When you think of river cruises, do you think of tiny cabins, lukewarm buffets, and crowded pool decks? Think again. Cruising itself may have gotten a bad rap, but it’s not all bad food and tacky tour bus excursions. In the last ten years, river cruise bookings have increased a whopping 250%. Whether you’re new to a vacation on the high seas, or a long-time cruising aficionado, here’s why you should consider a river cruise for your next holiday. The benefits of river cruises are:
Having unfettered access to waterways inaccessible by large cruise vessels means that you’re not restricted to crowded port cities. On river cruises, you’ll visit unique destinations and dock where the action is, in the center of town.
With unique and imaginative itineraries, you’re often able to visit a handful of different countries, without having to pack and unpack your suitcase in between.
Smaller ships = fewer guests. On average, river cruises host 120 guests versus the thousands housed on ocean liners. Fewer travelers on board not only appeal to covid-conscious travelers but those who simply do not enjoy crowds. You’re not going to find auditoriums and large-scale entertainment productions here, but rather bespoke restaurants, cozy areas for relaxation, and plenty of space to relax.
You can forget about dark windowless staterooms. Smaller ships mean less space for cabins, so the staterooms on riverboats generally run the perimeter of the ship, and the upper decks provide stunning views.
Cooking for fewer guests means chefs can up the ante, and showcase creative menus with fresh and local ingredients. While you’ve been off exploring the sights, the onboard chefs have been visiting markets and sourcing regional fare.
Don’t worry about packing your three-piece suit and evening gown for dinner. The dress code for meals is often more casual than larger cruise ships and offers guests a relaxed, all-inclusive experience. Not only are the meals included in the price, but as are alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and shore excursions on most boats.
While you may think of river cruises as suitable only for those preferring a slower pace, river cruising can offer ample excitement. From visiting a new city each day to discovering the local way of life through an intimate cultural excursion – passengers have the chance to be educated, inspired, and entirely immersed in a new destination.
Europe remains the biggest hub for river cruises, but there are plenty of other regions (and rivers!) to explore. Cruise down the Nile River in Egypt, the Yangtze River in China, the transboundary Mekong River, Russia’s Volga River, or the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers in India. Wherever you choose to explore, if you’re aboard a river cruise, prepare to have an unforgettable time!