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Gastronomic river cruises: voyages to delight your taste buds along the waterways of Europe

Meal and the cruise go hand in hand like oysters and champagne. It is therefore no wonder that many cruise lines offer palatable itineraries along the waterways of Europe.

It is a win-win scenario. The countryside passes as you stretch out with a glass of something cool and cold (rather than cursing the GPS as you pass the freeway exit). A selected itinerary within a pinch of his well-seasoned life means that you can always eat at the best places or sneak into the secret tour.

Can’t decide whether to go to Vienna, Budapest or Amsterdam? No need, enjoy a handful of city breaks without the hassle of packing and unpacking, your bedroom is with you, like a well-behaved dog. The Danube and the Rhine are the two megaliths of short-distance gastronomic river cruises, but there are many others …

EPIC OF THE SEVEN RIVERS

Majestic: the new AmaMagna river cruise, launching in 2023

Majestic: New AmaMagna River Cruise Will Call 14 Countries Over 45 Epic Nights

It’s the ultimate European river trip – seven rivers, three ships (including the new AmaMagna, a diesel-electric hybrid ship), and 14 countries for 45 epic nights. Along the way, you will cruise down the Rhone and the Rhine, the Main and the Moselle, up to the Danube.

This won’t be released until 2023, but options are available.

Reserve: Forty-five nights with AmaWaterways from around £ 18,000 pp (amawaterways.com).

PORT IN PORTUGAL

Explore laid-back Porto (pictured right) before meandering down the Douro, Portugal's popular new river cruise destination

Explore laid-back Porto (pictured right) before meandering down the Douro, Portugal's popular new river cruise destination

Explore laid-back Porto (pictured right) before meandering down the Douro, Portugal’s popular new river cruise destination

Portugal’s Douro is the new trendy river cruise destination. Allow time to explore peaceful Porto before meandering down the Douro.

Wine terraces line the hills and terracotta-tiled villages sleep on the banks. This is the central port and tastings take place in various quintas along the way.

The walks are pleasant activities, rewarded with picnics in the hills. The pace picks up (marginally) in medieval Salamanca, Spain. Are you still hungry after exploring the city? Sniffing hornazo (meatloaf) or paloma (fried salad sandwich – strangely delicious) at the market. Obrigado!

Reserve: Seven nights with Viking from £ 2,045 pp (vikingrivercruises.co.uk).

GERMAN VINES

Germany's Moselle Valley, pictured above, is synonymous with fresh floral white wines, which you can sample on a Moselle River cruise.

Germany's Moselle Valley, pictured above, is synonymous with fresh floral white wines, which you can sample on a Moselle River cruise.

Germany’s Moselle Valley, pictured above, is synonymous with fresh floral white wines, which you can sample on a Moselle River cruise.

The Romans planted vines along Germany’s Moselle River in the 1st century and the Germans took over and ran with it. Now the Moselle Valley is synonymous with fresh floral white wines (health pinot gris, Riesling from the bottom up).

The vineyards run down to the river and are pretty enough before they are crowned by fairytale castles poking out of the early morning mist. Raise a glass to the Romans in Trier, Germany’s oldest city, with UNESCO sites including an amphitheater. In vino veritas.

Reserve: Seven nights with Tui from £ 1,260 pp (tui.co.uk).

FOODIE’S FAVORITE

Sail through one of the best gastronomic regions in the world with Emerald Cruises, stopping in Lyon, pictured, on the way

Sail through one of the best gastronomic regions in the world with Emerald Cruises, stopping in Lyon, pictured, on the way

Sail through one of the best gastronomic regions in the world with Emerald Cruises, stopping in Lyon, pictured, on the way

Emerald Cruises boasts that every last bite served on board is inspired by the local region.

Given that you are navigating one of the great gastronomic regions of the world (Lyon is the gastronomic capital of a country famous for its gastronomy), that’s good news. Even better is that Fabien Morreale, a finalist for France’s Top Chef TV show, is in charge of his Provençal dinner extravaganza.

In case you have a bite to eat between meals, there are tastings on board (cheese, olives, regional wines) and guided tours of cities steeped in history along the way.

Reserve: Seven nights with Emerald Cruises from £ 1,895 pp (emeraldcruises.co.uk).

