Let’s face it river cruising is gaining in popularity and offers an experience nothing like you will receive from an ocean cruise
River cruises are a fast-growing sector of the cruise industry, but the offerings are poles apart for the cruise experience on a cruise ship.
Don’t get me wrong, one is not better than the other, you should educate yourself of the variances so you’ll know what to anticipate.
River cruises offer itineraries appropriate for specific rivers, but they also use a ship that is designed to steer through tight rivers. Just like the open ocean, rivers is distinct, and river cruise lines have a diversity of river cruises to cater.
One of the greatest features of a river cruise is the capability to dock in or near the city or township. Your river cruise will dock in a town or city at least once a day. Most river cruises travel predominantly in the late afternoon and at nightfall, leaving little daytime cruise time.
What should I expect?
You will find a more intimate cruise experience with fellow passengers, often ranging from 100-200.
Some river cruises are all-inclusive, meaning most of your meals, alcoholic drinks onboard, excursions, and gratuities are included. Read the fine print when comparing different lines and itineraries so you are evaluating the same inclusions.
River cruise rates vary. When lines are all-inclusive, river cruising can be expensive, but if you have to pay extra for excursions, meals, and alcohol, rates increase from those advertised.
Cabins are usually small unless you book a large cabin or suite, which will significantly increase the cost of your cruise. One caveat: you are not in your cabin often.
River cruising provides a more social experience and the atmosphere is usually convivial. Table assignments in the dining room are rare, so you get to meet and converse with many of your fellow passengers.
While there aren’t as many meal options, most river cruises offer one main restaurant and the meals are often good. Because you are in port every day, chances are the ship will purchase food items along the way so the meals should be seasonal and reflect the itinerary.
If you are used to cruising on a cruise ship, where entertainment is everywhere you look, a river cruise is quite the opposite, and you shouldn’t assume you will receive the same sort of entertainment.
You will frequently find a pianist that plays in the lounge, or on larger river cruises there could be a DJ. Depending where you cruise entertainment can have a local vibe whether it is a discourse or resident entertainers.
One of the best features of a river cruise is that it delivers a host of sightseeing prospects so I suggest you plan for lots of sightseeing and walking, from trails, dependent on your preferred activity level, walking tours, bicycle tours, and hiking.
When you disembark for the day you will find buses to take you to the fringes of the towns. You will have the opportunity to appreciate what each city has to offer, but bare in mind that you won’t have a great deal of leisure time to venture out on your own. You will have time to experience the local cuisine, and shopping.
What are the major companies to choose from?
The major river cruise lines include: APT, AmaWaterways, CroisiEurope, Scenic, Uniworld, and Viking.
Whether you are a river cruise virgin or take multiple river cruises every year, you should still do your homework to make sure you are selecting a river cruise and itinerary that meets your expectations.
Holidaymakers who enjoy a stable itinerary and knowing exactly what to expect day-to-day are well-matched to river cruising. If you like to design your own trips and scripted travel is not to your liking, river cruising may not be what you are looking for.