River Cruising: The Art of Choosing a Ship that's Right for You
Rivers were the reason small towns and cities were born. Regions and countries flourished because of Rivers. They moved people. They transported food, and precious goods.
Over the past decade the worlds iconic waterways have seen an influx of luxury river ships designed specifically to navigate rivers. These floating vessels have garnered popularity and River cruising is exploding.
From T.V. commercials many folks are familiar with only one or two River Cruise Lines. There are, approximately 10 major players cruising Europe, Asia, India, the Amazon and Africa’s bold rivers. It important to choose a ship that's right for you. Our advice at Mountain City Travel is, "Base your decision on personal tastes and value-for-dollar.”
We compare the ratio of passengers to the size of a vessel. A ship with 190 passengers counterpart may house 106 passengers. The amount of public space will vary and there will be noticeable differences with the size of cabins. Are you O.K. with 135 square feet or does 188 square feet better suit you? Maybe you’re happier in a suite where square footage ranges from 300 to almost 900 square feet. Being comfortable in your floating hotel for 7 or 14 days plays a role in your overall experience.
We recommend not making a decision based solely on ‘sticker price.’ Cruise lines and their respective inclusions are not created equal. The spectrum varies from a fully inclusive vacation (prepaid gratuities, all tours, wine, beer, top-shelf liquor, dining ashore, Wi-Fi) to perhaps a hefty bill, at the end of your cruise.
When a cruise is not “fully inclusive” or has “some inclusions” these can add up. For example, on a 14 day River sailing, a couple can expect to spend are about $800 for gratuities. Most ships include wine and beer at lunch and dinner – which may suit you perfectly. You'll want to do the math if you enjoy drinks at happy hour or a nightcap. In the end maybe a fully inclusive cruise is easier on your pocketbook?
Excursions play an integral part of a River Cruise experience. Think about your personal travel style - the pace you prefer. Does the ship have bicycles? What’s the average number of people you can expect on a tour? Is dining ashore an option?
Most cruise lines have an "air program:" in conjunction with the purchase of your cruise they offer flights at attractive rates. This may work brilliantly with your travel plans, or it may be more advantageous to book flights separately. With your Travel Consultant explaining the parameters of an “air program” this will likely be an easy decision.
“WHEN should I book a River Cruise?” is a question we’re often asked. “Some rivers are more popular than others – some travellers book 12 to 18 months in advance. Based on supply and high demand, it’s never too early to start planning a River Cruise. Timing is important - timing AND a knowledgeable Travel Consultant” (wink, wink – that’s us).
Once your homework is complete and you’ve chosen a ship, it’s time to enjoy the anticipation of your River cruise. Think of the scenic countryside you’ll pass by, the charming towns you’ll visit, the history you’ll learn. There will be new friends to meet and fine dining to be savored. Your floating-hotel, an iconic river and a truly unique experience await you.
Yours in Travel
Travel & Cruise Consultant