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Viking Ocean vs. River

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While on our recent Viking Ocean cruise, we talked to a lot of people who had done Viking river cruises as well.

 

Here’s what I found interesting: every single one of them, without exception, said they preferred the river cruises.

 

They really enjoyed the ocean cruises too, especially the ships. But when I asked them why they preferred the river cruises, they mentioned intimacy due to smaller cruise size and the ability to hop off the ship and be right in the heart of things. They also mentioned not having to take long bus rides to see things.

 

We’re wondering if we should look at a rice cruise next time.

 

Those of you who have done both ocean and river cruises, which do you prefer and why?

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We are fairly new to both ocean and river. River in 2012 and 2016 - both not with Viking. Ocean in 2014 and 2017 - 2017 with Viking. I wasn’t convinced either ocean or rivers were right for me till after Homelands last year. I loved Homelands and I loved being onboard the Star. We now have 3 more booked with Viking, but for us it is all about the itinerary. NZ - Aust, Iceland, and Empires of the Med. Obviously all ocean not river. The only river we have in mind is Portugal in the future. That doesn’t mean we think one is better than the other, just that the Ocean itineraries suit us better for the next couple of years. Best regards, Frank

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Having done two river and one Ocean with Viking, hands down the river is better! The intimacy, the experience, the food relative to the locale and the cost.

 

Enjoyed both but the expense of the side excursions on the ocean made this so much more costly then a land excursion or for example Celebrity on a similar itinerary. The included excursions work well on the river but the included excursions on the oceans do not, everything of interest to us cost $$$. The on board experience on the river is special

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We have done one river and one ocean, both with Viking, and have two more Viking ocean trips booked. We loved both, and will go back to river one day. Each has some things that feel the same, and each has some particular charms. To visit the places we go is the reason we travel, and the Viking experience is just a wonderful bonus. The ocean cruises seem to take more energy, so while we are able we are focusing on those for now.

 

Our first European experiences were on escorted bus tours, and we even loved those. Riding a bus on an excursion is not a drawback for us, as long as it is not only riding a bus! I am never quite sure why people object to them so much. But that is a topic for another thread. In our limited experience, on Empires of the Mediterranean, we used some included and some optional tours, and were pleased with both. On Romantic Danube, we observed that you don't always get to walk off the ship right into town, and sometimes there are buses there too.

 

If forced to pick, I guess I would say we preferred Viking ocean by a slim margin, but mostly because that is the one we did last!

Edited by lackcreativity

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We always enjoyed river cruises. It was wonderful in the Grand European and Grand France cruises to just walk off the boat and into the smaller towns and villages. The size of the ships was comfortable. However, we particularly did not enjoy the Douro cruise. The nature of the geography is such that there was almost no alternative to constant bus trips up steep winding roads. No berthing in towns apart from Porto (which was lovely).

We did feel that Viking tried to organise good excursions and we had several very nice meals included. The pre embarkation hotel included was also a good quality one.

The food was dire though! We did complain to Viking about it and I gather that the particular chef for that cruise didn't seem to gave adhered to the menus centrally set. Our air con didn't work. In temps of 32°C that was no joke. I think the boats have improved since then but we've never wanted to risk another river cruise since.

Fingers crossed for our forthcoming ocean cruise.

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We have done 4 Viking river cruises and 1 ocean. We have 3 ocean booked( one viking homelands we leave next week) as we love itineraries and the whole experience .having said that we are looking to book 3 river cruises next week..

I asked DH what he wanted to book and his wishlist was all river..

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I love them both and can't choose. For me it is not so much about the ship (as long as it nice) but about where the ship is taking me. River ships can't take me where oceans ships take me and ocean ships can't take me where river ships do. However, I had pretty much stopped looking at ocean cruises until Viking announced its Oceans venture and we booked and paid for our first, Midnight Sun, before the first ship was even launched. Viking is now going to plenty of places that we would like to go and it is going to take us a good long time to get through that list--and I am really looking forward to doing so!

