By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert
As often as I write about Europe River Cruises, the more I realize what a great vacation deal is provided for you while taking this type of vacation. We have been in the travel business about 23 years, or so, we lead tours to Europe and we cannot provide all the things you get on a river cruise vacation. While river cruises are not for everyone, for most folks, they are the best possible deal they could get to see much of Europe.
For me, their only key limitations are 1) not spending enough time in one location or 2) the place you want to visit is not near enough the chosen river you are sailing (by far the biggest limitation of a river cruise).
So, let’s explore the easy, great value of a river cruise vacation objectively—and determine its advantages and disadvantages together so you can determine if this vacation is right for you.
River Cruising is an Easy Vacation
Simple is a great word to describe a river cruise—almost all is included. It is a comfortable, effortless vacation—the really only decisions, after deciding what river to cruise on during your vacation, are what tour to take or not take—the rest is provided for you. You get enough choices during meals, the food and wine is usually great and there is always enough to do or see. Unpack once, it is a single currency world, easy to get ashore, and you will learn something new and see great destinations in luxury. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it?
River Cruising is a Good Value Vacation
I constant emphasize the great value of a river cruise. Here is a list of reasons I feel a river cruise is a great value:
- A very spacious river cruise ship that has no more than 190 guests.
- Pack and unpack only once during your 7 or more day cruise.
- Sumptuous accommodations with every conceivable cabin amenity.
- Incredible gourmet cuisine, much of which is prepared when you order it.
- Complimentary wines, beers, sodas and bottled water—some include all beverages.
- Many have complimentary small-group sightseeing excursions in every port.
- Some ships have a gym, sauna, massage, hairdresser, & pool.
- Free internet and free use of bicycles (most lines).
- Daily free onboard evening entertainment (usually a piano player, sometimes local groups that come on board).
- Complimentary in cabin Internet, entertainment systems and free movies.
- Dock right in the center of most towns & it takes only one minute to get on/off the ship.
- Ability to see more of a region and experience the local culture in-depth.
- A resort-casual onboard atmosphere –leave the formal wear at home.
- All staterooms have a river view.
- You should never get seasick on a river cruise ship—you can always see the shore.
- Impeccable, warm and friendly service by an English-only speaking crew.
- A staff that knows your name & favorite beverage or dining preference by the second day.
Advantages of a River Cruise Vacation
If you have read the reasons above in this blog that a river cruise is a good value, you can see the many advantages of a river cruise. It is a destination oriented vacation, viewed from the river—impossible to get on a land only trip. Sailing through some of the scenic parts of the various rivers, the sights are unbelievable—the Rhine River Gorge or Wachau Valley—come to mind—a river view is the best way to experience these fabulous destinations.
We lead tours to Europe and cannot replicate what a good river cruise line does and does with luxury, great food and wine—it takes a large, well-organized company to pull off such a great vacation.
Simple, luxurious, fun, great sights, wonderful food and wine, excellent service—what more could you want?
Disadvantages of a River Cruise Vacation
Here are some of the limitations of a river cruise:
Since the river boats often dock in the heart of older European Cities and villages, the older towns are often cobble-stoned roads and pathways that are uneven and may require managing a lot of stairs and walking. For a person in a wheel chair, this is a huge problem. The walking distances sometimes are very long, often a couple of miles or so, so folks with limited mobility may have problems. Some companies have a slow walker type tours that can help this problem.
Another limitation is water levels, which can be unpredictable. Sometimes, the levels are too high or low for safe passage. This can result in missed stops or bus rides to the location that is unreachable due to water levels. By far the Elbe River has the most low water situations in Europe and recently there have been problems around the Passau area.
Another limitation is called rafting by the river boat companies. Rafting means due to limited dock areas, river boats often tie up next to one another. This can cause problems getting off the boat, may cause cabin privacy issues and most importantly, limit the view from outside your cabin.
A limitation sometimes is the pace of the tours. This is not as big a factor as the other limitations since groups are often split into groups that want a faster paced experience or a slower paced tour and the better lines have optional tours.
As I indicated in the beginning of this blog, the biggest limitation for me is not getting to spend enough time in a location, or the destination is just too far from the river to visit. We have often overcome this visit by returning on our own to further explore an area, either as a separate trip or a pre/post cruise.
My Final Thoughts
River Cruises a great vacation—they are easy, a great value and for me the advantages out weight the disadvantages. We have a lot of experience helping folks take these great vacations—we hope soon you will seek our assistance to experience the trip of a lifetime.
We are travel experts, ocean and river cruise experts, and Europe destination experts. We have first-hand-knowledge of almost anywhere you want to visit in Europe. We know our products and the vendors who sell them to you. We have designed special tours for dozens of clients, led several and will continue to find just the right vacation that will exceed your expectations.
When you are spending your hard-earned money for a vacation, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip. You want someone who will understand your expectations and fuel your anticipation (or excitement) to get you the best possible trip experience. And, you want someone who can help you with the decision making process. We think we have all these qualities.
Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you! We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel. Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to help you: Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations! Your journey begins here!
HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years. He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years. He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees. His other Certifications:
- AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
- Viking River Cruise Specialist
- Scenic River Cruise Specialist
- Emerald Waterways Specialist
- Avalon Waterways Specialist
- Brit Agent