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Which One is For You?

The river cruise vs ocean cruise debate is one which’s pretty new. Ocean cruises have lengthy dominated the cruise business however, with how scenic river cruises might be, they may be coming for the throne. Nevertheless, you may marvel: what’s a river cruise going to supply that an ocean cruise can’t, and vice versa?

River cruises have all the time me but it surely wasn’t till I discovered concerning the Essence of Burgundy Wine Cruise taking place later this 12 months that I made a decision I might really strive one out for myself. It’s a 7-night cruise alongside the Saône and Rhône, two of the highest rivers for European river cruises. It’s hosted by Theodora Lee, a Black legal professional and the founding father of Theopolis Vineyards.

Theodora Lee of Theopolis Vineyards, river cruise vs ocean cruise, river cruise, ocean cruise, comparing river cruises to ocean cruises
on the left-Theodora Lee of Theopolis Vineyards

I met Theodora throughout the Affiliation of African American Vintners twentieth Anniversary Symposium final 12 months in Oakland and Northern California. Wine cruises are a specialty of AmaWaterways they usually have had loads of wine hosts. However Theodora Lee would be the first Black lady wine host. And, she is bringing her wine together with her on the cruise. Theopolis Vineyards in recognized for his or her Petit Syrah and it’s scrumptious!

In preparation for the small group tour that I’ll internet hosting on this cruise, I made a decision to analysis all of the variations between river cruises and ocean cruises. Studying what river cruises are like has definitely made me extra excited to go on one. It would encourage you to place river cruising in your bucket checklist, too!

What Is a River Cruise?

There’s in fact a simple reply to the query “what’s a river cruise?”: a trip voyage on a river. The definition can really prolong to extra than simply rivers, although. Any inland water physique is honest sport, so lakes rely, too. A number of the extra scenic river cruises may additionally briefly enterprise into open waters, the place the river empties into the ocean.

River Cruise vs Ocean Cruise: Measurement

River Cruise Ships are Smaller and Extra Intimate

Essentially the most noticeable distinction between river cruises and ocean cruises is the scale of the ship. River vessels should be a lot smaller than their ocean counterparts as a result of they navigate narrower and shallower waters.

River cruises hardly ever exceed 200 passengers. Some luxurious river cruises even carry lower than 100! Tying into this, there are fewer cabins on river cruise ships, they usually are typically smaller than these on ocean cruise ships. On the plus aspect, all cabins on river cruise ships usually have home windows.

Ocean Cruise Ships are Bigger and Extra Energetic

For those who’ve seen or been on an ocean cruise ship earlier than, you understand how large they’re! Ocean cruises can typically carry 1000’s of passengers. Even the smaller ones have capacities within the excessive a whole lot.

Although they’ve extra cabins than river cruise ships, ocean cruise ships even have bigger cabins and suites. Nevertheless as acknowledged above, river cruise ship cabins normally have home windows or balconies. Ocean cruises have “inside cabins” that don’t have home windows.

photo of cruise ship pool and deck with a large crowd
You probably have been on an ocean liner, you recognize this isn’t uncommon particularly throughout spring break! Picture courtesy of

River Cruise vs Ocean Cruise: Onboard Actions

You’ll By no means Run Out of Issues to Do on Board an Ocean Cruise

A significant distinction between river cruises and ocean cruises lies in what you really do whereas on the ship. Ocean cruises have many “days at sea,” or days spent crusing to your subsequent vacation spot. They’ve heaps for passengers to see and do throughout today. Ocean cruises will typically have flashy dwell leisure, massive swimming pools, a number of retailers, and different actions out there.

River Cruises Don’t Have As A lot to Do on Board

Alternatively, river cruises get many of the crusing executed at evening, so there aren’t many days at sea. Because of this (and likewise due to the smaller dimension), river cruises don’t have many onboard actions. There could also be a number of leisure actions, equivalent to wine tastings and small musical ensembles.

