- Less Crowds
River cruises carry fewer than 200 guests per itinerary, offering a quieter, more personalized experience. Most river cruise vessels accommodate, on average, 150 guests, making river cruising very intimate, with a higher percentage of passengers meeting and getting to know one another. It is more of a club like atmosphere. It is also easy to embark and disembark.
- More Structure
River cruises tend to be more regimented than ocean cruises, noting that exploration and meal times are structured because of capacity limitations onboard smaller riverboats. The main focus is going on cultural enrichment as a group.
- It is easy to see off the beaten path locations
Access to smaller ports and the convenience of docking mere steps away from town centers are two major advantages of river cruising. River cruise ships tie up within very close proximity to landmarks, marketplaces and museums, so guests can immediately immerse themselves in the local culture.
- More is included in their all-inclusive packages
Many river cruises up the all-inclusive factor by packaging drinks, gratuities, services like Wi-Fi and shore excursions into the cruise rate, while eliminating unexpected additional fees. Viking Cruises and AmaWaterways, for instance, include complimentary Internet access, all onboard dining, onboard drinks and excursions into its rate. Meanwhile, Tauck River Cruises includes unlimited drinks and tours ashore in its pricing.
- Enjoy up close and changing scenery
You can enjoy the sweeping and continually changing views from the comfort of your balcony.
- Ships are luxurious but laid back
The river cruise onboard experience tends to be casual, comfortable and relaxed. The majority of river cruise lines give their guests the option of dining when they want and with whom. The caveat is that there are more limited dining options compared to today's mega-ships, and while you'll have greater flexibility when it comes to dining companions, meals are served within set meal times, so if you're a late riser who likes the idea of sleeping in and savoring meals from the comfort of your cabin, an ocean cruise may be a better match for you. Entertainment on river cruises may be a piano player or a lecture, not a Broadway show.
- State rooms are larger on river ships
Staterooms and suites are well-appointed and typically spacious, offering balconies with panoramic views of the passing scenery.
- Expect a slow, leisurely pace.
You have more time to absorb your surroundings and local culture. River cruising is perfect for those who seek an authentic experience, filled with the uniqueness of various cultures within a country or region. Those who seek a genuine sense of a destination – its history, art, food and people – will find themselves greatly satisfied by river cruising.
- There are more enrichment programs on river cruises
Onboard, you can stay engaged with local culture with enrichment programs, seminars and other pursuits. For instance, on Viking Cruises, guests can enjoy regionally inspired dishes and cooking demonstrations, as well as art- or history-focused lectures to deliver context for the destinations on your itinerary.