FAQs About Europe River Cruise Trips
Helpful answers to frequently asked questions about our new River Cruise Trips including: lodging, meals, itineraries and activities, support and more.
We sail on AmaWaterways ships, which have received numerous awards and are consistent with the level of comfort and service expected on a Backroads trip. The ships vary in size based on the destination and departure date. Our ships and staterooms are some of the best on the river, but they're not nearly as spacious as traditional hotels. Although the same high level of service is offered on all trips, amenities—like pools, common spaces and furnishings—may differ among ships. Depending on availability, you can choose among several stateroom options, which vary in price based on size and location. Please refer to the Lodging tab on your trip's Backroads webpage or contact your Trip Consultant for details.
Please refer to the Dates & Prices tab for each itinerary or contact your Trip Consultant to see which ship is going to be used on a particular departure. On the Dates & Prices tab you'll also find information about stateroom category availability, floor plans and amenities: Danube Cycling Sensation (Vilshofen to Budapest), Danube Wheels & Waterways (Budapest to Vilshofen), Danube Pedals & Ports (Nuremberg to Budapest), Danube Cobblestones & Countryside, Rhine Basel to Amsterdam, Rhine Amsterdam to Basel, Seine, Douro and Mekong.
Each ship offers massage service, a hairdresser, laundry service and a small gym. Some ships have a small pool while others have a whirlpool.
Local river authorities allocate docking space based on ship arrivals and departures. Typically, river ships dock facing upstream. Port conditions require ships to tie up alongside each other, in which case you may be required to walk through another ship to access our ship. This is a perfectly normal part of the experience due to the popularity of river cruising. You may experience obstructed views from your stateroom when the ship is double-docked.
When selecting a stateroom you may wonder whether you should pick port or starboard for better views. During cruising time, both sides have equal appeal. While docked, note that due to potential Double Docking, it is impossible to predict whether a starboard or port stateroom may face another ship.
Just like any hotel, we'll be sharing the ship with other guests (unless it's a Backroads full charter departure). Depending on the ship being used on your trip, there may be 70 to 130 other guests on board. Backroads takes you away from the group as much as possible but while on the ship, we are among the other AmaWaterways guests. While this is similar to many hotels we use, at times there will be public announcements, other group talks and activities that may not pertain to us.
Stateroom bedding options are either one large bed (larger than queen size) or two twin beds.
The staterooms are not set up to provide a third or rollaway bed. On select ships there is an option to turn an armchair into a third bed suitable for a smaller child, as well as a limited number of adjoining rooms.
We offer Family and Breakaway Trips on the Danube with a Backroads recommended minimum age of 9 years. AmaWaterways requires children on any ship to be at least 4 years old. Children under 18 years of age are required to have an adult in their room.
Complimentary wireless internet is available on the ship, although the connection may be slower than ideal or temporarily unavailable depending on the ship's location, particularly in unpopulated areas and around locks. If you are depending on internet access, we suggest you bring your own mi-fi for more dependable access.
Electricity on board all ships in Europe is 220V, with two-pin European-style power outlets. You will need an adapter and/or converter depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you.
Commonly asked questions about river cruising with AmaWaterways are answered on AmaWaterways' FAQ page. There you will find information on amenities, dress code, food, dietary restrictions, internet, etc.
Throughout the trip, there will be a combination of on-ship dining in an intimate Chef's Table restaurant, at Backroads group tables in the ship's main restaurant, at-your-leisure dining on board the ship and often an opportunity to enjoy local cuisine on your own in port. The on-ship dining experience will be complemented by some off-ship lunches and picnics that more fully immerse you in the local culture and cuisine.
Wine and beer are included during on-ship lunches and dinners, and there is no corkage fee for bringing your favorite local wine to on-ship meals. Cocktails and premium wines are available for a cost and can be charged to your credit card.
The leaders will dine with guests most nights, and there will be dinners and lunches when you may eat at your leisure.
Backroads itineraries and activities
Our experience since launching our River Cruise Trips has shown that the itineraries remain relatively consistent, allowing us to show you the highlights of the region even when schedules vary a bit. However, each river has its own unique temperament and for centuries water levels have shifted due to rain, temperature and agriculture. High water levels may mean the ship cannot pass under a bridge, low water levels result in slower sailing, and a disabled lock can also lead to some extra cruising time. Should any unforeseen change happen during your river cruise, we will work closely with AmaWaterways' captain and staff, who are very experienced in going with the flow. If you book your river cruise far in advance, it is possible that the river authorities may change the sailing schedule—we will inform you should those changes result in a significantly different trip experience.
Our daily itinerary is based on scheduled sailing and port arrival times and, as a result, some days have more opportunities for exploring on land while other days have more sailing time. On some rivers, the majority of sailing happens overnight so you'll arrive at the next port in the morning ready to bike or hike.
On itineraries traveling against the current (upriver) you will enjoy more cruising time. On downriver trips, you will have more time on land.
Yes, multiple supported route options are offered each day as on any other Backroads trip. The only exceptions are during guided city bike or walking tours, where typically only one route is offered. As with all Backroads trips, you are welcome to opt out of the planned activities and choose your own adventure as long as you're back on ship on time.
We have created routes that avoid traffic, emphasize scenery and give you access to the regions' off-the-beaten track highlights. In some cases, this means cycling on bike paths in the countryside as well as when we leave and re-enter cities.
Yes. All types of bike upgrades are available except on the Douro River, where tandems are not recommended due to steeper downhill and uphill sections.
