River cruises are becoming one of the hottest travel trends. Retired people are flocking to experience river cruises in record numbers.
River cruises have been operating for many years but the past decade has seen their popularity increase. The ships sailing the rivers today are more luxurious.
A river cruise is a voyage along an inland waterway stopping at many destinations along the way.
Viking European River Cruise
Experiencing a European River cruise is an exciting adventure.
Many of Europe’s famous cities and towns developed around the rivers, so the modern tourist is enjoying the luxury of a river cruise, has easy access to them.
Douglas Ward, the authorof Cruising & Cruise Ships published by Berlitz in 2018,says
“A river cruise represents life in the slow lane, sailing along at a gentle pace, soaking up the scenery, with plentiful opportunities to explore riverside towns and cities en route. It is a supremely calming experience, an antidote to the pressures of life in a fast-paced world, in surroundings that are comfortable without being fussy or pretentious, with good food and enjoyable company.”
A river cruise is more like a land tour than an ocean voyage. Many experienced tour companies now run many river tours.
The benefits of river cruising include:
- Packing and unpacking once
- Access to pools, multiple lounges, specialty restaurants and spas
- Many activities are usually available
- Shore tours that are often included in the fare
- Can make budgeting easier
The size of rivers and the need for locks means that riverboats are much smaller than ocean liners.
Viking European River Cruise Ship
Passenger capacity range from around 90 to 250 people. The means the onboard atmosphere is more likely to be more intimate and friendly.
Because the land is always in sight, tourists are provided with a unique way of seeing the interior and highlights of countries along each river.
An added bonus is that river cruise passengers are unlikely to get motion sickness.
What you need to know about river cruising.
- Smaller passenger numbers than on ocean liners. Easier to make new friends. You won’t have long queues to stand in. However, you will have fewer lounges and restaurants and gyms and pools will be smaller or absent. But many activities are provided to compensate.
- The cabins are smaller than on an ocean liner, but they are comfortable. All will face the water so passengers won’t feel locked in. Newer boats include balconies. There are staterooms available at a corresponding cost.
- Access to food will be limited. There won’t be many restaurants (usually only a main one), but buffets are plentiful. Access to land usually means fresh food is available on a daily basis.
- Entertainment onboard is generally low key. Most ships have a resident pianist or a small ensemble. Educational seminars are held during the day. The scenery is the primary source of entertainment.
- A new destination is visited every day. Sometimes more than one. River ports are the main attractions. Lots of sightseeing is on hand. Tours are provided, but there is no obligation to go on them. Free time on shore is usually possible.
- Shore tours are limited and culturally biased. Walking and motorcoachtours are popular. Some cruises also provide guided bicycle rides, hikes, kayaking. Activities such as cooking and art classes can be experienced on board. Trips to the ballet, opera,andmusical recitals can be arranged if they are available in the current port.
- Most sailing is done at night. Full sailing days are rare. They usually occur when there are many sights to see from the ship.
- Fares are generally inclusive with very few expenses onboard.
- Because the days are full passengers wake up early.River cruises are not for sleeping in and lounging around.
- The ship docks in each port. It is easy to move around and explore local customs and sights.
- Because the distance between ports is usually short, destinations are reached quickly, and passengers have plenty of opportunities to leave the ship for the day and explore the local environment.
Ocean cruise companies are aware of the popularity of river cruises, and a few are entering the river cruise environment.
River cruising is the fastest growing sector of the cruise industry because it is an excellent way to tour and be looked after at the same time.
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