Most of us are very familiar with the large ocean cruise ships but there are also river and barge cruises. Who would have known?
Below I share with you the differences between the three. Let me know which one you would choose!
Imagine walking into a huge floating resort, carrying up to 4,000 passengers! You can expect endless activities onboard. Rock climbing, water slides, casinos, bars, nightclubs, a spa, and Broadway style shows, there is not much you won’t find on these ships. There are activities geared to different age groups from toddlers to teenagers and adults. You will also find adult only areas on most ships to relax in quiet pools and cafes.
Meals are all included and served throughout the day. Many ships have dining options at more exclusive restaurants for an extra charge. Alcoholic beverages are usually not included but often times they have promotions that may include the beverage package.
Shore excursions are an additional charge on ocean cruises. Due to their size, the large cruise ports are a bit away from the main attractions so you will most likely take a bus or taxi to see the sights. Enjoy an ocean cruise through Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe or just about anywhere in the world.
Imagine an intimate sailing of 140 travelers along the beautiful European rivers and waking up to a different village every morning. You won’t have to compete with a daunting number of travelers for a seat at the hottest restaurant onboard or for a lounge chair by the pool.
These amazing cruises are truly all inclusive. All your meals, drinks, and even exclusive shore excursions are included. Local entertainers are brought onboard in the evening to perform. Expect comfortable common areas on the ship where you can linger, read a book, or get to know other travelers, and a beautiful deck to enjoy river breezes.
Shore excursions are more exclusive than those of the larger ships. Moving four thousand people around on shore is much more difficult than transporting a couple of hundred. You can expect to step off the ship and be in a small city or lovely village within minutes. You will have excursion options such as wine tastings, sampling local cuisine, riding bicycles through the villages, walking, and hiking to name a few.
Service is top notch on these small ships. You will have the ability to make special requests such as dietary requirements, exclusive tours, or private anniversary dinners. River cruise lines provide upscale fine dining at its best in luxurious dining rooms and onboard restaurants.
Lastly, river cruising used to be for the 55 and over crowd but not anymore. Families also enjoy exploring the picturesque rivers and lovely villages so the cruise lines now offer family themed cruises. I would recommend for children 10 and over as onshore activities include cycling, GPS scavenger hunts and many others where families can have fun together. Plus, many of the family friendly sailings offer children at half price!
If you have never heard of a barge cruise, you’re not alone. These small ships usually only accommodate 8 – 20 passengers. They don’t offer as many of the bells and whistles offered on the river cruise ships but the personalized service and attention to detail is unparalleled. They move very slowly along the canals and rivers, thus, giving you ample time to enjoy the beautiful European countryside and villages.
Although barge cruising is offered in Germany, Belgium, and Holland, France remains the most popular destination. French cuisine barges have fine food, wine, and champagne with very fresh local ingredients purchased and prepared each day. If you are traveling as a couple you will dine with the other passengers on the cruise. However, most cruise barges can be privately chartered. A wonderful idea if you can get two or three families together for an unforgettable trip.
Exquisite dining as you travel through medieval walled towns, sleepy villages, cathedrals, and exploring wine regions are some of the main attractions of a cruise barge. Enjoy unique on shore activities such as bicycling, hot air balloon rides, wine tastings, and hiking on these exclusive sailings.
Barges are perfect to charter for families, reunions and even weddings and you can customize your theme such as Gourmet, Wine, Hiking, Cruise and Bike, or Christmas and New Year's cruising.
So, which type of cruise is right for you?
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I work with my clients on creating personalized travel itineraries while consulting on everything from destinations to excursions and logistics of the trip. Through my personal travel I seek unique activities including private guides and tours for exceptional experiences. More on Belkys