River cruise versus Sea Cruise

Old Nov 30th, 2020, 07:27 AM
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River cruise versus Sea Cruise

We have taken several cruises, including Caribbean just for vacations, trans-Atlantic, Greek Islands, Turkey, Israel, Southern Spain, Southern France, etc. We enjoy them a lot, especially when we take our Granddaughter and see all the fun she has. We enjoy the shows and dancing, and beaches and sightseeing in places like Turkey. We want to take her to Europe, but probably do a land trip and visit only part of one country, or a couple of cities with things we think she would enjoy.

When we lived in Europe, we took some day trips on Rivers, and other excursions on large lakes, but found them rather boring. I would rather be in small towns and do lots of walking and be in the towns in the evenings.

However, a close relative who did a sea cruise with us has been pushing us to do a river cruise with her in Europe. She has not done a river cruise and likes the idea of adults, included drinks, etc. We may drink a glass of wine once or twice on a trip and food is not a big deal, so including drinks is not an enticement for us. I hate tours and prefer just walking on my own. I do not think I would like a river cruise and think they are pricey. If something happened and it turned into a bus tour, I would really hate it.
There are also so many places I want to go and some to which I want to return, I really do not want to spend what time we have on a less than wonderful trip. Staying in unusual places like a cave hotel in Turkey and a centuries old building inside the walls of Aigues Mortes, and staying up all night for Fasnacht in Basel are the kinds of things I really enjoy. However, I am trying to keep an open mind.

Please give me some feedback on things I might actually love (or hate) on a river cruise, and what you like and do not like when comparing them. I realize it will be some time before we can go anywhere, but we are all planning ahead. I am also aware of issues with river levels. Would love to hear any opinions about the cruises and itinerary options you think would be great.
Thanks.
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Old Nov 30th, 2020, 07:54 PM
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Maybe I can help a little. I'm not the cruising pro you are -- Only been on one sea cruise - Inside Passage Alaska which I absolutely loved but don't think I'd enjoy a Caribbean / tropical region itinerary. What I really enjoyed was the gob smacking scenery, the small town ports, wildlife, history, indigenous/indian villages, etc. Not all that impressed with the ship board entertainment/casino/meals (except in the special/extra cost restaurants which were very good, and the on-board pub) Went with my cousin and did about 1/3 ship arranged shore excursions, 1/3 local tours, and 1/3-ish just doing things on our own.

I've taken one recent European river cruise (over Christmas on the Main/Rhine 2 years ago) . . . I LOVED the river cruise and while I did have drinks almost every evening that had no influence on my choice of cruise. I booked Vantage which is a lot cheaper than say Viking. I didn't have high expectations. But the food was mostly terrific, the wine/beer choices were good, service was top notch, most towns we moored right in the center so walking distance to do things on one's own if they didn't want to take the group tours. And even when we moored farther from a town, one can take the tour bus into town and then wander on your own if you want and skip the tours. I did take 4 tours during the week (2 half day and 2 full day) and really enjoyed 3 of them - in hindsight I could have skipped one. Onboard entertainment was mostly very fun (mostly Christmas focused and a little old fashioned but appropriate for the season) Plus most afternoons local lecturers or artisans set up in the lounge did demos/presentations.

Guest to staff ration seemed generous and everyone was super friendly. I'd probably do another river cruise before I'd do another sea cruise - I loved the small ship. I'd love to take one in warmer weather though They did limit the sizes of the shore excursions - I think the largest one I took had 30 people but mostly 15-20. They also set aside one tour in each port geared for those who were less fit/ambulatory so everyone could go at their own speed (and the rest of us wouldn't be held back by slower folks)
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Old Nov 30th, 2020, 07:55 PM
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Damn I just posted a pretty detailed response and it went into moderation. Hopefully it will be let out of jail and show up soon . . .
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Old Nov 30th, 2020, 11:30 PM
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Janis, I am looking forward to your response. Thanks.
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Old Dec 1st, 2020, 06:54 AM
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We've done quite a few Sea Cruises and several River Cruises. Each has its own appeal and we've had memorable cruises on each type. In our opinion, one type of cruise is not better or worse than the other they are just difference and as they say in France "Vive La Difference".

