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River vs. Ocean Cruising

Sheila Cannon Apr 25, 2014 0

Have you ever heard of river cruising? Here, I would like to contrast river vs. ocean cruising.

River cruise boats are small boats that only have about 160 passengers on them, as opposed to thousands on an ocean cruise. They must be small, because they have to go under dozens of bridges and locks on each voyage.

Passau at the confluence of the Danube, Inn, and Ilz rivers.

River cruise vessels are referred to as boats while ocean cruise vessels are referred to as ships. River cruise boats sail the rivers of Europe, China, Russia and Egypt, among other countries.

A beautiful view of wine country from the S.S. Antoinette

The main river cruise lines are Uniworld, AMA Waterways, Avalon & Viking. I have listed them in order of quality; Uniworld being the highest, Viking being the most basic. You will be shocked when comparing the cost of an ocean cruise to a river cruise, but you must remember that there is much more included with a river cruise and you won’t have a huge bill at the end. Uniworld is now all-inclusive; with all beverages, shore excursions, transfers and gratuities included in its rates. Most of the lines include beer and wine with dinner, shore excursions and transfers.

Reception Desk on the Uniworld River Countess

You’ll notice a difference from ocean cruising immediately when you board the boat. Rather than waiting in a long line of people checking in, you simply go to the front desk of the ship, similar to a hotel, and check in.

The staff on board the boats is excellent. They are so friendly and helpful. You’ll also notice immediately that the passengers are very friendly. I think because there are so few people on board, they know they’re going to be running into each other often during the cruise, so they feel more comfortable and let their guard down.


Twin Balcony Room on the AMAWaterway’s Amabella

All of the staterooms on a river cruise will at least have a window. Most have a balcony and there are some larger suites available, too. One big difference from an ocean cruise is that you’re close to the water on a river cruise. You can literally open your balcony and almost touch the water with your hand. At night it’s so peaceful to open your balcony and hear the water lapping at the side of the boat while you sleep.

Uniworld River Countess Breakfast Buffet

The ships dining room can accommodate all the passengers so there’s only one dinner seating. The food onboard AMA Waterways river cruise was excellent. On our last cruise I overheard a passenger saying she thought it was better than Oceania’s food.

Cruising past the Eiffel Tower

As you sail on the river cruise you’re always in sight of land, and very close to land at that. On an ocean cruise, most of the time, when you’re not at a port or very near a port, you can’t even see land.

Are you afraid you’ll get sick on a cruise? You won’t have to worry on a river cruise at all. The boats only sail on rivers, so there isn’t a lot of wave action.

AMAWaterways has many bikes onboard

Since many cities of Europe are built around a port, when you dock you’re right in the center of the city. On an ocean cruise, most of the ports are in an industrial area, so you must take some kind of transportation into the city. On a river cruise, you’re right in the center of the city. You’re able to explore and have much more intimate and authentic experience. Some river cruise boats even bring bikes along for the passengers.

I hope this article inspires you to plan your first river cruise and learn first-hand why it’s becoming so popular.

If you would like to learn more, please schedule an appointment by visiting or call me to chat. I look forward to it!

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    I'm Sheila Cannon with Carefree Romantic Vacations. I work with busy couples who long to realize their dream of an exotic honeymoon or stress-free romantic vacation. They want to experience adventure & culture, in an exotic locale. They don't want the stress, drama or hassle of trying to do it all themselves.

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