Several day-trip riverboat excursion cruise lines depart from Rüdesheim for short and all-day cruises on the Rhine River to the Loreley Valley in Germany. Special savings deals on KD make tickets cheaper.
Day-trip riverboat cruise excursions on the Rhine River are among the top attractions for travelers to Germany. Rüdesheim is one of the most popular destinations with several large cruise lines offering day cruises to see the Loreley Rock, vineyards, and castles of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-listed Middle Rhine Valley. KD (Köln-Düsseldorfer) is the largest day-trip pleasure cruise line on the Rhine and has some of the best discount deals available to make ticket prices cheaper. Local companies Bingen-Rüdesheimer and Rösslerlinie also have many cruises from Rüdesheim to the Loreley Valley as well as in the Rüdesheim-Bingen-Assmannshausen vicinity.
Ticket prices between these Rhine cruise lines vary little but good savings can be had for those qualifying for special discounts — in 2023, KD discounts are often less generous than those of smaller compititors. Note that return fares are hardly more expensive than one-way tickets.
Winter cruises on the Rhine River are very limited but departures from Rüdesheim are often available, especially during the Christmas market advent weeks in December.
Savings Tips for Rhine River Boat Cruises from Rüdesheim
Although several cruise lines operate from Rüdesheim and Bingen on the Rhine River, cruise prices vary little between the different boat companies. Special discounts offered by the various lines may bring prices down significantly for those who qualify.
The easiest way to save on Rhine River day-trip boat cruises is to buy return tickets on the same cruise line. Return tickets are hardly more expensive than the one-way fare but using the train does offer time savings when time is limited.
Typical cruise fares on the Rhine River boat cruises from Rüdesheim or Bingen are around (return): €25 (€28) to St Goar / St Goarhausen, €36 (€41) to Boppard, and €55 (€61) to Koblenz. Cruises to nearby Assmannshausen are €10 (€12) while cruises upstream to Mainz are €25 (€28).
The KD Rhine Pass savings deal has not been on sale in recent years but Get Your Guide offers easy booking (and often sensible cancelation options) for day-trip cruises on the Rhine departing from many popular cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn, Koblenz, Boppard, Ruedesheim, Cochem, and Frankfurt. Most cruise lines now also accept online ticket purchases but several still prefer to sell tickets directly at the quay or on board cruise boats.
The large number of cruises offered by KD and the selection of discounts make it often the best choice for most travelers. Cruises may be interrupted for sightseeing en route but spell out plans when buying tickets, as separate tickets are often issued for use on different boats.
Reservations for individuals are usually not possible for day excursion cruises but are usually essential for special event cruises. Small groups of 10 or more should make reservations and receive group discounts.
Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) Rhine Boats from Rüdesheim
Köln Düsseldorfer Deutsche Rheinschiffahrt, usually abbreviated to the more snappy KD (pronounced kah-deh), is the largest day-trip pleasure boat operator on the Rhein. KD boats operate from many cities and towns between Mainz and Düsseldorf.
KD boats depart five times per day during the summer cruise season from Rüdesheim to the Loreley Valley (St Goar / St Goarhausen). These boats terminate either in Boppard or Koblenz – during the high season, one return journey is made each day on the historic paddle steamer RMS Goethe which has been in operation since 1913.
Currently, it is rare for boats to go downstream from Koblenz but it is easy to use the train to Linz from where it is possible to continue downriver to Bonn or Cologne. One or two boats per day continue upriver to Mainz but the full Mainz to Cologne Rhine riverboat cruise is no longer offered.
Saving Deals and Discounts on KD Rhine Cruises
Special savings offered by KD Rhine River day-trip boat cruises include:
- up to 20% off when arriving by train at the departure port. (This train-boat offer is usually not available from other cruise lines.)
- 50% off on the exact birthday for the birthday child (of any age) and one guest. (See Bingen-Rüdesheimer for wedding anniversary discounts.) Many other lines still honor the free on birthday offer.
- 50% off for scholars and students under 27.
- 20% off for seniors over 65 years old.
Family and child discounts on KD lines:
KD has several special deals for children and families. These include:
- Free for children under 4.
- €8 for children 4 to 13 for all regular cruises.
- Free for up to 3 children (4-13 years) per accompanying paying adult on Wednesdays.