WINE IN THE RHINE

Tauck offers a nine-night package that includes a trip to Heidelberg, pictured, where guests have the opportunity to learn how beer pairs with food.

Tauck offers a nine-night package that includes a trip to Heidelberg, pictured, where guests have the opportunity to learn how beer pairs with food.

Tauck offers a nine-night package that includes a trip to Heidelberg, pictured, where guests have the opportunity to learn how beer pairs with food.

You go from pint to pint on this beer trip through the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and Germany, culminating in Munich for the massive drink that is Oktoberfest (with a guaranteed seat in one of the best tents).

Relax along the way with a tour of Amsterdam’s coolest bars and a gentle stumble into Dusseldorf’s ‘longest bar in Germany’ (home to altbier, a crisp ale-lager hybrid). Not everything is having a pointless drink: in Heidelberg you learn how beer combines (some say better than wine) with food.

Reserve: Nine nights with Tauck from £ 4,690 pp (tauck.co.uk).

TRANSVERSAL CONTINENT

Taste your palette and have a wine tasting in Rudesheim (pictured) on Saga's Spirit of the Danube tour

Taste your palette and have a wine tasting in Rudesheim (pictured) on Saga's Spirit of the Danube tour

Taste your palette and have a wine tasting in Rudesheim (pictured) on Saga’s Spirit of the Danube tour

Saga’s new riverboat Spirit of the Danube launches next year with a variety of 50+ cruises. Foodies will lick their lips to this culinary epic that spans the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary and includes wine tastings in Rudesheim and beer tours in Bratislava.

If you take the cruise that departs on April 4 next year, you’ll find on board celebrity chef Paul Rankin, founder of Roscoff, awarded a Michelin star in Northern Ireland, and star of Ready Steady Cook.

Reserve: Seven nights with Saga from £ 2,749 pp (travel.saga.co.uk).

CHRISTMAS ELBE

Make your way through cities like Wittenberg (pictured) as you cruise the Elbe River in Germany

Make your way through cities like Wittenberg (pictured) as you cruise the Elbe River in Germany

Make your way through cities like Wittenberg (pictured) as you cruise the Elbe River in Germany

Christmas markets are the focus of attention as you cruise the Elbe in Germany. Sausages (bratwurst, currywurst, everythingwurst) and lebkuchen are a no-brainer, but also check out kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes) and flammkuchen (German pizza). Of course there is gluhwein, but also sip eierpunsch made with egg liqueur (it’s superb). Start in Berlin and tour Magdeburg, Wittenberg and Meissen.

Reserve: Six nights with Croisi Europe from £ 1,187 pp (croisieurope.co.uk).

VINTAGE SERVICE

Hop into a helicopter to fly over the Wachau Valley, pictured, as you take part in the Crystal Cruises voyage through Austria and Hungary

Hop into a helicopter to fly over the Wachau Valley, pictured, as you take part in the Crystal Cruises voyage through Austria and Hungary

Hop into a helicopter to fly over the Wachau Valley, pictured, as you take part in the Crystal Cruises voyage through Austria and Hungary

This luxury cruise travels through Austria and Hungary to every cool corner, with butler service for each suite, a Viennese-inspired café, and fine wine pairing in silver service. Vintage Room Tours are primarily custom events.

Hop on a helicopter to fly over the Wachau Valley and don’t miss Cesky Krumlov for a Pivovar Eggenberg stout or the old Krems for some amazing chocolate.

Reserve: Seven nights with Crystal Cruises from £ 3,405 pp (crystalcruises.co.uk).

ITALIAN TREASURES

Venice is one of the stops on Uniworld's tour of the Po River and its cities.

Venice is one of the stops on Uniworld's tour of the Po River and its cities.

Venice is one of the stops on Uniworld’s tour of the Po River and its cities.

Yes, you start in sophisticated Milan, but the star of this show is the Po River and its cities. Venice needs no introduction, but it’s nice to be driven to San Marco and the Doge’s Palace without the crowds.

Bologna is seen as the culinary capital of Italy and you can make pasta and Bolognese sauce. After all this, Padua has a tough job, but it stands on its own: at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, it’s rude not to drink a splash and eat cicchetti (Padua tapas).

Reserve: Nine nights with Uniworld from £ 2,730 pp (uniworld.com).

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