Which are best for you?
A river cruise is completely different to an ocean cruise. there is likely to be no casino, nightclub, or gymnasium, and any evening entertainment is likely to be more intimate and low-key. On the other hand there will be none of the rocking or rolling that can happen on a cruise ship; although you are floating on water it is likely to be flat and smooth, so seasickness is exceedingly unlikely!
Staying on a floating hotel, with constantly changing views, has a huge advantage in that, although you can travel for long distances, you only have to unpack once; no more getting up in the early hours of the morning to catch a coach to your next hotel.
There is usually a dock to stop at every day; and since the ships are fairly small they can often get right to the heart of cities and attractions, allowing you to explore areas that would be very difficult to reach from a cruise ship. Instead of gazing at an endless expanse of sea, you may be gliding gently past beautiful inland scenery and architecture. Some boats travel only by night, leaving the whole of each day available for sightseeing.
Passenger numbers are usually fairly small; between about 50 and 200 is a reasonable average. This makes it much easier for you to get to know your fellow passengers, the crew and the staff on your craft. getting on and off the ship can be very quick and easy, in contrast to an ocean cruise ship, which is likely to carry thousands of passengers, and which may have to use tenders to take them ashore in.
Standards can be very high
The standard of service and dining varies of course from one company to another, but a very high level of luxury is common, with gourmet dining of the highest standard frequently available.
All-inclusive holidays are popular, which means that, very often, not only your meals but also your drinks and excursions are included in the price; this means that there will be very little extra, if anything for you to pay for; a great advantage for those on a budget.
Whilst there are a few cruise companies that encourage families, the majority cater for adults only, with the over 60s generally in the majority. This can create a far more peaceful experience with no boisterous kids or young adults aboard.
Because you are never very far from a market, food can be sourced locally, giving you the real taste of the region, and be very fresh.
A number of cruise companies provide themed breaks; for instance you could visit Christmas markets in December, see the Dutch tulip farms during the growing season, go on photo safaris or study the local history, flora or fauna. On-board entertainment, too, is often locally inspired so you can capture the essence of the areas that you are visiting. There is often a gala dinner, with a local flavour, as well as lectures and discussions about local matters.
Some ships even carry bicycles for those who feel energetic enough to get a little further afield under their own steam!
Europe is a major destination for those who wish to travel over the waterways; major rivers such as the Rhine, Rhône, Seine, and Danube are navigable for hundreds of miles, allowing access right into the heart of the continent. In Asia rivers such as the Mekong and Yangtze, the Mississippi in the United States of America, the Volga in Russia and the Nile are very popular waterways for exploring fascinating new regions that few tourists have ever been able to reach.
The major one to me is that, since so few passengers can be carried, there is very rarely any provision for solo travellers; although some tour operators are able to provide double cabins for single occupancy, subject to a supplement.
River cruises are for those who prefer to travel in a more relaxed manner and enjoy the sights and experiences of a fairly small area, rather than the constant dash from one country to the next which is the aim of most ocean cruises.
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