How to Choose Between a River Cruise & and an Ocean Cruise
River Cruises are a bright spot for an industry that has suffered a black eye with mishaps on ocean-liner cruises that have included onboard fires, sanitation issues and engine failures. However, not all cruises are alike. River cruising provides travelers with multi-stop itineraries analogous to an ocean cruise; however, that’s where the similarity ends. For vacationers who enjoy the cruise lifestyle, nothing compares to a river cruise.
If you have been contemplating your next vacation experience, you should strongly consider taking a river cruise. A river cruise is an ideal vacation for adults over the age of 40, including empty nesters, as well as couples with children who are looking to recharge their marriages with a child-free getaway. The river cruise is the perfect vacation for supercharging romance, celebrating milestone birthdays or extended families traveling with parents/grandparents who are commemorating a wedding anniversary.
Here are some of the major differences to help you decide which cruise is right for you and your vacation or special occasion:
• On an ocean liner, the destinations are the primary focus of the cruise. You typically sail off each night so you can reach the next day’s port of call. However, with a river cruise, you are experiencing the destination the entire day. All day you are exposed to a region’s attractions. On one of the great rivers of the world, you’ll leisurely cruise through the heart of towns, villages and cities with the shoreline less than 35 feet away. There’s no need for you to stop what you are doing to rush back to the ship before 5:00 p.m. or you’ll be left behind.
• The river cruise ship is docked each night, allowing you to spend evenings in town, further soaking up the culture, history and local attractions. You can enjoy a gourmet dinner on the ship, then walk to the theatre or attend a concert and then end the evening dancing at a nightclub until 2:00 a.m. You want to disembark the ship during the day, and not return until evening. You’d be able to just walk or bike back to the dock where the ship is moored for that night. The ship waits for you, not the other way around. It’s a very freeing experience, especially for people who have challenges with punctuality.
• Generally, on a river cruise, travelers can expect to share the ship with far fewer passengers. This creates a more-intimate setting than an ocean-liner cruise ship, which are designed to sail with as few as 1,100 people to as many as 3000-plus passengers. River cruises sail with as few as 140 passengers, with most ships carrying between 150- 190 passengers.
• There aren’t any cabaret shows, comedians or dance troupes on a river cruise. The entertainment is going to be much more cultural. For example, on a wine-themed river cruise, you’d get to enjoy wine education lectures from a sommelier or perhaps the sommelier would team up with a chef and they would discuss pairing wines with various foods. Other shipboard activities may include a violin and piano duet or an art appreciation lecture that coincides with an upcoming shore excursion.
• A river cruise has exceptional value; although at first glance, it may appear that a river cruise is expensive. However, a river cruise is an all-inclusive vacation. Not only are the meals included but also, most or all of the shore excursions. Depending on the destination, the excursions will be quite extraordinary with offerings of private wine dinners in a wine cave or a chef-led walking tour to the local markets followed by a cooking demonstration.
• The average age on a river cruise is older, being typically over the age of 40. However, many families are bringing along children on the fastest-growing segment of the travel industry, multi-generational vacations. It’s a great way for an extended family of three or four generations to spend time together but without all the hassles of planning day-to-day activities. But the purpose on river cruise is family time, walking together around medieval villages, while experiencing the cultural and historical sites, with the aid of a complimentary local guide. There aren’t any adventure excursions like zip lining or 4×4 rides excursions or rock climbing walls to scale while onboard.
• A river cruise has an included beverage program, which alone could save you several hundred dollars. All wines, beers, soft drinks and tea services are included with dinner. This unlimited beverage service includes premium brands not just the off-brand or inexpensive labels, which cost extra on an ocean cruise. This free-flowing beverage policy may be similar to the bottomless champagne brunches you may have attended at restaurants back home. On an ocean liner, you will have to purchase your alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages on a pay-as-you-drink basis or via a wine package, that your waiter will add to your ship bill.
• You’ll receive more far amenities on a river cruise. Here are some examples of what would be included in your all-inclusive price:
o Daily bottled watered in your stateroom, which you could bring ashore while taking excursions.
o Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the ship
o Complimentary Internet in your stateroom
o Free movies to enjoy in your stateroom
• Port charges are overlooked charges people forget to include when they are calculating a price comparisons between a river cruise and an ocean cruise. Port charges are several hundred dollars and are wrapped into the advertised price of a river cruise. Typically, port charges are tucked in a footnote of an advertisement for ocean cruises. It’s just something that you should be aware of since it is frequently overlooked when making the price comparisons.
Whether you take a river cruise or an ocean cruise, both will provide you with a memorable vacation. It just all depends on the activities, amenities and destinations you are looking for on your cruising vacation. Bon Voyage!
, River Cruises