What's the buzz about river cruising?

It seems you can’t turn on the television without seeing a commercial; open a newspaper or magazine without seeing an ad; or have a conversation with friends or colleagues without someone mentioning a European River Cruise holiday! What is it about river cruising?

According to the Cruise Line International Association, river cruising has seen a consistent 10% annual passenger increase over the last five years. As one end of the cruise spectrum demands bigger, more extravagant cruise ships, another, quieter “Gray Wave” demographic is looking for a more elegant and sophisticated travel experience.

The river cruise is vastly different from your ocean-going counterpart. Whereas the average cruise ship these days carries 2300 passengers, the small river cruise ships which navigate the narrow waterways of Europe carry an absolute maximum of 200. The focus is on the destination - its culture, cuisine and its history. You have access to out of the way cities such as Arles, Nuremberg, Basel and Belgrade. Your ships dock right by the sidewalks of great European cities.

“But,” you may ask, “What am I giving up by not being on a large cruise ship?” Well, don’t expect casinos or Las Vegas style shows. There will be no rock-climbing walls or waterslides! In fact, very few river cruise vessels offer any kind of pool at all!

As compensation however the inclusive pricing of a river cruise holiday will do away with the hefty bar tabs and shore excursion expenses! At a minimum your local beer and wines will be included at lunch and dinner or more, as a number of the lines have now adopted an unrestricted bar allowance. A choice of several different guided excursions will be offered in each port of call. Your onboard entertainment will feature local musicians, artisans and dancers. The intimacy of the setting allowing you to not only enjoy the performances but actually speak with the performers themselves. Your free time allows you to walk off your vessel directly into the historical centers. In fact, after a few days the ship becomes a home away from home. Staff and crew become a new-found family who welcome you back aboard by name after wonderful days of touring.

As relaxing and stress-free as this vacation sounds , it can’t be stressed enough that river cruising is best enjoyed by individuals who are healthy and able-bodied. Walking over cobblestoned streets and the disembarkation required when ships happen to be docked side by side, requires both mobility and endurance. So although the average age of river cruisers is 50-70 years, it's best to plan sooner than later!

The 2014 season is booking fast and 2015 pricing is out! Make plans to chat with your river cruise specialist and determine which river cruise line and itinerary is right for you!



Joy McGinnis has been a well-known professional travel consultant in Kelowna since 1991. She specializes in luxury small ship and river cruising and loves to share her personal wanderlust and travel expertise with her clients.

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About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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