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While on our recent Viking Ocean cruise, we talked to a lot of people who had done Viking river cruises as well. Here’s what I found interesting: every single one of them, without exception, said they preferred the river cruises. They really enjoyed the ocean cruises too, especially the ships. But when I asked them why they preferred the river cruises, they mentioned intimacy due to smaller cruise size and the ability to hop off the ship and be right in the heart of things. They also mentioned not having to take long bus rides to see things. We’re wondering if we should look at a rice cruise next time. Those of you who have done both ocean and river cruises, which do you prefer and why?

 

You weren't talking to enough people if you came away with that conclusion! ;) In all honesty, I think cruises are like cars. Inasmuch as there are "Chevy" people and "Mercedes" people and "Toyota" people (etc.) so too are there "river" cruise people and "mega cruise ship" people and "ocean" cruise people...you get the idea. Some people are just as happy driving one car as another and some people aren't. Same with cruises. There are many options out there and it all boils down to one's preference. But to answer your question. What are some of the things we prefer about the ocean cruises (which I'll phrase in terms of Viking):

 

--Being on open water. There's something so soothing about looking at the vast expanse of sea and sky. Only an ocean cruise delivers that kind of panorama.

 

 

--More options in dining and entertainment. We particularly like the evening sushi at the World Cafe and two specialty restaurants and the Torshavn Lounge for music and dancing and the always-fun Beatles tribute on the pool deck.

 

 

--Spa! No further explanation required! :D And pools, too.

 

 

--Large cabins with balconies for all. River cruises tend to have a higher per diem on average so we usually book an "aquarium" cabin with only the porthole view but of course we prefer having our own balcony, which is a given on Viking Oceans.

 

 

--More places to hide away and relax. For as sociable as we are, sometimes (many times!) we like to retreat and be by ourselves but we don't want to be relegated to our cabin. It's so easy to do with all the nooks and crannies on an ocean cruise. I'm thinking of the reading corner by the main floor in the atrium, the Wintergarden when tea is not being served, the upstairs of the Explorers Lounge...lots of places on board to seek out solitude and a book. There's little opportunity for that on a river cruise as there simply isn't the square footage.

 

 

And now, what do we prefer about a river cruise (again, in terms of Viking, which is actually the only river cruiseline we've sailed with ;) ):

 

 

--locks. Don't ask why but perhaps as the daughter of an engineer and a wife of one, I think the locks are fascinating. Luckily DH does as well and we've often gone up on the top deck at ridiculous hours of the night and day to see the longship pass through the locks. Cooler than cool. Of course the Sky did pass through the locks on our way to Amsterdam, but it didn't have quite the cachet of when we've gone through them on the Rhine and Danube...

 

 

--German night and piano dancing on the longships. We love the night on river cruises when the pretzels and sausages and schnapps and musicians in traditional dress come out! That's the best dinner party ever! And every night after dinner is over, dancing to the tunes of the piano man (woman). We've been lucky enough to get great piano players and it's fun to crowd onto the itty bitty dance floor with our fellow passengers. Lots of good comraderie there.

 

 

--visiting small towns and big towns both and 9 times out of 10, walking right into the town. It's a different slice of life than what you typically get on an ocean cruise. Though I must say that the bus tours don't bother us on either. As long as someone else is doing the driving, we're happy to sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery.

 

 

As you can surmise, we're happy on everything Viking has to offer. I sorta think it's like apples to oranges: both are fruit but therein the differences begin. I hope you do try a river cruise and I wouldn't be surprised if you liked it very much.

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We prefer the ocean by far. We have done 2 of each and have 2 ocean cruises booked! We prefer the larger ship, its amenities and the availability of more privacy..We vacation because we don’t get to spend a lot of time together at home and we enjoy each other’s company. On the river cruises, there is no chance for a cozy dinner for two, you are ALWAYS dining with at least 4 other people. We don’t really go for the constant chit chat required on river. We want to enjoy each other, not 188 others! We just don’t care for the constant social interaction required. On Ocean, you can pick and choose your socialness.....

 

 

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I tend to agree with Mpc524, We have taken two Ocean and one river cruise with Viking and though we greatly enjoyed all, our favorite is Ocean. Currently have four ocean cruises booked, the next in less than 60 days!

