Why Book a River Cruise

And What You Need to Know about River Cruising

River cruises are the most rapidly growing market in the travel industry for several very good reasons.   Here’s a brief list of the most important facts you’ll want to know if you’re considering a river cruise.

River cruise ships are elegant and with no more than 200 guests onboard everyone has the ability to mingle and get to know one another. If you’re looking for intimate social experiences, river cruising is the perfect choice for you.


When it comes to shore excursions, river cruise lines have taken care of everything.  The included locally guided walking tours are fascinating, entertaining, and available in every port.  They even offer different paces (leisurely, medium and energetic) to better accommodate individual preferences. 

While there may be a few excursions available for an additional expense, the vast majority of shore excursions are already included in the cruise fare, making river cruising an excellent value for the money.  This also means you can truly budget for the cruise because you know there will be few if any additional expenses.

River cruises have become famous for their fabulous cuisine.  Using local ingredients the onboard chef prepares local favorites that allow passengers to enjoy a more truly immersive travel experience.

Due to the fact your river cruise vessel docks in the heart of the oldest parts of the cities, the dock area is often quite small.  I have sometimes seen up to three river cruise vessels parked side by side next to a dock with passengers simply going through the lobby of each ship on their way to shore.  It’s a situation unique to river cruising and allows you to see what competitors in the industry offer onboard their vessels.

River cruises are not aimed to please children; they are aimed to please passengers with an average age of 50.  So, even though most river cruise companies allow children 12 and older to sail, they are not kid friendly and we don’t suggest it.  For the young at heart many river cruise companies now offer bicycles onboard for your use in port.  What fun!

River cruises are not handicapped friendly.  Due to the limited size of the vessels the hallways are rather narrow and won’t accommodate wheelchairs.  I have seen passengers utilizing walker’s onboard river cruises but even those are problematic.  The destinations are also challenging for anyone with mobility issues.  Uneven cobblestone streets, no elevators or ramps, river cruises need to be thoughtfully considered.

The dress code on river cruises has evolved into something quite casual.  Denim is totally acceptable at the dinner table, and there’s no need to bring a tie or sports coat.

As mentioned earlier river cruising is a totally immersive experience.  You’re going to participate in cultural, historical, culinary and entertainment activities at every stop. On most days you’ll make one to two stops.  River cruise vessels don’t cover large distances and travel primarily at night, giving you lots of “in destination” time. 

I’m about to embark on my third river cruise, and to say I’m a fan is an understatement.  River cruising offers all of the things I love (unpacking one time for instance) about cruising and allows me to experience lots of authentic time in the destination.

I highly recommend river cruising.  Is it time for you to try it?

Joy Gawf-Crutchfield owns and operates The Joy of Travel.