When my husband and I embarked on our first river cruise, I immediately regretted waiting so long. For years I had heard of all the reasons why river cruising was like no other kind of travel, but still … we put it off. Fast forward to today, and I find myself at dinner parties telling friends they must put a river cruise on their bucket list.
So, in lieu of a speech, I’ve decided to list out all the reasons why river cruising does not disappoint and is more popular than ever.
Enlightening moments I’ll admit that the reason I put off going on a river cruise in the first place came down to fear of the unknown. I’m not a big cruiser (a land girl mostly, feet on the ground) and I had all sorts of concerns about whether I’d acclimate to this type of traveling. In the end, I was happily surprised that my assumptions were wrong. I didn’t feel seasick or even as if I was sailing at all; the rooms were way more spacious and luxurious than I could have imagined; the food and wine were extraordinary; and the service was above and beyond my expectations. But, now ask me about the scenery? … well, that’s just a whole other story. Let’s put it this way … when I walked to the top deck to take in the sights, it was then that I realized this was a moment to savor. Sitting in a comfy chair with a cashmere throw wrapped around me and a hot cocoa in hand, it didn’t seem my current position could get much better. But, then we sailed down the Danube, and the countless breathtaking views transported me to an even happier place than I could have anticipated.
River cruising is easy There are so many reasons why river cruising is appealing, but “easy” would definitely be at the top my list. To be able to unpack once and see multiple destinations at a leisurely pace, where you are not bombarded with crowds and lines at every turn is, in and of itself, worth the journey. That doesn’t even take into account the ability to dock right in the middle of unique, quaint little towns and cities and easily step off and explore.
The river cruise experience is seamless, wondrous, and rarely disappoints. These upscale, floating hotels are intimate, yet conducive to socializing. (Typically, there are only a few hundred people on board as opposed to the thousands on ocean cruises.) You can pull into ports and choose to join an excursion by bus or by foot to take in the sights, head out on your own, or be active and explore the latest destination with a bike or hiking adventure, all with someone to lead the way (if you choose).
River cruising … your way! Whether you want to do and see it all, or take your trip at a leisurely pace, river cruising can be experienced at whatever speed you choose. Long reserved for travelers 50 and above, the demographics for the river cruise client are changing. Many Millennials and Gen Xers are joining the river cruise bandwagon and its these travelers who are most interested in pairing the cruise with active shore excursions like hiking, kayaking and biking. In fact, there are certain active companies who work in conjunction with river cruise operators to offer customized journeys for just these clients. And for those who just want to sit back, I say, “Enjoy the view!”
Value is key Going down my list of reasons, value was undoubtedly one. The all-inclusivity of meals, drinks, shore excursions, lodging, and transportation adds to the relaxation that is inherent in the river cruise experience and avoids what most people hate most: being nickel-and-dimed.
Travelers pay one price upfront and then they never have to think about opening their wallet again. If they do choose to try an excursion that isn’t included, there is always a concierge on hand to advise them in their planning.
The bottom line
You can certainly do what I did and put off taking a river cruise. But after hearing all the reasons to take one and learning from my lesson, why would you? Life is meant to be lived and moments are meant to be captured. Tomorrow is not promised, so eat well and travel often!
by Kerry Tice