Hesitant to Book That River Cruise?
You are an avid cruiser. You’ve done a variety of ocean cruises on contemporary to luxury lines, you’ve visited all the Caribbean hotspots, photographed the glaciers in Alaska and inspected the antiquities in the Mediterranean. Or perhaps you’ve been to many all inclusive resorts over the years and soaked up the sun beside a pool or on a white sand beach. But now you’re wondering if there might be something different, something else exciting and engaging out there in vacation land.
Well, yes there is.
River cruising is booming, and for good reason. For those cruisers of the big ocean-going ships (and any ocean liner is big in comparison),a river cruise ship is small – very long but not very wide in order to fit through canal locks, and it hosts usually 100 to 200 guests max depending on the ship. Some very exotic itineraries are limited to less than 30 guests! Oftentimes you may have only one dining room, one bar, and one entertainment venue as compared to multiple dining options, bars and entertainment choices. But after a day of cruising on a river through constantly changing and spectacular sights, you’ll say “Who cares?”
You are going to be caught up in the utter intimacy, the sheer tranquillity of it all. Just because there is less size and there are less bells and whistles doesn’t mean anything necessary to having a wonderful time is lacking. Quite the opposite. Picture no lines, an easy pace, a more immediate experience of the river, the passing countryside and the cities and towns where you dock. Picture up scale to luxury accommodations on board, groaning breakfast buffet tables, gourmet dinners, and included excursions paced to suit either the slower guest or the more active one – guest’s choice.
Ocean cruises, especially on the mega ships, are quite often all about the ship, about its number and types of pools, about the variety of theatre events, the number of different dining options, the casino, the on board designer shops and spas. You can have a great vacation without setting foot on land. However, a river cruise is more about immersing you in the culture and history of the country you are visiting. The ship is your four star hotel that you take with you. Your close travel companions (remember there are only a small number of guests) who can be from all over the world now become your new best friends and travel adventurers.
Often you will dock in the heart of a city allowing you to explore its many cafes, shops, cathedrals and if you are lucky, outdoor markets . The excursions focus on local historic sites, on the art and the local attractions of the area. You can choose to spend an evening at an on shore restaurant to soak up more atmosphere or dine on board with wine and beer included (most lines) and usually a choice of local dishes from the extensive menu if you so wish. After dinner you can relax in the lounge where the entertainment will often include local artists with regional music and dance .
There is no right or wrong way to spend your vacation. It’s a matter of personal choice. But if you are searching for one in which your days are filled with good food, interesting people, great scenery, and the chance to see the history and culture of other countries up close then may we suggest a river cruise. And if you are used to spending a lot out of pocket during your vacation on drinks, excursions, specialty restaurants and the like because you reason “I’m on vacation, I’ll worry about the budget later”, you will be pleasantly surprised – maybe shocked – on the last day of this type of cruise because most river cruises are all inclusive. This is a vacation that does not have to exceed your vacation funds.
Best of all, because vacations are about memories: a river cruise will not disappoint in that area no matter if you are a first time cruiser or a seasoned one. Like many river cruisers, you will return home planning your next river cruise.
This post was written by the team of K Lawrence & D MacIntyre of compassmedia.us, avid cruisers – both ocean and river! – for the Cruisers Logbook. Photos courtesy of Ann-Marie Gaudet, owner of Cruise Holidays of Metro East & D MacIntyre.