A lot of the river cruising lines developed out of escorted tour companies and a lot of the people who go on river cruising are people who enjoy escorted tours and that more regimented way of traveling. It is quite a regimented and strict way of experiencing a region. The other thing you need to know is that River cruising is quite an expensive travel option, certainly versus ocean cruising. So, if you take a look at say July on the Rhine even on a budget line you’re probably paying about $200 – $250 dollars per person per day ( that’s about £190 pounds and about the same in Euros). The premium lines you’re probably spending $300 – £400 dollars per person per day (so about £300 pounds per person per day). It’s a relatively expensive option certainly when you compare to versus ocean cruising. Thats is partly because the ships are much smaller so, of course, they can’t amortize the costs across as many people, and also because a lot of things are included within the fare.
One thing you’ll notice in river cruising is that pretty much all of the cruise lines will say that they’re all-inclusive. However, you need to understand what that means because every cruise line has a different definition of what all-inclusive means. Generally of course your accommodations included, your meals are included, maybe things like afternoon tea. Some Cruise Lines, particular more premium lines, will include all of your drinks and premium drinks at all times of the day. For example Uniworld will do that. Others will include beer, wine and soft drinks at lunch and dinner only. All the river cruise lines will offer free Wi-Fi. Most of them will offer one excursion in all the places that you call on, an exception for example is CroisiEurope which is a more value line where you can buy a package of excursions, and your fare doesn’t include excursions. Also what’s important is when you’re looking at all-inclusive is it will differ based on where you’re coming from! So for example using the CroisiEurope example, if you’re booking to cruise Europe from the United States you’ll find that excursions are included. So, it depends a lot on where you’re travelling from. Gratuities are included on some lines and not in others. It’s important when you’re looking at a river cruise line and it says it’s all-inclusive that you understand what that really means, because it is different pretty much across every single cruise line. Another thing which is important river cruising is river cruising in my mind is it is not suitable for people with accessibility issues, particularly those in a wheelchair.
River cruising is something that is not likely to work because first of all you’ll find most of the cabins on ships don’t have facilities for people in wheelchairs or with limited mobility. Some of them will have elevators which go between some or all of the floors. But what’s very challenging is when you’re docking in some of these small towns, particularly on the Danube and the Rhine, there may be very narrow ramps which you have to go up and there’ll be cobbled streets and steep inclines. So, it’s not really suitable for people with wheelchairs and there’s not that many cruise lines that have accessibility cabins. If you are in a wheelchair or you have accessibility issues, check very carefully with the cruise line. Linked to that is you do need to be relatively active and fit because most of the excursions are walking tours on cobblestones and up steps. Although most cruise lines will have a gentle walking option and they may have a little mini bus which moves you around, it is a quite an active way of travelling and there’s lots of walking involved. River cruising has an image of being for an older traveler and, in practice, it still is mostly an older traveler who goes on river cruising – people in their 50s, 60s and 70s and above.