Full Story Of The Differences Between River & Ocean Cruising

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What Does A River Cruise Experience Offer

  1. River ships are smaller, carrying typically no more than 200 passengers.
  2. You have fewer destination and itinerary options than you have on ocean cruises. Although you can visit some of the same continents there are a limited number of places river ships travel for tourists.
  3. The atmosphere on the river is much more social and you can easily make new friends and develop relationships on these cruises.
  4. The cabins are smaller than ocean cruise ships but the lines are pushing back with adding many more comfort amenities in the staterooms and being very creative with the space they have. They now boast balconies, and full height windows that lower out of sight to make your whole cabin feel like a balcony. Oh - and all the cabins face the water, no inside cabins here.
  5. Culinary options are more limited on the river cruises. Many serve only the evening meal as a service oriented affair. Breakfast and lunches are often buffets. However, more ships are offering multiple restaurant venues and alternative dining options throughout the ship, including private meal venues and room service on some ships. They also host meals on land to give the travelers additional dining experiences.
  6. Activities, recreation, and entertainment on river cruise ships is much more low key, intimate and relaxed. Pianists, small quartets, solo singers...these are the primary types of evening entertainment on board. During the day you can find some ships with cooking classes and workshops hosted by outside vendors that come aboard for the events. The scenery on the river and the port destinations are the main attraction.
  7. River cruises are all about the destination. You will visit one or even two ports a day on the river. The excursions always include multiple cultural tours, as well as many other types of land based experiences. They also offer more exploration on your own, as the ports are right in the cities and you don't have to book a tour to find some very interesting experiences on your own.
  8. More elements of your itinerary are included in the price of the river cruise. They are now almost all - all-inclusive. What's included? Accommodations, all meals, snacks, alcoholic and soft beverages, excursions and tours, bicycles for your use on land, additional events, workshops, some meals on land, theater and musical evenings on land, gratuities, wi-fi, and special events. These inclusions allow the traveler a more fixed pricing structure than an ocean cruise.
  9. River cruises are a faster pace in the day and more rest in the evenings. The day begins earlier on a river cruise, with morning excursions starting early. There is no real plan for sleeping in, or just hanging out on the ship until later in the day, unless you are planning to do that and do a little exploring on your own. Most travelers are back in their cabins early, opting for sleep while the ship cruises, in preparation for the next day's adventures.
  10. You will dock in the town or city, vs a working cruise port. This is nice for getting in and out of the ship and straight to the heart of the cities. You are off on your adventures much faster with no real lines. This insures you have maximum time in the port cities. There are a few downsides to this though, one being that multiple ships line up side-by-side and you may have to cross over another ship deck to reach the dock and dry land. Your view in port can be obstructed during your in port stay by other ships. Handicapped people with limited mobility and wheelchairs may have difficulty maneuvering through these other ships to get ashore quickly.
  11. Distances between ports is shorter but it can take 12 hours to go the distance on the river, compared to only a few hours by coach. If the rivers are up and ships can't pass under bridges or if the river is down and the ships can't sail at all, passengers will be bused to the next port, meet sister ships to continue, or have to complete the journey by bus and miss the river experience for the rest of the journey all together. This can be very upsetting to many river cruise passengers who didn't opt for a coach bus tour, but want to spend the time on the river having this type of travel experience.
  12. On the rivers, there aren't any waves, no one is seasick, and you can always see the shore. There are fewer crowds and less time is spent waiting for things on the river.
  13. When cruising on the river, everyone eats together at the same designated times. Tables are laid for 4-8 people and you can meet interesting travelers and make new friends or have enjoyable meals with those you are traveling with. This can be a time of bonding and relationship building. It's hard to find places where you can be alone for meals. Although some luxury lines are now offering limited room service.
  14. On these small ships on the river, you have access to everything within only minutes. You are constantly within reach of the Captain, the crew, and the staff to passenger ratio is almost 1 to 1. It's intimate and personal. Getting service from the cruise director and the officers is easy and in fact, you can't help but run into them on the ship. They are accessible and particularly helpful to their guests. There are far fewer places to escape what's going on but the staterooms are so inviting and relaxing many people find solace in their cabins, on the balconies, with the peace and quiet of that personal space. Even so, river cruising is just relaxing, not crowded and less escape is necessary.
  15. On the river, you get free wi-fi and it usually works just fine, unless you are coming into a lock or passing by a hill or mountain, then it can be disrupted.
  16. River cruises are free from the constant bombardment of people wanting to sell you something. There is usually a gift shop on board but there are no other intrusions regarding buying things on board. It's your haven from all of the tourist attractions and offerings on land.
  17. On the river, you don't have to pack everything and leave your luggage outside the door the night before departure. You can do that in the morning of the day you are disembarking. A real plus to enjoy that last night of your cruise.



