Tour the Rhein and Loreley Valley on Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) Riverboats
Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) is the best-known day-trip riverboat cruise line on the Rhine River. Several further boats tour the Loreley Valley between Rüdesheim, St Goar, and Koblenz, or offer panorama sightseeing cruises in larger cities such as Cologne and Düsseldorf.
The Rhine River is a very popular day-trip destination from cities such as Cologne (Köln) and Frankfurt am Main. Trains run on both banks of the Rhein but nothing beats a cruise on the river itself. Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) has the largest number of boats on the Rhine River and many cruises through the lovely Loreley Valley. However, several further companies operate cruises on the Rhine and past the Lorelei. Special savings deals are available on many cruises.
Not sold by KD itself but available from tour operators such as Get Your Guide is the KD RhinePass which allows unlimited cruising for a day on all KD boats for €32 – quite a good deal if planning to go for a long cruise (but note that a print out of the voucher itself is currently needed).
Tips on Rhine River Day Trips
Day-trip cruises on the Rhine River are very popular in Germany with departures available from many cities and even small towns on the Rhine. Reservations are usually not possible for regular day cruises but it worth planning a bit in advance to take advantage of savings deals to get the best value (and finest views) from a cruise.
- Rhine riverboats differ in size in and between companies but there is little difference between boats. Often it is best to simply take the next boat to depart.
- Most boats cruising on the Rhine River have their own restaurants and bars but it is acceptable to consume own food and drink on the open decks.
- The high season for Rhine River day cruises is from end April to early October. However, regular cruises operate usually from late March to late October.
- Cruises in winter months are very limited but often a few cruises may be available during the Christmas market Advent season. Departures are most likely from Rüdesheim and Cologne.
- Return trips on most Rhine River cruise lines are only marginally more expensive than one-way cruises. Often cruising up and down river on a scenic part of the river may be more rewarding than going a longer distance in one direction.
- If space is available, bicycles are transported for free.
- Show Deutsche Bahn tickets if applicable when buying boat tickets and discounts are often applied – check German Railways timetable and book train tickets online at Deutsche Bahn. The timetables sometimes include boat trips too.
- Smaller lines are often slightly cheaper than the Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) boats. However, the price difference is very small and the discounts offered by KD and the higher number of departures may well outweigh any price disadvantage.
See also Loreley Valley Rhine River Day Cruises for tips on sensible routings and cruise times between ports.
Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) – the Largest Pleasure Day Cruise Line on the Rhine
Köln-Düsseldorfer, or simply KD, is the largest operator of pleasure boats for day cruises on the Rhine River. KD has been in business since 1827 but the oldest KD boat in operation is the SS Goethe first launched in 1913.
Köln-Düsseldorfer is generally a good choice for day cruises on the Rhine. KD has the largest number of departures by far of all Rhine pleasure boat lines. This allow passengers to make more stops en route if desired – remember to indicate all planned stops when buying tickets as separate tickets are issued for each leg.
KD has at least four boats doing the daily cruise route from Rüdesheim and Bingen to Koblenz (and return). Many more KD boats do shorter routes too. KD also often have arrangements with other local boat operators to offer a high number of departures.
Köln-Düsseldorfer historic SS Goethe paddle steamer from 1913 is the oldest regular cruise boat on the Rhine River. The Goethe steams daily from Koblenz to Rüdesheim and back. A small surcharge is added to cruises on the SS Goethe.
Special Savings Deals KD Rhine River Boat Day Cruises
Köln-Düsseldorfer offer a wide range of special savings deals to make Rhine River day trips even cheaper. Different discounts generally cannot be combined and official identification may required:
- Birthday Child – irrespective of age, a passenger and any partner may cruise for 50% off on the specific birthday date.
- Family Day – Wednesdays up to three children under 13 can cruise for free per paying adult.
- Children between 4 and 13 cruise on KD for only €6 per day as long as they are accompanied by a full-fare-paying adult (up to 3 children per adult). Children under 4 sail for free.
- School children and students under 27 pay only half price if the above discounts are not applicable.
- Seniors over 60 receive 30% discount on all cruises.
- On Tuesdays, cyclists sail two for the price of one on one-way trips (two cyclists and two bicycles – or a tandem – are required!). Ironically the bicycle ticket (€2.80 per bike per cruise) is not discounted.
For more details on these and other saving fares see Rhine River Day Cruise Saver Fares.
Weisse Flotte Rhein Rhine River Day Cruises
Six independent Rhine boat cruise operators cooperate under the Weisse Flotte Rhein banner. However, these companies set their own schedules and prices. These companies cruise on all parts of the Rhine but departures and cruises are most frequent in the vicinity of the Rhine where these independent boat cruise lines are based. Many cruise lines offer discount combination tickets for cruises and sightseeing sites.
Taking the Weisse Flotter Rhein companies in geographical downstream order:
Bingen-Rüdesheimer Rhine River Day Cruise Pleasure Boat Line
Bingen-Rüdesheimer offers cruises in the Rüdesheim and Bingen area, as well as up to three daily cruises through the Loreley Valley to St Goar and St Goarhausen. Rüdesheim has a popular Christmas market is one of the few towns along the Rhine that offers some cruises during the winter season.
Bingen-Rüdesheimer generally offers the same cruise fare savings discounts as KD except no discounts for cyclists or family days. Children 6 to 14 pay only €5 per cruise.
Bingen-Rüdesheimer still honors the tradition Geburtstagtarif – free cruises on a birthday.
Loreley Linie Weinand from Kamp Bornhofen
Loreley-Linie Weinand operates from Kamp Bornhofen with cruises to the Loreley Valley, Rüdesheim and Winningen in the Mosel Valley.
Hebel Linie’s Weisse Flotte on the Rhine
Hebel Linie operates from Boppard, a town closer to Koblenz. Hebel boats cruise mostly on shorter cruises from Boppard on the Rhine to see the Loreley as well as downstream to Koblenz and parts of the Moselle River. Some Hebler boats cruise all the way up the Rhine to Rüdesheim.
Special cruise fare savings offers on Hebel include free Rhine cruises on birthdays, discount fares for seniors, as well as family days on Wednesday.
Hölzenbein Cruises on the Rhine and Mosel
Hölzenbein operates from Koblenz at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Hölzenbein offers cruises on both rivers as well as panorama hour-long cruises on both rivers.
Bonner Personen Schiffahrt Rhine Cruises
Bonner Personen Schiffahrt cruises on the Rhine mostly from Bonn with panorama cruises in the former German capital as well as Rhine cruises mostly to Linz but also to the Lorerley Valley and the Mosel River.
Köln Tourist Personenschiffahrt am Dom
Köln Tourist competes with KD in its home town Cologne. Although it offer some excursion cruises, it mostly operate panorama sightseeing cruises in the Cologne including special harbor cruises.
Rössler Linie Rhine River Boats
Rössler Line is based in Rüdesheim-Assmannshausen. Rössler has mostly shorter Rhine cruises in the Rüdesheim vicinity but Rössler occasionally cruise down the Loreley Valley past Die Lorelei to St Goar / St Goarhausen.
See also Loreley Valley Rhine River Day Cruises for tips on sensible routings and cruise times between towns from Koblenz to Mainz and Top Rhine Day Cruises from Cologne for similar information on cruises from Cologne (Köln), Bonn, and Düsseldorf to Koblenz and the Mosel.