Vacation Style: River Cruising

You might be a river cruise vacation style if …

Maybe being on a massive ship in a large body of water with thousands of people sounds amazing to you, but maybe it sounds terrifying. While there are pros and cons to both an ocean cruise and a river cruise, which you choose ultimately depends on what experiences you desire on your next vacation.

I think I’m going to be sick …

If seasickness is a top reason for not choosing an ocean cruise, consider the smooth, tranquil waters of a river. Not only do rivers tend to be calmer water, but also the smaller size of the ship lends to a less rocky experience. Leave all the patches and pills for seasickness at home and enjoy the serene waters on a river cruise.

Waiting in lines of vacation does not sound like a good time …

A typical cruise ship can have thousands of people on them, creating the feel of a small energetic city. For those that hate waiting in lines to eat or disembark from the ship, a river cruise might appeal to you as well. The average size of a river cruise is 200 passengers. Because of the smaller ship size and fewer passengers on board, there doesn’t tend to be a wait for your food, however, you also have limited eating choices while on board.

Mediocre food 24/7 …

It’s rare for passengers to eat at the buffets and main dining areas of a mass cruise ship and report that the food was amazing. You’ve probably heard your friends and family complain about the food on a cruise ship, unless they were lucky enough to get into some of the specialty dining restaurants. Most river cruises offer buffets for breakfast and lunch and a sit-down meal at dinner. The chefs will often go shopping in the ports to pick the freshest ingredients to create local dishes. However, if you prefer eating at all hours of the day, a river cruise might not be for you as there are specific mealtimes. Some river cruises do have a specialty dining experience with fewer guests each night and occasionally can be included as one night of specialty dining per cabin. While the eating times may be structured, the menu changes daily and the cuisine is fresh on a river cruise.

Local, fresh caught fish baked to perfection.

… expensive drinks

Do you enjoy wine or beer with dinner, maybe a cocktail in the mid-afternoon? Often the cruise drink packages are only a good deal if you and another person in your cabin drink at least 12 specialty drinks a day. If one person in the cabin purchases the drink package, then passenger number two must purchase it as well. This can quickly increase the cost of your vacation and have you drinking more to make it worth it. Most river cruises include drinks during cocktail hour and with lunch and dinner included in the price.

History and culture of the destinations interest you

One excursion per port is included in the price of your river cruise. Because the ships go into the interior of the countries, it’s possible to stop within walking distance to the city. You can often borrow bikes to explore with a group or on your own as well. These cities are often smaller cities that allow you to experience the culture of the area you are in without feeling like a sardine in a large tourist area. There are a variety of tours to choose from, or you can explore on your own. The ships usually cruise at night so that you will have a full day in each city. Sometimes you will visit two cities in one day.

The evening entertainment is often a local group performing traditional dance or other forms of entertainment. While the excursions tend to be active, the evenings are very relaxed with piano music and mingling with other guests or perhaps retiring to your balcony for some reading. If you enjoy conversations and quiet nights, this is for you.

River cruises offer an all-inclusive and authentic experience. The ships are small, which allows for a more attentive staff and the potential to make new friends. Most river cruises include meals, drinks with lunch and dinner, Wi-Fi, excursions, and gratuities. There are often amazing offers of complimentary stays in cities before or after your cruise, however, they are limited to specific sail dates.

Specialty cruises can be ideal for groups with similar interests, like the wine cruises with AmaWaterways. Are you part of a gardening group? Explore the tulips in Holland as part of your travels together.

While most people think of Europe for river cruising, there are so many other incredible destinations to explore with this mode of travel. Experience coffee and chocolate in Colombia, the wilds of Africa, or the wonders and traditions of Asia on your next vacation.

Magna courtesy of Ama Waterways

Ports in the heart of the country make exploring easy.