Are You An Ocean or River Cruiser: Which One Is Right for You?

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

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 muchsmaller (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. For people who are worried about sea sickness this is less likely on a River Cruise since you are sailing in shallow waters.

You should take into consideration that river cruises include fewer on-board amenities than ocean cruises. River ships are floating hotels whereas, Cruises are floating resorts with casinos and glitzy Broadway shows.

River Cruisers excursions can involve theme trips to wineries, bicycling, gardeners, hikers. Some include visits to homes to have dinner and get to know the people and different cultures of that country.

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 on board, amenities tend to be more modest with river cruises — think libraries, a workout room, cultural programs, and free WI-FI vs. kids’ playrooms, a skydiving simulator and car race tracks. There tend to be fewer kids on river cruises, making them popular for couples seeking quiet and relaxed time together. Wonderful for honeymooners and that Romantic Getaway.

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Imagine waking up to a passing Castle or a beautiful new village from your floating vista. Almost every day you are at a new port with river cruises, often for walking and bicycle tours (some with e-bikes that do the peddling for you) through quaint towns with little tourist traffic, and you’re always in view of 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 the older generation, and can 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 loves adventure, ocean cruises provide a wide variety of activities on board, as well as exotic and more daring day excursions.

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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.

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?

  1. What time of the year do you want to travel?
  2. 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?
  3. Are you seeking authentic inter-cultural experiences? Or do you prefer more familiar settings?

Travel Journeys plans exciting vacation experiences including honeymoons, romance vacations, cruises and family vacations for everyone. We would love to discuss your next cruise and 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. Call 303-663-0238 or Joy@travel-journeys.com

Joy Ross