Ocean Cruise versus River Cruise. What’s the difference?

River Cruise or Ocean Cruise what’s the difference? Plenty.  River is a more like a land tour than an Ocean cruise experience.

A few of the big differences are the facilities.  The mega ocean ships offer facitilies like swimming pools, multiple restaurants, bars and lounges and the endless activities on board every day.  Whilst the river ships do offer some of these, they are on a much smaller scale.

And you won’t have any ‘Sea Days’ on the river.  You will have some day time cruising but this is part of the charm – to sail quietly down the river watching the scenery drift past.

Best of all, river cruises generally include shore excursions along with many other extras unlike on the ocean cruise ships.

Although some ocean ships are now offering drinks packages these are an extra expense.  Most river ships will include wine, beer and soft drinks with meals, 24 hour tea and coffee, free Wifi.   So, with fewer on board expenses to add to your bill even though the original fare may be slightly higher to start with a lot more is included.  So no more large on board bills to settle at the end of your holiday.

River Cruise Ship

Ocean Ship

You will see land all the times on a River cruise and are in port daily.  Most stops are right in the heart of the town, you can literally stroll off the ship and you’ll be there.  No more docking in the less salubrious industrial ports full of tankers and working ships, waiting for your bus into town.  And on your return, then queuing again to get back on board at the end of the day.

River itineraries are a lot more port intensive, you could be visiting a different destination every day, sometimes two in a day as travelling between stops is not a great distance.

Carrying 200 passengers or fewer  European river ships are smaller than their ocean going counterparts which can carry up to 7000 passengers!, River ships are a lot more intimate, the atmosphere very sociable, no long queues for the restaurants, or waiting to get on and off.  Just imagine it to be a small luxury floating hotel.

Cabins can be slightly smaller than the large ocean suites, but still beautifully decorated and very comfortable, all with a window or balcony, and you will not find any inside cabins on a river ship.

Viking Sun Deluxe cabin, Ocean cruise

MS Lord Byron Deluxe Suite

MS Lord Byron Deluxe Suite, River cruise

The passengers on ocean cruise liners often range from the budget conscious, sun seeking cheap getaway last-minute booker, often sell off the cheaper cabins this way, to upscale guests looking for the sophisticated ambiance cruising can offer.

River ships offer something to both past ocean cruisers  who want to experience something different but still want a holiday afloat, and travelers who would never consider an ocean cruise but like culture and quality accommodation.  You also won’t ever find a cheap last minutes get away on a river cruise.  With so few cabins, the most popular ones sell fast.

And finally no need to pack your cases the night before the end of your cruise on the river and having to leave it the corridor outside your cabin you can just finish packing the day you leave.  And if your onward travel isn’t until later, continue to enjoy the facilities and leave at your leisure.

So, I hope that this blog post has moved you closer to knowing whether a river cruise is for you.  Each river offers something different as does each cruise operator.  As a specialist in our field.  We look forward to making river cruising work for you.

Rachel

 

Rhine Christmas Markets River Cruises

This week we have been inundated with requests for river cruises to visit the German Christmas markets along the Rhine river.

Christmas markets river cruises

Taking a Christmas markets river cruise is an amazing and easy way to immerse yourself in the ambiance of Germany’s traditional Christmas feativities with their host of unique gifts.  Together with the stunning Rhine scenery it really is a winter wonderland.

Strasbourg Christmas Market

What is a Christmas markets river cruise like?

Just by strolling off the ship, you will walk straight into the heart of the towns and cities along the Rhine and find yourself wandering around the gingerbread house-like stalls. Why not sample a warming glass or two of Gluhwein (Mulled Wine)?  Each market has its own special Glühwein mug. For a small fee, it is yours to keep and re-use. Not only are refills cheaper, you’ll have a great souvenir!

Don’t forget to check out the free concerts in churches and palaces surrounding the markets as the music is usually superb.

Ginger bread at Christmas markets

When is the best time to go on a Rhine Christmas markets cruise?

Most of the markets start towards the middle of November and run up to just before Christmas.  It is worth checking with us as which we know which ones to visit when. Some markets do stay on over the actual Christmas period and finish as late as New Year’s Eve.

