River cruises have advanced wonderfully over the years, trading old and tired décor for intriguing destinations and luxurious staterooms. Modern ships now include on-board amenities such as spas, in-suite butlers and Wi-Fi, meaning you can indulge while sailing to several destinations, enjoying a new port almost every day. Here are ten reasons to book a river cruise right now.

1. Immersive excursions

A Buddhist monk in saffron robes standing in the doorway of a temple at Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

River cruises sail some of the most immersive itineraries in the cruising world, especially when you take into account the excursions included in many cruise lines’ overall fares. From guided city walks and castle tours on the Rhine, to art classes and music recitals in some of Europe’s finest cities, each excursion is culturally focused and offers an exciting window into life on the riverbanks.

2. Intimate experiences

A river cruise ship passing around a bend in the Yangtze

Though smaller in size, river cruise ships certainly don’t lack in fantastic facilities and activities. Viking River Cruises pride themselves on offering all the amenities of a fine hotel on-board their ships, and Scenic provides a crew to guest ratio of 1:3, making your cruise truly memorable with outstanding service.

These petite ships are perfectly suited to the waterways of the world, reaching every nook and cranny as the river meanders through each port. Cruising the river also gives you easy access to city centres and major attractions, meaning there are no laborious queues or lengthy transfers.

3. Fantastic for foodies

A bento box of Japanese food on a Crystal river cruise ship

The food on a Crystal river cruise

 

Minus the limited-access restaurants and obligatory pre-booked tables on many ocean cruises, river cruises offer a relaxing, fuss-free dining experience. Most river cruise ships have open seating and a more casual dress code, meaning you can leave the evening gowns and tuxedos at home.

Dining experiences also provide insight into the ports you are visiting, taking inspiration from local favourites: goulash in Hungary, schnitzels in Austria or even a full Bavarian-themed buffet featuring pretzels, charcuterie and schnapps.

4. A variety of views

A female river cruise passenger being served drinks on the deck of her ship

The scenery you will encounter each day is one of the things that makes river cruises so enjoyable – imagine waking up in a different port each day and a variety of locations and landscapes. Whether you sail through the picturesque countries along the Danube or explore France on the Seine, you can enjoy everything from hilltop castles and quaint villages to stunning greenery as you look out of your window each day.

River cruising allows you to peer into these destinations from a different perspective, enjoying the journey almost as much as the destination.

5. Relaxing journeys

A couple enjoying a glass of wine on the veranda of their river cruise ship

If being away from civilisation and out on the open water is something that puts you off cruising the oceans, river cruises may be for you. Potentially choppy seas are swapped for smooth sailings, and you can wave good-bye to seasickness. Often, you can see the banks on either side – lined with towering cathedrals and fairytale castles.

If you want your cruise to be as peaceful as possible, you will be pleased to know that many river cruise lines don’t target young children, featuring pools without the pools and waterslides, and offering no kids club. Though some lines cater to families and multi-generational travellers, you will find that on-board river cruise ships, the smaller passenger numbers don’t upset the balance of peace and quiet too much.

6. Easy and eco-friendly

The AmaWaterways river cruise ship, AmaVida

AmaWaterways – AmaVida

Where else can you arrive, unpack once and visit countless countries in the space of 20 days before returning home? River cruising allows you to explore the finest waterways without ever needing to lift a finger. There is no shortage of amazing destinations to visit – Viking River Cruises ventures to Russia, Asia and even Egypt!

River cruise ships are also one of the more environmentally-friendly modes of transport on the water. Uniworld has partnered with the Travel Foundation and takes responsibility for minimising the impact the river cruise industry has on the environment, while AmaWaterways introduced AmaVida: a ship equipped with solar panels.

7. All-inclusive

Orange margarita with salt on the rim of the glass

Most river cruises include everything in the price, from shore excursions to food and drink, as well as tips, transfers and hotel stays. These are some of the items included in many river cruise fares, meaning there is little risk of running up a large bill that will surprise you at the end of your trip. From the moment you step on-board to the day you head back home, river cruises offer a refreshing way to enjoy your time and worry less while on-board.

8. Life’s little luxuries

A butler serving breakfast to a passenger on a luxury river cruise

As newer ships join river cruise fleets, luxury is becoming one of the main factors behind the décor and design. Away from the older, cramped ships of yesteryear, river cruising is now one of the more indulgent ways to travel.

Public areas include alfresco dining venues, contemporary interiors, and open decks where you can appreciate the views. Uniworld boasts the title of the only ‘boutique’ river cruise line, with in-suite butlers and designer bath products, while Avalon Waterways strives to upscale design innovations with each new addition to its fleet, for the ultimate on-board experience.

9. Fewer ‘sea’ days

Vietnamese locals in a traditional boat

Vietnam

Rather than relaxing by the pool or booking room service for an evening, river cruises are all about the adventure and experience you can have while on-board. Where days at sea are a regular occurrence on an ocean cruise, full sailing days are a rarity during river cruises.

Sailing to new ports is mainly undertaken at night (with the exception of the River Douro in Portugal, where night-time navigation is not permitted), river cruises make the destination the place to spend your time, rather than the ship itself, though these can be kitted out with decadent spas and relaxing public areas.

10. Year-round cruising

A Christmas market next to the river in Holland

There is no limit to a specific time of year when it comes to selecting a river cruise and certain destinations are not strictly included in seasonal itineraries, meaning there is more flexibility with travel and choice.

Explore the Rhine during Christmas or the Danube throughout summertime and witness the change of the seasons. River cruises operate all year-round, with specially packaged winter river cruises available, and ports added to introduce you to the blossoming tulips in the Netherlands.

With so many reasons to river cruise, it is no wonder these voyages represent the fastest-growing sector of the cruise industry, with plenty ships due to take their maiden voyages over the next few years. Take a look at our latest river cruises and see where you can sail on your next getaway.

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About Emma Smith

Emma has more than six years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for over two years. She loves learning of new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in diary for 2021! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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