- Family tickets for two adults and two children up to 16 – €79 for scheduled cruises (and €39 for panorama cruises in Cologne and Düsseldorf or €37 in Frankfurt and Cochem).
Savings deals cannot be combined for super discounts.
Bicycles on KD Rhine Riverboats:
Bicycles are transported if space allows on KD Rhine Riverboats for €3.50 per bicycle per cruise (return is double).
- On Tuesday and Thursday, two cyclists traveling together pay only one cruise fare but, rather oddly, do pay the full fare for each bicycle. (This bicycle deal is not valid on KD partner cruise lines.)
Bingen-Rüdesheimer Rhine River Pleasure Cruises
Bingen-Rüdesheimer Fahrgastschiffahrt operates the car and people ferry boats between Rüdesheim and Bingen but also day-trip excursion cruises on the Rhine River.
Bingen-Rüdesheimer has three main types of Rhine cruises from Rüdesheim and Bingen:
- Loreleyfahrten – three times a day boats cruise on the Rhine from Rüdesheim to St Goar / St Goarhausen just past the Loreley Rock.
- Burgenfahrten – up to four times per day these Castle Cruises sail from Rüdesheim, Bingen and Assmannshausen to Burg Rheinstein and Trechtingshausen. This 90-minutes circular cruise pass amongst others Burg Rheinstein, Burg Reichenstein, Ruine Ehrenfels, Mäuseturm and Burg Klopp.
- Ringticket – includes the cable car from Rüdesheim to the Niederwald Monument, a chairlift down to Assmannshausen, and a return cruise to Rüdesheim. (The Ring Ticket is not discounted.)
Special deals on the Bingen-Rüdesheimer Rhine River day-trip cruise boats include on the Loreley and Burgenfahrten only:
- Free – on birthdays or wedding anniversaries
- 30% off for over 60s
- Free – children up to 6 years
- €6 – children 6 to 13 accompanying a paying parent
- 50% off for scholars and students
- Combinations tickets with the cable cars in Rüdesheim and Assmannshausen give small discounts.
- €2.50 per bicycle
Rössler Linie Rhine Cruises from Rüdesheim
Rössler Linie operates mostly shorter cruises in the Rüdesheim-Bingen area of the Rhine River with only occasional longer cruises to the Loreley Valley. Rössler’s cruises are similar to the Burgenfahrten of Bingen-Rüdesheimer, as well as the Ringticket combination offer with the cable cars.
Special deals on Rössler Rhine riverboat excursion cruises include:
- Vacation Family Ticket (Ferien-Famlien-Ticket) – valid during the school vacation periods of Hessen and Rheinland-Pfalz – €34.50 for two adults and up to 4 children aged 4 to 16.
- 50% discount for children 4 to 16 and students
- 30% for seniors (65+)
- 50% if showing a ticket for Kloster Eberbach
- €2 for bicycles
More on the Rhine River in Germany
Day-Trip Excursions and Pleasure Cruises on the Rhine River:
- Middle Rhine (Loreley Valley) — UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-listed Area and the best part of the Rhine River for short and all-day boat cruises:
- cruise from Rüdesheim (cruise lines), Koblenz (cruise lines), winter & Christmas
- from Frankfurt — fast trains to the Rhine, or slow boat to the Rhine
- from Mainz and Wiesbaden
- Savings Tips, Best Cruise Lines
- Lower Rhine — Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn to Linz
- Special events: Cruises to Rhine in Flames Fireworks, Christmas and New Year’s Cruises in Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Rüdesheim
- Moselle River Cruises (Cochem, Bernkastel-Kues, Trier, Koblenz, Burg Eltz)
- Cruises on the Main River in Frankfurt (or better By Train from Frankfurt to the Best Rhine Cruises)
- Cruises from Worms, Mannheim, Heidelberg (on the Neckar River)
- Cruises from Speyer
- Rhinefalls (Rhine Waterfalls, Schaffhausen, Stein am Rhein, Kreuzlingen) in Switzerland
Tips and Savings on Day-Trip Rhine Cruises
- The best part of the Rhine for day-trip excursion cruises in the Middle Rhine between Rüdesheim / Bingen and Koblenz. See Savings Tips and the Best Cruise Lines cruising in the Loreley Valley.
- Check train times for Germany (and most of Europe) at German Railways.