River cruise, anyone?


By Marci DeWitt - Contributing columnist



Any good travel agent can tell you that the first three months of the year is busiest for booking cruises and, so, it’s aptly named “Wave Season.”

Wave Season has started, and all of the cruise lines are offering great deals. The cold weather in central Ohio has brought all of us dreaming of the warm Caribbean beaches, be it from a resort or a cruise ship.

Many people only think of cruising on ocean cruise ships. They think of big multi-deck vessels with buffets and people lying by the pool. Another type of cruising that is attracting a wide audience, thanks in part to Downton Abbey and Viking commercials, is river cruising.

River cruises offer almost the complete opposite of ocean cruising in terms of traveling. River cruising is all-inclusive and hassle-free, allowing passengers to truly enjoy the ride instead of worrying about vouchers and transfers. You still only have to unpack once, and you get to see many destinations; you will find that it marries the love of a land tour with the romance of an ocean cruise.

The river cruise ships are flat bottomed and carry anywhere from 250 to as few as 75 passengers. While space is still at a premium, the public areas such as lounges and dining rooms have become larger and more attractive over the years.

The majority of the cruise lines are adult-only, so the food and entertainment cater to that audience. Dress is also much less formal for most of the cruise lines. Ties and suits can stay home. The focus is on enjoying the outdoors and interaction with the destination so casual attire is usually the norm, even at dinner.

The itineraries for river cruises are just as exciting as ocean ones because of several factors. The smaller boats have access to ports that megaships can’t navigate. Boats tie up in city centers where you can simply walk off the boat and explore the town. Cruises are more destination-focused with lectures about ports, small group tours and activities to keep you both interested and active. Most ships also have bikes, both motorized and non-motorized, so you can take advantage of the trails that run along side of the river.

River cruising is available throughout the world from the Danube and Rhine in Europe to the Volga River in Russia to Chobe River in Africa. See Peru by sailing the Amazon, India by sailing on the Ganges, and Egypt by cruising down the Nile. You can visit Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong River, and soon you will see more ships on the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes because of the popularity of this product.

Whether you consider river cruises, ocean cruises or resorts, or one of our great national parks, just make sure that one of your New Year’s goals is to use all of your vacation time for 2020. Travel does make you richer!

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By Marci DeWitt

Contributing columnist

Marci DeWitt owns a local travel agency, Anchor and Away Travel, a Dream Vacations franchise. She can be reached by email at mdewitt@DreamVacations.com.

Marci DeWitt owns a local travel agency, Anchor and Away Travel, a Dream Vacations franchise. She can be reached by email at mdewitt@DreamVacations.com.