“River cruising, that is for older less active people”. That is the common stereotype and based on the cruise line can be somewhat true.
But, what if I told you that the industry has evolved and river cruising is so much more then just a vehicle for transporting you to remote river towns so you can disembark for a bus ride and possibly a stop for lunch? Would you believe me?
Possibly not and until I experienced it for myself, I may have not believed me either.
Now I know how a river cruise can boost your travel experience;
Travel Through Countries
Arrive into a must see city that sits on or near a European river. Start in Paris, Amsterdam, Budapest, Vienna, Prague or Lisbon just to name a few. Imagine spending a few days engulfing yourself in a beautiful city taking in the sites, sounds and tastes of the local culture. Culture is one of the characteristics that makes these urban cities a must visit and perfect way to start your journey. Explore the beautiful gardens, historic locations, iconic buildings and enjoy the local gastronomy.
Then from that city you embark on a voyage that takes you through Europe’s beautiful countries. Experience them as they have been seen for hundreds of years from their waterways. This is truly the best reason to embark on a river cruise. Get to know the cities, countries and regions you are visiting intimately boosting your travel experience.
The travel experience takes you on a journey to explore the many beautiful landscapes of Europe on a single itinerary. Transporting you from the mountainous regions of southern Europe, along the hills of the uplands, the rolling plains and lowlands to the mouth of the rivers where they empty into greater and inland seas, lakes or urban cities.
Sight castles and monasteries as you glide past them, witness endless miles of vineyards as they seasonally change color, embrace the vision of medieval architecture and modern bridges. As you spot historic villages and approach cities that have been beautifully built and to this day flourish along the rivers offering fantastic views into the past and present before you even arrive into your destination for the day.
The changing scenery and beautiful views can only viewed from your private yacht as it transports you from point to point on a breathtaking journey and is another way a river cruise will boost your travel experience.
Your ship is not just your vehicle for moving you along the river banks. A “floating boutique hotel”, offering you mostly all-inclusive modern luxuries from arrival to departure is another way to boost your travel experience.
Arriving at the ship, a bellman collects your luggage so you can check into your cabin from the lobby desk and quickly transports you both to your stateroom so you can unpack and settle in with a quick nap or with time to relax on your private balcony.
Ready for some activity, head out to the fitness room or sun deck for some exercise or a dip in the pool. Need a beverage or a bite to eat, there is always something available for you when you need or want it. When it is time for your next meal, try regional favorites at the restaurant style dining room offering locally inspired menus and locally sourced cuisine to enjoy with a glass of regional wine or beer to accompany your meal.
After dinner you can sit back and enjoy local entertainment before you retire to your bed to awake the next morning in a new locale. When you awake, enjoy a cup of coffee on your balcony or take advantage of the many breakfast options available before heading out to venture your next destination.
Regardless if you are an early riser or prefer to sleep in, the extensive time you have for visiting your destination allows you to travel on your terms. When you return to the ship, relax with a local spirit or wine as you wind down and reflect on your day. Most ships offer spa and beauty services as well as laundry service to round out your “floating hotel” experience.
The small size of the ships, allowing for up to 200 passengers or less, provide unique opportunities to boost your travel experience.
With high staff to guest ratios, you get personalized service with staff who get to know your wants, needs and habits and are personally available to assist you if and when you need it. Having a room steward who has the extra towels available for you daily, the servers who know your name and drink of choice, or the chef who remembers how you like your eggs cooked, personal service is provided for you every step of the way.
With less people on board, that provides more space for you to enjoy the restaurants and lounges without waiting in lines or feeling crowded. It also offers an intimate experience among the other passengers who are traveling with you.
Travel styles like guests are unique but most travelers when visiting new destinations are looking for the opportunity to immerse in the places they are visiting.
Onboard concierge and cruise managers can guide you to the off the beaten path destinations or assist you with reaching some of the more popular not to be missed venues.
River cruises port for extended periods of time and it is not uncommon for them to overnight in the larger cities to allow you additional time to fully explore them. Leave the ship to enjoy dinner or attend a concert, hire a driver or jump on a train and explore further regions. Want to spend extra time in a city meet up with the ship in the next port. You have control over your experience and the opportunity to fully immerse in the areas you are visiting or want to visit to further boost your travel experience.
Small Group Excursions
Diversity of included excursions will accommodate travelers offering a more personalized experience that will enhance your visit and your travel experience.
Within each destination, you choose how you would like to spend your day. There are excursions included in your fare. Small group city tour options with 15 passengers or less guiding you to the highlights and landmarks.
You can also delve deeper into an immersive special interest tour to abbey’s, castles, historical sites, wineries and more all scheduled around your exploring pace and at a time that works with your daily schedule.
Local English-speaking guides lead the tours and they are not just knowledgeable but provide first hand experience and recommendations for connecting you with their local culture and understanding more about the locations you are visiting.
River cruising once was geared for the older less active crowd. With the increase of interest in visiting the many destinations that can be reached by river boat, amenities have become available to guests for a more active travel experience.
Many of today’s ships carry a fleet of bikes onboard to guide you through cities or to discover on your own seeing the sites as the locals do. One of the fondest memories of my time on the Danube was biking the Wachau Valley from Krem’s Austria to Melk Austria following the Danube through the vineyards and provincial towns at its banks.
Active goes beyond the biking option. Hiking, golfing and active wellness tours have become norms in the river experience. You can also find yoga, fitness classes and even private trainers available to round out your encounter and boost your travel experience.
With any well traveled globetrotter, relaxation can be an important part of the adventure to keep you going. The time spent onboard when you are not touring or actively engaging in your touring can be as enjoyable as the time spent touring.
Enjoy the sanctuary of your stateroom with beautiful balconies to provide serenity for relaxing, meditating, reading or enjoying a glass of wine or cup of coffee with fresh air and the calmness of the river.
The luxurious, but cozy uncrowded public spaces offer the opportunity to meet new faces, share experiences or observe entertainment provided in the lounges and bars. A cocktail at the pool, watching the world pass by from the sun deck or downtime on your own in the fitness center, enjoying a massage or with a salon appointment offer many opportunities to relax and further boost your travel experience.
Not like Ocean Cruising
A river cruise and ocean cruise both travel on water and will transport guests from destination to destination, but that is as far as the similarities go.
River cruising is boutique small hotel like ships. You will not find crowded spaces, lines for meals or assigned seats in the dining room or a different dining venue every night. You also don’t have large pools, kids activities, movie theaters, casino’s or Broadway shows. The small size of the ship allows the onboard staff to focus on safeguarding guests and crew with health and safety protocols also making it an easier path to sustainable travel.
River boat travel primarily occurs late night to early morning providing additional time in ports. No sea days or sea-sickness and land is seen throughout your journey.
Oceans take you to countries and rivers immerse you in the local experience as they take you through countries to boost your travel experience.
A river cruise can be one of the best ways to immerse in a destination and truly connect with the location you are visiting. From the rivers of Europe, to farther off less traveled rivers in Asia, Egypt and even Africa. The world can be yours to explore!
River travel is no longer solely focused on an older less active participant. Today’s traveler is sophisticated, active and many times even multi-generational which is why river cruising has refocused its customer. With active itineraries, routes specifically designed to the under 40 crowd, family focused and themed tours, there is an option to connect rivers with all ages and can easily be added to a travel bucket list.
These are our tops for how a river cruise can boost your travel experience. If you would like to know “How a River Cruise is for You” check out our site for additional information and some FAQ.
*Photos courtesy of AmaWaterways