There are, nevertheless, some exceptionally stunning rivers the place the cruising could also be executed throughout the day. On some scenic river cruises, particularly European river cruises, you may count on a number of days to marvel at the great thing about the passing surroundings.

photograph courtesy of

River Cruise vs Ocean Cruise: Excursions & Itineraries

The Ports are the Stars of the Present on River Cruises

Don’t begin to assume river cruises are boring — it’s the exact opposite! Crusing at evening and docking very first thing within the morning means you’ll have the entire day to discover the ports. In truth, you’ll seemingly go to a brand new vacation spot on daily basis.

The itinerary on a river cruise normally begins in a big or mid-sized metropolis, equivalent to Arles within the case of the Essence of Burgundy tour I might be occurring this November. Lots of the stops, nevertheless, might be at smaller cities and cities.

River cruise ships’ potential to dock at smaller ports signifies that they will typically cease at extra quaint areas. That is particularly the case on European river cruises. One small, charming city I’m trying ahead to crusing into on the cruise is Viviers, the place we’ll be visiting a truffle farm!

River cruises normally embrace excursions and excursions within the value. THIS IS HUGE!! These are typically principally centered on historical past and tradition. These cruises even have a number of excursions for passengers to select from every day. I’m tremendous excited for the purple wine and chocolate tasting on Day 5 of the Essence of Burgundy cruise, however there can even be a hike and bike tour on the identical day!

Excursions of the Port Cities are Not Typically Included on Ocean Cruises

Ocean cruises are extra restricted in what stops they will embrace of their itinerary. They bodily want massive ports to have the ability to dock. The cities they cease at additionally should be massive sufficient to out of the blue accommodate 1000’s extra individuals visiting in a single day!

There can even be fewer, if any, excursions and excursions included. The employees may also help you with arranging excursions for you and your group to do on land however they often don’t have pre-arranged excursions included within the ticket value. I do know from all of the ocean cruises I’ve taken that these tour prices add up! Therefore why generally I simply stroll round on the port lol

At considered one of my favourite cruise stops-Antigua

River Cruise vs Ocean Cruise: Eating & Ingesting

Ocean Cruises Have Extra Eating places to Select From

One side the place ocean cruises firmly have river cruises beat is the variety of eating places. Relying on how lengthy your cruise is, it’s very potential that you may board an ocean cruise and eat at a unique restaurant every day. Cuisines and themes might be very assorted. There might be a number of bars, every with their very own specialties, as nicely.

A draw back, nevertheless, is that alcohol is commonly not included in your fare on ocean cruises. In truth, generally even non-alcoholic drinks received’t be included at meals. Some ocean cruises provide drink specials or packages however you’ll should be proactive and inquire about it. That is one other expense to think about! 

River Cruises Have Fewer Choices however Extra Is Included

River cruises, being a lot smaller in dimension, normally have only one or two eating places. There might be a primary restaurant and presumably a second, smaller one. The eating places typically provide a la carte menus for dinner solely. Breakfast and lunch on river cruises are usually buffet-style. As for bars, most river cruises may have one mixture bar and lounge.

Regardless of the restricted variety of eating places, you may count on brisker and extra refined fare AND extra native specialties on river cruises, as cooks can go on shore on daily basis. One of many greatest complaints I hear about cruises is that the meals just isn’t superb. One of many greatest compliments I hear about river cruises is that the meals is great! So I can’t wait to do that out for myself.

River cruises have a tendency to really be extra “all-inclusive” than their ocean counterparts. Alcoholic drinks are virtually all the time included at lunch and dinner on river cruises. There could also be a number of tiers to this, the place premium drinks are solely included if you are going to buy an upgraded bundle.

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Having fun with a glass of bubbles on deck

River Cruise vs Ocean Cruise: Age Limits

Ocean Cruises Not often Have Age Restrictions

One thing that it is best to take into account is age limits on cruises. Ocean cruises usually don’t have any restrictions. Many ocean cruise traces even provide a daycare service onboard, although some have a minimal age that the kid have to be to be left at daycare.

