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Gateway Destinations

Ocean Versus River Cruising – How Different Can It Be?

Are you an avid ocean cruiser but not sure if a river cruise is for you?  Maybe you are thinking there is not enough to do on a river, especially if you have children?  Perhaps you have avoided cruising of any type because you feel it may be too confining with other guests, or you suffer from motion sickness?  Hopefully, this will help you make a more informed decision about what type of cruise is right for you, or whether cruising is even a good choice for your vacation.

When most people think of an ocean cruise, they think of exploring Alaska on a Princess cruise ship, sailing on one of Royal Caribbean’s mega ships with so many “toys” that you are tempted to never leave the ship, or cruising the beautiful Mediterranean on a luxurious Crystal Cruises or Regent Seven Seas ship.  These are all popular choices and a good match for the right traveler – at the right time, but there are lots of other cruise choices that may be more enjoyable based on the experience you seek.  Take Alaska for example…are you looking for a more up close and personal visit with an emphasis on adventure?  Then a smaller eco-adventure cruise experience such as offered by Un-Cruise Adventures or Lindblad Expeditions may be more to your liking that have naturalists onboard and “wet” landings to small ports or unscheduled stops.  Or, do you prefer to enjoy luxurious accommodations and fine cuisine during your “soft” adventure?  Then Regent Seven Seas or Crystal Cruises may be more suitable.

There are many more ocean cruise options to consider, however, depending on where you want to travel, your desired style of travel, and budget.  Are you looking to explore the Antarctic or Arctic Circle?  If so, there are varied expedition cruises from which to choose – from very modest to luxurious.  Have you considered exploring the Aegean coast of Turkey in an intimate and traditional gulet boat?  Many cruise lines offer cruises to the Greek Isles with stops at well-known ports such as Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu or Crete which are all beautiful and interesting, but how about venturing to a number of the lesser-known islands in a small chartered boat where you might be able to enjoy your own private beach for the day?  What about exploring island destinations on a beautiful and relaxing motorized sail ship such as offered by Windstar Cruises or Star Clippers?  Or the luxurious Paul Gauguin in the South Pacific with its onboard marina and fine French cuisine?

Cruising on a river is a very different experience than at sea.  For one thing, motion sickness is a non-issue. Secondly, the emphasis is on the scenery and the destination and not the ship, which is the case with many ocean cruises.  Even though river boats may not offer a lot of amenities onboard such as multiple restaurants, Las Vegas-style entertainment, a large category of rooms, and casino, etc., many are quite luxurious and comfortable and they tend to offer an all-inclusive experience (or nearly so).  River cruising offers an intimacy not found on the ocean because of the constant proximity to villages and towns you pass by or visit.  There is more of an emphasis on regional cuisine and wines as chefs easily shop the markets throughout the cruise.  Many river boats carry complimentary bicycles onboard for guests to explore the charming villages along the waterway.  River cruise options can be found on all continents and range from budget-conscious to luxurious.  Although most are geared for adults, they are becoming more popular for families – in fact, Adventures by Disney is launching their first river cruise in Europe in 2016.

Whether you cruise on the ocean, a river or a canal, cruises are easily budgeted as many expenses, if not all, are included in the cruise fare so costs are known up front.  All cruises share the advantage of having a “floating hotel” which allows you to unpack once during your trip, contributing to a more relaxing experience than a land vacation.  Not sure if a cruise is right for you or which cruise is the best “fit” for you?  Call us for a free consultation to get the most out of your precious vacation time.

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