If there’s a question I hear over and over it’s this one “just how much walking is there going to be on this tour?”
Well, the answer is a little more complicated than it seems.
Let’s begin with the easiest answer first. On any tropical vacation the walking is controlled primarily by the layout of the resort. If you have mobility issues, stamina issues etc. it’s really important to let us know so we can select a resort that’s going to be the easiest for you to navigate safely. There are resorts that are all on one level, and there are small boutique resorts that aren’t as sprawling as many others. We have options for you, affordable options, just be sure to let us know.
Moving on to river cruising, those have become so user friendly for such a wide variety of customers it’s really not an issue. There are walking tours in every port, and there are usually at least two options, regular speed and leisurely speed. Many of the most popular river cruise lines, especially those catering to a younger demographic, now offer hiking and biking as well. But even so, the leisurely walking tour is always an option.
There are also river cruise lines that cater especially to an aging customer. They have plenty of room and even extra guides on the slow walking tours because they know 90% of their passengers will prefer that pace, rather than expecting it to be an even split between options.
A word of warning. River cruise ships are long. They call them longboats for a reason. If you have limited stamina it will be crucial for you to book a cabin close to the front of the ship. They also do not allow wheelchairs (manual or motorized) on river cruise ships. The halls simply are not wide enough to safely accommodate wheelchairs. Walkers can be used onboard. I have also seen customers use wheelchairs to get onboard the ship, but once onboard wheelchair use is discouraged if not prohibited.
When it comes to escorted tours there are guides in the brochures that let you know about the pace of the tour. The tours are usually graded on a 1-5 scale, from “leisurely” to “on the go”. A little insight, if the tour has several nights with only one night in each location, it’s going to be graded as an “on the go” tour even if there isn’t a great amount of walking. The criteria used in this scale are not just about the time on your feet, it’s also about the time moving from one destination to another and the frequency of that moving around.
The less ground you cover, and the longer you stay in each destination, the more leisurely the tour is going to be graded. Having said that, there could still be a significant amount of walking every day to see the sights, join the included tours, etc.
Last year when we hosted that Rhine River Christmas Market cruise I walked about 20,000 steps every day. Almost all of that was by choice. For instance the extra days we spent in Amsterdam I wanted to see it all. I could have taken it slower, easier, seen less and walked less. It was completely within my control.
It’s the same on any tour or river cruise. You always have the choice to rest. That choice may mean missing out on an included tour or guided sightseeing opportunity, it might even mean missing out on free time you would have spent in a local café or strolling through a museum. But if your feet are killing you and you need to rest, the hotels we book have excellent restaurants and are very comfortable. Sometimes you have to make the hard choice and rest when you need to. And of course you are always welcome to stay onboard your river cruise ship, even when everyone else is onshore.
Two of my favorite customers are going to Greece with me in 2020. They already know they will not be able to climb to the top of Meteora, or most likely to the top of the Parthenon. It helps that I have been there before and know what we’re getting ourselves into. But they want to go, and if they miss a couple of items on the agenda they will still be able to see lots and lots of Greece. Learning what you can and can’t do is just a fact of life and part of the aging process. Are you going to miss out on Greece entirely because of two things you won’t be able to do? I wouldn’t.
Be sure to wear your step counter. You’ll be amazing at how much ground you cover on vacation. You might just be amazed at how many steps you are taking every day. I sure am.