River cruising is an experience like no other. It's a vacation that gives you a little taste of many cities and countries while your hotel travels with you, and it's a seamless travel experience that starts even before you step onboard. There are so many reasons to love river cruising and the list below is just a start!
It's Really Easy
When it comes to travel, river cruising is as close to hassle-free as you can get! There are no lines to get on or off the boat. When you arrive at each destination, you can usually walk right off and be immersed in the city immediately. Europe grew up along its rivers, so there are some very charming and interesting small towns as well as big cities to explore. With very few ports requiring bus transfers, it makes it easy to come and go at your leisure. Some river cruise lines even offer bikes to ride from the ship to town.
Your river cruise can be totally all-inclusive, depending on the cruise line and ship you choose. I have taken several river cruises where my bill at the end was less than $100 and that's only because I splurged on a few items in the gift shop. Most river cruise lines include first class shore excursions at every port, airport transfers, and Wi-Fi. Some lines even have butlers which you are not allowed to tip. Imagine your coffee being delivered just the way you like it or breakfast served every morning while you are admiring the beauty of castles and vineyards from your stateroom balcony!
River cruises aren't your typical huge ship experience. On a river cruise you can squeeze through the small canals where huge ocean cruise ships can't go to give you a more intimate authentic experience. Typically, the average size of a river cruise is 150 passengers, and even less if you cruise earlier in the season. These ships are well designed and there is absolutely no sacrifice when it comes to the spacious and luxurious cabins. Lots of the newer ships have many onboard options and feature more key amenities than ever. With small cruise ships, service is always amazing. The staff onboard takes the time to get to know you and provide the best service to enhance your whole vacation. You'll also have the opportunity to actually get to know fellow guests because you may eat with whom you choose each evening and have a choice of a few onboard dining venues for variety.
No Motion Sickness
There are no waves on a river, so seasickness is not an issue. Most cruises include transferring through a series of “locks” to accommodate the changes in elevation, which most people find super interesting to watch. You can literally touch the walls of the locks from your balcony as you pass through. Evening entertainment is low key and usually consists of local entertainers who come aboard to perform, such as an OomPah band in Passau Germany or Gypsy dancers in Budapest. You will also find lots of movies and entertainment on your in-cabin TV. (This is how I first became hooked on Downton Abbey!) There are also informative talks on the ports-of-call and cocktails with your newly-made friends from around the world. Some lines even offer wine tastings onboard.
Unpack Once and See More
River cruises are a great choice for convenience. Imagine seeing multiple villages, towns, and countries and only having to unpack once. See more destinations and immerse yourself in the local culture with shore excursions that take you through charming little regions via biking or walking. Tour guides at port will take you through town highlighting some of the most historic sights. Experiences are also offered, such as cooking classes, wine classes, olive oil tastings, baking, and more. Some experiences even stay on the ship and allow you to watch the scenery slip by as you sail off to the next destination on your voyage. The authenticity of these excursions are like no other cruise.
Meal time is always a special treat when you are onboard. With five star service and beautifully plated food presentations, meals are an experience themselves. Most river cruises offer open seating which gives you the option of eating alone or sharing meals with your new friends. Whether you’re into wine tasting or local street food, you'll get an exceptional culinary experience both on the ship and at every destination. Anything you want or can possibly imagine is delivered before you can even ask. Many times it's the small gestures that make it special, like the wait staff remembering your choice of wine.
Variety of Experiences
Every country you visit has their own special experiences. The beauty of river cruising is the close proximity to some of the most incredible cities and towns right along the river. With the included excursions, you'll be able to take your pick from biking through the countryside, exploring trendy neighborhoods, visiting a local brewery, hiking to a castle, taking a local cooking class, or visiting museums that highlight local culture. And there are also many onboard activities available during your river cruise experience.
On a river cruise, your home away from home will be a luxurious suite with a balcony that overlooks some of the most iconic sites to see along the river. Each river cruise line has their own design with distinctive themes, personally selected artwork, and furniture. The rooms are carefully thought out to make your accommodations as comfortable as possible.
If you're new to river cruising, the price tag can cause a bit of “sticker shock.” However, when you consider everything you are getting for the cost, it becomes much more affordable. You are simply paying up-front rather than purchasing alcohol, excursions, specialty restaurants, etc. while on the cruise. Viking River Cruises is the most well-known river cruise lines because they spend lots of money on television and print advertising. They have done a lot to introduce travelers to the river cruise concept. However, there are many other river cruise lines out there, many with more complementary inclusions. I have been on several lines and my next one is coming up in March, so I would love to help you find the perfect fit. If you've always dreamed of a Christmas Market cruise, it's not too late for 2022! I am here to help you get started and give you all the travel tips you'll need to know about river cruising.