A river cruise is a fantastic way to experience a country, or even a whole continent.
To many, cruises are a great and convenient way to travel the world. I haven’t been on many – a failed attempt to sail from Portobelo, in Panama, to Cartagena, in Colombia, in 2014 was an awful experience of sea sickness to the point that I had to abandon the boat after only 36 hours.
It was so bad 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.
River cruises definitely seem more interesting and doable to people who get sea sick like me. The ones in Europe go to places like the Czech Republic, Germany and France. Others go all the way to Russia, to places like Saint Petersburg.
In this post, I highlight the reasons to try a river cruise at least once in life.
10 Reasons To Go On A River Cruise
You get to visit 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 many never go on a cruise is the fact that hardly appear 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.
You don’t have to worry about organization and logistics
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 you would have to worry about is actually getting on the boat, and pack your camera to snap all the amazing places you’d be visiting.
You can still explore by yourself
The beauty of a river cruise is that while all the weight of organization and logistics work would be lifted off your shoulders, you’d be able to explore a place by yourself and on your own terms. Sure, you wouldn’t be able to stay longer than planned in a port, but this is a compromise you should be willing to accept – after all, river cruises boats tie up in the city centre saving a lot of time on transportation.
You’d be making new friends
If you mostly travel solo, you will agree with me that this doesn’t mean spending days alone at end, or that you don’t enjoy meeting other people. In fact, the best part of solo travel is that you are forced to be more open minded and communicative and you end up meeting more people than you would if you 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. You can really make friends on a river cruise.
You are 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. Many other thing of 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. On the contrary, 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 you 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. If you enjoy good food and a sunset drink so this is something you should be looking forward to.
You only have to unpack once
Traveling is hardly relaxing for many of us. We are constantly on the go, and whenever we travel we hardly stop in the same hotel for more than 3 or 4 nights. At times, it gets to the point that we move hotels every night (this happened to me during a 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 we hardly get to enjoy. Let alone the fact that we often don’t find time to do laundry.
The good thing about a river cruise is that you get to stay in the same room for the duration of the trip. That means you get the chance to unpack, make myself comfortable in a cozy environment and fully enjoy the amenities and luxuries of your 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 you really should consider when you travel and even in your every day life.
Make sure to check out my post “The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler.”
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?
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