Have you been thinking about a river cruise? Maybe you have seen the ads or had a friend tell you about them, or likely with recent marketing efforts from river cruise lines, you have received brochures and flyers in the mail. There are a lot of river cruise lines to choose from and people I meet are often asking me to help decipher these options.
Let me start by saying, I have no particular alignment with any of the cruise lines. I can offer my clients any of the many lines available. I have attended training and am a certified specialist from the major river cruise lines. I have sailed some of the lines. I have listened to feedback from my clients as they return from their trips and from other travel agents. The summary below incorporates all this information, and to the best of my ability I will share what I know.
Benefits of a River Cruise
No driving, packing, unpacking, trying to find the best place for meals, figuring out trains, buses, or maps.
Sailing is smooth, no sea sickness, with elegant accommodations.
No crowded decks, no buffet lines, no added expense to get off the ship and explore the destination.
Excursions are included.
Wine and beer included at every meal.
Some cruise lines, like Emerald Waterways, even include gratuities so it is all inclusive.
Small group travel making travel safe and easy.
Immersive experience, travelers will truly experience all each destination has to offer through cultural excursions.
Travel to small towns and cities on the river, off the beaten path, with the option to take lovely motor coaches to a larger city in the area if you choose.
Who Takes A River Cruise?
River cruises are traveled by a variety of groups, couples, and even solo travelers. The typical age range is 40-80. They are designed for people who want to get closer to ports and cities without having to be transported on a coach tour (unpack once in your floating hotel) or navigate public transportation or rental cars. They provide itineraries with multiple country stops, themed focused cruises, for example wine or wellness, and some offer family focused itineraries. Creating a hassle-free vacation without the stress of planning.
Typically, people you meet on a river cruise tend to be well traveled, like to immerse themselves in a destination, feel like a local, sample local food, wines and spirits, and learn about local customs. They offer the option of exploring independently or tours and guides which you can choose when you want to learn more about history, arts, culture of a destination, or do both. Maybe a morning tour and then explore on your own in the afternoon. Your days are your choice. You can stay on board and read a book and lay on the sun deck, you can take the transportation into town and wander around yourself, or you can partake in the excursions.
River cruises are great for people who want a relaxing and hassle-free floating hotel atmosphere. No packing up every night to get to the next destination. Incredible service. Staff that makes you feel like you are coming home each day. High quality food and accommodations.
Excursions are included on major cruise lines. Some lines have more options, more per day and leveled capability. Excursions are designed as learning experiences, helping you delve into the destination. Some of the specialty excursions, like cooking classes may have an additional fee.
Many cruise lines offer themed cruises, wine, active, family, biking, beer tasting, music, art, etc. And excursions are designed around the theme.
The Riverboats Themselves
All river boats are created equal in terms of size. They must fit through the locks, under bridges, and through narrow parts of the rivers. The difference between cruise lines is internal ship design and décor. Every room has windows facing out to the river, although window size can vary from portholes to full sliding doors to a balcony. Another consideration is number of passengers. Since the ships are the same size, more passengers the smaller the cabins. Finally, some ships include amenities like a pool, spa services, exercise equipment, salons, etc.
No matter which cruise line you choose, you will have a wonderful experience on the rivers. It is truly a relaxing, interesting and luxurious way to travel. When you are ready for a river cruise, give me a call and I will compare the lines, current promotions, itineraries, etc. to help you find the one that matches best to your budget, travel style and interests.
Looking forward to helping you plan your river cruise vacation!