Most River Cruises Have a Minimal Age

River cruises are utterly totally different with regards to age limits. The road I’ll be cruising with, AmaWaterways, has various minimal age limits, relying on location. It ranges from 4 to 12. You’ll discover that these sorts of age limits and restrictions are comparable throughout the board with regards to river cruises. Because of this, they aren’t supreme for vacationers with younger kids and infants.

River Cruise vs Ocean Cruise: Seasickness

To some individuals it is a non-issue however, to others, it may make all of the distinction when deciding whether or not to go on an ocean cruise or a river cruise.

For those who’re somebody who will get seasick, you may already be shying away from cruises total. Nevertheless, river cruises are a completely totally different expertise in comparison with ocean cruises. There’s a decrease probability of getting seasick whereas crusing on a river, versus on the ocean.

The waters are a lot calmer, in fact, however the dimension of the ship performs a job, too. On a bigger ship like an ocean cruise ship, you’ll really feel extra of the ship’s motion over the water, particularly whereas on the higher decks.

river cruise vs ocean cruise, river cruise, ocean cruise, comparing river cruises to ocean cruises
I don’t know the place that is however signal me up! photograph courtesy of

River Cruise vs Ocean Cruise: Value

River Cruises Are Extra Costly however Extra Is Included within the Worth

Cruises typically offer you nice worth to your cash, however which sort is extra reasonably priced? It actually is dependent upon the particular cruise you’re on, what sort of traveler you might be, and what your finances is like.

River cruises are costlier up-front. It’s because all-inclusive, luxurious river cruises are the norm. Usually, fares for a river cruise embrace all or most meals and drinks, in addition to the worth of the excursions and excursions.

Some additionally embrace lodging earlier than and/or after the cruise. As well as, the truth that there are fewer onboard points of interest, satirically, means there are fewer alternatives so that you can spend whereas on the ship. How a lot cash have you ever spent playing and buying on an ocean liner simply because they’re there?

Ocean Cruises Are Extra Inexpensive however the Costs Can Add Up

Ocean cruises are very totally different on this regard. The precise ticket value will typically be cheaper, even when evaluating luxurious ocean cruises to luxurious river cruises. Nevertheless, there’s a excessive probability you’ll find yourself having to spend extra whereas really on an ocean cruise.

One of many primary issues to contemplate is that, on many ocean cruises, the worth of drinks just isn’t included, at meals or in any other case. Additionally, since excursions and excursions are usually not included, it’s important to issue the price for these into your finances. Additionally, have a look at for river cruises that embrace gratuities which can be an amazing deal!

No matter which sort of cruise you select, preserve your eye out for any and all particular offers and gives!

Greek cruise
I bear in mind being in Santorini Greece in 2010 and watching these cruise ships at sundown! photograph courtesy of

River Cruise vs Ocean Cruise: The Backside Line

To be trustworthy, both one could be a unbelievable selection for a trip, however there may be one which stands out as higher for you.

You may be higher suited to river cruises if you happen to:

  • Favor a extra relaxed and intimate environment
  • Favor actions which are centered on tradition and historical past
  • Need to go on loads of excursions and excursions at port cities
  • Need to find out about and style native specialties, each when it comes to meals and wine
  • Are susceptible to seasickness

Alternatively, it may be good to look into ocean cruises if you happen to:

  • Favor a livelier environment
  • Are searching for an extended, prolonged trip
  • Need plenty of onboard leisure and actions
  • Need to dine at a wide range of eating places, with plenty of totally different cuisines
  • Will probably be touring with younger children or infants

Whichever one you select, or if you happen to’ve obtained each in your bucket checklist, I hope this put up helped you be taught all about river cruises and ocean cruises!

I plan to include extra culinary cruises into Culinary Travels! Be part of me this fall on the Essence of Burgundy Wine Cruise with Theodora Lee of Theopolis Vineyards! Be at liberty to ship me an e mail to [email protected] with any questions. We plan to do a wine tasting with Theodora in June so join the The Refined Life publication for updates!

Keep tuned for my upcoming put up evaluating Luxurious Cruise Strains!







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