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Since becoming the fastest-growing segment of the cruise industry, river cruising has proved to be one of the most popular luxury ways of travel. River cruising companies have dumped billions of dollars into larger cabin spaces, more balconies, and creating epicurean and outdoor dining venues and have added over a dozen new river cruise ships just this year and many more to come for 2016. River cruise ships have been rated higher than sea ships with better itineraries, included shore excursions, service, facilities, and design.
Here are the facts:
River cruise companies do all the work
It’s the easiest vacation you’ll ever go on. You will never struggle with a foreign language, decipher a map, read a road sign, or even pick up a guidebook. All your shore excursions and food are included with your cruise fare and the cruise staff is there to meet any of your needs.
Excursions are included!
Excursions are included in your cruise fare so no need to hurry and book your excursions before they fill up or hand out even more money for your vacation. A few cruise lines will offer additional optional shore excursions for a surcharge but almost every river cruise line includes shore excursions in your fare.
You only need to unpack once
How else could you travel to 8 European cities in three different countries and only check in and unpack once? Forget the hassle of toting your bags to your different destinations.
You only have a few hours in each port
A downside is that you are only allotted a certain amount of time in each city until the ship needs to depart again. So if you would like to spend more time than you are allotted, consider taking a pre or post cruise stay in the areas you would like to spend more time. Good news is that you can walk right into town from the ship. Rivers run right through most towns which means the ship will usually dock in the perfect place to start your sightseeing! Seldom will you need to take a bus to get to the city center and if you do, the cruise companies offer free shuttles to and from the city.
Eat. Eat. Eat.
The price you pay includes all your onboard meals. Since these ships are much smaller than an ocean ship, there aren’t any fancier options offered for an upcharge – it’s all included. The food is very good, but may take longer to dine than on an ocean ship. Meal times are set and room service is not usually offered.
There are no kids
The average age of river cruise-goers is 55+, so you might see an occasional teenager but child-friendly river cruises are uncommon. Cruise cabins fit only two occupants, there is little or no play space on board, and dinner is a drawn-out affair.
These cruises travel along most of the major rivers in the world in Europe, South America, Asia and even Egypt. European river cruises travel along the Danube, Main, Rhine, Moselle, Elbe, Rhone, Saone, Seine, and Volga Rivers with the Danube being the most popular and the Volga being the longest. The Amazon River in Peru and Brazil is a cruise for adventurous travelers. For those who wish to travel through Asia, the Yangtze River in China and the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia offer incredible experiences. Egypt is home to the Nile River where you can cruise through many famous historical sites.
You (probably) won’t get seasick
Unlike cruising on the ocean, the water on a river cruise is so flat you can hardly tell when the ship is moving. It is very common that people who get seasick on ocean cruises do not get sick on river cruises.
There are no tenders
When cruising on an ocean cruise, it can take a long time to get on and off the ship. River cruises have only 100-200 passengers on board so it is not necessary to tender the ship at any port and there is less waiting time. There may be a time when the ship will tie up to another ship to dock and you may have to walk through the other ship to get to the dock.
No security checkpoints
On river cruises, the ships are so small that the crew members know who belongs on the ship and who doesn’t. That eliminates the need for the high security that is found on ocean ships. Since there is a smaller security process to embark or disembark the ship, you can get on or off the ship in seconds.
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