River cruise ships are smaller than ocean-going cruise ships, typically holding 90-240 passengers (though there are ships that take only 5 passengers, and others can carry 1,000 passengers). Due to their smaller size and low draft, river cruise ships can go where ocean cruise ships cannot, and sometimes to where no other transport is practical: rivers are an excellent way to reach some attractions, for example in Russia, China and the Peruvian Amazon.
During river cruises the countryside is usually in view, so they are especially relaxing—and interesting—to those who prefer land nearby. River cruises usually last from 7 to 15 days, although some can last 3 weeks or longer.
Some river ships resemble 5-star hotels, with sun decks, dining rooms, lounges, fitness facilities, swimming pools, casinos and other entertainment. Accommodation, meals on board, entertainment and special events (holidays, festivals, contests, concerts, etc.) are usually included in the cruise price, while bar expenses, sauna, massage, laundry and cleaning, and phone calls are not.
Most cruises have a variety of onboard and onshore activities. The latter include guided tours to historic and cultural sites, visiting local attractions, museums and galleries, and other points of interest. Guides give a running commentary while sailing.
A river cruise provides travelers a unique way to travel. According to Douglas Ward, "A river cruise represents life in the slow lane, sailing along at a gentle pace, soaking up the scenery, with plentiful opportunities to explore riverside towns and cities en route. It is a supremely calming experience, an antidote to the pressures of life in a fast-paced world, in surroundings that are comfortable without being fussy or pretentious, with good food and enjoyable company."
Mr. Ward continues: "A river cruise is very different from an ocean cruise. For a start, you are in almost constant sight of land and stops are far more frequent than they are at sea. The vessels are like small, friendly, floating inns, whereas ocean-going ships tend to be bigger, flashier, busier and livelier, the crew practised in the art of moving up to 4,000 people from one port to another and getting them on and off the ship. In contrast, when your river cruise vessel docks you simply walk up the gangway and into the town or city—in many cases the dock is located right at the heart of things. Despite these differences, however, most people who enjoy ocean cruising and the relaxing rhythm of life afloat are attracted to river cruises as well."
Popular river cruises include trips along the Nile, the Amazon, the Mississippi, the Yangtze, the Mekong, the Danube, the Loboc River, the Rhine, the Seine, the Volga, the Douro or the Po river in Italy. There are several dozen river cruise companies ranging from single-ship businesses to large shipping companies operating dozens of river cruise ships.
From $4,990.00 (USD)
Ship: ms Emerald
Savor the sweet life of France with 7-night river cruise aboard ms Emerald through vineyard country that's home to some of the world's mo...
From $12,499.00 (USD)
Ship: Crystal Endeavor
From $4,299.00 (USD)
Ship: Crystal Ravel
From $5,299.00 (USD)
Ship: Crystal Mahler
2023: Grand France with 2 Nights in Aix-en-Provence & 2 Nights in Nice (Southbound) (WPL1) - Tapestr
From $8,245.00 (USD)
Ship: Tapestry II
Your grand French river cruise embarks in Paris and sails along the Seine River to the picturesque Normandy region.
From $3,499.00 (USD)
Ship: Imagery II
Explore Holland and Belgium in more ways than ever on this Active & Discovery European cruise.
From $3,248.00 (USD)
This festive European river cruise vacation begins in Prague, the beautiful capital of the Czech Republic.
From $3,199.00 (USD)
Cruise along the peaceful Danube River through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary-stopping at some of Central Europe's most splendid...
2023: Danube Symphony with 2 Nights in Munich & 1 Night in Budapest (Eastbound) (WPBY) - Artistry II
From $3,657.00 (USD)
Ship: Artistry II
Experience your Danube River cruise from Germany to Hungary your way with two nights in Munich before your cruise.
From $4,798.00 (USD)
See the highlights of Eastern Europe on this Danube River cruise adventure through the Balkans!
From $6,649.00 (USD)
Ship: Crystal Bach
From $4,598.00 (USD)
Ship: Imagery II
Begin your Avalon YourWay river cruise vacation with two nights in romantic Paris before your cruise.
From $2,588.00 (USD)
Ship: Artistry II
Discover extraordinary destinations in Germany, France and Switzerland on this Rhine River cruise to sample local charms and traditions ...
From $6,298.00 (USD)
Ship: Poetry II
Immerse yourself in French and German culture on this fabulous European river cruise vacation along the Rhone and Rhine Rivers.
From $4,499.00 (USD)
Ship: Crystal Mozart
From $4,799.00 (USD)
Ship: Crystal Serenity
From $4,999.00 (USD)
Ship: Crystal Ravel
From $5,362.00 (USD)
Your stunning river cruise on the Rhine will commence in Basel, for an amazing vacation which begins in Switzerland and stops in France, Germa...
From $6,790.00 (USD)
Ship: ms Andorinha
Join us for an enchanting 12-day journey through one of the oldest wine regions in the world… including a culturally rich 7-nigh...
From $3,749.00 (USD)
Ship: Crystal Symphony