river cruise vs ocean cruise

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#1
troy ohio
724 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
We have been on 6 NCL cruises and are looking into the possibility of trying a river cruise in Europe vs. a ocean cruise in Europe. I noticed that the river cruises are about twice as expensive. Can anyone tell me how a river cruise would compare to one on a NCL ship and what you get for the extra cost? Thanks.
#2
1,828 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
So you're in Troy, Ohio....try thinking of it this way; imagine the difference between sailing the Ohio River and the Mediterranean or the Caribbean. That's what you're looking at.

Instead of being bused to Rome or Florence or tendering to a tropical island you instead pull up to Cincinnati or Louisville.

You can take a city tour provided as part of your cruise or you can do your own thing very easily and WALK back to the ship as opposed to paying for a
NCL excursion.

The towns and villages you will come to on a European river cruise will be an entirely different experience than you will have on any ocean cruise port.
#3
Coastal NC
3,162 Posts
Joined Sep 2006
I would suggest looking at some of Grand Circle's videos on their web page. These will give you an idea what river cruising is all about. Viking used to have videos that they would send in the mail; not sure they still do, though.
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Sharon

SAILED: Viking, Portraits of Southern France. 2006
SAILED: Uniworld, Castles Along the Rhine, 2007
SAILED: Gate 1, Thanksgiving Cruise, 2007
SAILED: AMA Waterways, Portugal on the Douro, 2008
SAILED: Grand Circle: Romance of the Rhine and Mosel, 2010
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: Viking Emerald, China's Cultural Delights. 3/28/2011
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#4
FL
14,143 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by karen327
I noticed that the river cruises are about twice as expensive. Can anyone tell me how a river cruise would compare to one on a NCL ship and what you get for the extra cost? Thanks.
It is more about you do not get compared to NCL:

No lines
No extra charges for restaurants
No constant efforts to sell you everything under the sun
No nickel and diming you to death at every opportunity
No production shows or casino
No overpriced excursions
No annoying announcements
No crowds
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142 cruises since 1964, 14 on the river.
Looking forward to:
Joie de Vivre, Paris and Normany - April 2017
Le Lyral, The Adriatic, September 2017
Amadeus Silver II - Magic of Advent, December 2017
Oceania Marina, South Pacific, March 2018AmaKristina, Christmas Markets, December 2018




Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
Avalon Affinity - Christmas Markets 2010
Avalon Panorama - Danube New Years Cruise, 2011
AmaDante -Vineyards of the Rhine and Moselle 2012
AmaCerto - Budapest to Nuremburg, 2013
AmaBella - Tulip Time, 2014
AmaDagio - Provence, 2014
AmaReina - Holiday on the Rhine 2014
SS Catherine - Provence 2015
AmaSerena Christmas on the Rhine, 2015
Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, April 2016
AmaVida, Douro, August. 2016
AmaSonata, Romantic Danube - Oct. 2016



#5
Miami, FL
900 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by H2Otstr
I would suggest looking at some of Grand Circle's videos on their web page. These will give you an idea what river cruising is all about. Viking used to have videos that they would send in the mail; not sure they still do, though.
Hi, Sharon,

I never sailed with Grand Circle, only AMA. I was wondering how GC might compare with AMA or Viking (you've sailed on it). GC appears to be less expensive, but quite nice. I love the videos.


Sergio
#6
San Tan Valley, AZ
573 Posts
Joined Jan 2006
I have been on 17 ocean cruises and 13 river cruises. My take on why the river cruises are more expensive is the number of passengers. River ships hold 120 - 170 passengers vs 2000-5000 for large ocean going cruise ships. Also most, if not all, excursions are included on river cruises.

cruisingmad .... I have sailed on both AMA and GCT. I prefer GCT due to the value for the dollar but some people do not like their pullman type twin beds and older ships. The ships may be older but they are immaculate and well cared for. I also found that the service on GCT exceeds AMA (but that is my opinion).
#7
Miami, FL
900 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Originally posted by rogerdawhip
I have been on 17 ocean cruises and 13 river cruises. My take on why the river cruises are more expensive is the number of passengers. River ships hold 120 - 170 passengers vs 2000-5000 for large ocean going cruise ships. Also most, if not all, excursions are included on river cruises.

cruisingmad .... I have sailed on both AMA and GCT. I prefer GCT due to the value for the dollar but some people do not like their pullman type twin beds and older ships. The ships may be older but they are immaculate and well cared for. I also found that the service on GCT exceeds AMA (but that is my opinion).
Thanks! I'm probably booking a Tulip Time river cruise April 2014, and I was looking at AMA, since I've already traveled twice with them and I will do so again in May of this year. AMA is great, I have to say, but I wouldn't mind what you have to say about GCT. I'll do some more research and will consider them.

