When you think of cruises, do you think of tiny cabins, buffets, and crowded pool decks? Think again. While ocean cruising is generally the default when people consider taking a cruise, there is a fabulous option for those that prefer more in-depth exploration of a country – river cruising! In the last ten years, river cruise bookings have increased a whopping 250%. Whether you’re new to a vacation on the high seas, or a long-time cruising aficionado, here’s why you should consider a river cruise for your next holiday.


Having unfettered access to waterways inaccessible by large cruise vessels means that you’re not restricted to crowded port cities. On a river cruise, you’ll visit unique destinations and dock where the action is – in the center of town.

With unique and imaginative itineraries, you’re often able to visit a handful of different countries, without having to pack and unpack your suitcase in between.


A room with a view on the AMAMagna, AmaWaterways

Smaller ships = fewer guests. On average, river cruise ships host 120 guests versus the thousands housed on ocean liners. Fewer travelers on board not only appeal to covid-conscious travelers but those who simply do not enjoy crowds. You’re not going to find auditoriums and large-scale entertainment productions here, rather bespoke restaurants, cozy areas for relaxation, and plenty of space to relax. 

You can forget about dark windowless staterooms. Smaller ships mean less space for cabins, so the staterooms on river ships generally run the perimeter of the ship, and the upper decks provide stunning views.


Indulge your taste buds in exquisite, locally-inspired cuisine

Cooking for fewer guests means chefs can up the ante, and showcase creative menus with fresh and local ingredients. While you’ve been off exploring the sights, the onboard chefs have been visiting markets and sourcing regional fare.

Don’t worry about packing your three-piece suit and evening gown for dinner. The dress code for meals is often more casual than larger cruise ships and offers guests a relaxed, all-inclusive experience.  Not only are the meals included in the price, but as are alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and shore excursions on most boats.


The Hungarian Parliament – Budapest is just one of the many stops you can make on a river cruise

The key thing to remember about river cruising is that while ocean cruises take you to countries, river cruises take you through them. From visiting a new city each day to discovering the local way of life through an intimate cultural excursion – passengers have the chance to be educated, inspired, and entirely immersed in a new destination.

Europe remains the biggest hub for river cruises, but there are plenty of other regions (and rivers!) to explore. Cruise down the Nile River in Egypt, the Yangtze River in China, the transboundary Mekong River, Russia’s Volga River, or the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers in India. Wherever you choose to explore, if you’re aboard a river cruise, prepare to have an unforgettable time!

If you’re thinking about booking a river cruise and don’t know where to begin, you can reach out to me here. I’d love to help you!  Also, check out my free guide “Ocean Cruising vs. River Cruising: Which is Right for You?”

Happy Travels!


Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out these articles:

4 Incredible Countries You’ll Explore on a Rhine River Cruise

Meet the River That Inspired Poems and Waltzes