You’re on a river-cruise ship, not in a floating reform school. Captain Rivers provides some hints on how to make the most of your holiday afloat.
|Butler service on a Scenic Tours cruise.|
Photo: Scenic Tours
I’ve been on a fair number of river cruises and always marvel at the eccentricities of passengers, whose sometimes constrained behaviour prevents them from getting the most out of their holiday cruise. Here are 10 top tips to maximise your enjoyment.
1. Pack light. Unless you live in a Tokyo apartment, you’ll find cabin storage space limited. Besides, how many pairs of shoes do you really need?
2. Guess what: you don’t get sent to the naughty corner for not joining organised shore excursions. Why not take a half-day off and have your own adventure, especially when revisiting a place you’ve been before?
3. Food on board is hard to resist, but enjoy a meal ashore in a restaurant or café and soak up the local atmosphere.
4. Food on board never runs out. Plenty of passengers queue for the buffet lunch like schoolkids worried they’ll miss a treat. Take a seat, have a drink, relax. The rush only lasts 10 minutes, and nobody has ever starved on a river cruise.
5. You aren’t in prison with occasional chances at day release. You can get off the boat any time you like when it’s in port. Escape for an early-morning or post-dinner walk and you’ll be well rewarded.
6. There’s no curfew. Port towns can have a very different and rather charming atmosphere after dark, so set out after dinner to admire the illuminations or enjoy the nightlife.
7. See that lovely staff member in a uniform hunkered at a corner desk? That’s the ship’s concierge. He or she is like the Rain Man when it comes to port information, so why not ask?
8. If you like your on-board downtime, book a trip in the upstream direction. The ship travels more slowly, with more time on the river. Those eager to explore should sail downstream, as there’s generally more time in port.
9. Don’t worry if you’re a first-time cruiser. There are no demerit points for not knowing how things work. Staff is always on hand, and regular cruisers won’t hesitate to explain how things happen.
10. Don’t rush away when the cruise ends, as if your house is on fire. Destinations such as Amsterdam, Budapest and St Petersburg merit more time, and you’ll regret not booking a hotel night or two.