River Cruises are one of the hottest trends in travel. The major river cruise lines are adding ships left and right and that’s good for the consumer. You have more ship and itinerary options than ever before. But why has this become so popular?
We North Americans are travelers. We travel to every continent and for some, the more exotic, the better. And if you’ve been to Paris, Rome and London, there’s a good chance you’re looking for something different. A river cruise gives you the chance to see something new out of your window every single day without the packing and unpacking.
Instead of maneuvering through airports, trains and taxis, you’ll find yourself relaxing while sailing down some of the most beautiful and iconic rivers in the world.
You choose a river course that takes you where you’ve always wanted to go and you leave the traffic jams and getting lost behind.
With an average of 150 passengers on a ship, it’s easy to meet people and you won’t feel crowded. As good as the service is on ocean vessels, the service is even better on a river cruise, it’s more personal and your steward caters to the individual.
The ports of call are smaller than the ocean going variety and easy to get around. Most cruise lines offer bicycles to explore the area. You’ll have the opportunity to talk to locals. Be aware that water levels vary so from time to time, itineraries may change to work around this. But to me, this just means I’ll see something I hadn’t planned on.
In most cases, dinner is a 2 hour event. It really is fine dining and not meant to be rushed. The fabulous food is worth it. Have a glass of wine and be ready for a gourmet experience every night of your cruise.
Like all cruises, they’re a good value. All of the river cruise lines include your meals, accommodations, entertainment and at least one excursion per stop. Many include your beverages and snacks. When you plan travel on your own, consider all of the costs, meals, tours, transportation and they add up. The shortest river cruise itinerary will be 7 days and the daily rate will be higher than an ocean cruise. You’ll have fewer room options as well but all of that makes the river cruise experience less hurried and more relaxing.
The big cruise companies are working to make the river cruise more of a family experience than it has been in the past. Without the rock climbing and wave running experience, thrill seekers might find this kind of cruising a little too slow.
Instead of a “If this is Tuesday, it must be Belgium” vibe, imagine just putting your feet up while you enjoy the passing scenery. It really is a chance to see the world from a new perspective.
If you’re a solo traveler, look for deals at the start or end of the season for your particular itinerary.
And if you can’t imagine going to Europe or Asia without stopping in the big cities, plan a few extra days at the beginning or end of your cruise.
Next week we’ll break down the differences between the major river cruise companies and you’ll find there really is something for everyone.