If you’re an avid cruiser, you’ve probably done most of the popular sailings on many of the biggest cruise lines. You’ve sailed the Caribbean, been to Alaska, perhaps Hawaii, and maybe even ventured as far as Europe and possibly Tahiti. For you, the newest thing in cruising has probably been getting a cabin aboard the latest and greatest mega ships — the ones where you really never need disembark because the ships are akin to floating cities. Lately it seems like it is all about how big a boat can they make? And if you can ice skate, rock climb, and surf on the ship, all the better.
But the real next big thing in cruising has nothing to do with the size of the ship. It has to do with where you can cruise. Hint: I’m talking rivers not oceans.
River cruising is incredibly hot right now. Whereas many years ago there were one or two river cruise companies and most people who took river cruises were in the senior citizen category, the river cruise industry has exploded in the past few years. Now you are talking a variety of river cruise companies including Viking River Cruises, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Tauck River Cruises, and Grand Circle Cruise Line.
What people love about river cruising is the fact that you get up close and personal with the places you visit. There’s always something to gaze at outside the window because you’re not sailing in open ocean waters. You get to see the small towns and villages along the river as you cruise and once you arrive at your next destination, you’re in the heart of everything. The ships are also low to the water so you’re not looking down upon a destination but are more on eye-level as you pass by.
If you are someone who loves the big cruise ships for what they offer versus where they go — and I’m talking the wide variety of onboard facilities including multiple pools, kids activities, cruise director, myriad restaurants, loud activities, nightclubs, Broadway-style shows, etc. — then you probably will not like a river cruise. The focus of a river cruise is more on where you are going versus how you are getting there. Although the river cruise industry has invested a lot of money in new ships so you’ll travel in style. But the river cruise passenger wants to sit back and enjoy the actual cruise versus spending their time gambling in the casino, rock climbing, or waiting in line for a Guy Fieri hamburger. The large ships focus on variety and the bigger the better, while the river cruise ships focus on intimacy and quality. Mealtimes are scheduled and with fewer restaurant choices. There’s a bit more of a routine so you have plenty of time to see the variety of ports of call.
After all, aren’t you taking a cruise because of where you are going to go? You can always dine in a celebrity chef restaurant on land. You’re not on a ship to learn to rock climb, surf, or excel at Snowball Bingo. You’re there to see the world. And when the world’s rivers take you through Europe, the Amazon, Africa, South America, Asia, and more, there are some pretty amazing places to see.