This past year I went on not one, but two river cruises in Europe. I had a flood of questions after each trip, and most people wondered: is a river cruise really for me?
So many people wanted to know if they should take a river cruise. Would there be enough time in each destination? What is it really like on board the ship? And, is it worth the money?
After cruising in France, Hungary, and Austria, as well experiencing ocean cruising, I developed a quiz so you can adequately decide if a river cruise is for you. Having just sailed with Avalon Waterways, I wanted to dispel any myths, stick to the facts, and ultimately help you decide if river cruising is for you.
From my experience as a frequent traveler, I'm often asked about whether or not a river cruise can fulfill your travel needs. Meaning, do you really get to see the destination or, is this type of travel only good for a certain type of traveler. So, should you take a river cruise? This quiz will help!
Some quick river trip FAQs
Will you get sea sick? Nope. River currents are very gentle which also means smooth sailing. As someone who easily has motion sickness (and always travels with Sea Bands) I never get sea sick on a river boat.
You'll most likely make friends. River cruising is very intimate. The ships typically hold around 200 passengers, so you'll get to know fellow passengers. Sometimes ocean cruising can feel a bit overwhelming. There can be 1,000s of passengers on board. This is not the case with river cruising.
Maybe best of all, you have time to yourself. I think before I cruised, I assumed my itinerary would be jam packed. Of course, you can do as many excursions as you want. But, if you're like me, you want time to experience the destination on your own. One of my favorite ways to “get to know” a city is to walk around. I had plenty of time to walk or bike around the destinations we ventured to. On the Avalon Waterways cruises they offer free bikes on board the ship. So you can easily take on the city or village at your own pave.
I think one of the best all-around river cruise options is Avalon Waterways. You get an immense amount of options for your excursions- particularly their Active & Discovery cruises which give you a robust itinerary great for cruisers of all ages. This also means their clientele tends to be a bit younger from your typical river cruise. Whether you want to bike the city, get your heart pumping on a hike with stunning views, or learn more on a guided museum tour, you'll find the right excursion for you.
Let's talk about cost. River cruising isn't necessarily a budget option, but it is a great bang for your buck. The cruise includes accommodation, food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and drinks), and excursions. These things can easily add up. Also, accommodation doesn't always live up to your standards. With a river cruise you know exactly what you're getting. And that means beautiful, functional, and comfortable.
River cruising really gives you a different perspective. You are offered unique excursions, local food, and hidden destinations along with popular cities.
What I love about river cruising, and what I saw first hand, is that the accommodations and excursions fit any traveler. There were people on the cruise that stuck close to the ship or did walking tours, while others enjoyed the pub crawl or adventurous hiking. I find this is especially beneficial for families on board. It works particularly well for multi-generational groups.
The rooms on Avalon Waterways are very large. Because there isn't a traditional balcony, they have what's called an “open air balcony” where you can open the window but you don't have a separate seating area, your room is much larger. The bathrooms also have a full shower, luxurious L'Occitane toiletries, and a spacious closet.
When you sail with a river cruise you’re often given special perks. For example, we got to skip the line and enter Vienna’s art history museum before opening hours. This gorgeous museum is often flooded with tourists, especially in Summer. But being with Avalon Waterways we were allowed in before hours and had a guided tour in an almost private setting. What a treat!
The ships on Avalon offer “relaxed luxury” which means a casual dining experience, a lovely, functional ship, and flexible dining. Basically, Avalon Waterways can work for a variety of travelers.
My recent trip with Avalon sailed from Budapest, Visegrad, Vienna, and some other small cities in Austria. I feel like I had adequate time in each city, and plenty of time to explore with the group and on my own.
Bottom line, I suggest trying river cruises for most travelers. It's a great way to experience the world, enjoy the destination, try the food, and truly enjoy your trip. The combination of experiencing a new place- both from the water and the land is so unique.
What are your thoughts, would you take a river cruise? Or have you gone on one before?