This post may contain affiliate links.
River cruising is one of the fastest growing trends in travel, but what makes it so popular? Here are 6 great reasons to take a river cruise.
Background: I have river cruise envy
Ever since my sister Catherine did an AmaWaterways river cruise with her family I’ve been seething with jealousy. Why can’t I do a river cruise? I like slow travel. I like ships. I like floating down rivers looking at castles. River cruising is tailor made for my style of travel, and I’m putting it high on my ‘to do’ list.
After pestering my sister with questions about the cruise here’s what she said:
Our ship had wonderful staff, university quality lectures and great food including decadent plates of pastries laid out daily. We had first-rate tours of major sites as well as visits to unexpected destinations. Cocktail parties onboard, so the guests could mingle, were appreciated and enjoyable. The entertainment of singers, dancers, and a pianist added to the spirit of the trip.
As river cruising is such a hot travel trend right now, I decided to look more closely into this elegant way of travel and came up with 6 reasons to take a river cruise.
6 reasons to take a river cruise
#1: You should go on a river cruise because of the history of the world
Hear me out. Once upon a time people settled new lands, and because they needed fresh water and transportation routes they settled on riverbanks. Therefore, river cruising goes where all the exciting history is. In fact, you’ll be floating through the footsteps of time (if you can float through footsteps) and into the heart of historic cities.
#2 River cruising is like window shopping
Think of the world as a great big store. You can sit on the deck or look out the panoramic windows and pick out things for your wish list: Castles, of course, come to mind, but you could add other things such as swans, ducks and temples of gold.
#3 River cruising will up your cultural cool
How fun would a themed cruise be? When it comes to AmaWaterways I’d be torn between a Wine Cruise on the Danube and an Art Cruise of Paris & Normandy, but I think the art cruise would win (because I could still drink fine wine – and in unlimited amounts).
Nonetheless, there are so many top destinations in Europe, it would be hard to narrow it down.
#4 You won’t lose things on a river cruise
Every time I leave a hotel I forget something. I’m still upset about the paisley robe I left in the Catskills. A cruise ship is like a floating hotel so you only unpack once and your wardrobe never gets left behind, not even that horrible shirt you wish you’d lose.
Yes, yes, river cruises are romantic and a big draw for couples, but when I say intimacy I’m talking about the size of the ships. The largest ship in AmaWaterways’ European fleet has a max capacity of 164 passengers, so you’ll never get lost in the crowd. Or on the ship.
River cruises can get you places where ocean ships can’t. So where are some top river cruise destinations today? The Douro Valley in Portugal is increasingly popular for wine lovers and foodies, while the Rhine River is still a crowd favourite.
A Danube River cruise has great stops such as Bratislava, Vienna and Budapest, and if you like Burgundy wine, the Rhone is a top choice.
As the popularity of river cruising grows so do the itineraries. My top pick for an exotic destination would be Myanmar, but AmaWaterways also offers cruises in Europe, Africa, Vietnam and Cambodia. So start dreaming now – and put a river cruise on your ‘to do’ list today.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by AmaWaterways, pioneers of luxury river cruising. Visit their website for more info.
Read more: about luxury travel and what it means.
Janice & George (@SandInSuitcase)
River cruising is very different from ocean cruising. We love it! Our most recent was in Myanmar on the “Belmond Orcaella” on a less touristy stretch of the Irrawaddy River — we got to take an oxcart ride to an old colonial fort. Highly recommended… You’d love it :-).
Agree!!! A river cruise is top on our list as well :) Would love to discover the wine regions by boat. Love how intimate they are and the wonderful places you get to traverse. Looking forward to having that experience sometime soon.
Elaine J Masters
I’ve had river cruising on my radar for all these reasons plus there’s less of an environmental impact than regular cruising. Thanks for filling in some blanks.
Two Can Travel
These are great reasons to take a river cruise! I’ve yet to do a long river cruise, but it does sound like a unique way to experience different places. They are certainly becoming more popular. I’ll have to start looking into some!
Megan MacNee (@Traveling9to5er)
I haven’t liked the one cruise I’ve been on but I hear river cruises are very different. Thanks for sharing more about them, guess I’ll have to give one a try someday.
Now that I think of it, I’ve done river cruises in the Amazon and Egypt, too, Mike. Asia and Europe are next!
I think so, too, Anne. I can’t imagine anything more exotic than a river cruise in Myanmar.
Cruising the Douro River would be fantastic, Marlene.
I love river cruising and the itinerary and small ship size are always my big draws. I love the places they go and the affordability. Glad to see you are a fan, too. ;)
I’ve always wanted to do a river cruise! It sounds like such a perfect way to get around and see a variety of different cities. It’s always nice to get a glimpse of a place and then you know if you want to spend more time there on another visit down the road. The spots the cruises stop at are always so intriguing as well, and I love that they do themed cruises! The art one definitely sounds interesting!
You are very right: river cruising is growing more and more. In Portugal we have some companies doing it in the Douro river, crushing passing all the port wine vineyards! You have to check it out. It’s beautiful!
We’ve taken around 6 river cruises. All were great but the best was Avalon Mekong cruise with only 36 passengers.
Cruising in Myanmar would be amazing. The rivers there are totally fascinating
A river cruise is on my list as well. I especially want to do a cruise through a wine region.
I’ve taken a few river cruises in my time, but always as part of a trip (in Egypt and the Amazon) as a slow, scenic way to get me from A to B, I’ve never really thought of them as a ‘trip’ in and of themselves so to speak or looked at them in this way.