By Leah Miller
River Cruising is one of the hottest trends in cruise vacations, and with new ships, new itineraries, and countless rivers to explore, it’s a trend that is here to stay. While many new destinations are opening up, Europe remains the most popular destination in river cruising. At one time European waterways served as the “highways” and were critical for shipping products, moving people and trade. Consequently, the most charming medieval European towns and city centres are built right on the river’s edge, easily accessible by today’s river cruise passengers.
Typically, river ships carry between 140 and 180 guests on three passenger decks. This smaller passenger size makes for a much more intimate and relaxing experience. Modern river ships offer balconies, and are well appointed with luxurious bedding and amenities, delivering everything you expect from a cruise vacation. This extends to the culinary offerings on-board with an enhanced opportunity to experience local cuisine. Quite often, the chef is off in port buying provisions from the local markets – including produce, wines, and cheeses, so dining on board is just as much of a cultural food experience as eating in a local restaurant. But perhaps the most appealing aspect to river cruising is the ability to quickly disembark and immediately be in the centre of everything; no lines, no buses, no hour-long taxi rides. Simply walk off or grab a bicycle and start exploring.
What’s exciting for travellers in Sudbury is that we’re seeing increased value for the consumer in booking a river cruise. Merit Travel will always look to provide you with available early booking bonuses, Canadian-dollar pricing, and ship-board credits. In addition to this, many of the cruise lines are coming to the table with a more flexible pricing strategy. One example of this is allowing guests to book their shore excursions à la carte instead of including it in the price, giving travellers the freedom to explore on their own or book an excursion, fully controlling how their money is spent.
And if you’re looking for something a little more exotic, the rivers of the world are ready to greet you! Think of the Mekong, the Nile, as well as voyages through the Amazon in South America and wildlife river safaris on the famous Okavango Delta in Botswana.
Wherever your wanderlust will take you, be sure to do your homework. There are countless rivers, ships, and options out there, enough to confuse even the savviest consumer. Be sure you speak to a travel professional to ensure you’re getting exactly what you want out of your river cruise experience!
Leah Miller is the manager of Merit Travel in Sudbury.