I have often said the getting to and from your vacation, at times, can be challenging. It’s the price you have to pay sometimes to go places and see things you may never have seen before; to have once in a lifetime experiences.
And I can tell you I have had “getting to and from” issues over the years. However, I’m lucky. I have the ability to wipe those aspects of the total vacation experience from my mind. I don’t dwell on those “difficulties”. I choose to remember the memorable first time sights, sounds and wonders of this magnificent world we live in and that I am visiting.
Case in point. As I wrote in my travel column last month, I experienced my first river cruise. Never been on “the river” so to speak before. As I also mentioned in last month’s article I’ve been on over 100 ocean cruises. What’s the difference between the two types of cruises? Is there a difference? The short answer; YES, there is quite the difference.
In fact, the only similarity is that you’re on a moving water cruising vessel. Ocean going ships hold thousands of passengers. Riverboat vessels hold no more than 180 passengers. Cruise ships can be thousand feet long and two hundred feet wide. Riverboats are typically 400 feet long and 38 feet wide. Intimate would be the word to describe a river boat.
Service on a riverboat is more personal. The kitchen is only cooking for 180 people. On a cruise ship the kitchen might be preparing food for 3000 to 6000 people. There is no casino or nightly “Las Vegas” style revue on a riverboat.
River cruising is port intensive, with the vessel being able to stop at little towns and villages along the river. Shore excursions are the highlight and a two hour leisurely dinner is the primary evening activity.
But for me, the biggest difference by far is what you see along the way from a riverboat vs an ocean going ship. On ocean cruises, you see a lot of ocean. The sights to see from the ship can be few and far between. Visiting ports like Venice or San Francisco or New York can be inspiring. But most of the time you see ocean.
On a river cruise, there is something to be seen around every turn in the river. The vessel is never more than 100 feet from shore. You can watch and see the world go by. Wave to folks walking along the river bank. Scan the shore with binoculars and look for mountain high castles. Or just watch the river run which has been the theme for many great songs. Old Man River comes to mind. Simply put, a river cruise can become very personal and intimate.
Yes, I will ocean cruise on a big ship again, the PHAT PACK cruise to the Mexican Riviera January 26, 2019 comes to mind. And we will have a great time. But I also can’t wait to go on my next river cruise.