Also the best time is in the evening when it is dark when you can immerse yourselves in the traditions and sounds as you wander around.  Taking in all the festive lights and ambiance. But it will be colder in the evening, so do wrap up warm.  If you are really lucky there may well be snow to really put you in the Christmas mood.  Even if you only have a few days, there are river cruises from 3 nights to up to 7 nights long.  And at this time of year flights tend to be inexpensive compared to the warmer months.

Kaysersberg at Christmas in Alsace

Cologne Christmas Markets

Take a stroll around one market or if you have time, take in all seven Christmas markets on offer around Cologne! Each has its own special atmosphere.  Angels and Saint Nicolases, Elves and Father Christmases as well as twinkling stars and the aroma of roasted almonds and Glühwein invite you to browse in the festively decorated centre of Cologne.

Frankfurt Christmas Markets

On the Roemerberg,  a beautifully decorated fir tree reaches toward the skies. Frankfurt’s historical old town is brightly illuminated by thousands of fairy lights reflecting off the windows of the square’s traditional half-timbered houses.

The scent of baked apples, chestnuts, gingerbread and mulled wine fills the air.  If you’ve ever wanted to experience the wonderful wintertime charm of the old world, then the Frankfurt Christmas Market is the place for you!

A special addition to the traditional Frankfurt Christmas Market is the ‘Pink Christmas Market’ at Friedrich Stoltze Square with the focus on the LGBT customer.

The little market’s stalls and Christmas trees glow in bright pink. The rustic wooden booths serve hot cocktails, homemade soup, gingerbread and much, much more.

Rudesheim Christmas Markets

Christmas traditions from all over the world merge at Rudesheim Christmas Market. Featuring over 120 stalls,  from twelve nations bringing their products to the market in Popular ‘Drosselgasse’ area in the historic city centre, on this famous street which is festively decorated with sparkling lights and decorations.

Our Opinion of Rhine Christmas Market Cruises

Christmas markets are only a part of your cruise, relax on board whilst a kaleidoscope of riverside views drift past in all their wintery glory.

Wrap up warm and take in the invigorating air on the top deck whilst taking in the stunning views of the world famous Rhine gorge.

Nutcracker Christmas market toy

 

 

 

What’s the food like on a River Cruise?

“What is the food like on a River Cruise? is one of the frequent questions we get asked.

Most offer a menu that reflects the local area using fresh local produce and in our experience can be exceptional, Breakfast features a large selection of hot and cold choices with cooked to order eggs, omlettes and pancakes.  Lunch if on board, and not on a tour is usually a three course offering with a wide menu choice and your evening meal four courses again with a wide choice of dishes featuring some regional specialities of the local area.

If you don’t fancy trying the local delicacies, or just want a lightermeal then you will not go hungry as you can always get fresh Fish, Chicken, Steak or just a Salad.

Roast duck & sprouts on Loire Princesse

Lobster Dinner - Avalon Vista

Most ships only have one sitting for Dinner, as the large restaurants have enough seating for everyone to dine at the same time.   AMAWaterways and Scenic do have a specialty restaurant on board (free of charge unlike ocean going specialty restaurants which incur an extra charge, however you may need to book a table)

MS Emily Bronte lunch

MS Emily Bronte , Lunch

Special Diets

Any special dietary needs can be catered for, Vegetarians wont have any issues as veggie dishes are widely featured on the menus, and the menus usually show which dishes are Gluten free, Nut, Dairy etc.  We would suggest that you let then cruise company know in advance of any special needs so the kitchen knows in advance and the Maitre d’ will check with you on arrival to run through all requirements.

Dress Code

River ships have no strict dress code on board it is very relaxed, no formal nights so no need to pack evening wear like on an ocean going ship, just smart casual.

Wine Cruises

For food and wine lovers why not try one of the gourmet or wine cruise on offer which feature vineyard tours, wine tasting with a local sommelier and gourmet tasting menus, guest speaker on how to pair food and wine togetheris a river cruise holiday right for me?