Ocean cruises have long been a popular way to vacation for a lot of reasons. They’re affordable, convenient, and offer travelers a fantastic getaway, usually to multiple destinations. What could be better than that? Well... maybe a river cruise! We still find a lot of clients that aren't familiar with this type of cruising. If you're an ocean cruise lover, river cruising is a great way to explore the world's waterways.
River cruises combine all the comfort and convenience of an ocean cruise with the excitement of European excursions at each port of call. One of the biggest advantages of river cruising is that you sail with a lot fewer people- usually between 150-200. It's a unique and relaxing way to tour the countries of Europe. In this intimate setting, you'll never have to wait in line, so you'll have more time to enjoy all the amenities on the ship. You'll also find you'll have a more personal experience and interact with a lot of the other passengers and crew.
One of my favorite river cruise lines, AMA Waterways, uses this tag line: "Ocean cruises take you to countries, but river cruises take you through them." This is so true, mostly because there is simply no way to reach river cruise destinations on mega cruise ships.
Another reason I love river cruising is because you get away from the touristy ports and dive into the local culture. When large ocean liners arrive into port, sometimes that destination will receive 20,000 or more visitors. When river cruises arrive in a destination, that port receives only a few hundred visitors. Not only will you avoid large crowds in your destination, but on a river cruise you'll enjoy leisurely excursions, and take in the history of every unique town you visit. With many departures from the destinations being later in the afternoon or evening, you’ll have the chance to enjoy the nightlife in your ports of call. Whether you choose to walk through the town's cobblestone streets, attend a local show or performance, or have a glass of wine while listening to a local musician, mingling in the evening with the locals is a unique experience.
Finally, if you love castles, you'll love river cruising in Europe. From Amsterdam to Basel along the Rhine River, and in Budapest, Bratislava, Durnstein, and Passau on the Danube, you’ll see colorful architecture and amazing castles all along the way. You will tour them with a knowledgeable guide and explore the grounds on your own. You’ll literally be walking in the footsteps of world history.
River cruising is perfect for multi-generational families. With a variety of activities and plenty of stops along the way, everyone in the family will have an unforgettable experience. From grandparents to teenaged grandchildren, the entire family will bond over a range of topics and activities from food to history to countryside excursions. There really is something to do for everyone on board at each destination. Some members of your group may choose to take advantage of spa services, or the sundeck pool, or cultural activities, while others may prefer to find a quiet space with a book. Mealtimes are the perfect opportunity for everyone to come together again as a family. It really is the perfect multi-generational vacation for your family or group of friends.
Whether you’re into wine tasting or local food, a river cruise provides an exceptional culinary experience both on the ship and at every destination. The onboard chef focuses on using fresh local ingredients, and dishes are paired with local wines. There’s never a huge basic buffet on a river cruise.
Accommodations on a river cruise ship are always first class and luxurious. On most ships, you'll find suites or balcony staterooms. They are tastefully decorated and river facing. Whether you choose to have a window view, a private balcony, or even a twin balcony (with both a French and outside balcony), you’ll always have a room with a view.
Finally, it's hard to describe just how special every European country is. The towns and cities are close in proximity along the river, but each destination gives you a unique feeling and experience. You can choose from visiting local breweries, hiking to castles, biking through trendy neighborhoods, or visiting museums that highlight the local culture. Give a river cruise a try- you'll be glad you did!