Cruising is one of New Zealand’s fastest growing tourism sectors so the chances are you probably have countless friend who rave about their trips. Even if cruising isn’t a trend in your circle, it’s impossible to miss the glowing reviews and glossy travel brochures that sing praises about cruising the Danube, the Mekong and everywhere in-between.
For first timers, the concept of river cruising can seem a little overwhelming. After all, there are so many destinations and lines to choose from, each offering its own set of charms. Ever just wished you could get an expert overview at a glance. Well first timer, consider it done. Here’s your definitive guide to river cruising, and why it’s won the hearts of cruise addicts across the globe.
It’s one of the most luxurious ways to travel
From lavish staterooms and Egyptian linens to five course a la carte dinners and attentive service, luxury is the main theme when you’re river cruising. Whether you want to enjoy evening cocktails on the sun deck or pamper yourself silly at the onboard day spa, your experience will always be perfectly polished. A bit like the ship itself.
You’re unlikely to get ‘sea sick’
Suffer from sea sickness? River cruise vessels don’t rock side to side like a cruise ship which means you won’t have to worry about a lurching stomach. Worst case scenario you’ll feel a slight vibration but it’s nothing that will have you grabbing for the hand rails.
You see an awful lot
With shore excursions every day and the likelihood of a new port every morning, river cruise itineraries are destination focused. This means you’ll never have to deal with multiple ‘at sea’ days or whirlwind stops in iconic destinations.
It’s a social affair
With guest numbers ranging from 40 to 100 you’ll quickly get to know your fellow passengers. Unlike the floating ocean resorts and megaship lines, the atmosphere is intimate and exclusive. Dining is particularly social, with the chance to mix and mingle over gourmet far. The crew will also make an effort to know you by your first name within the first 45 minutes, which adds a fantastic personal touch.
You’ll only unpack once
Are you a chronic over packer? Do you tend to lose one possession for every hotel you check into? The beauty of river cruising is that you’ll get to visit a string of exciting destinations and only have to unpack once. Your floating hotel does all the hard work for you, whisking you from one amazing destination to the next. And all the while your clothes stay in the same wardrobe, and your suitcase remains under the same bed. Absolute heaven for the suitcase stuffers among us.
Everything is thought of and catered for
There’s something satisfying about organizing your own trips, but if you’re more of a sit back and relax kind of person you’ll adore river cruising. Most itineraries are run by luxury lines which means that your every whim, wish and want will be catered to. As well as taking your pick of curated shore excursions you’ll never have to waste time tracking down a taxi, negotiating prices or organising airport transfers. Feeling parched after a day of sightseeing? You’ll be showered with iced drinks and cold towels on your return to the ship. Craving an afternoon cup of tea or a morning mimosa? All you have to do is ask.
Relaxation is key
Excursions generally run in the morning and afternoon, with a return to the ship for lunch. However if you don’t feel like leaving the ship you don’t have to. If you want to rejuvenate there’s nothing better than simply relaxing on the sun deck and soaking up the riverside atmosphere. Similarly, the ship doesn’t sail exclusively at night. This means that when it’s full steam ahead you can watch the scenery roll by, take some time out to visit the fitness center or chat to new friends in the lounge.
Entertainment is low key
If you’re looking for razzle and dazzle you’re in the wrong place. There are no jazz hands or feather boas to be found here. Instead, river cruise entertainment is refined and elegant. Think immersive on-board lectures, piano accompanists and sophisticated cocktail parties.
Dress code on the ship is smart casual
Edging towards smart casual, river cruising blends comfort with class. Comfort is key for most day excursions, with guests slipping into something a little smarter for dinner. Think anniversary dinner and you’ll fit right in. Layers are essential, especially if you’re visiting a destination with cool evenings or religious sites where you’ll need to cover up.
Consider how you’ll use your suite
Spacious and stylish, river cruise suites are nothing short of exquisite. They’re as roomy as any five star hotel room, with luxe bathrooms, private balconies and all the trimmings. When deciding what level of luxury you want to enjoy it’s always worth considering how much time you’ll actually be spending in the suite. With so many excursions, lectures, culinary experiences and public spaces to enjoy you may find it’s not worth upgrading balcony. On the flip side, if you crave solitude, romance and an utterly exclusive experience why not splurge on a personal sanctuary?
A good travel agent will put you on the right cruise
You can read all you want, but to really decide whether river cruising is for you it’s best to talk to a seasoned expert. At House of Travel you’ll find a friendly team of cruise pros who will help you plan your dream river cruise. And if it turns out that river cruising isn’t your scene they’ll broaden their horizons and put you on the right ship.