Travel editors don't usually get many opportunities to experience fall river cruising. The most popular times for us to get onboard is spring and early summer, to experience new products and itineraries.
But on the few occasions we've been lucky to enough to experience European river cruising in the fall, it's been an absolute treat.
For one, the crowds and heat in Europe have subsided somewhat, but the weather actually tends to be a bit more reliably pleasant than in the spring (if comparing the two shoulder seasons). The fall colors around the continent are an added bonus and make some of the scenic sailing passages all the more photogenic.
And the red, orange and yellow-tinted vineyards and wine regions many river cruises sail through are swoon-worthy this time of year.
Also, life in Europe during the fall seems to settle into a more relaxed, day-to-day work pace following the busy summer season, which gives the overall experience a more serene vibe. The entire continent just feels a bit more hushed.
With the locals embracing their hometowns anew, the fall is also a time during which local events and happenings take off again, for those river cruisers who want to explore exhibits, galleries or hot and new restaurants and bars onshore.
Ultimately, autumn in Europe is the calm between the summer and holiday season storms, and can be a total sweet spot in terms of the combination of experience and price point, since fall prices are often less than summer's.
Yep, writing this just confirmed it, fall is our favorite for river cruising.