About River Cruises
A river cruise offers the convenience and luxury of an ocean cruise combined with the in-depth experience of a land tour, plus the personal freedom of a river cruise. Step aboard. Unpack once. Explore, and enjoy.
For many travelers, a journey along the river is just the right pace for getting the lay of the land. Sitting on the top deck of a ship under brilliant blue skies, you gaze on fabled landscapes dotted with castles, villages, vineyards, lush forests and historic sites. A flight of stairs down, and you have all the amenities of a modern hotel — restaurants, bars, lounges, fitness facilities, spas, internet access and comfortable staterooms.
Itineraries range from three to thirty days in length. Book one year in advance, if possible, and consider cruising March through May or September through December, when the crowds are thinner and airfares may be more reasonably priced than during peak periods.
Some river cruises overnight in ports and cruise during the day; others cruise during the night and tie up in port during the day. Both approaches allow for dinners ashore and late-evening strolls into town.
Prepare to step ashore in fairy tale towns and fabled cities, immerse yourself in contemporary culture, and learn something about the history of the towns along the world’s greatest rivers.
Where do river cruises go?
River cruises travel along many of the major rivers in the world. The Danube is one of the most popular rivers, and often river cruisers first experience, but the Main, Rhine, Moselle, Elbe, Rhone, Saone and Seine are also options in Europe. Elsewhere in the world, the Nile River in Egypt, the Yangtze River in China and the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia are also popular river cruise destinations.
I’ve been told that shore excursions are included. Is that true?
It’s one of the best things about river cruising. Unique experiences and amazing value. The carefully crafted, included shore excursions, which are led by experienced English-speaking local guides, give you an in-depth, authentic view of the cultures and histories you will visit. You will discover the area’s highlights, as well as places only the locals know about.
What amenities are there on river cruise ships?
Amenities vary, but standard on most river cruise ships are a restaurant, bar and lounge, library and sky deck. Most river cruise ships have a fitness center and possibly a sauna. There is often either a hair salon and/or a masseuse on board. Some ships might have a whirlpool; others, like those on the Nile, almost always have a dipping pool on the top deck. Increasingly in Europe, ships are adding elevators and smaller, alternative dining lounges at the aft of the ship. Outdoor grilling on the top deck is also becoming more popular on newer ships. Complimentary bicycles are available on most of the Europe river boats.
What is the river cruising clientele? Who will I be cruising with?
River cruising appeals to a wide range of travelers of all ages who have an interest in art, history, food, wine and architecture. Some river cruise companies have family-friendly sailings for people traveling with children. The introduction of bikes on board is also enticing younger cruisers. There is also a wide range of nationalities on board, generally from English-speaking countries, including the U.S., Canada, England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. While the size of the ships vary, generally your ship will accommodate 100 to 200 passengers.
Is river cruising kid-friendly?
Some river cruise companies have family-friendly sailings for people traveling with children. There is not much for younger children to do on board, in terms of games or activities and most river cruise companies do not have third berth capacity in the staterooms. A good rule of thumb when planning any family vacation, especially when traveling with children, is to involve everyone in the planning and decision making process. Talk about the on board experience and the highlights of the itinerary. Discuss what you’ll see and what you’ll do as a family, and then let their level of interest and excitement shape your decision.
What is the dress code on board?
Country club casual is recommended for dinner. Guest typically wear dressier attire for the Captain’s Dinner or occasions like concerts or performances on shore.
What should I wear on shore?
Comfortable, sporty, smart-casual daywear is appropriate both onshore and onboard. Basic pants, khakis, walking shorts and everyday skirts/dresses are recommended. For warmer temperatures and summer departures, lightweight clothing that can be layered, such as a mix of sweaters, lightweight knit shirts, pants and walking shorts. For early spring and late fall departures, sweatshirts, heavier cotton or wool tops, long-sleeved shirts and corduroy or heavy khaki pants are suitable. You will find a significant amount of walking over uneven terrain during your time ashore, so bring comfortable walking shoes with good ankle support.
I have some physical limitations and may not be able to participate in all the activities. What do you suggest I do?
If you have any mobility concerns or require a mobility device, such as a wheelchair, motorized scooter or walker, please discuss these issues with your travel expert before booking your trip. Some areas may not be accessible.
What about tipping on board and on tours?
On European cruises aboard AmaWaterways and Uniworld, three Euros per passenger per day for the Cruise Manager and 10 to 12 Euros per passenger per day is recommended for the crew. For tours, tipping standards vary somewhat by country. Your travel expert or cruise operator will provide you with guidelines for appropriate gratuities for various services, from baggage handling to restaurant servers, tour drivers and guides to room staff. Your generosity is appreciated and should always be based on the quality of service.
Is there Internet on board?
Most river cruise ships either have wireless Internet access on board in the staterooms and in certain public areas on the ships.
Are alcoholic beverages included?
Complimentary wines and beer are offered with dinner.
Can I use an ATM on the trip?
ATMs connected to bank networks are widely available in most major metropolitan areas, airports, city centers and in some instances, hotels. Fees for transactions vary. ATMs are not available onboard ships. Your bank can tell you which network your ATM card can access, and whether a debit or credit card must be used. Make sure you have the correct PIN for the card you plan to use before leaving home, as the PIN is required for all money withdrawals. It is also recommended that you bring an overseas contact number for your bank or credit card company in case you require assistance while traveling.
What about credit cards and travelers checks?
Most major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, and American Express) are accepted worldwide. Credit cards and Travelers Checks (in Euro or US Dollars) are also accepted onboard. There may be some stores or locations where cash is preferred (especially for small purchases) or a particular credit card cannot be used for purchases. Bring at least one major credit card as well as an ATM card that is both a debit and credit card, and, if you wish, Travelers Checks in small denominations. With Travelers Checks, it is always a good idea to bring your receipt for the purchase of the Travelers Checks with you, and to carry it separately from the checks. Travelers Checks are not accepted as local currency and usually incur a fee when being exchanged for cash. It is becoming increasingly difficult to cash them at local banks. If you are traveling to Europe, do not carry Euro bills in denominations greater than €100, as many merchants are hesitant to accept them. Local banks can break larger bills into smaller denominations. Contact your bank and/or credit card company to let them know that you will be leaving the country to avoid any problems using your credit card overseas.
Viking RIver Cruises
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