River Cruising vs. Ocean Cruising
What’s Right for You?
By Chaitanya Bala
Most of us are pretty familiar with ocean cruises. When you think of cruising on an ocean liner, you imagine yourself going on board a huge and luxurious ship, standing on your balcony, staring out into the big blue abyss, with the breeze blowing on your face. You dock at a huge port, and then you ride into the city in order to get a taste of the city for what it is. Now, river cruising on the other hand, is a little different. When you stare out from your balcony (if there even is one, for that matter) you don’t see a big blue abyss; instead, you see the local town and residents walking around taking care of their daily tasks. River cruising is a completely different experience from your traditional ocean cruise. But how do you know which one you’re going to enjoy more? To help you answer that question, we’ve provided a guide that will help you choose the cruise of a lifetime that works for you!
Do you get seasick?
If your biggest problem with traditional ocean cruises is the fact that you get seasick quite frequently and have to spend the majority of your cruise in the restroom rather than enjoying yourself, then we’ve got good news. River cruising, as opposed to ocean cruising, doesn’t make people seasick. On ocean cruises, your ship is bobbing up and down with the waves of the ocean – which undoubtedly would make most people’s tummies a bit queasy. However, rivers are steady and calm, meaning you don’t need to worry about motion sickness. So if you are prone to getting a little seasick, go with river cruising .
How exploratory are you?
The characteristic of river cruising that really distinguishes it from traditional ocean cruises is the fact that you need to be a little independent and adventurous in order to enjoy yourself. River cruises can’t give you the glitz and glam traditional cruise ships can. They don’t have live entertainment, they don’t have a built-in gym or massage parlor, either. However, when you dock during a river cruise, you gain immediate entry into the heart of the city. No need to drive miles from a secluded coast – the action’s already there. However, it’s up to you what your voyage turns into. If you want the fun and entertainment to be handed to you on a silver platter, maybe ocean cruising is better for you.
Do you want to make friends?
Ocean cruise ships are much larger than river cruise boats, which means there’s going to be a lot more people – within the thousands range – on board when you sail out to sea. On the other hand, river cruise boats only hold a few hundred passengers, all of whom get pretty familiar with each other as they step on and off the boat together. This information probably makes no difference to you if you’re just trying to do your own thing with your family and friends. However, if you’re looking to form friendships while on board, and just travel in a more intimate, personalized setting, river cruising is for you.
Do you care about what’s on board?
As you can probably imagine, river cruises simply cannot offer the same entertainment on-board the way ocean cruises can. They can take you to lively destinations where you can have fun in the city, but the ship itself is not much more than a transporting vehicle. On the other hand, ocean cruises thrive off of the on-board shows, nightclubs, restaurants, and other amenities they offer. The entire selling point of an ocean cruise is the on-board entertainment. So if you’re looking to stay constantly entertained while you’re moving from place to place, ocean cruising is probably a better choice for you.
Do you want a taste of local culture?
Let’s face it, when you go on a big, industrialized ocean cruise, you don’t get much cultural exposure. You don’t get to look out from the deck and see the local scenery and the plethora of people just doing their day-to-day tasks in the middle of their town. You’re pretty much limited to what’s in the ship until you get to your destination. As a very popular activity in various parts of Europe, river cruising gives you the opportunity to interact with the locals in shops, restaurants, and bars, and put your high school French skills to good use! So if you’re looking for a taste of local culture, river cruising’s the way to go.
And always remember: whether your heart is set on a river cruise or ocean cruise, it’s always a good idea to insure your trip!