Five things you need to know about river cruising

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PENNINGTON, N.J. – As the expansion of river cruise fleets continues, Cruise Critic has launched a new river cruise resource to help travelers compare ships and cruise lines.

PENNINGTON, N.J. – As the expansion of river cruise fleets continues, Cruise Critic has launched a new river cruise resource to help travelers compare ships and cruise lines.

Carolyn Spencer Brown, Cruise Critic editor-in-chief explains, “River cruise lines have made huge strides in improving their offerings across the board — from new ships and major refurbishments to improved service and a greater variety of tour options. Because of this, we’re seeing more distinction between the individual lines, and each is suited to a slightly different traveler. So, we’re providing information on Cruise Critic that will help people choose the right ship and itinerary, to suit their preferences.”

Cruise Critic, which offers information, reviews and ratings for more than 380 cruise ships, has recently added new information about popular river cruise regions, cruise lines and ships, as well as river cruise deals. “We’re seeing an upswing in interest in this sector, especially from experienced ocean cruisers looking for a way to visit new regions and bucket list destinations,” Spencer Brown adds. “European rivers are incredibly popular, and there’s growing interest in exotic cruises along the Mekong and Yangtze rivers, Amazon cruises and Nile trips. The revival of Mississippi river cruises has also renewed interest in exploring regions closer to home.”
Based on commonly asked questions about river cruising, Cruise Critic shares these five things to know about river cruising:

Is One River Ship Much the Same as Another?

No. Most river cruise ships look similar in terms of size because the length, breadth and even the height of the ship is limited by the rivers they sail — and bridges and locks they must navigate. However, the external similarities hide the significant differences that one experiences onboard. Atmosphere and service vary greatly, as does design and decor. Some cruise lines opt for a sleek, minimalist style to create more space in cabins and public areas of the ship, whereas others fill every inch with sumptuous furnishings and decor.

With So Many New Ships, Will the Rivers Get Overcrowded?

Yes and no. The most popular rivers will become busier, but the increased capacity isn’t expected to lead to overcrowding, at least not yet. In some cases, river cruise lines are adding ships in new regions which are not currently serviced regularly by other lines.

Is it Worth the Money?

A river cruise includes your accommodation (onboard the ship), your transportation to each destination (by ship), all your meals (onboard and packed lunches), some drinks (including wine at dinner), and, in most cases, daily tours and excursions. If comparing the cost of a river cruise to the price of an ocean cruise or another package tour, keep in mind what is — and isn’t –included in each option. River cruises are typically the most inclusive option, which can make them excellent value.

What’s All the Fuss about River Levels?

All river cruise lines are subject to the same issues caused by changes in water levels, and occasionally this may mean that a ship cannot pass through a particular stretch of the river. In this situation, passengers will be taken between two points by bus, rejoining their cruise after the problem area, or change to a different ship. It’s unfortunate, but unavoidable.

Isn’t River Cruising for Old People?

Yes, and younger people, too. Typically river cruises have attracted an older demographic — however, this is changing as operators and agents target promotions to attract a younger market. It should be kept in mind however, that a river cruise is all about the destination and scenery and typically, the entertainment is simple, dining can be fairly regimented, activities for kids are limited and although you’ll usually find a bar onboard, there may be only one.

About the author


Editor in chief for eTurboNew is Linda Hohnholz. She is based in the eTN HQ in Honolulu, Hawaii.