11 March, 2022
If ocean cruising is like a domestic cat, what kind of animal does that make a river cruise? A dog? Domestic cats have a lot of independence and rely as little as possible on their owner besides keeping them safe and fed. Same can be said of ocean cruising. For many ocean cruises, you can do what you like, when you like. Dogs require far more attention, including taking them out for walks. They enjoy a routine. River cruises have a routine. There is not as much freedom on river cruises as there are in ocean cruises. Everyone follows a schedule on a river cruise. Everyone does the same types of things at the same time. Although almost everyone goes ashore and does an excursion at the same time, different excursions are available for different interests. Since a river cruise experience is more curated, the day is shifted earlier. There really are no late nights. Everyone is up and starting their day fairly early.
River cruising is an opportunity for building community. It is wonderful for a family to build a family bond around a river cruise. Parents can connect with their children. Couples can cement their relationship. Friends can become friends for life. Between the youth programs and activities and features onboard an ocean ship, you could hardly see your children. Not so, on a river cruise. There is a ton of togetherness time.
The staff get to know who you are, what are your preferences, what are your likes and dislikes, what kind of traveler you are and consequently can make more accurate suggestions. Not only does the staff get to know you, but so do your fellow passengers. When you are talking about hundreds instead of thousands onboard, it is a different situation. You go on a river cruise to be a part of the group, part of the program.
Because so few people are onboard, embarking and debarking is fast, simple, and easy. Why are there so few people? Because of the bridges the ships go under, meaning they can only have a few floors and can’t go very high. Because of the locks, the size of the majority of river cruises are very similar.
Are you an explorer? River cruises go through a country; not to it. It is fantastic to see the interior of countries in a very intensive and simple way. Because of their nature, you cannot help but be immersed in your destination. Every day, there are briefing sessions aboard to help you learn about the places and people you are about to visit. Ocean cruise ship have much greater variety with different layouts, features, and designs. River cruises share similar layouts and designs because of the nature of how they travel.
Ocean cruises have a sizable variety of entertainment. They often include specialty dining, production shows, spa, shops, and a casino. With river cruising the destination is the entertainment. It is far more focused on immersion of a destination. Tours are culturally focused. Lots of biking and hiking and walking adventures that focus on the history and culture. With all of the hiking, biking, and walking tours you will be too tired to enjoy a Broadway-style show. River cruising is very port intensive. It is not unusual to visit multiple ports in one day. When you do dock, you are docked into the heart of the action. You will just walk off into the middle of everything. The distance you cover is much less than by an ocean cruise, so it is an intensive look at a region.
River cruises parallel park next to each other. When not parked next to another river cruise ship, the views keep changing, instead of looking out on a vast ocean, it is various scenes of different countrysides.
There is no chance of getting sick on the river cruise. There is barely any motion or movement on the rivers. Consequently, there is no medical center unlike ocean cruise ships.
Both types of cruises have theme cruises. You could experience an 80’s pop music cruise or a Broadway show tune cruise on an ocean cruise. River cruises have food and wine tours or Christmas market tours.
River cruises tend to be more expensive. Why? These are smaller ships; you can’t amortize the cost as much. You are paying to have a more intimate experience. Also, more is included including excursions, Wi-Fi, and transfers. Between the more inclusive experience and the more curated, highly organized tour experience of a river cruise, the river cruiser makes very few decisions. What is your daily life like? Are you in the medical field, where your decisions are life or death? Are you a business executive where your decisions impact the livelihood of families? Do you run your home and family? Sick of always having to make a decision? River cruising could be the welcome respite you need.