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Big Question; River vs Ocean Cruising

Ocean vs River cruising: Which one is right for you? This is a big question that will be answered in this post.

When it comes to taking a cruise on the river or ocean, it’s pretty tough to go wrong. Both offer incredible views, luxurious amenities, and the opportunity to explore interesting ports.

D7W0JR Cruise ship passing the Parliament on the Danube, Budapest, Hungary

But each one comes with its own unique perks,

and depending on your specific needs for your next trip, you might find that one is a slightly better fit than the other. So what are the major differences?

One big difference can be summed up in one word: intimacy. River cruises tend to be much smaller (190 max vs. up to 6,200 on the largest ocean cruises), and as a result, you’re much more likely to be interacting with other passengers and crew members.

That smaller scale translates to all areas of the river cruise. You dine on a regular schedule at tables with other passengers (wine is included in the price of the cruise). Instead of 50 different things to do onboard, amenities tend to be more modest with river cruises — think libraries, a workout room, cultural programs, and free Wifi vs. ten kids’ playrooms, glitzy Broadway shows, and a skydiving simulator. There tend to be fewer kids on river cruises, making them popular for couples seeking quiet and relaxed time together.

You stop almost every day at a new port with river cruises, often for walking tours through quaint towns with little tourist traffic, and you’re always in view of the land. With ocean cruises, you can go days without seeing land, and ports of call and excursions tend to be more exotic and high-adventure. 

Because of their larger size, ocean cruises offer plenty of options for many ages, from young kids to octogenarians, and they are often more able to accommodate a wide variety of special health needs. For this reason, they tend to make the best option for multi-generational family gatherings that include young children. For the traveler who is into high-octane adventure, ocean cruises provide a wide variety of activities onboard, as well as exotic and more daring day excursions.

river or ocean cruising

River cruises do tend to be more expensive per person — but that price also includes more things. Ocean cruises have a lower sticker price per person, but you are often charged extra for alcohol and other amenities.

river or ocean cruising

When you’re getting ready to plan your next on-the-water trip, here are a few questions to consider:

  • How many people are traveling? What are their ages?
  • What time of the year do you want to travel?
  • Do you need the amenities of a mega-ship — spas, gyms, a dozen restaurants, and many activities? Or are you looking for something calmer, more intimate and easy-paced?
  • Are you seeking authentic inter-cultural experiences? Or do you prefer more familiar settings?

As always, I’m here and would love to discuss your next cruise. We can look at all the moving parts of your upcoming trip — what you need, what you want, what your dream is — and together we can come up with a cruise you and your loved ones will remember fondly for the rest of your life. Contact me by clicking here

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Hi, I'm CATHy

Your Romance Travel Designer

I love helping my clients reconnect through the wonders of travel – that’s because I’ve experienced first-hand the power travel has to bring couples closer together.

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