|American Star on the Hudson River in the USA.|
Photo: American Cruise Lines
Captain Rivers often gets asked why he likes river cruising so much. There are plenty of answers, but he thought he'd share four that spring to mind almost immediately when thinking of the ship experience alone.
MORE INTIMACY River cruising is a much more intimate experience than ocean cruising. River-cruise ships commonly carry 150-300 passengers, compared to over 3,000 passengers on some of the larger ocean liners. The downside (if you like that kind of thing) is that on-board amenities and entertainment are limited. However, you’ll get to know fellow passengers and staff alike. Embarkation and disembarkation queues are non-existent. Crowds don’t invade ports of call in overwhelming numbers. The pace is slower, less frantic, more relaxed.
HOTELS AFLOAT River cruising provides the pleasure of staying in a comfortable floating hotel – with a conveniently attached restaurant – that takes you from one port to another without having to resort to public transport and unfamiliar roads. Your destinations simply turn up outside your cabin window. There’s also no endless packing and unpacking. And, unlike a coach tour, time spent travelling is part of the experience: you can relax, dine, read, listen to lectures or just admire the passing scenery with a drink in hand.
|A deluxe cabin on Viking Surkov in Russia.|
Photo: Viking River Cruises
GOOD VALUE River cruising might appear pricey until you tot up just what it covers. Most companies now offer all-inclusive packages that include not just food, meal-time beverages and accommodation but (unlike ocean cruises) shore excursions as well. It’s the perfect way to budget in advance and, should you need to, manage your expenses.
BETTER THAN EVER In the last few years, new cruise ships and an extraordinary range of new itineraries have emerged to cater for the surge in passenger numbers. River companies are also trying to attract a younger crowd by offering more interesting and flexible shore excursions in which river passengers can go ashore individually, rather than with escorts. Luxury is another big trend, with some ships offering the five-star amenities expected in a hotel on dry land, including beauty salons, hot tubs, internet access and flat-screen televisions. Cabins are larger and better, often rivalling guestrooms in four- and five-star hotels. In short, river cruising is more comfortable and varied than ever before: Captain Rivers reckons there’s never been a better time to float your boat.
We're sure you have many reasons of your own to recommend river cruising, so why not leave a comment and let us know what they are. Who knows, you could encourage a reader to head downstream for the first time…