Ask most people what comes to mind when you mention a cruise holiday, and most people are likely to mention big ships taking to sea to explore some of the most exotic destinations around the world.
However, whilst there are endless options when it comes to a sea cruise, there is also an ever-increasing number of smaller ships that are taking to the water along some of the world’s greatest rivers to provide an altogether different kind of cruise holiday.
But why should you consider swapping your usual sea-based cruise holiday for one along a river instead?
Booking a holiday on a river provides a unique cruise experience that is a world away from a trip on one of the large scale liners that now dominate the ocean-based part of the cruise industry - with the likes of Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Holland America operating ever more spectacular ships that carry thousands of people at a time.
A scenic river cruise is just as luxurious, but on a much smaller scale; something which will come as a little surprise given the fact that taking a modern day supersize cruise ship down a river simply wouldn’t be possible.
Whilst that means you won’t get some of the leisure facilities that you’d get at sea, such as swimming pools, you’ll still benefit from luxurious accommodation, top class dining and fantastic entertainment whilst you cruise along some of the most well known waterways in the world.
Small scale sailings might well appeal to those who are travelling alone because you’ll have more chance to get to know your fellow travellers, whilst a higher staff to traveller ratio means increased levels of personalised service can be expected.
As with an ocean cruise, the big appeal of a river cruise is the chance to see a number of different destinations on one holiday.
Whilst the likes of Barcelona, Rome and Venice are popular ports of call for ocean liners, a cruise along one of Europe’s rivers provides the chance to visit stunning cities such Paris, Vienna, Budapest and Basel - whilst heading further afield means you could sail at leisure along the likes of the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Nile.
But simply visiting new destinations is far from the only reason why you would want to swap an ocean cruise for one on a river.
For a start, a river cruise is a fantastic option for anyone who loves the idea of a holiday on water but who has concerns about the possibility that they may get a bout of sea sickness. Even though ocean liners have been designed to deal with rough seas, the waters will be calmer on a river cruise as you don’t need to deal with the large waves that come from travelling in deep water.
A river cruise also provides fantastic value for money, and often provide more for your money than you would get on an ocean cruise. That can range from more inclusive drinks as part of your package to an excursion when you dock in port.
These excursions might well include things you will only get from being on a river cruise, such as exclusive access to museums, private concerts and shows and unique food and wine tasting events.
You might also have your own private guide who will be travelling on your ship, with talks scheduled ahead of any excursions to provide more information on what to expect.
In fact, you’re much more likely to find yourself on an all-inclusive cruise if you are travelling on a river than you are on the ocean, although it is worth pointing out that that isn’t always the case and that exactly what is on offer will differ from cruise line to cruise line - and indeed from one trip to another.
A river cruise also provides travellers with a more impressive backdrop to their trip, as you’ll have something to see as your wind your way through the countryside.
Take to the sea on a cruise around the Mediterranean or the Caribbean and there is a good chance that you’ll have a day at sea where you can make use of the facilities onboard, but where the views are likely to be little more than the sea that surrounds you.
On a river cruise however, you’ll be able to marvel at your surroundings throughout your time onboard, be that the impressive gorges of the Rhine and the Danube, or the wide open deltas around the Mekong.
Relax on deck and take in the sights of you could head below deck and admire the views from the privacy of your balcony - another selling point of a river cruise. The smaller size of the ships means rooms come with a view rather than some being located on the inside of the vessel, and are both spacious and luxurious, with suites in particular being like something lifted straight from a top class hotel.
You can easily enhance your river cruise experience by adding on a city break as part of the package to create your own unique holiday - and that is something our expert team would be happy to help with.
We deal with all the leading river cruise companies - including Viking River Cruise, Emerald River Cruises, Fred Olsen and Uniworld - so if you fancy swapping the ocean for the river, get in touch and see what options we have available.