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Travel Buzz
Cruising the Slow Lane

With inspiring ports of call, breathtaking scenery and a relaxed ambience – what’s not to love about river cruising?

When it comes to cruising, small is beautiful. And that’s one of many things that sets river cruising apart from other vacation options. With travelers looking now more than ever for authentic experiential vacations, river cruising is a great choice. Essentially a floating boutique hotel, river cruises provide access to smaller ports in quaint cities where large ships cannot go.

River cruising is hands-on, experiential travel at its best. River cruisers can enjoy a myriad of one-of-a-kind experiences like truffle hunting, visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, shopping in world-class cities, and private opera performances – and the options are nearly endless. Then on board, the experience is complemented with lectures about the regions being visited, so travelers truly get an up-close-and-personal look at the local cultures and traditions.

River cruise ships are quite smaller than ocean liners as they have to navigate the sometimes shallow and tricky waters of an inland waterway. That’s why most generally accommodate under 200 guests. The ship’s motion on a river is quite different from that of the ocean, so travelers who are prone to motion sickness are much less likely to be affected.

The high staff-to-guest ratio makes for the highest level of service. Don’t like the brand of mustard a river cruise ship is stocked with? Not a problem. Don’t be surprised if something as small as a mustard preference is accommodated quickly and with ease. 

A value-add for river cruising is the daily excursions, all of which are included in the price of a cruise. Ships dock right in the heart of most cities being visited, so travelers can easily go back-and-forth between the ship and its current destination, exploring at their leisure. Personal audio receivers are often available so travelers don’t have to be right beside their guide to hear what they have to say. In some destinations, guests can be as far as a block away to hear what’s being said – which is perfect for travelers who want to window shop or grab a quick cup of coffee.

Unlike traditional ocean cruises with their larger-than-life ships and more limited itineraries, river cruising provides a completely different experience and takes you places only a river cruise ship can go. A river cruise offers a historic and tranquil backdrop on elegant floating hotels complete with excellent service and gourmet cuisine. This wonderful mode of discovery offers easygoing comfort and convenience because you only unpack once and are taken from one fascinating country to the next, creating memories that will last a lifetime, all at a unhurried pace.

Along the way you’ll have the opportunity to uncover the treasures such as charming squares, magnificent cathedrals, and bustling marketplaces just a stroll away from the vessel. There is no waiting in long lines to get on or off the ship, and there are always amazing sites to explore – scenic vineyards, historic castles, or countless UNESCO World Heritage Sites – even from the comfort of your ship and stateroom via panoramic views. River ships truly afford you the opportunity to see more of the world, visiting intimate, ancient towns and villages that can never be reached by ocean going ships. Charming cities like Amsterdam, Vienna, Budapest, Rouen, Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Prague, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Beijing, the Nile River, the Mekong River of Vietnam and many more can only be reached by river cruise ship.

Comfortable and convenient, river cruises offer a greater variety of destinations than you could encounter any other way. It’s little wonder that river cruising is one of the fastest-growing segment of the travel industry.

And let’s not forget the impeccable dining. River cruisers experience the very best foreign delicacies on a river cruise. Because the on-board chefs are usually local to the area guests are traveling through, cruisers experience the finest local produce and recipes that are indigenous to each port of call. Locally sourced wines can also be found on board. River cruise dining is an experience all in itself because of its open seating plan, which encourages more interaction amongst passengers.

Beautiful Ships, Engaging Itineraries
River cruises operate year-round in most in warm weather climates, but most cruise lines curtail their sailings from November to March. In northern climates, the rivers freeze over in winter, necessitating a shorter season that usually runs from April or May through October or November, depending on river conditions and water levels. Because river cruise ships hold fewer passengers and do not run as frequently as ocean cruise ships, accommodations tend to fill up rather quickly. When it comes down to it, river cruising is a laidback, fun and trouble-free way to see the great riverways of the world and many other fascinating destinations.

Avalon Waterways, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, and Viking River Cruises offer cruises to Europe, Russia, China and many more fascinating destinations by way of some of the world’s most celebrated rivers and waterways. Expert tour guides provide travelers with a background, context and regional perspective on the many towns, cities and ports of call visited. As well, cruisers can enjoy plenty of deep cultural enrichment with demonstrations, workshops and performances that supplement onshore exploration. Themed river cruises and cruisetours are very popular and heighten in-depth experiences even further.

Avalon Waterways’ Legendary Danube itinerary is ideal for first-time river cruisers as it offers an incredible array of sights, sounds, and flavors that won’t disappoint. On this 11-day Danube River cruise you’ll enjoy three nights in Prague with guided sightseeing as well as time to explore this marvelous city on your own. Guests will discover the Hradcany Castle grounds, wander through Prague’s Jewish Quarter, shop for hand-cut crystal, savor authentic Czech dumplings, or visit one of the many churches. Guests will then be driven to Nuremberg and set sail for medieval Regensburg, Passau, Vienna, and Budapest, with guided sightseeing in each city. Cruisers will sail through the fascinating Main Danube Canal and witness the scenic beauty as you cruise past quaint towns. Guests have the opportunity to attend a beer tasting, tour Melk’s splendid Benedictine Abbey, and experience the culture and historical sites in romantic Vienna.

Rivers cruisers looking for something a bit different will be charmed and enlightened by Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ Imperial Waterways of Russia itinerary. This 13-day Russia journey starts in Moscow with visits to world-famous sights such as Red Square, the Kremlin, and the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral. Guests will cruise along the Golden Ring to some of Russia’s most beautiful cities, including Uglich and Yaroslavl, known for their white stone churches and gorgeous monasteries. You’ll visit UNESCO-designated Kizhi Island and the UNESCO-designated Transfiguration Church, a wooden structure built entirely without the use of nails. Guests will then uncover regal St. Petersburg, which boasts art-laden galleries and museums, fabled canals and elegant architecture from a wide variety of eras. 

For the seasoned river cruiser looking for a river adventure like few others, Viking River Cruises’ Imperial Jewels of China itinerary is loaded with unforgettable moments. This phenomenal river adventure presents China’s key highlights in only 13 days. You’ll explore cosmopolitan Shanghai, China’s most cutting-edge, modern city. You’ll cruise the legendary Yangtze through the scenic Three Gorges and wildly beautiful Lesser Three Gorges, and encounter thousands of Terra Cotta Warriors at Xian. In Beijing, guests explore imperial treasures like the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, and walk through historic Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public venue.

Remember, your best bet is to book your river cruise as soon as possible to ensure your choice of cabin or suite on ship. To do so, be sure to contact your local travel profession to help you find the perfect river cruise that fits your personal tastes.

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