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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Does a river cruise have to be expensive?

Does a river cruise always have to be expensive? I don't think so, for several reasons.
Before I answer it though a bit of background information on river cruising may help, (you can click here for a previous post I've done on the pros and cons of river cruising).
River cruises are the smaller cousins of their ocean going counterparts. For obvious reasons they are built on a much smaller scale so you get a much more intimate atmosphere onboard and they just sail up and down the different rivers of Europe, Russia or China, dropping their passengers right into the middle of a town so they don't have the long transfers from port to town like so many ocean cruise have to do, (Civitavechhia to Rome anyone?)
This means that the focus of a river cruise really is on the itinerary and not the ship itself.

They are smaller as I have said, many don't have balcony cabins and the entertainment onboard tends to be along the lines of a man with a piano or a string quartet; no big Broadway style shows on these ships I'm afraid!
The plus side is you can get right into the heart of a continent; seeing destinations you'd never see on an ocean going cruise whilst keeping all the benefits of a cruise ie unpacking once, great dining, multiple destinations etc.
The problem is that for a lot of people river cruising, whilst it might sound interesting for them, is forever out of their budget. There is a general perception that river cruising is very expensive.
Of all the different river cruises that operate there are very few 'budget' cruise lines which is strange when you consider certain points.
The luxury ocean going cruise lines justify their prices by citing the fact that their ships get to the small hard to reach places that other cruise lines can't.
Well you don't get that with a river cruise.
By their very definition they all have to offer the same itinerary; they're all stuck going where the river goes.
The next justification is that the luxury ships tend to be a lot better but again due to size constraints most river cruise ships tend to be very similar. So where does the difference in price come from?
It's simple. Shore excursions tend to be included free as do your drinks at dinner.
The shore excursions I wouldn't be to worried about. As I've said a river cruise will drop you in the heart of the town you're visiting anyway so what need do you have for a guide? It's just as easy to make your own way around the town. The second big thing is all inclusive drinks at dinner but is a cheap bar bill worth paying an extra £1000 for your holiday? Again I don't think so.
There are a lot of river cruise lines that offer nine day cruises with home pick ups for as low as £800 a person, (a great example can be seen here), but in the meantime if you've always fancied a river cruise but didn't fancy taking out a second mortgage, give me a call. You don't have to pay over the odds for them!

Happy (river) cruising.

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