10 reasons to take a river cruise
The benefits of river cruising are plenty but here we've picked just 10. If European river cruising is on your bucket list, now is the time to book at early bird rates for 2018!
- Same bed
The huge advantage of a river voyage is the same as that for an ocean cruise - you only unpack once. It can feel as if you don’t go to new places but rather they come to you. It’s not just no lugging of suitcases in and out of lifts, along corridors and in and out of buses or taxis that you avoid but there is no chance of that dreaded announcement that bags must be outside your room by dawn. Yet each day you have the delight of a new destination outside your window.
- No seasickness
Despite the many advantages of a cruise the fear of seasickness deters many from ocean cruising. On the other hand, except perhaps for the Amazon, no matter what the weather, river cruising takes place on sheltered waterways where (in nautical terms) there’s not the fetch to produce the waves to rock the boat.
Sometimes the trouble with travel is, well, travelling. When travelling by plane, car or coach – or even rail – there are long hours shoe-horned into a single seat. When cruising you have a lot of space to move around– and your bed is always close at hand. The views are unhindered, too. Try climbing onto the roof of your plane to watch the scenery go by and you’re in all sorts of trouble. On a boat or ship it’s positively encouraged.
- No traffic
As the world gets more crowded, so do its road. There may have been a time when a road trip from city to city was fun but now it’s more likely to prove frustrating. On a river cruise road traffic becomes irrelevant. It’s remarkable how this brings with it a sense of peace so you can enjoy the holiday without worrying about traffic jams and traffic accidents. You can simply appreciate where you are and what you are experiencing.
In ancient times the sea offered a treacherous passage in frail craft but the river was a conveniently level highway. So civilisation spread out along the rivers and by taking a river cruise you are seeing history from the conduit along which it was formed. Whether it’s houses in Asia or castles in Europe you’ll often find that the river is the front door and the road is the back door. You’ll be seeing the destination from the right perspective.
- Heart of the city
Many riverside cities developed because of the river and around their riverfront so the wharf stands at the heart of the city. In effect, your boat becomes an absolute waterfront hotel. In many cases, you don’t need to use any form of land transport because the sights all lie within walking distance. This is time effective, too: you don’t have to calculate travel time to and from town – you’re already there.
For most trips, effective photography is only possible when your transport stops. Sure, there might be a chance for a quickly snapped shot through the window of a bus, train or plane but the resulting image is rarely satisfying. On a river cruise, there’s an endless vista of beautiful images floating past and you have both the time and space to capture them. And you can do it with no glass in between and a reflection in the foreground.
It may be that we are water creatures, made of water and coming from the womb, that makes time afloat so tranquil. Even when the water is glassy calm there’s always the joy of floating on a vessel that’s alive under you. The gentle rocking of a river cruise boat by the wake of another vessel really does rock you into a very peaceful state.
- Holiday afloat
There is a special feeling about being on a vessel. It’s not just that everything has been built with the shipwright’s skill and has been designed to fit in a limited space. A meal while the scenery floats past has added piquancy and even reading a book on deck while life continues across the water feels more productive. Of course, going to bed knowing the journey continues while you sleep is a wonderful feeling.
River cruising has a very human scale. There’s none of the airline passenger’s perspective of the patchwork of human endeavour; the giant factories and outlying suburbs through which intercity trains pass; or the endless ribbons of automobiles that travel the roads. Rather, there’s a patch of water plants to pass through, a cyclist on a path, a man walking his dog, or children splashing by the shore. On a river cruise you don’t just observe destinations, you are part of it.
Image credit: Hero image Shutterstock. Other images David McGonigal