Sergio
#8
Queens, NY
2,161 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Karen ~ I was in your position about a year ago - taken 6 cruises (mostly Celebrity) and looking for a 7th. DH suggested Paris and a River Cruise - wondered about the price and included excursions (we almost always booked 8-10 passenger independent tours) and lack of evening shows/entertainment - casino was no problem. Would I enjoy it? Could I survive?

Well, I fell in love with River Cruising!! Not that I won't book another Celebrity cruise - but, so far, we have 2 more River Cruises to look forward to!!!

I had read on these boards about how more "personal" and intimate river cruises were but never really "got it" until I experienced it! Caviargal summed it up perfectly - the fewer people made for a much more enjoyable time - but that, of course, is my opinion and, like food, feelings about cruising can be very subjective and all depends on just what you're looking for!! The smaller ships also means you can go right into cities and towns via the river - something I found I enjoyed!

I found I didn't miss the nightly show or the piano bar - both were replaced by nice conversations with people we met and also being so close to towns that an evening stroll was possible.

The excursions were actually very, very good - and no one was forced to go on them. If the ship was moving to join the bus you were fully informed ahead of time. For excursions we were proved with headsets so could wander a bit (I love to take photos!) and were also told exactly what time to meet the bus if we wanted to go further afield.

The food was very good - admittedly portions not as large as big ships, but it was always possible to ask for seconds and often they'd come around offering more. Personally I thought the food very good and much more reasonable than on big ships.

In hindsight I wish we had more time aboard the ship - but I don't know which of the excursions I would have canceled they were all good and also different! as were the 2 optional ones we took.

As for price - on Viking, all the major excursions were included + unlimited wine & beer at lunch and dinner + the entertainment (one night a group sang & there was always a piano player in the lounge) along with the usual room steward, wait staff, luggage handling, galley tour, etc.

I agree with Rogerdawhip - its the smaller number of passengers that causes the increase in costs.

We've never had a bad experience with big ships (Celebrity was fantastic when my checked suitcase was delayed 4 days by the airlines!) but there seems to me to be something special about River Cruising! Hope our next experience is just as good as our first!!!

And hope this helps you a little - I think its a very personal decision and only yoy can decide for yourself!
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Viking Forseti 10-4-2014 Bordeaux
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#9
Queens, NY
2,161 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
...there is one BIG negative about River Cruising and it has nothing to do with the companies involved! There is little to no activity on River Cruise Roll Calls!!!!!

I did miss that part of planning last year's River Cruise!!! The year before we had about 50 couples active on our Celebrity Roll Call - it was fantastic making plans for excursions and dinner - even had a pre-cruise dinner in Amsterdam for 20 of us - fisrst time we met in person!!

But, because the number of passengers on RCs is so small, you're lucky to find even one traveling on your cruise! A suggestion was made to have a thread for anyone (regardless of line, river, ship, date) going on a Christmas Market cruise and that's active - but nothing like a big ship's RC!! But, on the other hand, since the ship is much smaler we made friends much faster - or maybe it was because CC people tend to stick together on larger ships!!! But I have to admit, in the end, I survive the "no roll call" and am still in touch with 2 couples we met on the River Cruise!!
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Viking Forseti 10-4-2014 Bordeaux
Viking Rinda 12-7-2013 Christmas Markets
Viking Neptune 10-21-12 Rhone River
Celebrity Constellation 9-7-2011 Amsterdam-Istanbul
Celebrity Constellation 7-3-2010 Baltic
RCCL Voyager of the Seas 2-14-2010 Caribbean
Celebrity Summit 6-16-2008 Mediterranean
SS Rembrant 7-20-2000 St. Lawrence
M/V Atlantic 8-28-1988 Bermuda
#10
South Carolina, USA
240 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
A river cruise is more expensive up front, but when the cruise ends, there is no bill. Since there are only around 120 people, you get to know others. You wake up at a dock and walk off to take a tour.
Meals are served at the same time.
There are no children.
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#11
473 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
We've done MANY ocean cruises and several river cruises (Viking not GC).

