Traveling to or through?
Would you rather go TO a country, or THROUGH one???
Unless you have had your head buried in the sand for the past couple of years, you
are probably aware that Ocean Cruising, with its belly-flop contests and buckets of
beer, is slowly giving way to a more “civil” mode of travel –River Cruising. Most
commonly thought of in Europe, on the Rhine, Danube, Seine, Douro and even Po
rivers, River Cruising is also extending itself to Russia, China, Vietnam & Cambodia
and – yes...even the United States (although US River Cruising is a whole different
animal). Many of the voyages are “themed”, for special interests such as “wine
immersion”, “Tulip Time”, “Jewish Heritage”, a popular “beer tasting cruise” along the
Rhine, and the ever-popular “Christmas Markets” cruises during the months of
November and December. Here are several reasons why so many travelers are
switching to River cruising...and very few of them will ever go back to the oceans!
1. The boats are smaller and more intimate (120-170 passengers) so you can
actually get to know your fellow guests and not feel like you are being herded
along like cattle...You may eat with whom you choose each evening and have
a choice of a few onboard dining venues for variety.
2. It is as close to hassle-free as you can get. There are no lines to get on or off
the boat and, when you arrive at your next stop, you can usually walk right off
and be immersed in your destination. Europe grew up along its rivers, so there
are some very charming and interesting small towns and big cities to explore.
Very few ports require bus transfers, which makes it easy to come and go at
3. The trip can be totally all-inclusive, depending on the cruise line and ship you
have chosen. We are headed out on a 7-day cruise on the
Danube River next December with AMAWaterways for their Holiday Market cruise. We will have the option to choose which excursions we want to enjoy. As well as alcoholic drinks at lunch and dinner. That's just a few of the items included in your fare.
4. Being on the river, there are no waves, so seasickness is not an issue. Also,
most cruises include transferring through a series of “locks” to accommodate
the changes in elevation, which most people find super interesting to watch.
You can literally touch the walls of the locks from your balcony as you pass
through! Evening entertainment can be a little sparse, but there is always live
music in the lounge, lots of movies and entertainment on your in-cabin TVs
and most cruise lines bring on local entertainers in some ports, such as an
OomPah band in Passau Germany or Gypsy dancers in Budapest. Plus, there
are informative talks on the ports-of-call and cocktails with your newly-made
friends from around the world.
The price tag of a River Cruise can cause a little bit of “sticker shock”, but when you
figure out everything you are getting for the cost, it becomes much more
manageable, and quite a good value.
Viking River Cruises is the most well-known of
the River Cruise lines because they spend boatloads (literally) of money on television
and print advertising, and they have done a lot to introduce travelers to the River
Cruise concept. However, there are many other River Cruise lines with higher
customer satisfaction rates and more complimentary inclusions just waiting to show
you the time of your lives as well.
Travel advisors who specializes in European River cruising (like us!) and has
actually experienced a cruise and has relationships with the sales reps from all the
different lines can be incredibly valuable in helping you sort through all of the options
and find the perfect fit! River cruising is also a great option for small groups of friends,
family or even work colleagues who would like to travel together ....whenever we book
a River Cruise, we always ask if there is anyone who might want to join you on the
trip....most times at least 1 or 2 additional couples come forward! Who would you
like to sip champagne with as you cruise through the incredible Wachau Valley in
Austria’s wine country?
So, if you think you are finished with the hairy chest contests and waiting in line with
3998 of your new best friends on the Ocean cruise megaships, why not give River
Cruising a try? 96% of first time River Cruisers say they would recommend the
experience to a friend! Dream Planning Pros is authorized to sell all the lines and
we would love to help match you (and your friends) to the perfect experience! Get on
board the “civilized” River Cruise movement! We're counting down to our next adventure.
Here's a great article that compares river and ocean cruising.