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5 reasons river cruises are more fun than you think

Gwen Pratesi is a James Beard Foundation Award Finalist in Journalism and an award-winning travel writer. She is the author and owner of PratesiLiving.com with her husband, coauthor of Southern Heat with Chef Anthony Lamas, and co-owner ...

River cruises are targeting young people now and they're actually great

River cruising has become very popular in the last ten years, especially with active older travelers, however, more and more demographics are beginning to take notice of the advantages of river cruises over ocean cruising. Many of the large river cruise lines, like Viking River Cruises, are aggressively pursuing the younger traveler. Luxury brands often associated with ocean cruising, like Crystal Cruises, are entering the river cruise market with a focus on the savvy traveler. Companies are also offering more exotic destinations, adventurous excursions, and unique experiences.

A recent river cruise with Viking from the gastronomic capital of Lyon, France to the beautiful medieval walled city of Avignon in Provence reminded us of the reasons why you should consider a river cruise for your next vacation.

River cruises are targeting young people now and they're actually great
Image: Roger Pratesi - PratesiLiving.com

1. All-inclusive pricing

Many lines now offer all-inclusive pricing and include regional wines with meals. Certain excursions, tips, premium wines, and alcoholic beverages in the bar may be extra, but you can budget ahead for those expenses so there’s no end-of-vacation cost surprises.

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2. Unpack once

Whether you travel a lot or only travel once a year for vacation, nobody wants to pack and unpack every day or every few days. Once you’re on the ship, you move from one destination to the next and never have repack your bags, rent a car, change hotels, or race through an airport to catch another plane. It’s more relaxing and allows more time for exploring and enjoying the destinations.

3. Visit beautiful destinations around the globe

River ships navigate the waterways of some the most fascinating places in the world: The iconic rivers of Europe such as the Loire River in France and the Douro River in Portugal; the Amazon River in Peru and Brazil; the Nile River in Egypt; the Yangtze River in China; and the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. With the ships docking so close to major cities and their most popular attractions, you’re able to see more of these amazing places and get a better overview of the destinations. Join one of the many pre-planned excursions or take off on your own to explore and take part in the activities that most interest you.

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River cruises are targeting young people now and they're actually great

Image: Roger Pratesi - PratesiLiving.com

4. Become immersed in the local culture and cuisine

During our cruise, we went on an excursion to the Camargue region in Provence while our ship was docked in the port of Arles. Here we were able to see the famous wild horses and visit a manade or cattle ranch where the bulls are managed by a herder. We watched as these French cowboys dressed in Spanish-inspired gear rounded up the local black bulls on their picturesque white horses. Quite the spectacle and witnessed from a tractor-drawn carriage, this was the prelude to an aperitif enjoyed in their Mediterranean-style courtyard on a gorgeous warm sunny day followed by a delicious lunch of a traditional Provençal “Cowboy” stew prepared with braised meat and black olives.

On board the ship, daily menus and wine pairings were inspired by the places we visited.If you’re interested in learning much more about the wines and food of a particular country, lines like AmaWaterways and Uniworld offer special themed cruises focused on the culinary aspects of the regions.

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River cruises are targeting young people now and they're actually great
Image: Roger Pratesi - PratesiLiving.com


5. More focused on travel than ocean cruises

Most ocean cruise ships are like self-contained cities with a multitude of on-board activities and dining options, while river cruising affords the opportunity for more off-ship exploring, learning, adventure, and excursions that appeal to a broader audience.

6. Great for family time

With so many options for things to do each day through various excursions or self-guided activities, and an established dining experience that can be shared together, river cruises are a great way for older parents and adult children to spend time together. Each can enjoy what interests them the most by day without the need for constant togetherness, yet being together on the cruise provides moments for family time and bonding.

So, pick the part of the world you’ve been dreaming about traveling to and book a river cruise for your next vacation.

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