When you’re going to go on a river cruise you can’t really tell by the outside of the ship, you need to really look inside.
Also it’s very important to note that river cruise ships have relatively limited facilities. You normally find there’s a large lounge area with a bar, you might find at the rear of the ship there’s either another lounge or special dining restaurant, there’s a main dining room there’s maybe a small fitness centre, maybe a small hairdresser and massage area and a Sun Deck. So, facilities are very limited and choice is very limited. You don’t have a lot of choice of dining options, so you normally find for dinner you have to eat in the main restaurant and there’s no room service or no alternative. That is really important to know because it tends to be a sit-down dinner with multiple courses, so you’re going to find in the evening you have to commit to going to dinner which is going to take several hours. If you one of those people that like some evenings just to have a relatively easy evening, like if you’re an ocean cruise you might just go to the buffet restaurant, that’s not an option on river cruise boats. You have to go for a full sit-down dinner on most ships. Another thing, which is a big surprise to a lot of people on river cruises, is that the ships will normally park parallel to each other, sometimes three or four deep. You’ll often find that you are surrounded on all sides by another ship. So, if you’re in instadebit casino canada for example you’re basically looking straight into another cabin and can be quite dark, and to get onto land you either have to go through or climb up and over the sun deck. On the big busy rivers you’re going to be docking in many places multiple deep.
The places and excursions you call on are extremely similar across all river cruise lines. You’ll find they tend to stop at the same places. They’ll often the same excursions. Historically the excursions have tended to be much more historical and you’re going to see lots of cathedrals on walking tours of the town. Now more cruise lines are trying to diversify that and you’ll find a lot of them will start to have a more active hiking or a bicycle tours, but you’ll find wherever you go to they are stopping at the same places and doing pretty much the same excursions. There’s no real big difference in excursions. Importantly most cruise lines include at least one excursion in every port of call. That’s true across most cruise lines. There are one or two exceptions to that but generally speaking cruise lines include an excursion and they will be very similar across cruise lines. Another thing that surprised me a lot when I started going river cruising is just how regimented it is. Having been used to ocean cruising where you have much more flexibility. You can get up when you want, dine when you want as lots of different choices. River cruising is very regimented. You’ll find that there are announcements waking you up at a certain time to have breakfast because you need to get out on excursions a certain time. You need to be back because the ship might be moving along the river and then going to more excursions. Lunches at the same time with very tight narrow set time, again with limited choices, and as I mentioned earlier dinner will be at a certain time and will be a multi-course dinner. In the evenings there will be port briefings or talks, maybe some local entertainment. It’s a very regimented and set experience. Of course you can decide not to go on the excursions and basically build in more flexibility that way, but bear in mind that most of the time you will have paid for the excursions within your fare so by not going on them you are paying for something that you’re not using.