Ocean cruising can be a truly novel and thrilling experience for anyone with an itch to see the world. The real deal, of course, is stopping on several ports of call, joining shore excursions and immersing in unique cultures and experiences. A few days after heading out to sea, however, you’ll likely get bored with just miles and miles of open waters and having nothing to see. If you want a fun and memorable shipboard experience offering a wide variety of possibilities, you need to try river cruising.
River cruising is hot. It used to be just one mode of travel that can take you from one point to another. Today, it is among the fastest growing segments of the tourism industry. Why? It lets a cruiser immerse in a slow kind of experiential journey that give them time to see more of the country villages and the city lights from a different perspective. The gourmet food and wine, mostly using local ingredients, are not only delicious, but also held in relax, but intimate ambiance.
If you want to know more about the reasons behind the popularity of river cruising, listen to what Peter Greenberg, a well-known and travel news journalist and multiple Emmy-winning investigative reporter and producer. The article entitled “Why Is River Cruising So Hot? The Experts Weigh In” posted at PeterGreenberg.com.
“… Included in this number are river cruises, where growth is actually outpacing ocean cruises. River cruise lines are launching ships at a breakneck pace. Over a five-year span, river cruises have seen a 10 percent annual passenger increase, while the cruise industry as a whole increased by 7 percent.
Four decades ago, Uniworld was the first company to develop river cruises geared toward the North American market. In 2010, Uniworld had 42 ships; today, it’s about 87.
When Viking River Cruises was first founded in 1997, it had four river vessels in Russia. Today, the company has more than 53 boats cruising the rivers of Europe, Russia, Ukraine, China, Southeast Asia, and Egypt. Viking even broke its own Guinness World Record by christening 16 ships on one day this past March, and it has announced that 12 new river vessels will launch in 2015.”
Still, the question has not been answered. Why is river cruising popular?
- It incorporates fun off the boat in multiple “town” destinations. Rivers are really waterways or fancy roads paved with water and the vessels are smaller so they can navigate narrower channels. Both elements let you have a more intimate experience with the locals and their cultures. There is so much fun you can have off the boat, though there are delicious meals, fabulous bars, luxurious accommodations and adequate entertainments as well on board.
- It covers great, historic rivers around the world. The most popular river cruises are Mekong that flows through several Asian countries (Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, and China), Nile River in Egypt, Seine River in France, Rhine River (traversing Germany, Netherlands, France and Switzerland), and Danube River (Germany, Austria, Hungary) among others. River cruising gives you the opportunity to learn how life was lived in the past ages through a slow-paced and up-close experience.
- New options are coming out to meet the needs of varied age groups. Most river cruises have been based primarily in Europe, but American cruises are now popping up on the Mississippi and Columbia rivers. Cruise lines are trying to appeal to younger customers by conjuring hip events, like the American Queen Steamboat Company’s bourbon tasting and live bluegrass. Young workers like the idea, too.
- Its all-inclusive rates make budgeting so much easier. The rates usually include perks such as guided tours of a city, as well free lunch and/or dinner and beer or wine. Most ocean cruises make separate charges for drinks.
- It typically offers local cuisines. Expect to have a taste of pretzels, bratwurst and hearty beer while cruising down Germany’s Danube and Rhine rivers in Germany. Foodies can even go to local markets with the cruise chef to discover homegrown ingredients for dinner.
If you have gone ocean cruising before and you have discovered loving the shore excursions more than the on-board amenities, you will surely enjoy river cruising more. By cruising down waterways, you get to see the world from its water highways instead, a different perspective indeed.