Is a river cruise for you?

River cruises are a fast-growing cruise option. They’re very different from a traditional ocean-voyage. We explore if a river cruise is right for you. River cruising is growing by leaps and bounds. If you’re intrigued by the buzz, but not sure if it’s for you, here are the upsides and downsides of making a river your next vacation destination.

River Cruises

Byways, not highways

The upside: River cruises take you to inland towns and villages. Places you simply cannot reach on a large cruise itinerary. And, unlike an ocean voyage, you’ll see an amazing, ever-changing view on board a river cruise.

The downside: Don’t expect to live like a local. River cruise itineraries usually find you following a tour guide to the local tourist hangouts with a dozen other folks from home.

Skip the seasickness

The upside: River cruises set a leisurely pace on calm waters. If you’re one of the 33% of adults who get motion sick, this is a nautical vacation without the nausea.

The downside: If you’ve ever been seasick, you know there is absolutely no downside to this.

Welcome to the front of the line

The upside: Most river cruise vessels carry fewer than 200 passengers (compared to thousands on the average cruise ship). No musical deck chairs, no crowds to disembark, and no waiting for your luggage to join you in your stateroom.

The downside: Smaller vessels mean fewer amenities. Yes, staterooms are as big, if not bigger than on large ships, and there are now river vessels with multiple restaurants, as well as gyms and pools. But, if you want rock-climbing walls and Vegas-style shows, stick to the large ocean cruises.

A personal approach

The upside: Fewer passengers mean a more attentive crew than on many large cruise ships.

The downside: A river cruise is a bit like a bus tour. The crowd you’re sailing with may make a big difference. If you were born after 1965, you may want to consider a specialized itinerary (such as one for families) that’s likely to attract a younger crowd. You might also take a look at a more active (but less luxurious) canal boat/river barge holiday as an alternative.

Want to learn more about river cruises?

Check out offerings from Viking, Uniworld, AMA Waterways, Scenic Tours, or Avalon lines.

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