8 Things You Need to Know Before Booking Your First River Cruise


If you’re an old hat when it comes to ocean cruising, you might be considering trying out a river cruise instead. River cruises offer a very different experience to ocean cruises – from passing by amazing landscapes to visiting inland destinations. But the overall cruise experience also differs in some ways.

Before you book your first river cruise, it’s worth considering the following…

You’ll Spend Time on Land Each Day

Unlike ocean cruises, river cruises stop in port for at least some portion of each day. If you enjoy the experience of being at sea and making the most of the luxuries available to you on board, this might come as a surprise to you. But river cruises want to allow their passengers plenty of time to explore their surroundings, so if immersing yourself in the local culture appeals to you, you should be well suited to a river cruise.

Size Matters

Ocean liners are often gargantuan, with up to 5,000 passengers on board. River cruises are much smaller, with only 120-160 passengers. The size difference means a lot of the things you’ve come to expect from an ocean cruise will also be different. You’ll experience a more personal service, and will probably come to know the staff serving you quite well. The process of getting passengers on and off the ship will be quicker – you’ll be able to disembark within a matter of minutes. But it does mean there will likely be fewer options in terms of daytime entertainment.

Lady looking in binoculars

The View will be More Varied

Ocean cruisers might love the endless expanse of their ocean view, but for some it can get a little repetitive. The scenery of a river cruise will take in stretches of beautiful countryside, enigmatic cities and geographical phenomena and will offer more variety than an ocean cruise.

Meals are Served at Specific Times

If you love the freedom of ocean cruises, where you can enjoy a meal at any time of the day or night, be prepared for a change on a river cruise. There is likely to be set times for meals, and probably set menus too. The reason for this is partly down to the number of guests on board, but it’s also to ensure that you’re all fed and watered before (and after) the day’s excursions take place.

You’ll be Seated with the Other Guests During Mealtimes

On most river cruises, guests eat their meals together on large tables, and there’s rarely an option for an intimate meal for two. It’s a great opportunity to get to know fellow passengers and to socialise, but if you prefer to spend quality time alone with your partner on ocean cruises, you might be a little uncomfortable with the seating arrangements. However, the chances are you will get to dine with the captain on at least one night, which is definitely a plus!

What will be Included?

Some river cruises include the cost of all meals, drinks and excursions, while others will charge extra for some of these. Many river cruises will include the cost of basic excursions such as walking tours, but visits to wildlife parks, historic attractions or other tourist hotspots will cost you extra. Before booking your river cruise, be sure to find out exactly what is and isn’t included in the cost, to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Cruise on-board refreshments

Everything is Close at Hand

Unlike ocean liners, you’re never far from the bar, the deck, the lounge or your cabin on a river cruise.

Shore Excursions

It’s also worth researching what the shore excursions will involve. If there’s a specific destination or activity you really want to do on your river cruise, make sure it’s a part of the itinerary. Some excursions will involve lots of walking around towns or cities, so if you have limited mobility you should bear this in mind before booking.

At Cruise1st UK, we also offer a huge range of river cruise deals. If you fancy taking to the world’s most beautiful waterways, browse the full collection online, or call our friendly sales team on 0808 2746 777.

8 Things You Need to Know Before Booking Your First River Cruise
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8 Things You Need to Know Before Booking Your First River Cruise
A concise list of the top 8 things you'll need to know before booking your first river cruise: what you'll be doing everyday, views and more.

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Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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