MS Elbe Princesse
There’s a distinctly European vibe on board this 80-passenger ship from CroisiEurope, from the French cuisine to the international crew and passengers. This is one of the line's "premium" ships, which means the design and amenities are a notch above older ships in the fleet. You’ll see colorful, contemporary decor and Scandinavian-inspired latticework in the lounge and bar, while the spacious sundeck is perfect for kicking back, sipping French wine, and watching the scenery go by.
The design that really matters isn't part of the decor, though. It’s no easy task to sail the low waters of the Elbe and Vltava rivers, but the lightweight aluminum frame and two paddle wheels in the rear make it possible for Elbe Princesse to propel smoothly from its home port of Berlin to Prague even when the river is having water-level issues.
What We Love
Intimate Size: With just 40 cabins, this ship feels like a small boutique hotel. Though compact, each has a river view, ample closet space, and a retractable television. And since there are so few passengers, the attentive staff can get to know your preferences (and language of choice).
Upgraded Rooms: This new ship was designed with the modern cruiser in mind, with upgrades in the staterooms like roomier showers and five outlets, so you can charge all of your devices.
Best Known For
French Everything: From its ownership by French family Schmitter to the classic French gastronomy, this ship is French first and foremost. Your fellow passengers are mostly French, too — you can immerse yourself in the language with them as you indulge in dishes like foie gras, roasted duck, and crème brûlée.
The Itinerary Isn’t Overcrowded: There are not a lot of river ships out there that can sail the Elbe itinerary due to its low bridges and shallow waters, so there likely won’t be too many other cruisers stopping along with you at Wittenberg, Meissen, and Litomerice.
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Who It's Best For
Cruisers With a Budget: You get a great value for your money on this ship; fares are lower compared to other river lines and still include extras like Wi-Fi and alcohol — even after dinner.
Europhiles: The majority of the cruisers are from France, and these trips also attract Germans (as well as Americans). Beware that this means all announcements are made in three languages, which can be tedious.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Fixed Menu: The three-course French meals on this ship are excellent, but you won’t get a choice of what you’d like to eat. If you have dietary restrictions, the staff is accommodating, but not having a choice in the first place might be a downside to cruisers who are particular.
There's No Elevator: Though the ship does have one wheelchair-accessible room, it’s on deck 2, while the dining area is one floor below.
Kayla Becker is a New York City-based contributor to ShermansCruise and the assistant editor for the site.