With the popularity of ocean going cruises, many travellers are somewhat unaware of the huge advantages that river cruising offers. This is a really great alternative to traditional cruises and an incredible way to spend a vacation. Here are just a few reasons why.
No reserved tables, when it comes to dining there is just one seating, and it’s open seating. River cruising is casual dress at all times as well, so forget stuffy formal wear or gowns, kick back, relax and leave your heels at home.
Disembarking Is Never Inconvenient
Instead of long walks to a shuttle or a 20-minute wait for tendering vessels, riverboats can often dock right in or very close to towns or cities because of their size. This means you will have only a short walk or quick bus ride to the action. Even when the berths are already all occupied and your ship has to tie up to another ship, it’s only a short hop and jaunt through the other vessel’s lobby or sun deck to get to shore.
No “At Sea” Days
Ocean liners will always have “at sea” days as this allows them to operate casinos. There are never any “on river” days and every day you will find yourself in at least one new port.
A Great Way To See a Specific Region
Because of the nature of a river cruise, itineraries include lots of time in port and some even visit two a day in smaller or more scenic regions. None of your waking hours are wasted on train travel, bus travel or changing hotels. A river cruise will have you waking up to a new port every day as the ship moves to its next destination while you sleep.
Luxury, Luxury, luxury
Small quarters does not mean small value. Even though river limitations mean ships have to be smaller, the newest ships on the river still have a serious “wow factor.” Public areas have incredible contemporary decor, lots of glass, plenty of light. Some lines offer spas, fitness rooms, and al fresco dining options. One line even has a swimming pool that transforms into a cinema in the evening. Comfortable lounges, balconies and open decks provide an array of opportunities to hang out and relax in the sun or shade. There are computers for people who don’t want to bring along their electronics and libraries that offer a quiet spot to sit with a book or work a jigsaw puzzle. Sun decks can include pools, hot tubs, putting greens, chaise lounges, herb gardens, shuffleboard, and oversize lawn chess.
Wine, beer, and bottled drinks are complimentary, often for all three meals. Another huge perk is that at least one or two excursions a day are included in your fare. Some lines also have free internet. Book on a themed cruise and you may have guest lecturers, wine or beer tastings, classical or jazz concerts, and visits to breweries, vineyards, and specialized museums at no extra charge. Many lines even book the whole ship for larger weddings which would allow the couple to offer one convenient price to all guests.
River cruises always have a view and not just of surrounding expanses of water. Whether from your room’s balcony, the windows in the public rooms, or out in the open on the top deck for a 360 view, you can watch the surrounding countryside, small towns, villages, and cities pass by.
Seasickness Is Rarely An Issue
On a river cruise, the water is so flat you can barely tell when the ship is moving. This is because rivers do not have swells or waves as the ocean does. Some areas of the ocean (even on a calm day) will experience 50-foot swells. And while you may not see the swell it still has an effect on your equilibrium.
Bad Weather, What Bad Weather?
When you are out on the open ocean, the weather can change drastically in minutes (especially in certain areas of the world) and you may be miles from land. While ocean liners are very safe and equipped for this type of extreme weather, it can be a really bumpy ride. River cruises are well protected by severe conditions and can often maneuver quickly into a safe port if a storm or bad weather arises.
Be A Social Butterfly
Ships that travel on the rivers have to be limited in size as they need to go through locks and under low bridges. Even the largest of river vessels can carry no more than about 200 passengers. Not only does this mean that the staff will get to know you, you have a chance to get to know the staff, many of whom are from the countries you’ll be visiting. It also offers a great way to get to know your fellow passengers.