When you think of planning a cruise – whether it’s a big ocean cruise or a river cruise – I’m pretty sure your first thoughts are somewhere exotic or at least out of the country. But have you considered seeing the United States from a river boat? Probably one of the best-kept secrets in the travel industry, river cruising through our own waterways is a great way to see the beauty and majesty – and history – of America.
Think about it…our history is steeped in travelling up the Mississippi, crossing New England on the Hudson River, and exploring the Pacific Northwest by way of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. On a river boat, you can make those same journeys while also experiencing the modern culture that has built up around these ports of call.
Most US river boats resemble the historic paddle wheel boats that we associate with the Mississippi River. All have been updated with modern amenities, and usually hold under 200 passengers. While there are several cruise lines dedicated to exploring America’s rivers, our favorite is American Cruise Lines. Here are some of our favorite trips for you to consider:
Highlights of the Mississippi is a wonderful cruise if you only have a few days. This 5-day journey takes you to New Orleans, where you will enjoy the melting pot of French, African, and American cultures. You’ll journey to the nearby Houmas House to explore this old sugar plantation and its spectacular gardens, and on to see the sites at the state capital of Baton Rouge. You’ll sail onto Oak Alley Plantation to explore this “Grande Dame of The Great River Road” before finally returning to New Orleans.
The Great Rivers of Florida is one of American Cruise Lines’ most memorable trips. This 8-day cruise takes you along the route that travelers followed in the 19th century in search of a tropical paradise. You’ll sail the St. Johns River, and stop at places such as Palatka, FL, where the rich came in search of a warmer climate, Lake George in the Ocala National Forest, Green Cove Springs, FL, where people flocked to take advantage of its mineral springs, and St. Augustine and Amelia Island to enjoy the historic ambience of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Hudson River Cruises is the one to take if you want to see New England in all its fall splendor. From New York City to the Catskills, Hyde Park and Sleepy Hollow, you’ll see the beauty of New England and have an opportunity to tour such historic sites as West Point Military Academy, the Vanderbuilt Mansion, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s home and more.
These are just a sampling of what the world of river cruising in America has to offer. Luxury Destinations Concierge is happy to help you plan your river boat cruise. Give us a call at 805-236-4437 to get started.
River Cruises: What To Expect
River cruising is one of the fastest-growing segments of the cruise industry, and it’s no wonder: River cruises give you a more intimate and diverse experience that you just don’t get on the bigger ocean cruises. You get to experience cities and port that bigger cruise ships can’t get to, which allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture.
A great way to think about river cruises is as a land tour – only on a boat. The focus is much more on your ports of call than on activities on the ship. In fact, you’ll probably spend more time in each port than you do on the ship, and, unlike ocean cruises, some – or even all – of your on-shore excursions are included in your overall trip pricing. Since river cruise ships are smaller, they have access to more ports, many of which are closer to the town center – so you get a better look at typical life than the touristy attractions you usually see with ocean cruising. You’ll even get an opportunity to try some local activities such as cheese making, brewing beer, or learning to cook the local cuisines.
Some things to keep in mind before deciding if a river cruise is right for you:
Ocean Cruise vs. River Cruise
You’ve always wanted to take a cruise, and you have decided that this is the year to do it. Great! The next question is, do you take an ocean cruise or a river cruise, and what’s the difference?
Besides the size of the body of water you’d be traveling on, river cruises and ocean cruises will offer a completely different experience for you as a traveler. In fact, you’ll find that both are very popular these days, and you’ll see more offerings of both in the future.
So let’s get down to basics:
Ocean cruises typically are larger ships with 3000 passengers or more (some of the bigger ships can hold 6000 passengers!). On the other hand, river cruise ships are much smaller in size and typically hold about 150 to 225 passengers. That also means the even though both types of cruises will have lots of amenities, the smaller river cruises won’t have the large water parks, multiple fitness centers, on-board entertainment spectaculars, etc.
One of the main differences between river cruises and ocean cruises is the amount of time you spend in port. There are no days at sea on a river cruise, and when you dock you’ll be in port all day. With ocean cruises, you usually stay near the port for some shopping and an occasional excursion to get acquainted with the locals. On a river cruise, you typically dock near the center of the action, can take trips into the countryside to experience the local culture and history and more. The best way to think about it is a river cruise is like a land tour on water, whereas an ocean cruise is more about the on-ship experience.
Another big difference between river and ocean cruises is the make-up of your fellow passengers. Ocean cruises typically cater to the entire family, with a range of on-board activities for every age. On a river cruise, however, there are few activities for younger children, so you may want to consider this carefully when deciding between the two.
The deciding factor for you as you choose between a river cruise or an ocean cruise could very well be the first question you ask yourself: Where do you want to go? River cruises are limited by those rivers that can handle the ships – they don’t go into very remote areas. On the other hand, there is a lot more coastline to be had for ocean cruises. So whether it’s the Mediterranean, Antarctica or another exotic port of call, an ocean cruise may be your best bet.
So, what will your next choice be? If you need help deciding between a river cruise or an ocean cruise, contact Luxury Destinations Concierge at 805-236-4437.
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