I always say that river cruising is a great option for a multitude of travelers because it includes something for everyone. Now, this is obviously a generalization. River cruising is not going to be the experience of everyone’s dreams. That’s not what the river cruise companies want it to be. What river cruise companies are striving for, however, is to reach new demographics and new travelers by enhancing their existing programs and making them better for everyone – not just those new to river cruising.
River cruising has changed a lot since I started cruising – and that’s only been ten years. Of course, river cruising has changed a lot more since its rise to popularity at the end of the 20th century. There are now wellness programs on multiple ships, there are itineraries crafted for families with young travelers, there are themed sailings that focus on a plethora of topics from wine to art to bicycling to photography.
With the industry growing so rapidly, and with the introduction of so many new itineraries, activities, ships, etc., there is really no better time than now to try out a river cruise.
Here are five reasons you should try a river cruise in 2020:
Diversity In Passengers
Something that often discouraged people from trying river cruises in years past was the lack of diversity aboard – namely in age. River cruising has been viewed for so long as something that could only be enjoyed by seniors, or as my grandmother would call them “more knowledgable adults.” While I still see multiple cruise passengers in their 70s and 80s, I am also seeing a lot of younger travelers – mostly in their 40s and 50s.
The river cruises that I have done this year were full of young passengers. I called my cruise aboard AmaViola an anomaly, due solely to the number of travelers under the age of 60 onboard. On these sailings, you see more passengers signing up for active tours, you see more guests in the lounge at night – and later into the night – and the feel onboard just changes a bit. That’s not to say that the passengers over the age of 60 were not also doing bike tours and staying out late at night, there were just more people who participated in those activities.
Because we are talking about young people here, I do want to circle back to the original river cruise “demographic” that I mentioned earlier. There are still many travelers in their 70s and 80s who want to be out late and do bike rides and hikes, but there are also those who can’t. Just because there has been a shift to a bit of a younger crowd on certain sailings does not mean that all cruise companies are now magically catering toward young people.
That’s the beauty of river cruises; people are bound by their love of travel and their desire to visit new places. It has less to do with age and ability than it does with mindset and intention. What does that mean? That anyone who wants to see the world can do so on a riverboat. There is room for guests of all different ages, backgrounds, and abilities onboard.
Scenery may be one of the last reasons that someone chooses to take a river cruise for the first time. Most travelers new to river cruising don’t know what to expect. If you’re coming to the rivers as an ocean cruise passenger, you may expect to board the ship after a day of exploring and wake up in your next destination. While this is true for some ports, oftentimes you are cruising during the day – meaning that you’re going to see towns, castles, vineyards, gardens, people, etc., as you cruise down your river of choice.
Cruising through the Rhine Gorge, the Wachau Valley, the Iron Gates, the Mekong Delta, and so on, can provide you with some of the most incredible views you’ve ever seen. (And that is coming from someone who frequently hikes the mountains of Western North Carolina.)
Whether you are sitting on your balcony taking in the fresh air, on the top deck of the ship with a book, in the lounge with a cocktail, or eating dinner in the dining room, you will be astounded by some of the views that these rivers provide. The best part? They can be seen from your river cruise ship. Whenever you want.
Diversity In Itineraries
Whether you’re a country counter or an in-depth explorer, a river cruise can cater to either experience. There are itineraries that travel through many countries, like the itineraries offered from Amsterdam to Budapest; there are also itineraries that do a more in-depth exploration of one country, like Avalon’s Heart Of Germany itinerary.
River cruises sail throughout the world, so you are not limited to a particular region. Whether you want to cruise through the United States, Asia, Africa, South America, or beyond, you can do so on a river cruise.
Itineraries also vary in length. You can choose a monthlong voyage or a short sailing that’s three to four days. This allows you to fully cater the experience to match your needs.
We often look at cruise lines as being all-inclusive or not all-inclusive. A river cruise that is not all-inclusive may have you pay for port charges, beverages, and gratuities, among other things. On a cruise that is all-inclusive all of these costs would be included in the cruise fare.
What should be noted, however, is that even on the cruises that are not all-inclusive, there is a lot included in your trip. The costs of river cruises can look like a lot to some. When you think about not having to pay for hotels, meals, and, in most cases, tours, the cruise fare can start to look a lot more manageable. Not to mention, most cruise companies include beer and wine at lunch and dinner which is a value in itself. Two or three glasses of wine a night can quickly add up over a week.
River cruising is such a unique way to travel; not to mention it is loads of fun. My favorite part about river cruising is meeting and making connections with new people. You can learn so much on a river cruise outside of the areas you’re visiting simply from talking to your fellow passengers.
Sitting in the lounge after dinner is a great way to pass time with new friends. Even if you are sitting alone on the sundeck, it is so much fun to watch the world pass by as you float down a river. Seeing new places and learning about other cultures is some of the most fun you can ever have, and a river cruise only enhances that experience.
So, will you take a river cruise in 2020?