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River, if I had to choose or be beheaded.

Love the Ocean ships but river is more intimate and visits more places easily accessed on foot or a SHORT bus ride. Love the Aquavit terrace, or at least I did pre-Manfredis. Pop off the ship into town on a whim. I've sailed on the ocean a lot so ocean vistas are nothing extra special. Love the river views of towns and yes even industrial areas.

Ocean is terrific, beautiful & uncrowded with lots of nooks to hide out in. Lots of dining choices, most excellent. World Cafe a la carte buffet is unique. Love the 2 story bow vista. Could not care less about pools and spa.

Ocean included excursions seem inferior to river and the optionals much pricier.

 

How to decide? The venues. Happy to have a choice of ocean & river ports.

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Well, do you like apples or oranges? For me, the answer is “Yes.” The two types of cruise are so different. Like Peregrina, it depends on where I want to go. Ocean liners can’t take me up the Columbia/Snake rivers — speaking of locks! They can’t take me the length of the Mississippi (which we will “finish” this fall) or up and down the Douro (which we loved in spite of the bus time) or the Seine (neither of the European trips were with Viking.). And there are distinctive differences between US and foreign river cruises. We’ve done five ocean cruises (one of them with Viking) and loved the sea days as much as the places we got to see. And loved the time spent just floating down the rivers, too. There are more activities available on ocean cruises and if that’s important, you might not like the river. In that regard, it’s a bit like comparing VO with other lines.

Hey, Helenfrank, when are you doing the Iceland trip? We’re booked for August 13, 2019.

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We prefer the ocean by far. We have done 2 of each and have 2 ocean cruises booked! We prefer the larger ship, its amenities and the availability of more privacy..We vacation because we don’t get to spend a lot of time together at home and we enjoy each other’s company. On the river cruises, there is no chance for a cozy dinner for two, you are ALWAYS dining with at least 4 other people. We don’t really go for the constant chit chat required on river. We want to enjoy each other, not 188 others! We just don’t care for the constant social interaction required. On Ocean, you can pick and choose your socialness.....

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

Let me put this another way. After doing a great deal of investigation, I came to the conclusion that river cruises can be a very uncomfortable environment for introverts. This is, as is often the case, more of an issue for me than for my wife. The only way I would do a river cruise is if we traveled with another couple - adult children or close friends - so that we were already a table for 4. Viking Ocean is perfect for us. I'll read a book a day, she'll go to a cooking class.

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Hi Twitchly, it was so nice meeting you during our recent Viking oceans cruise. I hope you two had a safe journey home and are settling in even tho it’s only been 24 hours. Ohhhh the jetlag, not to mention mountains of dirty clothing, well you have to take the bad with the good, right?

 

We spoke about this very topic and as mentioned we enjoy the river cruises a bit more, having done 9 with Viking and 2 Oceans with #3 coming up in September. Yes, the cabins are much smaller but the entire ship holds 120 passengers I think, there are no tables for two so you will have to share a table, if that makes one uncomfortable then river cruising may not be for you. Seating isn’t assigned so you can join new people each night if wanted.

 

We have enjoyed both rivers and oceans with Viking but think it’s time to look at other companies. Sometimes change can be good.

 

 

 

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We love them both and honestly could not pick a favorite. For us, it is the itinerary which would make us book one over the other.

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Oh, Richard. Didn’t think about that. Our Douro cruise was made that much better because we had friends traveling with us so were automatically a table full. Doesn’t bother my husband but I really dislike the “May we join you/would you like to sit with us” dance.

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Hey, Helenfrank, when are you doing the Iceland trip? We’re booked for August 13, 2019.

😀 May 2019, from Bergen

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We've done 3 river cruises (2 on AMA (Danube and Douro) and 1 on Scenic (Rhone). We did our first ocean cruise on the Viking Star last July (Homelands) and I loved it even more than river cruising. Yes, being able to dock near the city center on river cruises is great and the walking tours are generally better on the river. However, river cruising is getting so popular, that "rafting" was becoming a big problem, and it wasn't much fun looking out our balcony window and seeing another ship's cabin looking back at us. I love the space of the Star and the many dining options. I also am one of those introverts and had trouble having to share tables on river cruises with so many strangers. I don't want to be on a 3000+ monster ship either. And I agree with Peregrina (as I usually do), the itinerary is the main thing. Now I just need to win the lottery so we can go on even more trips while our bodies are willing.

