Valentine Rhine Cruises

How do you top your last romantic weekend away? A great way to combine breathtaking scenery, intimate luxury and culinary excellence is on a river cruise.

River cruising became the way for people from high society to holiday in the 1920s and 30s. Cruising along Europe''s largest rivers such as the Danube, couldn''t be beaten for a show of stature and wealth. Now, although the luxury and romance remains, river cruising is much more affordable.

River cruise ships are relatively small, with a capacity of around 140 passengers. This allows the crew to offer a much more personal and high-quality service. It also makes mixing with other passengers easy. The dining facilities on board are exquisite and the perfect accompaniment to the lush landscapes and scenery passing by outside. You won''t just watch what''s going on onshore; daily excursions allow you to fully interact with the places you are passing.

The Rhine is one of the most romantic rivers in the world. The river starts life high in the glaciers of the Swiss Alps, where it passes through alpine forests and tumbling waterfalls. Its icy waters then flow briefly into France and into the Germanic town of Strasbourg, a city of pastel coloured houses, cobbled streets, lush window boxes and hanging baskets.

The Rhine then flows into Germany. It passes through the attractive, yet highly developed city of Karlsruhe, before working its way up to the mighty Rhine Gorge.

Because of the unique blend of wildlife living in its own micro-ecosystem and the history that lines the riverbanks, from ancient Neolithic landmarks to Roman forts and medieval castles, this gorge is an UNESCO World Heritage site. The sheer cliffs that stretch for miles add to the amazing beauty of the region. The winding river passes vineyards and ancient castles as it makes its way through the 40-mile long gorged from Bingen to Bonn.

After the Gorge, the river continues north to Cologne, D?sseldorf and Dulsburg, all still in Germany. At Dulsburg it meets the Ruhr, which greatly increases the river''s discharge. From here the Rhine heads west into the Netherlands and meets the North Sea at the huge port of Rotterdam.