River cruising is an altogether different experience to the ocean cruising that many of us know and love. Not only do river vessels take you on a very different journey, they also offer an added level of luxury and intimacy, making them a popular choice for those who are looking for something a little more indulgent.
Our river cruises take you to the heart of Europe and Asia, offering you a glimpse of locations you never knew you could cruise to. From ancient villages to modern and becoming towns nestled in the countryside, in this article, we give you a glimpse into what a luxury river cruise is really like and why bloggers and cruise enthusiasts are huge advocates.
It’s a more intimate cruising experience
River cruises tend to be an intimate and personal affair with many of the ships only fitting between 100 – 200 guests on board at any one time. Luxury river cruising is all about the experience, so with fewer passengers, crowds are few and far between, restaurants are quiet and more intimate, and the staff are always on hand with any requests you may have.
We spoke to Ilana who blogs about her cruising experiences at Life Well Cruised. She told us a little more about her experience on a luxury river cruise: “River cruising offers a somewhat different experience than an ocean cruise; one that's more intimate and really focuses on local travel experiences. However, just like an ocean cruise, river cruises allow the guest the convenience of unpacking once and exploring destinations at a leisurely pace.”
Heather, also known as Heather On Her Travels agrees with Ilana that river cruising is a completely different experience: “While an ocean cruise may have thousands of guests, with a river cruise there are normally less than a hundred, which gives the cruise a totally different feel - more like a boutique hotel or house party than a huge resort at sea. If readers tell me they are not sure they will like a cruise, I suggest they try out a river cruise first to see if they enjoy the experience on a smaller scale.”
As well as getting to experience luxury on a smaller scale, the friends you will make whilst on your river cruise adventure will make the experience even more memorable.
“You have a chance to meet many new people and forge lasting friendships (experienced cruisers can vouch for this), and not be ploughed down by big crowds like you sometimes get on ocean cruises. We encounter many groups of friends while cruising who met on a previous cruise.” Says Melody from Wherever I May Roam.
You get to explore hidden towns and villages
The ultimate beauty of river cruising and the reason people often choose it over another cruise type is the number of locations you get to visit and the exclusivity of those locations. The handpicked locations on a river cruise are ports that no large cruise ship would be able to access, meaning you get to visit quaint and quiet towns and villages hidden in the depths of the European and Asian countryside.
Ilana told us about the benefits she sees in river cruising, including the picturesque locations you get to explore: “River cruising has several advantages for the cruise traveller. Firstly, an opportunity to explore picturesque towns and villages not accessible by regular cruise ships. Secondly, pricing is almost all-inclusive. Beer and wine and other drinks are often included in the cruise fare, as are gratuities and tours, which eliminates some of the stresses of budgeting from the cruise travel experience. Finally, the small number of passengers allows river cruises to provide a level of care in their service and cuisine that is hard to duplicate in a large ship experience. River cruising is definitely a cruise travel experience that one won't regret.”
Melody loves river cruising as it takes her away from all the major sights and shows her locations she would never dream of visiting usually: “What makes a river cruise better in my eyes is that your vacation visits various cruise ports each day and rests overnight. You literally wake up in a beautiful new place every day. How cool is that? The attention to detail is also noteworthy. On my river cruises, the service has been exceptional.”
“The beauty of river cruising is that the smaller ships take you into the heart of towns and cities, often just a short stroll away from all the major sights,” says Heather. “Since river cruising is popular on the major rivers of Europe such as the Rhine, Danube and Rhone, you can pack in a lot of sights to please the culture lovers. As a fellow guest told me ‘I feel that we are sailing through history’.”
Experiences are more tailored
River cruises are designed to cater to everyone’s needs, and with fewer guests than a traditional cruise, you’re often encouraged to take part in activities and excursions on and off the ship.
Get involved in a day trekking through the beautiful countryside of Asia or stay on board and enjoy the included luxuries like the swimming pool, Jacuzzi or gym equipment. On board itineraries include drinks with the captain and a gala buffet to kick off the holiday, evening entertainment includes cabaret shows and professional dancing to name just a few.
Heather told us a little about one of her recent river cruises: “River cruise lines are increasingly catering for the traveller who wants to stay fit and active or have a more adventurous approach to their holidays. On recent river cruises, I've been on kayaking and cycling excursions.”
It’s also worth noting that most river cruises offer a completely all-inclusive service, meaning all of your meals, activities and shows are included within the price. Enjoy three meals a day, including five-course al a carte evening meals, late-night snacks and a selection of amazing shows, shops and events.
It’s a smooth-sailing and calming experience
The calm waters of some of the world’s most famous rivers mean that these sorts of cruises are often described as exceedingly quiet and calm. The gentle waters and lack of waves mean movement on the boat is minimal and often unnoticeable, the perfect option for those who often feel unwell on board bigger ships that take you out to sea.
“For those interested in taking a river cruise, you might be surprised to know that there are little or no waves. I have a lot of people asking if the water is rough or bumpy because they are afraid of motion sickness. The ride is smooth-sailing the whole journey.” Melody describes.
The experience of being on the water, slowly floating through countryside that takes your breath away is enough to make anyone fall in love with the idea of river cruising. Whether you’re looking to embark on a European cruise or want to venture a little further afield, give river cruising a second thought and uncover hidden gems and make new friends for life - it really is the luxury cruise experience you never knew you needed to enjoy.