Small-ship cruising really made a name for itself with European river itineraries. Sail along the Danube or the Seine — admire the opulent palaces in Vienna or the Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris. A port every day, locally sourced cuisine, calm waters and never-ending views of historic, beautiful cities are commonplace on river cruises
If you’re looking to stay local, explore the waterways that inspired literary greats like Mark Twain onboard authentic steamboats that sail along iconic U.S. rivers such as the Mississippi.
There aren’t waves, and you always see the shoreline. River cruisers like this because they can’t get seasick, and they feel safe.
River ships don’t have lines to get on and off the ship. When a giant ocean ship anchors offshore, passengers must line up to take tenders to and from land and, depending on the size of the ship, there can be long waits.
On river cruises you see the captain daily, in the wheelhouse or dining room. The hotel director is always in the lobby or otherwise nearby, and the cruise manager is always accessible, either at his or her lobby desk, on shore supervising the tours, or at the daily port talks. The officers’ proximity and attention make river cruising feel more personal than ocean cruising.
On river cruises, guided group walking tours are included, although more in-depth excursions involving buses and admission tickets often cost extra.
Everything on the ship is near your cabin. It takes no more than a minute to be where you want to be.
On river ships, everybody eats at the same time. Usually breakfast is from 7 to 9 am, lunch is from 12 to 2 pm, and dinner is from 7 to 9 pm.
On river ships and small ocean ships, they’re not constantly trying to sell you art, drinks, jewelry, duty-free items, and future cruises. On megaships you can feel like you’re caught in one big floating infomercial.
Popular River Cruise lines include Viking, Tauck, Uniworld, Avalon Waterways, Emerald Waterways, Luftner, Scenic Tours, AmaWaterways.