(BPT) - Europe is a popular destination for international travelers looking to visit the world's great capitals such as Paris, Amsterdam and Prague; to experience European culture; and to explore charming small towns. But planning a European trip can be daunting because it involves a lot of research to decide where to go, how to get there, and what to see. River cruising offers an excellent solution to this travel challenge for these reasons:
* See Europe's great cities: Many of Europe's greatest cities such as Budapest, Paris, Vienna and Prague developed along the rivers because of the easy means of transportation and trade, as well as access to fresh water. That's why river cruises can easily access so many of Europe's cosmopolitan cities, and even quaint towns and villages which developed along the river banks. Sleek, intimate ships hosting only about 200 passengers are much smaller than ocean cruise ships, and often can dock right in the heart of town so passengers can walk right off and start exploring.
* Immerse in the culture: In addition to being able to explore a new city each day of the cruise, river cruising allows travelers to develop a deep understanding of the cultures they explore. For example, Viking Cruises - the largest river cruise line - has launched 10 new river cruise ships this year alone and includes a 'Cultural Curriculum' on all itineraries. This Culture Curriculum offers passengers language lessons, demonstrations of regional cooking and crafts, visits to local marketplaces and privileged access to cultural treasures. Whether privately touring the ancestral home of Prague's Prince Lobkowicz, or providing guided tours with the best English-speaking local guides, Viking Cruises offers many ways to get up close with local culture on their cruises.
* Explore alone or with a knowledgeable guide: River cruise travelers have the option to explore destinations on their own or with a local guide on a group tour. This flexibility gives passengers a chance to experience the local culture as they wish. For travelers with specific interests, Viking Cruises offers a complimentary concierge to help connect travelers with local treasures like a decadent chocolatier or reservations at local restaurants.
* Pack and unpack just once but see multiple destinations: River cruising gives passengers the freedom to travel without the hassle of changing hotels, packing and unpacking multiple times, or finding transportation. These smooth-sailing cruises are the fastest-growing travel segment also because the views along the river are ever-changing, providing a relaxing and highly scenic way to travel, and there's never any seasickness as can happen on an ocean cruise.
Because river cruising creates so many opportunities to visit different destinations on a relaxing, scenic vacation, it's easy to understand why these cruises are growing in popularity. Start planning your river cruise today and begin daydreaming about all the sites you're going to see and different cultures you can experience.