I’ve been a huge fan of river cruises ever since I joined the travel industry, lo those many years ago...
Water trips are a favorite of mine, and cruising down a river in your own floating hotel evokes such magic. But despite river cruises’ popularity, plenty of misconceptions are floating around. So this week’s blog post is all about busting those myths!
#1 River Cruises are Too Expensive
Value is all in the eye of the beholder. What do you like to do on a cruise? If you simply like to lounge by a pool and treat yourself to 24-hour buffets and live shows, then yes, river cruises probably seem like a waste. However, if you prefer off-the-ship exploring and authentic travel experiences, river cruises are the better value.
Each stop includes a free shore excursion.
(I see all you ocean cruisers out there, mouths agape.) It is a pretty amazing concept, especially if you feel ocean cruise lines nickel and dime you every time you purchase a shore excursion. But wait, there’s more!
Wine and beer are included at lunch and dinner. Sorry, what I meant to say was unlimited wine and beer are included at lunch and dinner. No more do you have to purchase a beverage package and spend your trip carefully making sure that you’re not exceeding your package restrictions.
Oh, but there are even more perks to river cruising! All rooms have at least a window—no more dull, viewless rooms for you. Fewer people fit on a river ship. So that means you get more quality time at each destination because fewer people get on and off the ship. Not only that, the port is right in the heart of the city--there’s less transportation time to and from the ship.
(And if you’re lucky or have a fantastic travel agent, occasionally river cruise lines offer free or greatly reduced air prices out of certain international gateways! Cha-ching!)
#2 River Cruise Food Isn’t as Good
Au contraire, mon frère. Yes, smaller ships mean fewer restaurants. Most ships generally have one main eating room and then a casual café area for quick meals and snacks.
But the food is just as good! (Some argue that it’s even better.) River cruises have better access to fresh, seasonal, and local ingredients. Some cruise lines, like Viking, even have ships with their own organic herb gardens aboard. The more authentic food enhances the more authentic travel experience.
That begs the question, why would you need 7 restaurant options that serve good food, when you can have 1 restaurant option that serves excellent, authentic food?
#3 Only Viking Sells River Cruises
Viking might be the best-known river cruise company, but a number of others have blossomed over the last few years, each with their own personality.
Viking makes sure you won’t miss a single must-see moment and often has the most affordable cruising options. AmaWaterways is an excellent choice if you prefer your cruises luxurious.
Avalon has totally innovated river cruise staterooms. They offer floor to ceiling windows that slide open to make your room into your private balcony. (Plus they angle the bed so it faces the window; river cruises offer unbeatable vistas every second of the journey.) Uniworld offers staggeringly beautiful boutique ships. And they’ve also come out with a new cruise line: U by Uniworld. Which leads me to my next point…
#4 Only Retirees Go on River Cruises
While luxury-end river cruises may be out of the price range of some of us young’uns’, options like Viking and U by Uniworld offer perfectly affordable cruises. Not only that, U by Uniworld was created specifically for the 21-45-year-old crowd. If you’re a millennial concerned you’ll travel with few peers, U by Uniworld is a great option. Some of their shore excursions include a guided night tour of Paris, a ruin pub crawl in Budapest, and guided bike tours in Germany.
But, not to foster more misinformation about boomers, retirees are pretty dang active too. If you are a Gen Xer or Millenial, you will easily find active options if you go the traditional river cruise company route. Walking, hiking, and biking are all included activities on most river cruises. Plus knowledgeable guides on board can help you personalize your ideal trip!
#5 River Cruises are Only in Europe
While the most popular ones travel through Europe (on the Danube, Rhine, or Seine), river cruises happen on almost every continent. If you want to experience a river cruise but not leave the US, two good options include the American Steamboat Company and UnCruise. The American Steamboat Company cruises on the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers, and both The American Steamboat Company and UnCruise sail on the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Northwestern United States.
But perhaps you’re more adventurous and Europe is too boring for you.
How about the Amazon?
National Geographic Expeditions charters Rainforest Cruises’ ships to bring you a luxurious, unforgettable adventure. Avalon Waterways and G Adventures also offer enchanting Amazon cruises.
Or maybe you’d prefer Africa? Viking and Uniworld both offer Nile cruises, with plenty of land excursions to allow you to visit the pyramids and other historical sites. And Amawaterways has a cruise on the Chobe River with land extensions in South Africa and beyond.
“What about Asia?” you may ask.
Asia is bursting with river cruising opportunities!
Several river cruise companies offer expeditions on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. And not too far away, the Mekong River is an excellent way to explore Vietnam and Cambodia. Viking offers several different cruises on the Yangtze in China with prime opportunities to see pandas and mystical excursions to visit Tibet.
So as you can see, river cruises probably aren’t exactly what you were picturing—they’re even better!
So what are you waiting for—get out there and go!