In addition to the above great advice, here are some things to consider.

River cruises lack on-board entertainment. The ports ARE the entertainment and at night you basically relax and get ready for the next day in port.

In most cases, you dock in the city center so you can walk to everything if you want to explore on your own. If you want to take a ship's tour, they're included in the fare (at least on Viking and I assume on GC as well).

The cabins are basic -- similar to a basic outside cabin on an ocean cruise. If you're into the "suite" life . . . not many options in river cruising due to the size of the ships.

River cruises are more "all-inclusive" in that they include most tours and even wine/beer with dinner. Tipping is not required although on Viking it was optional (if you wanted to contribute it was to a group fund that was split among the crew. However, it was totally anonymous so, if you didn't tip, no one but you would know). Also, there aren't the omnipresent photographers and the like so you shouldn't have many additional payments.

On most river cruises, there are no sea days, so if you enjoy just relaxing . . . well, there isn't much to do on board. Speaking of which, on most riverboats there is no spa, no salon, no pool, no game room, no internet cafe, etc. We have no problem with that but, if you need any of the above, be forewarned.

Basically, river cruising is about seeing the ports during the day and transiting at night. It's terrific . . . just be sure you understand it's NOT an ocean cruise. That isn't a bad thing . . . it's just different.
#12
Ontario, Canada
2,725 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
Actually, I would disagree with a couple of things in this post....

Originally posted by ggo85
The cabins are basic -- similar to a basic outside cabin on an ocean cruise. If you're into the "suite" life . . . not many options in river cruising due to the size of the ships.

River cruises are more "all-inclusive" in that they include most tours and even wine/beer with dinner. Tipping is not required although on Viking it was optional (if you wanted to contribute it was to a group fund that was split among the crew. However, it was totally anonymous so, if you didn't tip, no one but you would know). Also, there aren't the omnipresent photographers and the like so you shouldn't have many additional payments.

On most river cruises, there are no sea days, so if you enjoy just relaxing . . . well, there isn't much to do on board. Speaking of which, on most riverboats there is no spa, no salon, no pool, no game room, no internet cafe, etc. We have no problem with that but, if you need any of the above, be forewarned. .

First off, there a a number of companies that do offer suites... An increasing number of ships offer suites between 300 + 400 sq ft. And some offer balconies. If you take a look at the websites of Scenic, Viking and Uniworld - you can find the boats that do have larger suites, and the ones that have balconies.

Gratuities are not automatically added to your final account (as on large ship cruises), but if they are not included (as with Scenic this year, or Uniworld next year) then they are left to the discretion of the individual traveller. Yes, the tips are anonymous - but to say it is "not required" gives you the impression that no one does it. We have always paid the suggested gratuities as we have felt the service has deserved it.

Most boats now offer free WiFi, and have one or two computers for the guests to use. A number do offer limited spa services, and many have a small gym. Some have hot tubs.

There is usually a piano player in the lounge, and often there are musicians in the evening (local or regional artists....)

Yes, the cost does appear to be more up front, but there is no "nickle and diming" going on to increase the final cost of the cruise.

Fran
#13
Sydney, Australia
1,315 Posts
Joined May 2007
We did a river cruise with Uniworld and loved it.
I was worried my husband would be bored but he lasdo loved it.
Loved the fact that they had anm introductory tour in each place. No deciding and paying for expensive ship led tours or spending hours trying to find a cheaper way to do it. When you add all the inclusions it's not a lot more expensive.


I like the included wine and beer at dinner. I like that kids are rarely there (Im a teacher and like to get away from kids even though I love them). Most people on board seemed to be more wealthy than us. LOL Maybe just my perception but poor people don't do river cruises.
I like that you are central to everything when you pull up.

