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10 Things You Should Know Before Your First River Cruise

I am an avid river cruise traveler and have taken at least 5 of these amazing voyages. River cruises are incredible opportunities for relaxing on elegant small ships while you travel through some of the most beautiful villages and cities in the world. My clients return from their cruises raving about the unparalleled personal service onboard, the beautiful ships, the fabulous shore experiences, the marvelous food onboard, and the incredible memories. Everyone has many questions before taking a first river cruise.

If you have ever taken an ocean cruise, then you are probably already aware of the experiences offered to passengers on large ships. But what if you’re looking for a more intimate way to see the world?

River cruises were made for travelers who want a different kind of cruising experience. Smaller ships mean fewer passengers, more attention to detail, and a level of service you simply cannot find on a larger ship. A river cruise is like staying in a luxury boutique hotel that floats through some of the most iconic and scenic sites in the world. Whether you are celebrating a special birthday, anniversary, special accomplishment, or you just want something more personalized as your travel adventure, river cruising is the perfect trip for you.

If you’re new to the realm of river cruising, here are seven must-know tips that will help make your first time an unforgettable trip!

  1. Travel Through A Country Not To A Country River cruises provide the opportunity for guests to have a much closer view of local culture by traveling through a country to unique ports along rivers in Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond. Unlike ocean cruises, guests will have a chance to travel through rolling hills, picturesque valleys, beautiful villages and capital cities. In each port of call, passengers have a plethora of excursions available, from bicycle tours to wine tasting.

  2. Boarding the Ship Is Easy Unlike large ocean cruise ships, the overall boarding and disembarking from a river cruise ship is very simple. You check-in and out at reception (about 8 feet from the entrance) with no line and arrive at your stateroom in a few minutes. You find the staff quickly know your name and preferences. Being on a river cruise is an intimate experience. Ships carry about 120-196 passengers. They are 250-440 ft. in length and have about 25 staterooms on each deck.

  3. Superb Service River cruises offer the ultimate in service. The ship’s warm and welcoming staff focus on your personal comfort, preferences, and provide the extra touches that make you feel at home. You will find that the staff quickly know your name.

  4. You are Just a Step Away from Land When stepping on land you are in the center of the port. Your guides, sightseeing transportation, bikes, hiking equipment, etc. is provided for you right where you step off the ship. Because river cruises carry fewer passengers, you won’t have to wait in endless lines to begin your onshore adventure.

  5. River Cruises Are Incredibly Inclusive River cruises provide all or almost all amenities without any extra charges. Everything from onshore excursions to wi-fi access, entertainment, food, and complimentary beverages (cocktail hour, lunch and dinner wine/beer, water, special coffees/teas) are included in the cruise fare, bikes onboard, special dining venues. Although it seems hard to believe, it actually is difficult to spend money on a river cruise.

  6. Friendly Fellow Travelers Because the ships are small, fellow travelers become close-knit. As a result, you get to enjoy all the activities and amenities on the ship in an intimate setting. The Lounge is a center of activity. It has windows floor to ceiling that are 360 degrees are so you can see everything as you sail down the river. Guests enjoy reading, chatting, having cocktails, watching the riverbanks, and entertainment during cruising, Onboard, it is easy to meet other guests and become good friends. This is why river cruising is also popular for solo travelers!

  7. River Cruises Offer More Choices for Shore Excursions and Leisure Time River cruises offer shore excursions for all ages so that all guests can experience the local culture. Some guests love hiking and biking excursions, while others enjoy the walking and museum tours. All shore excursions are small groups, but there are also private tours and special option tours. If you want to spend time in port on your own, you also have the option to spend the day as you please. You are not rushed for time and can leisurely stay in town after an excursion eating in a local restaurant or shopping for some of the lovely treasures available. In the evenings when the ship overnights you can walk into town and enjoy local entertainment, a concert, or a restaurant.

  8. Magnificent Views from Staterooms and Suites On river cruises, every room comes with a view. Since there are no interior staterooms on a river cruise, every morning you wake up to the beautiful scenes on the riverbank. Enjoy your coffee as you glide down the river and at night view the glistening of lights from villages and towns as you pass them by.

  9. Incredible Cuisine The opportunities for dining are superb on river cruises. As a guest, you can dine in the main dining room or you may decide to dine at the Chefs Table, the Lounge, or other venues depending on the ship. There is no charge for dining in any restaurant onboard and the food is marvelous. In addition, culinary experiences off the ship provide a marvelous array of local restaurants while you are in port.

  10. Distinctive Onboard Programs Opportunities such as lectures, theme dinners, cooking demonstrations, music performances, and afternoon/evening piano music give you great options for expanding your knowledge and love of the destinations you visit. Health and wellness opportunities onboard provide you with ways to enhance your best self while you vacation.

With this information in mind, your first river cruising experience will soon be filled with memories that will last a lifetime. You may even be ready to book your next cruise before you even set foot back onshore.

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