“Can I combine my river cruise with an ocean cruise?”
It’s a question we’re hearing more and more as travellers look to offset the relatively high cost of transatlantic air travel by maximizing their time in Europe. Unfortunately, it’s a question that doesn’t have a lot of easy answers.
The short answer is yes, you can combine a river cruise with an ocean cruise, or vice-versa. In some cases, this may be extremely convenient: after all, both ocean and river cruises depart from Amsterdam, while others end or offer post-cruise stays in popular deep-ocean cruise ports like Nice.
However, if you do intend to do two trips back-to-back, there are some important considerations you’ll want to pay close attention to in order to avoid any unintended consequences:
- Give Yourself Some Time between voyages. Should your cruise be delayed for any reason, you’ll want to have a buffer zone between your first and second cruise – particularly for the river cruise portion, where differing water levels can really throw a wrench into the schedule should they occur.
- Know the Booking Contract. Remember, these are two separate voyages with two separate companies – meaning Company Number Two has no obligation towards Company Number One, and vice-versa. If you fail – for whatever reason – to show for the second leg of your journey, the other operating company is in no way liable to you, or obligated to refund your money.
- Note the differences. River cruises are not the same as ocean cruises at all – and may have different onboard currencies, different power outlet configurations, and different beverage and tipping policies. Don’t assume that just because they’re both ships, they’ll offer a similar onboard product. Do your homework first; don’t just choose a ship to sail on because it’s in port on a particular day.
- Pay Attention To Your Docking Location. This is especially important for places like Nice (where your ocean ship will probably depart from nearby Villefranche or Monte Carlo), or in Amsterdam, where deep-ocean ships regularly use the port of Ijmuiden – some 30 kilometres to the west of the city.
Finally, the last question we’re getting a lot of from curious travellers: does Viking offer combination river and ocean cruises now that Viking Star has set sail?
Here’s why: it’s a total logistical nightmare. You can book a Viking river cruise and a Viking ocean cruise as two separate bookings, and the line will likely work with you to make that process as painful as possible. For the most part, the timing of sailings and embarkation / disembarkation ports just don’t mesh well enough for the company to offer ocean-river package deals.
But – that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own!
Do you like to combine river cruises with a land or ocean cruise vacation? Let us know!