Nothing I didn't like really. We tried to book another one when the price dropped but missed out so booked a big cruise again. Will try again next year.
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2016- Dec- Thomson Dream- Cuban Fusion
2016- November- Thomson Dream- Caribbean Horizons
2016- October - Celebrity Reflection- Mediterranean
2016- September- HAL Eurodam- Mediterranean
2016- April - Norwegian Epic - Italy, France
2016- March- HAL Rotterdam - Sing-Sthampton
2016 - Feb, Pacific Jewel - Vanuatu Explorer
2015 - Sept, Carnival Splendor- New England
2015 - Sept, Carnival Glory B2B East/West Caribbean
2014- July. HAL Noordam- Adriatic
2014- June. Azamara Journey- Baltics
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2013-Dec Sun Princess- Pacific Islands
2013-May MSC Magnifica (not impressed)
2013 April- Norwegian Jade- Holy Land
2011 April- Uniworld River Beatrice- Enchanting Danube.
2008 Dec/2009 Jan -Rhapsody of the Seas-New Zealand
2007- Oct -Pacific Sun-Vanuatu, Noumea
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2007- May -Diamond Princess-Alaska
2003- April -Superstar Leo- Suva, Noumea
#14
Georgetown, Texas
161 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
We have cruised many many times with ocean liners and several times with river cruises and like both. Others have pointed out the pluses for each, but keep in mind the itinerary you want - that may dictate which cruise to take.

Crowds can be a problem with large cruise ships, but you can also encounter crowds on a river cruise. We had an experience on an upper Danube cruise where 6 river cruise ships where all docked in the same small village at the same time and each cruise ship had their included tour to the local cathedral (gorgeous) at 11 AM - this reminded me of a large ship tour. Most of the time, however, you are much more spread out. Last fall we did a lower Danube river cruise and were the only ship at each stop.

I've found the food on river cruises to be equal or better to main dining room food on ocean cruises. While there are no production shows on small river boats, most companies try to bring some local entertainment aboard for several evenings and you may be able to stroll around a village on other evenings - still others may be spent moving from one port to another. Having something to do in the evening does not seem to be a problem.

While river cruising is more expensive than ocean cruising with the mainline companies, it can be a good value when you consider what is not extra and the experience you receive.

Steve
#15
S.E. MA
909 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Originally posted by hcross888
A river cruise is more expensive up front, but when the cruise ends, there is no bill. Since there are only around 120 people, you get to know others. You wake up at a dock and walk off to take a tour.
Meals are served at the same time.
There are no children.
"No bill." Not quite true. There are tips at the end, and they are substantial...but we have found on our 2 Uniworld river cruises that we happily gave what was suggested plus a little extra.
#16
Adelaide Australia
80 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
Originally posted by karen327
We have been on 6 NCL cruises and are looking into the possibility of trying a river cruise in Europe vs. a ocean cruise in Europe. I noticed that the river cruises are about twice as expensive. Can anyone tell me how a river cruise would compare to one on a NCL ship and what you get for the extra cost? Thanks.
yes
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#17
Ontario
82 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
If you travel with Scenic tours there are no tips at the end. Even on land tips they are paid by Scenic in advance. We even had one excellent tour guide thank us for the generous gratuity he had received from Scenic on our behalf, class act. Definitely no bill at end.
#18
2,441 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
River cruising is a very relaxing way to travel. It is becoming more and more popular, so the lines are including more amenities--larger cabins, suites, balconies, bikes, wine and beer with lunch and dinner and some are or will be all inclusive. The price may seem a bit out there, but remember that excursions are included at each port. We must remember that the width of a river cruise has to be smaller than the width of the narrowest lock. Viking long ships have mande veranda cabins by offsetting the central corridor. Therefore the cabins on the other side although french balcony are only 135 sq.ft. Research is very important, no one can tell you the best line for you---ONLY the one they like best. We have been in 15 with 16th in June. River cruises are more intimate, but a lot of interesting people travel the rivers. Pat
#19
1,828 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
As I said in another thread, our TA says to look for ships that are younger than 2009. The "finishings" are more updated, the cabins larger, and, most importantly, the ship's equipment is newer and therefore less likely to have problems.