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A Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague

10/05/2024 by .
Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague

Lucy Daltroff takes a peek behind the former Iron Curtain on a Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague.

When my husband suggested a cruise down the Elbe and Vlatava rivers from Berlin to Prague, I wasn’t too sure.  Visiting areas formerly “behind the Iron Curtain”  sounded like a bit of a history lesson of a drab and joyless time.   We went  – and I have to admit  I realised right from the beginning; I was to be proved wrong.

We chose Croisi,  the largest river cruise line in Europe,  a French family company which started in 1976.  Our boat, the  82 passenger Elbe Princess II, was an innovative paddleboat, which unlike classic propulsion vessels,  meant it could  cruise the Elbe’s shallow waters, and travel right into the centre of cites.  The pricing for the 9-day Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague was competitive and budgeting easy, as all food and drink was included in the price.

We flew to Berlin  and once there were met at the airport by a representative from the company to begin our adventure. Our compact cabin was well designed,  with large high windows , which afforded great views of the riverbanks, scenery, and even on one occasion, a family of ducks!

cabine01 MS Elbe Princesse II Elbe CroisiEurope 14194©SDI

Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague

The first meeting in  the elegant onboard lounge, introduced us to the captain and crew,  and offered cocktails before dinner.  The food cooked by French chiefs was without exception really excellent, and a lesson in perfect presentation. (It is important that dietary preferences are listed when booking the  whole trip,  as there is one set menu,  displayed the night before).

Breakfast was a good buffet, but lunch and dinner were often four courses,  whether it be  duck in a great sauce or an elegantly presented  mozzarella cheese and tomato starter.  All accompanied by the best French wines.  We were assigned an “English speaking table” and soon made new friends.

The cities and towns we visited on this Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague have changed beyond recognition since 1989. Every day our cruise went  to a different destination offering comprehensive tours by local guides.  Although not expensive, these, plus a list of a few drinks,  are the only extras to pay. Some passengers chose to stay on the large sundeck, which I found to be a fantastic vantage point  when we passed some of the formidable river locks.

pont soleil MS Elbe Princesse ll Elbe CroisiEurope 218830©Oliver Asmussen

Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague

Our first tour was in Berlin itself.  There was a fear that after the fall of  the wall  the whole history would gradually fade, so a decision was made to  retain  part of it and turn it into  what is now known as the East Side Gallery.  This comprises over 100 murals painted on a 1.3km remnant of wall,  featuring works created by artists from all over the world. Probably the most famous is by Russian artist, Dmitri Vrubel, whose ironic mural, “The Kiss “shows  Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker, the then leaders of the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic,  in a grotesque fraternal embrace.

Another stop took us to Dresden –  which despite its chequered history is still an elegant city,  with its pleasant location along the river and its Baroque-style architecture.  There are a number of world-renowned museums and art collections, and I can soon see why it is often referred to as “Elbflorenz” (Florence on the Elbe).

In the 15th century it was the seat of the Dukes of Saxony, but of course its more recent history is a lot darker.  The main square is known  for its book burnings,  organised in the city in 1933 by the campaign “against the un-German spirit”.  During the Nazi era from 1933 to 1945, the Jewish community of Dresden was reduced from over 6,000  to just 41, as a result initially of emigration, but later through deportation and murder.

Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague

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It was between 13th and 15th February 1945  that the British and American aerial bombing attack on the city, intended to support the Soviet drive on Berlin,  dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and destroyed most of the centre.  The main church was obliterated, and the ruins were left for 50 years as a war memorial.   The church was carefully rebuilt after the reunification of Germany, but not completed until 2005.

It was a bit of a jigsaw to rebuild the church from the bricks still preserved, and put them in the right place, so even now the different colourings are obvious.  Particularly moving  was the anecdote told to us by our guide, that the  giant golden replacement cross was built  by the son of a British pilot who had bombed Dresden.

Koenigstein  Fortress  not far from Dresden,  dates from the 12th century and is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe and sits on the top of a  hill of the same name.   The medieval castle originally belonged to the Kingdom of Bohemia and has  over 50 buildings inside,  including  a well, built in 1563  one of the deepest in Europe. Its impressive fortifications deterred even attempts at an assault for centuries, it was never taken by force, and it subsequently became a place to hold prisoners of war,  including one French general of World War II honoured as its only successful escapee.

Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague

It was a treat on reaching Prague that our boat was anchored right in the centre, so it took just 5 minutes to walk into the famous Jewish quarter.  This Jewish Ghetto began in the 13th century and became more important when Jews were expelled from other countries.  Most of the significant historic buildings have been saved from destruction and form the  wonderful complex of historical Jewish monuments in Europe. It was good to find that it was possible to buy one  ticket which covered the main sites.

There are 6 synagogues in all,  one still in use, and a famous old Jewish cemetery.  Here is   also the birthplace of Jewish novelist,  Franz Kafka, who is commemorated with a statue on Dusni street.  Prague has one of the most scenic skylines and a visit to the Castle affords one of the best views.  It is always crowded but the magic of the city,  its spires and medieval architecture is unforgettable, as is walking over the famous Charles Bridge.

Our trips, combined with the organised and luxurious life on board, took all the hassle out of travelling and the tagline on the front of our Croisi cruise brochure “Life is more Beautiful on the Water” is a sentiment which I can now heartily endorse.

 Tell me more about this Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague.

The eight-night Croisi River Cruise from Berlin to Prague operates in April, May, October and November 2024 with prices from £1,867 per person. Prices includes the cruise with all meals and drinks, port fees and repatriation insurance.  For this and other cruises call CroisiEurope on 01756 691269.


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