicycles onboard allowing you to bike into town if you don’t want to walk?

River Cruising Year Round

If we focus on Europe, it’s true that you can enjoy a river cruise most months of the year. While ships are typically ‘resting’ in January and February, the season runs mid-March to December. Here are a few ideas by season:

Winter – Christmas Markets (Europe)

Spring – Tulip Time (Netherlands and Belgium)

Summer – The AmaMagna, which sails the Danube and is the largest river cruise ship to date, has a pool, pickleball court and even offers golf-themed river cruises.

Fall – Wine in France often with an onboard wine expert; barge cruising is also a fantastic option for a very small group.

Whether you’re a couple, family with kids 10+ year old, or a group of friends (looking at you wine lovers), there’s a river cruise for you!

💎Hidden Gem Tip:  I’ve been toying with the idea of putting together a small group on an upcoming river cruise, so if you’re interested in joining in, email me back to get put on the list.

Premium to Luxury

River cruise experiences fall between premium to luxury travel experiences. Some are almost all-inclusive and others are more a la carte. Whichever you choose, a river cruise is a fantastic value for an international vacation (or US vacation too, believe it or not). Having a travel professional like me at your service with an expertise in river cruising will help you to find the right cruise line and itinerary for you.

Clients of Hidden Gem Travel get special perks on many rivers cruise itineraries. Message me to learn more about everything river cruising.

Inspired? Reach out to me now to get your questions answered and begin the planning process.

Wishing you amazing travel adventures,


NEW Section: Travel News You Can Use

💎 Hidden Gem Tip:  Water Levels & River Cruises

The level of water in a river can fluctuate, from low to high, depending on weather conditions and seasons.  The good news is river cruise companies anticipate both scenarios and have back up plans so they can stick as closely as possible to the original itinerary.  

I recommend approaching your river cruise with an open mind which will allow you to roll with any unforeseen changes.  Actually, this applies to every vacation type.  While seamless travel is always the goal, things can happen over which we have zero control.  My personal attitude is, “it’s all good… I’m on vacation!!” 

That said, by working with Hidden Gem Travel, you have an additional level of support to help you navigate anything unexpected when you need it.  


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Make your own Wanderlist for 2024! As a reminder, Wanderlist is an online portal where you can research, explore, and create shareable lists of destinations and experiences. Share your list with me so I can make it happen for you. Check it out here:  

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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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