When you hear the word cruise does a giant ocean liner automatically come to mind? For most people, that’s the only kind of cruising they are familiar with however, river cruises are another option. You may be familiar with short river cruises such as sightseeing on Thames or Seine. The river cruises I’m talking about here are multi-day trips that cover much more space.
There are definite advantages and disadvantages to each, and the type you pick will largely depend on your personality and goals when vacationing.
The most popular river cruises are on the famous European rivers; the Elbe, Danube, and Rhone. Most are 1-2 weeks in length. The biggest difference between river and ocean cruises is that river cruises are much, much smaller boats with many fewer people – often less than 200 (whereas an ocean liner can carry over 4,000). You’ll also be docked in a city every night with the opportunity to go into port almost daily. There’s no “days at sea” making this a really nice option for people who get seasick. River cruises have fewer amenities on board and dining times are usually limited to a set schedule. This tends to force more socialization.
If the gems of Europe aren’t on your wish list there are other destinations that are gaining popularity for river cruises. Russian river cruises (typically 12 days and in summer months) are a wonderful way to experience parts of the country that may be difficult to access overland. The focus on these cruises tends to be on cultural and historical highlights instead of scenic vistas.
Asian river cruises are also gaining popularity. Cruises on the Mekong through China, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos operate year round and give a good variety of culture, scenery and a look into everyday life in this region. Yangtze River cruises through China showcase the countryside of China as well as large cities such as Beijing.
Finally in the Americas cruises are available on the Amazon and Mississippi Rivers. The lower basic of the Amazon is so wide that cruise lines can enter to over 900 miles inland. River cruises further upstream in Peru and Ecuador offer 3 to 12 days, as well as much smaller boats accommodation only 25-35 people travel through the heart of the rainforest. Mississippi river cruises were once a thing of the past but are coming back into fashion.
Typically cruises are a week in length and go half of the Mississippi but it is possible to switch ships at the halfway point to cruise the full length. I have been dying to experience a river cruise locally. Most are 7 days in length and are quite pricey.
Have you experienced a river cruise vs an ocean cruise before?