While you love the idea of seeing multiple cities on a single trip without the hassle of packing and unpacking, you may think you’re not the cruising type. The cabins are too small, the vast, multi-decked ships too hard to get around, and the threat of seasickness all too real! But voyages on those mega-liners aren’t the only cruises under the sun!
My husband and I, along with my stepmom and dad, who are both in their 70s, just returned from a Danube River cruise. We also cruised the Rhine with my stepmom and mother-in-law a few years ago. While we’ve enjoyed many ocean cruises over the years and are the “cruising type,” we’ve also discovered the distinct joys of cruising, slowly and scenically, along river byways. Here’s why you might too:
- Size matters. Compared to ocean liners, which are upwards of 1,000 feet long and accommodate several thousand passengers, the typical river cruise ship is a more manageable 400 feet, give or take, with only about 150 passengers onboard. This more intimate size means you’ll sacrifice amenities like spas, theaters, large fitness centers, and casinos, but you’ll have a layout that’s easy to learn; i.e., you’ll never have to carry a map to find your wife in the lounge. Plus, enjoy more comfortably sized cabins and baths.
- A pace to please. The majority of travelers on ocean cruises are young to middle aged, so there’s always a million and one activities, herds of people scurrying around the decks, and tours that move at a good clip. River cruises, on the other hand, move at a more relaxed pace, much like the rivers themselves. For hours or whole days at a time, you can plant yourself in the lounge or on deck, watching the ever-changing show on either side of you. And when you do go ashore, there are often slower-paced, reduced walking options that won’t wear you out and potentially sideline you the next day. Tip: Don’t worry if you’re looking for a more active vacation. You’ll also find exercise classes onboard and bike trips, hiking, and strenuous activities like tower or windmill climbing among the shore excursions.
- Friendly setting. My husband and I have certainly met lots of people on ocean cruises; however, because we are introverts, we generally end our cruise with many acquaintances rather than friends. With the smaller boat – one dining room and one lounge – you’ll find yourself running into the same people again and again. Tip: If you really want to meet people, don’t go with a group. When it’s just one or two of you, you’ll always have folks sharing your table and will strike up some new relationships, whether you try to or not.
- No sea legs necessary. You won’t experience the rough water, rocking boat and trip-spoiling seasickness that can be common on the ocean. I’ve generally felt like the ground was swaying beneath my feet for days after an ocean cruise. But you won’t even know you’re on the water on a river cruise. Even those walking with canes or walkers won’t have any trouble moving about the ship. Bonus: You won’t have to equip yourself with seasickness patches or medication in preparation for your trip.
- Ahoy, doc! Last but certainly not least, should you have an issue that needs immediate medical attention, you’re never far from land on a river cruise. And that convenience can provide invaluable peace of mind when you’re far from home.
Share your experiences with river cruising.