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We did one river cruise (Nuremberg to Budapest) and were very impressed with the Viking experience. We never considered ourselves to be “cruise people” and wouldn’t be caught dead on one of the mega-ships, but the river experience caused us to want to check out the then new Viking ocean cruises. After our first Ocean experience, we were hooked. We’ve done three Ocean trips and are doing the “Into the Midnight Sun” cruise in July. We really love the size, scale and amenities of the ocean ships, and they just keep adding places we want to go. We may get back to a river cruise someday, but for now we’re sticking to Viking ocean cruises.

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We absolutely loved our Grand European Amsterdam to Budapest on Viking. We even talk about repeating it sometime because the two weeks was perfect, the ability to just walk off the ship into so much beautiful history, the people in the many quaint river towns, the crew.....it was awesome. There are more river itineraries that call my name for sure. Lately I have seen much talk, (and moatenote mentions this too) and a lot of pictures of all the rafting in the ports due to all the new river ships. When we did this five years ago we only experienced that in one port and I remember thinking it wasn’t a lovely place to unwind on our balcony with a glass of wine staring into someone else’s cabin. So I wonder how many times this happens now and how that would impact the overall experience?

 

Viking Oceans we did B2B for 29 days and knew we had found what truly fit our idea of a great cruise. We so appreciate the ship itself. The crew again were outstanding. The space, the food, the ability to socialize or to be alone. Having shuttles into town is a big plus when one wants to DIY and we used that extensively. The spa, the pools, all of it...Except for the excursions - and the wine on the river cruise was far superior. But to echo others the river and ocean experience are just so very different.

 

We are looking forward to our Amazon journey later this year. We will keep Viking in a top spot moving forward, but we are also open to other smaller ships based on itineraries.

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We did one river cruise (Nuremberg to Budapest) and were very impressed with the Viking experience. We never considered ourselves to be “cruise people” and wouldn’t be caught dead on one of the mega-ships, but the river experience caused us to want to check out the then new Viking ocean cruises. After our first Ocean experience, we were hooked. We’ve done three Ocean trips and are doing the “Into the Midnight Sun” cruise in July. We really love the size, scale and amenities of the ocean ships, and they just keep adding places we want to go. We may get back to a river cruise someday, but for now we’re sticking to Viking ocean cruises.

 

Our story exactly (well, except we went Budapest to Nuremburg), and it seems I see a version of this tale repeated with some regularity on this Viking portion of CC.

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Ocean cruises vs river cruises - something that I would never mix up.

Ocean cruises = sea travel.

River cruises = land based tour.

We like both but they are totally different things IMO.

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We've done 3 river cruises (2 on AMA (Danube and Douro) and 1 on Scenic (Rhone). We did our first ocean cruise on the Viking Star last July (Homelands) and I loved it even more than river cruising. Yes, being able to dock near the city center on river cruises is great and the walking tours are generally better on the river. However, river cruising is getting so popular, that "rafting" was becoming a big problem, and it wasn't much fun looking out our balcony window and seeing another ship's cabin looking back at us. I love the space of the Star and the many dining options. I also am one of those introverts and had trouble having to share tables on river cruises with so many strangers. I don't want to be on a 3000+ monster ship either. And I agree with Peregrina (as I usually do), the itinerary is the main thing. Now I just need to win the lottery so we can go on even more trips while our bodies are willing.

 

We were on the same Homelands cruise! :)

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Now I just need to win the lottery so we can go on even more trips while our bodies are willing.

 

And I agree with you on this one. Of course, it would help if I actually played the lottery.;);)

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And I agree with you on this one. Of course, it would help if I actually played the lottery.;);)

 

 

Actually it probably wouldn’t. :)

 

I knew a guy who calculated how much money he saved over time by not playing the lottery. It was pretty impressive.

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