Over the past few years I have been fortunate enough to sail on board several river cruise vessels along the Danube, Rhine and Brahmaputra rivers. I have been on board many different vessels, with many different lines and I very quickly went from being a skeptic to a vigorous advocate for river cruising. I am far from the average river cruise customer who are largely older, retired people. But, I very quickly fell in love with the river. I was lucky enough to be on board the stunning AmaPrima from AmaWaterways in the same week it was voted best river cruise vessel in Europe and I can tell you, it is still to this day the best food I have eaten in my whole life. River cruising along the Rhine with Amadeus River Cruises bought the spirit of Germany, its glorious castles and food to my heart and made Germany one of my favourite countries in the world. Cruising along the wild Brahmaputra river in the Assam region of India, on board the intimate MV Mahabaahu with Far Horizon, was an experience that will change my life forever. Tying up at the rivers edge and walking into remote villages, where the children came running out to meet us was a privilege I will never forget.
All of these reasons made me fall in love with river cruising and here’s 5 reasons why you will love it too.
1. Get straight to the heart of the city and local communities
It is generally the case that cities and towns spring up along the riverbanks and because of this you will wake up everyday in the heart of the action. There are rarely long hours spent on coaches for excursions which are a feature of ocean cruises where ports are generally a long way from the city centre. More often than not you step straight off the ship and onto the streets of the city, where your tour can be conducted by foot only. Explore the amazing cities of Amsterdam, Cologne, Paris, Budapest and so many more without the long transfer to get there. Likewise, in India we were able to visit the tiniest villages, interact with the communities, step inside their huts and see how the live, something you would never get to experience on an ocean ship.
2. You won’t get sea sick
Your river cruise vessel is not going to get knocked around by the waves of the seas and is a much smoother, more stable ride than an ocean ship. Also, as the ships are smaller, they don’t have the same giant engines and are not subject to the same levels of noise and vibration as their ocean going cousins. On the rivers of Europe ships generally do sail at night, but I have never known the noise levels to be disruptive enough to keep me awake. I have often been sitting at dinner on a river cruise ship and suddenly realised we have set sail without even noticing.
3. Scenic cruising is a wonderful thing
With the exception of the Fjordlands and the great canals such as Panama, cruising on an ocean ship is merely a method of transportation and not an opportunity to experience a destination. On a river cruise vessel it becomes part of the journey, taking in the spectacular scenery and local culture as you pass close to the riverbanks on every side. In Europe you can enjoy such great sights as the famous Iron Gates on the Danube, the stunning Rhine with it’s breath-taking castles and the glorious bulbfields of the Netherlands. In Asia ships are often only allowed to sail during daylight hours, so you get to enjoy every inch of the river as it floats past without missing a single moment. It’s fun to gaze out in awe at the sea on an ocean cruise…. for about five minutes. On a river ship you don’t have waterslides and rock-climbing walls to keep you entertained, it’s all about the destination.
4. You will make friends more easily
River cruise vessels are much smaller than ocean cruising vessels. Meals are generally all conducted in one sitting in a much more intimate dining room and are usually not assigned seating. Sit where you like and you’ll soon be chatting to the people around you and making new friends from across the world. The entertainment is much less glitz and glam and far more traditional on a river boat. Locals folk groups, traditional dancers and themed events are the order of the day here and in no time you’ll find you’ll be clapping along and joining in with your sailing companions.
5. River cruising is not just for old people
Whilst ocean cruising has already grounded itself as not being for the overfed and nearly dead river cruising is still finding it hard to break free from this unfair title. As a 37 year old woman I am not your standard river cruise customer and I love it. Disney are now chartering some of AmaWaterways ships for family cruises. Don’t worry, you won’t be sharing you’re breakfast with Goofy, but these cruises are filled with family friendly excursions and lots of fun for people of all ages. Likewise, in 2017 Uniworld has rebranded two of their ships as U by Uniworld. Named as the not very imaginative A & B, these ships make up for what they lack in good names with being entirely branded for the young market. The ships have been painted a slick black colour, had their interiors decked out with a modern feel and relaxed areas and feature itineraries more suited to 21-45 year olds. You can enjoy late nights in ports so you can party in the city, or in the on board disco. Enjoy mixology classes and so much more.
So hopefully, this will help you rethink river cruising and consider giving it a try. I did and I would now recommend it to everyone.