Over the past couple years I’ve had the opportunity to take a few river cruises and I admit, on my first cruise I had no clue if I was going to like it or not. Turns out it was a grand slam and I have another river cruise on the books for this fall. I’m slowly learning about the unique itineraries they offer to, like sailing up the Mekong River in Southeast Asia or sailing the rivers of Russia.
Here are five reasons to river cruise:
1. Relaxing. It has been said that an ocean cruise is a drinking man’s cruise and a river cruise is a thinking man’s cruise. I couldn’t agree more. Sailing down the river and passing castles, locks and small quaint villages is something that an ocean cruise couldn’t give you.
It was peace and serenity while sailing in Northern Europe, the Mississippi River and Alaska. Words can’t describe the feeling when it’s just you and nature.
2. Intimate setting. One thing that I instantly fell in love with on my river cruise was the setting and the people that I met. A river cruise is a social cruise because you have set dining times, excursion times and activity times – so it’s possible by the end of the cruise you’ll know your fellow cruisers.
On my Mississippi River cruise I met a retired executive from NBC, a retired federal prosecutor and a school principal. It was so intriguing hearing the stories of my fellow cruise passengers. We literally talked for hours.
3. Personalized service. River cruises have a concierge desk that I would put against any landside resort. If you want to dine at finest restaurant in Amsterdam or get a workout in a buff gym in France, all you have to do is ask.
I had trouble finding my hotel on disembarkation day and the concierge desk used their personal cell phone to find the exact location and how to get there.
4. Unique Excursions. Besides docking right in the middle of town, you are offered some of the most unique shore excursions on a river cruise. Enrichment, adventure, culinary with local guides allows you to make the most of your shore side experience.
One fond memory that sticks out in Europe was docking right in the middle of Amsterdam where we did a local guided walking tour of the Red Light District, the Anne Frank house and took an inland tour of the canals that ran through the city.
5. Bucket list check. We all have destinations we want to check off our bucket list. Maybe you want to do a cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg or just ply the waters of Southeast Alaska on a 68-guest riverboat – the opportunities are endless.
Are river cruises for everyone? I wouldn’t say that, but if you want to experience the world and parts of countries like never before – go for it! Before I took my first river cruise, I had dozens of ocean going cruises under my belt and was hesitant to do a river cruise because I heard it was full of “old” people. That wasn’t the case at all. There were people younger than me on all three of my river cruises.
Life is short, enjoy and take in the experiences.