If you have not yet tried river cruising, you are missing out on one of the most enjoyable and satisfying ways to travel. Imagine sailing on a ship where every room is a river-view stateroom, every tour and shore excursion is included in your fare, and each day you cruise into the heart of amazing destinations. You will enjoy delicious meals, on-board entertainment, cultural presentations, and beer and wine at dinner-all at an all-inclusive price.
Although there are a few river cruise lines in the United States, the majority of river cruisers head to the great rivers of Europe, Russia, Egypt, and China and the incredible cities built around them. Your itinerary will include small scenic towns and large, exciting cities. It is a relaxing way to travel because you see so many sights and unpack only once. You can also pack lightly because you won’t find formal nights as you would on an ocean cruise.
In fact, there are many more differences than similarities between river and ocean cruises. Riverboats are very small compared to ocean liners, with some riverboats carrying as few as 100 passengers. With so few people on board, you can really socialize and make some great new friendships. Unlike the ocean going mega ships with their endless entertainment options, a river cruise is all about knowledge and getting to know the culture of the cities you’re visiting. Gone are the crowds, the shopping boutiques, the pricey drinks, the shore excursions that have to be booked in advance, and the numerous specialty restaurants that require an additional charge. There are no swimming pools filled with children, no cartoon character meet and greets, no expensive spas, and no casinos. An intimate floating hotel is probably the best description of a riverboat.
So who is a candidate for river cruising and how do you know if it’s for you? Typically, river cruising appeals to well traveled individuals who are interested in cultural experiences, as opposed to those looking for a ship which is a destination in and of itself. Many passengers are repeat cruisers who have realized the value of the all inclusive idea. While they generally cost more than ocean sailings, the offerings make them worthwhile to book. This type of travel is ideal for Baby Boomers who have always wanted to visit Europe. Couples will enjoy the outside staterooms and the upscale cuisine, which is usually tailored to the destination. It’s also great for seniors who like tours but don’t want to be confined to a motor coach. Some of the river cruise lines even offer special savings to teachers, firefighters, police, and military personnel. A few also offer discounts for seniors.
As with all cruise lines, not all river cruises are the same. Most are upscale, but each line offers different ship sizes, on-board amenities, themes, and shore excursions. Be sure to contact your travel consultant, who can find the best product for you. In the past two years, demand for river cruising has jumped 60%. The lines are constantly adding new ships to keep up with demand. Agents who sell these cruise products have been trained to match you with the cruise that best fits your style and can find you the best deals and perks.
River Cruises are not seasonal. Even though it’s cold in the winter, special events and festivals can entice travelers to book off season. You can also take advantage of lower fares offered during this time. So see the world in a better way and experience one of the best cruises you have ever had!