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River Cruise – under 200 guest capacity
The fastest-growing segment of the cruise industry, river cruising is popular with fans of ocean cruises escorted tours and independent travel, as they combine the best of all styles. River cruising is the most relaxing way to visit the interior of one or many countries. Just unpack once and enjoy the magnificent scenery as you sail on calm waters through history. Along the way visit castles, abbeys, wineries, fairy tale villages, and experience local culture and cuisine.
River cruises are offered in the USA, Europe, Russia, SE Asia, China, Africa, and on the Amazon in South America. In addition to the standard European river cruise ships which accommodate 140-198 guests, luxury barges and specialty ships are also available for smaller rivers and exotic locations. River cruises often start in one city or country and end in another, offering the perfect opportunity to add a few days before and after your cruise to discover the treasures of two additional regions.
The_most popular itineraries, dates and cabin types may sell out over a year in advance, so plan accordingly. River cruises are in high demand because:
In_addition to couples and single travelers, river cruising is a great venue for groups of adults who like to travel together or share a passion for a particular activity or region. Most lines offer several themed sailings each season for those with an interest in a more in-depth exploration of the wine, beer, food, or music of an area. With 60-99 staterooms on most ships, river cruises are popular as charters for organizations and companies who want to provide a unique experience for their members or employees.
While river cruises are geared for adults, a few lines have special family voyages for kids 8 and up on select dates. AMA Waterways is partnering with Adventures by Disney to offer select sailings for families on the Danube, Rhine, Seine and Rhone rivers. In recent years river cruise companies have been attracting a younger clientele by offering more active excursions on all sailings and select sailings totally geared toward more active sightseeing and more opportunity for local cultural emersion.
In the USA, there are itineraries that cruise the upper and/or lower Mississippi, Ohio, Columbia & Snake, and Cumberland Rivers. There are also coastal cruises off both coasts.
There are several river cruise companies sailing in Europe, Russia, Asia, South America, and Africa, that primarily cater to the American market and English speaking guests. In the last few years, several European brands have redesigned their programs on a few ships to appeal to the American market and offer a range from value to luxury cruising.
There_are also many river cruise lines based in Europe that cater to the European customer, where English is not the preferred language and the cuisine and overall style and the atmosphere is more appealing to locals than Americans.
Each line offers some features unique to their brand and appeal to a particular demographic. All lines have introduced new ships in each of the last few years to keep up with the growing demand for this travel style, resulting in a very young fleet. There are over 20 new ships scheduled to debut in 2020.
In order to differentiate their brands, the river cruise lines are coming up with innovative ship and stateroom designs on their newest ships. They are adding more variety to their excursions, and more amenities, like bikes for guests to use in port. The fare on a river cruise is more inclusive than a typical ocean cruise, including most excursions and often beer and wine with dinner and sometimes lunch. The more luxury river cruise lines include all standard alcoholic beverages, more included excursions and gratuities. It is important to understand the differences between the lines’ ambiance, demographics, ship amenities, guest count, stateroom size, and what all is included in the price to be able to make a fair price comparison between river cruise lines.
Aqua Nera Suite – Amazon River
Be Aware – River levels will rise and fall with weather conditions. In the majority of cases, river cruise itineraries proceed as scheduled. However, if the river is too low, there is a risk that the ship may run aground. If too high, the ships can’t fit under bridges or the rivers are flowing too fast to navigate safely and itineraries must be changed. The common solution is to dock in a safe harbor and continue the sightseeing itineraries via motorcoach for a few days. In some cases, when a cruise line has similar ships both above and below the problem area, they will switch passengers and continue with a slight delay. All of the cruise lines’, terms and conditions specify that there may be itinerary changes.
Arrow Discovery Travel is a River Cruise specialist and can help you determine which river cruise itinerary and cruise line is right for you. Contact us today!
Janet Beazley Scraper, ECC, CTP
Member of Ensemble Travel Group
Seller of Travel Numbers