Unless you've been living under a rock you must have heard about river cruising by now. There are new ships inaugurated every year and quite a few river cruise companies to choose from. Twenty years ago no one had even heard about this amazing way to travel.
So why all the hype about river cruising? What makes it so special? Below I will summarize why I think it's so special and why I (a non-cruiser), loved it and can't wait to sail on another river cruise...
FLOATING BOUTIQUE HOTEL EXPERIENCE - Carrying around 150 passengers, river cruising allows for an intimate experience you can't find on a mega ocean ship carrying thousands of passengers. It is completely hassle-free, no fighting through the crowds at a buffet, and no need to pack your luggage the night before disembarkation and leave it outside your room. The entire experience is relaxed, intimate, and exclusive as you sail and visit the most charming towns and villages.
LONGER TIME AT DESTINATIONS - On most days you will be sailing at night so you have full days to spend in town, and sometimes even overnight. River cruises dock right in town, you will walk right into town and have the advantage of that extra time to enjoy the cities, try the food, and partake in some of the included excursions.
IMMERSIVE EXPERIENCES - Shore activities can include anything from an after-hours visit to a world-renowned museum, exploring a food market with a local, and vineyard tours with wine tastings. Every single day you will have options for shore excursions and you can be as active as you'd like. Hike or bike through vineyards, or enjoy a leisurely walking tour with rich experiences in a city, there are always several options offered.
GOURMET DINING - Exquisite gourmet lunches and dinners paired with wines from the region in which you're sailing are your meals during the cruise. Some cruise lines have a Chef's table experience which is a multi-course dinner with wine pairings in a small dining room where you get to see the chef preparing the meal. There are no midnight buffets on river cruises but you will not go hungry. Snacks and hors d'oeuvres are also served throughout the day aside from the 3 main meals.
ALL INCLUSIVE PRICING - Many river cruise lines offer completely all inclusive rates. The cost of shore excursions, onboard entertainment and drinks, premium beverages, Wi-Fi, and even gratuities are included by some lines. This eliminates unexpected out-of-pocket expenses (you will step off the ship without a bill!).
Now that I gave you all the reasons why I love river cruising, here are answers to two super important questions...
So, who is river cruising for? I recommend river cruising for the 40s and up crowd. In general, if you are looking for a party atmosphere or have young children, river cruising is not for you. There are specific sailings for families with children. During these sailings there are many organized activities to keep everyone entertained on and off the ship. If you're traveling with children make sure you reserve one of these specific sailings.
Which river cruise company is right for me? There are many different cruise lines and they all sail the same rivers. However, they are very different in the amenities and inclusions they offer. I like to go through a list of questions with my clients to match them with the right experience. There are river cruises that offer award winning cuisine and premium wines, bikes on board, hot tubs and even swimming pools, while others do not have all these amenities on their ships.
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