River cruising is enjoying a huge boost in popularity right now, and it’s easy to see why. Luxurious ships, above-par service and incredible itineraries are just three reasons people choose to sail along the river instead of at sea. If you’ve been gazing at stunning images of the Rhine and Danube, but aren’t sure if this style of holiday is right for you, here are 5 things you need to know before your first European river cruise.
Everything you need to know before your first European river cruise
Suitable for everyone
Once upon a time, river cruising was seen as something only suitable for travellers over a certain age. But with cruise lines catering for younger couples and families introducing river cruises, they’re opening up to a much wider audience. Earlier this year Disney teamed up with AmaWaterways to offer a Danube River sailing specifically designed for families with little ones. They even provided guides to lead “Junior Adventurers” on special trips onshore and host a kids-only dinner party each night.
One of the best things about river cruising is the ports of call are right in the centre of all the action. Unlike Mediterranean cruises that stop in Civitavecchia, which is actually a few hours outside the city of Rome, European river cruises dock in ideal positions for you to simply stroll into iconic cities, such as Amsterdam and Budapest.
More affordable than you think
Compared to Caribbean cruises, European river cruises can seem quite pricey. But it’s not really a fair comparison. A lot of European cruises throw in high-value extras at no added costs. Onshore excursions, premium drinks packages and butler service are just a few examples of freebies. And when you take the price of these into consideration, a European river cruise works out much better value than a Caribbean cruise!
Truly personalised service
Compared to the 2,000-5,000 guests on sea cruises, river cruises only cater for around 200 guests. This means that as well as a much more intimate atmosphere, you get a much more personalised service. Expect the staff at the front desk to call you by your name and the baristas to remember how you like your coffee. This type of service isn’t for everyone, but if you love feeling like a VIP, you’ll have a great time.
You’ll be exhausted
A river cruise is one of the best ways to see Europe for the first time. Most itineraries include a different port every day, where you can spend every minute up until disembarkation time exploring cobbled streets, shopping at quaint markets and indulging in the cuisine from loads of different countries. It’s a wonderful way to take in a myriad of different destinations without constant packing and unpacking. While you might suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) no one forces you to get off the ship. If you pushed yourself a bit too hard the day before, you can take it easy and enjoy the scenic views onboard the following day.