For as much as I have traveled the world, I have been on very few cruises, and I don’t feel like any of them was the real thing. I am doubtful that my sailing trip from Panama to Colombia, in 2014, can be considered as a cruise. I was my way from Portobelo, in Panama, to Cartagena, in Colombia, and the boat I was on would stop for a few days in San Blas achipelago, supposedly one of the last lost paradises in the Caribbean sea.
Pity that after a battle of 36 hours against sea sickness, I decided to abandon the boat. It was such an awful experience, that I hardly care to set foot on a sail boat ever again – though it is fun to recollect the adventure – something I have actually done on my post “San Blas Sailing.”
I tried a cruise again in 2016, when I visited Vietnam and wanted to explore Ha Long Bay. It was a much better experience: I didn’t get sea sick; I enjoyed the sights, the activities, the company and the food.
Needless to say, I am now keen to try a river cruise. A few friends have been on one and talked marvels about it. And the sight of a cruise ship in Prague, when I visited the Czech Republic, left me all dreamy – so I have been considering the possibility of going. I am highlitghing below the reasons why I’d love to go on a river cruise.
10 Reasons I’d Love To Go On A River Cruise At Least Once
I’d be visiting one or more countries, in depth
River cruises are a great way of visiting one or more countries, but more in depth than regular cruises do. Truth be told, one of the reasons I have never been on a cruise is the fact that I don’t see it as a real trip, or as a good way to explore a city or a country. I once checked the program of one of the most popular Mediterranean cruises and was horrified to see that passengers get to spend no more than 6 hours in cities like Rome, and have to zip through huge archaeological sites such as Petra.
River cruises, on the other hand, are significantly slower and focussed on one specific region – around the river, indeed. Cities are afforded more time (the fact that the boat ties up in the middle of the city definitely helps in not wasting any precious time being shuttled to the places to visit) and the boat stops along the way to visit incredible sites, churches and castles that are UNESCO protected such as Speyer Cathedral, located along the banks of the Rhine.
I wouldn’t have to worry about organization and logistics
I remember the time when I took one big trip a year. I was thrilled about the organization, and could spend hours planning everything – it was a great diversion from my job in academia.
Now that I spend half of the year on the road and that I travel so much, I hardly look forward to planning a trip. Organization and logistics can be a real nightmare, especially when time is limited. On a river cruise everything is already planned, by experts, so all I would have to worry about is actually getting on the boat, and pack my camera to snap all the amazing places I’d be visiting.
I could still explore by myself
As a solo and independent traveler, I like exploring a place on my own. The beauty of a river cruise is that while all the weight of organization and logistics work would be lifted off my shoulders, I’d be able to explore a place by myself and on my own terms. Sure, I wouldn’t be able to stay longer than planned in a port, but this is a compromise I am willing to accept – after all, river cruises boats tie up in the city centre saving a lot of time on transportation.
I’d be making new friends
Though I love traveling with my sister and with some of my closest friends, I typically travel solo. That doesn’t meant I spend days alone at end, or that I don’t enjoy meeting other people. In fact, the best part of solo travel is that I am forced to be more open minded and communicative and I end up meeting more people than I would if I always had company.
River cruises are great because they allow solo travelers to meet other people. As opposed to big cruise ships that every day move something like 5000 people from one place to the other and which can end up feeling crowded and dispersive, boats on river cruises are smaller, so they are way more intimate and cozier. One can really make friends on a river cruise.
I am bound to find something for my budget and interests
Who said that all cruises are the same, and that they cost an arm and a leg? Nowadays, operators work hard to create unique itineraries for specific interests; and there’s a cruise for almost any budget. There even are cruises that are focussed around the love for golf (yes, the sport!) and others that are all about Christmas (obviously seasonal).
My ideal cruise would touch on a few cities and stop to allow visiting castles and archaeological sites. There would have to be plenty of photo opportunities, beautiful sunset and sunrise views along the way, and the possibility to get in touch with the local culture of the places I’d be visiting.
If I think of a river cruise, my mind automatically associates it with France – a river cruise around France would be ideal for me. Or else, I’d like to go on a river cruise across Russia, along the waterways of the Tsars.
It is good value for money
A lot of people think that organized trips, including river cruises, are too costly. I think they are usually good value for money, as they include pretty much anything, from the room on board, to food and drinks; from activities and tours in each port, to wi-fi and entertainment on board. The only extra expenses on a river cruise would be personal ones, and the tips that one would inevitably want to give to staff for their services.
All the food and the wine
Speaking of what is included in a river cruise, food and wine definitely are (though not hard alcohol, which I never drink anyways). I am hardly a foodie and a glass of wine is my limit, but I enjoy good food and a sunset drink so this is something I would be looking forward to.
I’d only have to unpack once
Traveling is hardly relaxing, for me. I am constantly on the go, and whenever I travel I hardly stop in the same hotel for more than 3 or 4 nights. At times, it gets to the point that I move hotels every night (this happened on a recent trip to the North of Spain, where I went from the Basque Country to Galicia), spending less than 12 hours in the same place.
Unpacking seems like a privilege – one that I hardly get to enjoy. Let alone the fact that I am never able to do a proper load of laundry. I actually got to unpack and even do laundry on a recent trip to the Maldives and oh the joy (speaking of the simple pleasures in life!).
The good thing about a river cruise is that I’d get to stay in the same room for the duration of the trip. That means I’d get the chance to unpack, make myself comfortable in a cozy environment and fully enjoy the amenities and luxuries of my room, for once.
River cruises are becoming eco friendly
New technology means that the boats used for the best river cruises are becoming increasingly more eco friendly. They make less noise, and they use less diesel, and thus they pollute much less. It’s something I like to consider when I travel and even in my every day life.
I wouldn’t get sea sick
Have I mentioned about the time I got epically sea sick in Panama? I have, actually! Sea sickness is what usually stops me from going on a cruise. I know that to most this is close to being irrelevant, but in my case sea sickness may affect the enjoyment of a trip and it is something I need to carefully consider.
The good news about river cruises is that there are no waves in rivers. A river cruise practically comes with a “no sea-sickness” guarantee. All the more reasons for me to go on one.
Have you been on a river cruise? Which one do you recommend I go on?