Admiring a medieval castle as you drift by, stepping ashore to explore a picture postcard village on foot, waking each morning to a new memory… it's understandably and rightfully bucket list material everywhere.
As popular as they are in Europe, it should come as no surprise then the river cruise holiday craze is spreading around the world. From Asia, Russia, North America and Australia to Africa and South America, river cruising is the new black.
Here are ten reasons why people are raving about river cruises.
1. Onshore tours and experiences
River ships dock in the heart of the city, town or village. Once moored, the regional attractions are practically on your doorstep. Some tours of course may include a bus transfer for extended day trips, but typically, city tours and attractions are within walking distance of the ship.
2. All-inclusive amenities
On a fully-inclusive river cruise, you can leave your credit card behind. Everything from meals, beverages (generally with meals only), shore tours, gratuities and in some cases, even butler and laundry services are included in the fare. Enjoy a Martini by the piano, explore ancient castles and ruins, experience a private concert in a Viennese Palace – all without any additional expense if your tour is all-inclusive.
3. Five-star dining
As with all cruises, food is an important part of the experience. Local seasonal fare is accommodated wherever possible and during select port days, you can often follow the chefs as they walk through the small villages and farms in search of the freshest ingredients.
4. Unpack once
Once onboard, your temporary home moves with you. When you unpack for the first and only time, you’re set for the duration of your multi-city experience.
5. Small ship experiences
With an average of just 150 passengers, a river cruise is a very different experience to most ocean-going cruises. Suffice to say, you'll never have to worry about queues for meals or crowded spaces.
6. Immersive experiences
A river cruise may take you through as many as five or six countries. Most cruise lines offer lectures onboard and expert tour guides with intimate knowledge of the relative destinations. Often, the local cuisine and wines are showcased as part of the cultural experience.
7. Relaxed pace
Compared to the often harried experiences of ocean cruises, disembarking for shore excursions on a river cruise is generally straightforwad and without fuss. No long queues, no tenders into a unwieldy access ports and no waiting for your group to be called before your tour starts. Simply disembark and return at your leisure.
8. Short distances between towns
Most cruises travel at night meaning you wake each morning in a new town or often a new country. River cruises are a great way to embrace a real connection with the places you visit.
9. The scenery
No full days at sea here, just beautiful scenery throughout your entire journey. You'll be treated to glorious scenery wherever you go. Back on the ship, watch it all pass by from the comfort of the roof-top deck or from your own suite.
10. You won’t get sea sick!
Rivers have a current but there are no waves to contend with. On a river cruise, it’s always smooth sailing.
Where to start?
Don't know where to start? How about a 23-day European sojourn, cruising between Amsterdam and Bucharest. From Amsterdam to Vienna, through Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria, this extensive cruise traverses Europe and takes you to some of the world's true travel icons. This ever-popular journey takes you along three great rivers, though eight countries with 19 included tours.
Hesitant about making a cruise reservation because of COVID travel restrictions? Any bookings made up to April 30, 2021 comes with a risk-free guarantee, allowing you to change your cruise date up to 14 days before your planned departure fee-free.
You can also secure your 2021-2023 cruise with a deposit of just $500 per person. You don't need to pay in full until four months before departure.