Yes. Depending on the river and itinerary, there are days during which you may ride from port to port and even from country to country. The quickest way to find out which is the best trip for your interests is to have a brief chat with a Trip Consultant by calling 800-462-2848 or 510-527-1555. They're available daily from 6 am to 6 pm Pacific time.
Yes. You are welcome to skip biking or hiking and join one of the ship's excursions that day. Note that a few excursions require advance registration or are at an additional cost, so be sure to connect with the onboard AmaWaterways Cruise Manager.
The number of Backroads leaders depends on the group size to maintain high a level of support during biking, walking & hiking, and other activities. There will be at least three leaders on trips up to 20 guests; four leaders on trips up to 30 guests; and correspondingly more leaders and vans on larger departures. Due to the unique nature of our active River Cruise trips, we welcome more guests on each departure than on our land-based trips, which are limited to 20 guests for Walking & Hiking and 26 guests for Biking and Multi-Adventure trips. This allows us to create our own robust active community with that special Backroads camaraderie during our week-long journey. Sometimes walkers and bikers—and occasionally families—will travel aboard the same ship, but participate in separate activities with their own dedicated leaders. With our usual choice of fantastic route options each day, rest assured that you'll have plenty of like-minded travelers with whom to ride, hike or enjoy cultural interests. Our unique logistics model—which includes both onboard and onshore Backroads staff, plus additional leaders and vans—allows for meals and shore activities to be organized into smaller groups, ensuring the same unparalleled support and service as on any other Backroads trip.
One or two leaders will typically stay on the ship overnight and during daytime cruising while other leaders move bikes and equipment to the next port, and prepare for your arrival on shore each day.
No. To maximize your riding time, the bikes will be moved to the next port by our leader team and staged upon the ship's arrival. You get to show up and ride!
The ship departs promptly from each port in accordance with its sailing schedule, barring unforeseen river flow issues. Wallet-sized Safety Cards containing important contact information for the ship and your Cruise Manager are handed out prior to every shore excursion and will be collected upon your return. The ship is unable to delay departure for guests who may not be on board. If you miss the ship while participating in a Backroads activity, your leaders will assist you with rejoining the ship at the next port. If you miss the ship for any other reason, your leaders can assist you in finding transportation or lodging, but neither Backroads nor AmaWaterways is liable for any costs incurred if you miss the ship's departure.
Europe's inland waterways are nearly always calm and seasickness is very unlikely. Additionally, you have the opportunity to put your feet on land at least once a day. The ship may moor overnight on some or all nights during the cruise, depending on the itinerary. If you do get seasick or have a medical emergency, medical assistance can easily be obtained from shore.
Yes. For trip-specific information about arriving late and leaving early, speak to a Backroads Trip Consultant or see the Travel Planner. You may join or leave the trip at any scheduled port and would be responsible for the costs of land transportation. Your Backroads Trip Leaders and the AmaWaterways Cruise Manager will be able to help make arrangements.
Biking and Walking & Hiking trips on the same ship
In 2016, a select few Danube departures will share a ship between a Biking Trip and a Walking & Hiking Trip. This allows you to travel with companions who are interested in either biking or hiking. In 2017, this also applies to some Danube and Douro River trip departures.
Yes. On departures where Danube Biking Trips and Danube Walking & Hiking Trips share the same ship, you may both sign up for the separate trips and still be booked into the same stateroom. Note that you might only see each other in the mornings and evenings, as well as during cruising time, since the biking and hiking activities will differ during the day.
Yes. For each Biking and Walking & Hiking Trip there will be a dedicated team of leaders.
No. To maintain a high level of route and activity support, switching between trips is not possible.
Yes. The trips converge for on-ship meals and for AmaWaterways shore excursions that are not Backroads-exclusive.
Danube Full Ship Celebration
Backroads has booked the entire ship for this special sailing. This trip is a unique celebration of cycling and it’s a much different Backroads experience with up to 150 guests (compared to a maximum of 30 guests on a typical Backroads River Cruise Biking Trip or 26 on one of our land-based Biking Trips). We anticipate couples, solo travelers, multi-generational adult families and perhaps some small groups traveling together. You can look forward to a very social atmosphere with active travelers who share a common interest in seeing the world in the most interesting way possible.
Yes. There will be cocktail hours that allow for socializing. In addition we’ll have piano music in the lounge, local string musicians for Sun Deck gatherings, and, when possible, local pubs and other venues available for an evening out when docked in the center of town for the night. But mostly this is a celebration of all things biking a river!
Most meals will be on the ship, which is well-equipped to provide excellent food and service in a relaxed atmosphere. Off-ship lunch venues are carefully selected based on our ability to provide high-quality local food choices in a reasonable amount of time. Most off-ship special events, such as castle visits or concerts, are Backroads-exclusive and set up to handle this special group, offering you unique experiences that would otherwise not be possible.
Booking a River Cruise Trip
Possibly: if you plan on sharing a stateroom, you would both have to book a Backroads River Cruise trip, regardless of the amount of biking or hiking you plan to do. However, if you are going to use separate staterooms, your non-biking/hiking travel companion(s) may book their cruise through AmaWaterways. Note that if booked through AmaWaterways, you will not be able to join Backroads activities.
Each trip departure has one or more stateroom options. Availability of suites is limited so we suggest booking early if that is important to you.
If you must cancel your reservation, your cancellation fee will be determined according to the policy outlined in our Reservations FAQs. Note that River trips are considered Special Departures with terms that differ from hotel-based trips.
Backroads covers all gratuities for AmaWaterways staff and local guides. Suggested gratuities for Backroads leaders are listed in the Travel Planner and are about $225 per guest, which will be shared among the leader team.