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Europe is home to many of the world’s most sought-after tourist destinations. A river cruise may be the perfect option for exploring if you’re looking for a luxury vacation that doesn’t sacrifice your eco-conscious values.
Unlike ocean cruises, which focus on the destination, river cruises offer a more intimate view of the continent. You can explore the history and culture of each destination at your own pace, with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery along the way. The environmental impact of river cruise lines is often less than ocean ships. With smaller vessels and fewer passengers, river cruises can more easily make small changes to cut their energy consumption, reduce air pollution, and achieve carbon neutrality.
Several environmentally friendly European river cruises are available, so you can enjoy all the glamor and opulence of a luxury cruise without harming the planet. Here are some of our favorite eco-friendly European river cruises for luxury travelers.
Are these European River Cruises Organic?
Sourcing organic food can be difficult for luxury river cruise ships for a few reasons. First, organic food can be challenging to find in large quantities. Secondly, many cruise ships travel to areas with limited organic food options. And, even when organic food is available, keeping it fresh during a long voyage can be challenging.
As a result, cruise ship chefs often have to get creative to source organic ingredients. One way to do this is to develop relationships with local communities that can provide fresh, organic produce regularly. Another option is to grow food onboard using hydroponic or aeroponic systems. These systems allow cruise ships to have a steady supply of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, even when sailing to remote locations. With a little effort, cruise ships can source organic food, even though it may be challenging.
Most of the cruises we chose have organic or vegan options on board. Unfortunately, there aren’t any with a completely organic menu, but hopefully, with more people interested in organics and sustainable tourism, this will change.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection is committed to offering its guests the freshest and most sustainable cuisine possible. Their onboard chefs’ source local, organic ingredients whenever possible, and they serve a variety of vegetarian and vegan options at every meal. In addition, Uniworld’s river cruises offer guests the opportunity to learn about the local culture and cuisine through cooking classes and market tours with local guides. As a result, Uniworld’s guests can enjoy delicious cuisine while supporting local farmers and business owners.
Uniworld is on a mission to become an even more eco-friendly cruise globally. They publish their sustainability goals and progress. They aim to be carbon neutral, reduce food waste, focus on only organic and local food suppliers, and eliminate single-use plastics, like plastic straws and water bottles. All guests are given a refillable water bottle to use throughout their trip. In 2020, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise 2020 used 57% local and 36% organic suppliers for food. That number is only going up.
Choose from their multiple European and worldwide excursions, including France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and central European river cruises.
Viking River Cruises are reducing its carbon footprint with conscious innovations. Viking’s new ships have a 20% reduced fuel consumption compared to regular diesel river ships. Additionally, hybrid diesel engines produce less vibration, resulting in less noise pollution and disruption of the natural environment. Viking added a solar panel installation to the two ships to increase their energy efficiency, along with an organic herb garden which adds depth to the meals served on board.
Choose from multiple European river cruises, including the Danube, Moselle (a wine-growing region of Germany), Douro (ancient wine estate cruise), the Rhine, and more. Some of their trips are a small ship experience, so you can dock in small towns and enjoy your surroundings more intimately.
Avalon Waterways Cruises not only has made steps to become more ecological, but they have a lofty future goal: they want to have the first fully electric river cruise by 2027. They’ve already eliminated single-use plastics like plastic bags and reduced their paper waste. In addition, they source their food from local farmers and use shore power whenever possible.
In the future, they aim to reduce paper waste to under 1%, cut carbon emissions by 50%, and invest even more money with The Ocean Cleanup to help remove 90% of the world’s plastic. They also are creating new vessels where recycling of all water is possible.
Each cruise offers a variety of activities. You can choose from different excursions, from painting in small French villages to kayaking through the Rhine Gorge to picnicking on the wildflower-studded shore.
Amadeus River Cruises offers travelers an intimate and luxurious way to experience Europe’s most beautiful rivers. The company’s small cruise ships can navigate narrow waterways and dock right in the heart of historic cities, so guests can explore on foot or take advantage of the included shore excursions. Amadeus also offers a variety of onboard activities and amenities, from Michelin-starred cuisine to live entertainment. And with a staff-to-guest ratio of nearly 1:1, travelers will receive personalized service throughout their journey.
Amadeus River Cruises is committed to using environmental policies. All guests can offset their CO2 consumption with a donation at the end of the cruise. In addition, Amadeus River Cruises adds 25% to all donations to support people in developing countries affected by climate change.
While food is not organic on board, vegetarian options and new menus are available daily. In addition, their European fleet visits Belgium, France, Germany, and other countries across Europe.
Danube Easter Delights is the best choice if you’re looking for a completely vegan river cruise experience in Europe. This 7-day trip features exclusively vegan food for all meals, including a breakfast buffet, lunch, afternoon tea, multicourse evening meals, late-night snacks, and more.
The Danube is the second longest river in Europe. The cruise takes place on the Danube River, which runs through ten countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The cruise also includes plenty of time for relaxation, with stops at picturesque towns and villages along the way. You’ll cruise through ancient architecture and enjoy the onboard entertainment, all-vegan toiletries, and onboard yoga classes.
If you’re looking to take your next sustainable travel adventure while preserving the environment, consider taking one of these luxurious eco-friendly European river cruises!