First Class Travel with Joe

River Cruising – a cruise of a different kind
Joe Maloney

If traditional cruises are not exactly your style, if you prefer an active vacation, or if the idea of immersion in a particular theme excites you, then please read on.

River cruising may seem like a new concept, but it has actually been around for quite some time. Historically, it tended to be on a smaller and more localized scale. Over the past 15 to 20 years, however, it has become much more prevalent and popular due to fewer travel restrictions, including a “borderless Europe.”

Listed below are nine reasons river cruising is becoming increasingly popular.

  1. More scenic. While river cruises do visit some of the great cities of the world (think Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris, Budapest), they spend the bulk of their time meandering through beautiful and bucolic rural areas and small towns along the way.
  2. Today’s ships are beautiful, comfortable, and even over-the-top luxurious in some cases. There is something for every taste.
  3. The cultural immersion is quite tangible. The rivers are mostly off the beaten path, and that creates a very immersive experience. River cruises enable far more intimate local interaction than large ocean ships, and they generally park right in the center of the towns they visit.
  4. Intimacy. Because a river cruise ship holds far fewer passengers than a large ocean-going vessel, you will have the opportunity to make friends and get to know the crew. (The largest river cruise ship holds 200 passengers, but many ships hold less.) Sometimes the best part of the cruise is having drinks or dinner with passengers from other countries. Frequently, people make life-long friendships with like-minded travelers from other parts of the world.
  5. You only pack and unpack once. You get the cultural benefits of a tour, along with the convenience and comfort of a cruise.
  6. The pace is entirely up to you, and your vacation can be as active or sedentary as you desire. You can stay on board if you prefer, walk ashore and sit in a restaurant, take a tour, or do whatever you want while in port. Some vessels even bring bicycles along and unload them for guests where appropriate.
  7. Cuisine and dining experiences are universally excellent. The food and menus are sourced locally.
  8. No motion sickness. There is very little to no motion on the rivers, so travelers susceptible to sea sickness should not worry.
  9. Most river cruise fares are all-inclusive. Sightseeing shore excursions, all meals, and at least beer or wine are generally included in the advertised prices.

Our travel agents are specialists in river cruising because, cumulatively, they have taken more than 50 river cruises. We’ve been there, and we’ve done that. So just tell us your specific needs and desires, and we will find the perfect river cruise for you.

Joe Maloney is vice president travel and retail operations for AAA Colorado.