I have just returned from a 5-night Rhine cruise aboard A-ROSA Flora, disembarking at the annual Cruise Lines International Association River Cruise Conference in Amsterdam. It was fantastic, and I will be back on the river when I next get an opportunity. I’ve summarised some of my thoughts about river cruising in this blog.
1. It is very relaxing.
There is something very calming about rivers. The water passing gently as the ship glides along. With the landscape constantly changing around you, there is always plenty to look at. You can take time out on the shore, to discover your own trip highlights, or relax onboard and enjoy all the amenities the ship has to offer.
2. There is a wide choice of rivers to cruise.
Destinations include many European rivers -the Rhine, Moselle, Douro, Danube, Rhone and Seine. Further afield, you could choose the Amazon in Brazil, the Yangtze and Li rivers of China, the Nile through Egypt or Mekong in Vietnam. Steamboats cruise several rivers in the USA, including the Mississippi and Columbia. River cruising is an excellent way to travel and see the world.
3. There are some amazing cities, towns and villages to discover along the way.
During my recent trip, I enjoyed tours of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, and had a day in Cologne to explore on my own. The range of options available is vast, and there’s something to suit everyone.
4. You will be right at the heart of riverside destinations
A great advantage of river cruising is the ability to dock near the centre of the city or town. River cruise ships are much smaller than ocean ships, with around 120-200 passengers, and they can reach so many interesting destinations.
5. There are lots of optional excursions available, for those who want to see the local sights.
Experience beautiful and unusual architecture and hear stories about the history or traditions of the area. Excursions are bookable in advance with choices to suit various preferences. I loved the architectural tour of Rotterdam which was entertaining and informative. I used a ‘whisperer’ audio device that kept me in radio contact with the guide, as a source of interesting information, but meant that I didn’t need to stay glued to the group and could stop to admire my surroundings or take advantage of photographic opportunities.
6. The river ship is a floating hotel.
You will have a fantastic place to stay in locations that often beat local hotels. Take in a 360-degree view from the open top deck. The beautiful ships often have an outdoor swimming pool, spa facilities and a gym. Some have activities such as putting and giant chess. The staff also made my river cruise very enjoyable; they were so friendly and helpful.
7. Almost everything is included.
All food and drinks are usually included (drinks packages vary and can sometimes be upgraded). Some cruise lines include excursions. I can compare cruise lines and go through the options with you.
8. There are lots of no-fly European options.
Travel to the embarkation point via train or coach with all transfers arranged and avoid the airport stress. Door to door service is available too.
9. You only need to unpack once.
On my river cruise, I settled into my cabin and unpacked my bag, knowing that I could now relax, visit a variety of destinations without having to pack, move my luggage, wait to check in and then settle into another room. River cruise is a great option for city and town hopping.
10. There is something for everyone at a range of budgets.
From the amazing luxury experience of Amawaterways, Scenic and Crystal to the four-star hotel style of A-Rosa and CroisiEurope, there are a wide number of cruises to choose from. There are multiple cabin choices available too, including spacious suites. My cabin had a Juliette balcony with full high glass doors flooding light into the room – it was lovely. A-Rosa have a new ship launching in 2021 that has family cabins and a kid’s clubs. On my river cruise we had a wellness leader who ran classes including morning yoga and daily bike tours.
I can highly recommend river cruising and will book another adventure as soon as I get the opportunity. I can help you choose and plan an amazing trip. I am a CLIA Cruise Ambassador (ocean and river) having completed many training course modules and eight ship visits.