Contemplating a cruise vacation can be a daunting and confusing task. Perhaps you have already taken an ocean cruise and you’re looking for a new experience. River cruising is an investment, so you want to be certain you will enjoy the experience thoroughly.
Do you like a party 24/7? If so, river cruising may not be the choice for you. The lifestyle is comfortable and relaxing. It is a perfect time to unplug and absorb the beautiful scenery and reconnect. Entertainment on a river ship comes in the form of local musicians, dancers, and evening skits performed by the ship’s crew. There is plenty of space to relax into the evening around the bar and lounge area (both with amazing views), enjoy tasteful beverages, and create new friendships that last a lifetime. In the evening, you can walk off the ship, dine at a local restaurant, enjoy a pastry at a café, or listen to local musicians. On an ocean cruise, most do not overnight at the port and you have to stay on the ship to be entertained.
Do you love the active night life of a casino- twinkling lights, sounding buzzers, flashing lights and the sound of coins trickling out of casino machines? You won’t find that on a river ship but if gambling is your thing, there are often casinos close by in many cities for you to try your luck. The only twinkling you will experience on a river ship is the bright stars as you gaze into the night sky from a lounge chair on the top deck.
Shopping on an ocean liner is definitely an experience you can’t avoid while walking on the promenade deck of a great ocean liner. Most large ships provide a full mall experience offering everything from clothing, souvenirs, liquor, sundries, hats and formal wear, just to mention a few. On a river ship, you will find a lovely little corner in guest reception offering simple, well selected items.
Love the art auction events on the big ships? Who doesn’t enjoy a free glass of champagne and the entertaining auctioneers? On river ships, art comes in the form of visiting famous museums, landmarks, and art galleries displaying collections from famous artists in history. You will take home the memory of viewing the original piece with you forever.
Is food what you love about cruising? Ocean cruises offer delicious dinners designed in advance by a well-known chef and prepped by a huge team of cooks with an abundance of dining options. It has to be a big team to execute hot meals for thousands of passengers. On river ships, your meals are prepared by a chef and a small team preparing three amazing fresh meals a day for less than 200 passengers. The fresh ingredients are often purchased at the local markets you visit. And fine regional wine is paired for each dinner by a wine specialist.
On an ocean cruise line, you have a lot of choices for accommodations. Your professional travel advisor will make sure your cabin fits you perfectly. On a river ship, you essentially have four options- half windows, French balcony, sitting balcony, or a suite. River ships are only 360 feet long and 37 feet wide, and your options are mid-ship or aft (towards the rear). Another noteworthy fact on a river ship- there is always a view because interior cabins are not an option.
One of the best experiences of cruising is booking shore excursions to fully immerse yourself in the destination. On the ocean cruise lines, the tours and shore excursions are optional and you need to keep in mind that you will be paying for all of your experiences. When planning your ocean cruise vacation, you will need to budget a considerable amount of money for the tours. On a river cruise vacation, you receive one or two free immersive tours at every port at no additional charge. Optional tours are offered at an additional cost if you have other interests.
An ocean cruise brings you to the country, a river cruise brings you through the country. Your journey is the destination. On a large ocean liner, the ship is the destination. Large ships are floating cities. On a river cruise, you are docked in the city, town or village and you literally exit the river ship and you’re there. On an ocean liner, you are usually docked in an industrial location, not the city center. The line to get off the ship can be very, very long. There are no lines or formalities when you walk off a river ship.
Does the size of a ship matter to you? You can choose to sail on an ocean liner with 3000 to 5000 strangers, families and children, or you can create new friendships with 130 to 198 other like-minded passengers. The average river cruiser’s age is 55, well educated, curious, and active.
Getting acclimated to your ship is pretty crazy on an ocean liner. You will find
15 decks or more, elevators on each floor, lobbies,and interior hallways that wind around cabins. A river ship has four decks, one reception area, and a few public areas. The hallway to your cabin is in one straight line. I can guarantee you won’t get lost or spend more than three minutes getting to your cabin. It’s comfortable, relaxing, and becomes very familiar in a matter of less than an hour.
The cost of wine, beer, soda, and liquor on an ocean liner can be extremely expensive. When you are gliding along the rivers of Europe, beer, soda and wine are included at no additional cost with lunch and dinner. With some river cruise lines, it is included 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For the river cruise companies that don’t include an open bar, it is very, very reasonable to add the cost onto your cruise booking. On an ocean liner, if you are not paying attention to your on-board account, by the end of the cruise, your bill could be as much as the cruise!
There are many different European river cruise companies in business
today and each is different and unique. The top river cruise companies are: Ama Waterways, Viking, Avalon, Croisi Europe, Emerald, Scenic, Tauck, Crystal, and Uniworld.
River cruising is becoming one of the most popular travel choices. The market is growing so fast and the river cruise companies are continually working on new innovations and new ideas to make their company the most attractive. Ships sell out well in advance, especially for the most popular itineraries like the Rhine and Danube. No matter the demand, the ships will always be small and intimate and the crew will always make the passengers their number one priority.
At Trip Quest Travel Services , we understand river cruising and European travel. We constantly stay up to date with growth, changes, current promotions, new itineraries, and what makes each river cruise company special. We understand their differences and their uniqueness and it is our pleasure to connect you with the right river cruise company that meets your lifestyle.
We want your journey to be seamless and memorable. It is about the destination and the experience. We want to take you there!
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Ann Jones, CTC, MCC