What Does An Ocean Cruise Experience Offer

  1. Ocean ships are much larger, their small ships, typically carry 2,000 to 6,000 passengers.
  2. There are a tremendous number of destinations and itineraries available for ocean cruising on every continent.
  3. It's much easier to be lost in the crowds and do your own thing on an ocean cruise ship. The sheer numbers allow for more anonymity aboard but also more lines everywhere.
  4. Ocean cruise ships have a much wider variety of stateroom categories. The offer port hole, inside, oceanview windows, balconies, and suites that are anywhere from a few hundred square feet to two story apartment size spaces. The new mega ships are also now offering inside cabins with balconies that look out over the boulevards of the ship.
  5. Dining options on ocean cruise ships is quite versatile. Of course, they still offer their buffet throughout the day and night. However, they are also offering many alternative dining options, some included in the price of the cruise and others with additional costs on board. They are also adding a large number of alternative restaurants and beverage bars, as well as more fast food options and cafes. Room service can be had at any time and many people opt for private dining on their balconies these days.
  6. Pretty much whatever you can do in a city on land you can now do on an ocean cruise ship. Pools are more like water parks, there is everything from traditional deck games to bowling, ice skating, rock climbing, and even golf. There are casinos, and theaters, and lecture halls, libraries and museums. Huge production shows are displayed in the evenings to thousands of guests. Celebrity Events are becoming more and more common on these ships.
  7. Ocean cruises are more about the ship than the destinations. You will spend much more time on board than you will in ports and off the ship. You will have days at sea where you don't even see land or venture into a port. Many types of excursions are offered but there is limited time to enjoy the land adventures before you must return to the ship, as they rarely stay in port overnight.
  8. Typically, the only things that are included in your price on an ocean cruise are the accommodations, the meals (in certain venues only), all of the recreational and entertainment offerings, and certain amenities offered in higher end suites. Some luxury lines are now offering more included shore excursions, and some are offering alcoholic and soft beverages into their inclusions. Actual costs at the end of the journey are typically much more than the traveler planned for and can throw the budget out the port hole.  
  9. Ocean cruising is a bustling place, day and night. There is a lot happening on the ship at night. Most travelers stay up late and enjoy all of the offerings on board. Relaxed days at sea make it easy to sleep in and relax during the day or enjoy on-board activities at your own pace. On port days, the excursions generally start later than on the river. 
  10. You dock in real working ports that have long walkways to get to the area on land where you can begin your day. There are often long lines to disembark and it can take a long time to just get off the ship. Often in ports you will have to transfer to a tender boat to get you into the port from where the ship has to dock. Often the port is an hour or more away from where you want to be or where your excursions are, which can take up precious time that you have on land.
  11. Ocean cruises can also be affected by weather, but typically the ship will sail around bad weather to avoid problems. They also have alternative routes they can take when weather becomes an issue. This is only mildly disturbing as there may only be one or two ports affected, causing a change in port or an extra sea day.
  12. Ocean cruisers will typically enjoy the vast views of the sea stretched out before them every day. They find it exhilarating to be on the open seas, bound for adventure, and out of reach of civilization. However, people do get seasick, and the crowds on board can be huge, interfering with the heady feeling of escape. There are a massive amount of people on these floating cities, which makes maneuvering more difficult, waiting in lines more prevalent, and people can be less tolerant. But overall people exist the same way they do in their home towns.
  13. Dining on an ocean ship is whatever yo want it to be. You can escape crowds and eat in your stateroom or on your balcony, find a quiet table for two in a restaurant or cafe. You can eat in the main dining rooms at a table for two or with a group of friends or strangers. You have lots of options to mirror your mood and you can eat at any time you want to enjoy a meal, snack, or refreshment. 
  14. Ocean ships, particularly the mega ships, it can take forever to get where you want to go. Through the crowded passage ways and even large boulevards, across the many decks and from port to stern to get to activities, dining, and places of interest. The ratio of staff to guests is high and there is far less time for personal service on board. There are butler and concierge services available for the more expensive staterooms, which provide a higher amount of personal service to guests in those cabin categories. The feeling is much more like a city. There are a lot of places you can escape to though, and find quiet places out of the way where you can be alone or find restorative alternatives to the hectic life on board.
  15. If you're planning to stay in touch for business or pleasure via internet on an ocean cruise - you better bring extra money. It can cost $1.00 per minute for Wi-Fi connections on board, and it's really slow.
  16. Ocean cruising can be one large commercial sales pitch. Everywhere yo go things are for sale, you get coupon books and other materials left in your staterooms, banners and signage on all of the shops and restaurants throughout the ship appealing to you to come and buy something. For many people this is really annoying and disruptive to their cruising experience.
  17. Yep, you guessed it, you must put all of your luggage except carry on outside of the cabin the night before departure on ocean cruises. Very disruptive to your last evening on board.