We really enjoyed the River Cruises because they move along at a seemingly much slower pace and, with the exception of a very few places our boats docked right in the center of each city, town or village so we could easily walk on our own to many nearby points of interest, quaint shops, art galleries, museums, etc.. At each stop the always also offered a choice of both guided nearby walking tours and motor coach tours to outlying areas (included in the package price). We are not big drinkers but did enjoy an occasional cocktail before dinner and/or wine at dinner. While our preferred River Cruise Line (Tauck) included premium wines, liquors and beer as part of their pricing package but because it we are not big drinkers that didn't enter into our decision making process. Instead we chose our cruises based on the itinerary, length of cruise and size of the staterooms. We are certified "foodies" and found the food aboard the Truck ships to be excellent. They have a first rate on board staff and a full complement of very knowledgeable guides that that accompany you on all the organized tours (that's in addition to the local guide that joins you at every stop). The big draw River Cruising has for us is that many of the Ports of Call are in smaller towns and villages rather than larger metropolitan cities giving you a chance to get a real feel for what a country has to offer.

Hope this helps.
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Old Dec 1st, 2020, 08:51 AM
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We have done 3 river cruises with Avalon in Europe. We like them because the excursions are varied and very good. We have biked and hiked and had cooking classes by locals. It's nice to come back every afternoon/evening to our floating hotel. The meals were very good. Wine & beer are complimentary with dinner. You might check out the forums on CruiseCritic.com. There is a special section for river cruising.
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Old Dec 1st, 2020, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Sassafrass View Post
Janis, I am looking forward to your response. Thanks.
It apparently was being released from jail at the same time I posted so its there . . .

Should have read "Guest to staff ration ratio seemed generous . . ." They didn't ration the crew
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Old Dec 1st, 2020, 04:00 PM
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We have done three river cruises, Russia which was great, Danube not so good and the Mekong which was fabulous. We had no excursions in Europe on river boats rather walking tours in river towns and then you were free to do what you wanted until departure time. We always had lunch in town on our own while others returned to the boat which was moored next to town. Today I understand they bus passengers all over the countryside which is not necessary. The ocean cruises and lifestyle on them which you describe does not appeal to me at all. I like floating by scenery, not being out at sea. I liked the river cruises as they did not have shows , dancing etc. I prefer the way the river cruises were when we first went on them in 2003, 2004 to what our friends who sailed on them recently experienced. We had recommended them and felt terrible as friends disliked them with the new bus trip style. AMAWaterways did a great job on the Mekong when we sailed in 2012 , , far superior to our Viking experiences. If they stop the bus tours from the boats, I would sail on one again. But no bus tours for me. Choose carefully.
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Old Dec 1st, 2020, 06:06 PM
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Thank you, all. Plenty to think about what works with my expectations.

Basically, we take vacations to relax and play with our Granddaughter. The Caribbean cruises are cheap and work for that.

For what I think of as travel, I want interesting places and new experiences or want to take our Granddaughter to places that would be interesting to share with her.

HappyTrvlr, Thank you very much for the comment on the different itineraries. It made me realize that it is not so much a river cruise I might not enjoy as the itinerary. I am resisting Europe, but would love to visit Russia and DH was in Vietnam, so would love to go there with my daughters. That would be an amazing trip, and being on a river there seems right.

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Old Dec 4th, 2020, 08:45 AM
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FYI, river cruises are geared toward an older demographic. I doubt your granddaughter would enjoy.
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Old Dec 5th, 2020, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Slw View Post
FYI, river cruises are geared toward an older demographic. I doubt your granddaughter would enjoy.
I agree. They also don't have all the activities a sea cruise does. River cruises are very low key.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2021, 02:19 AM
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If you are considering a river cruise, many of the Viking River Cruises such as the Russian are wonderful and should not be boring at all. ~SV
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Old Jan 2nd, 2021, 08:27 PM
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Thank you. Looks as if any travel will be a long while from now, but a Russian river cruise sounds great.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2021, 02:32 PM
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I definitely vouch for river cruises, of course depends on the destination.

OUr family has a knack for nature travel, we have explored the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon river, both by boat.

The one thing I enjoyed about being on the river was calmer waters and neverending scenery. The Galapagos were amazing but navigation in between remote islands did give us a lot of open seas scenery (nothing wrong with this) but it was kind of downtime.
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