Porthole’s Five Faves
Rollin’ on the River
Five Favorite Things to Love About a River Cruise
I’ve been cruising for 35 years. I’ve sailed on hundreds of ships, from my first job as a cruise director aboard Carnival Cruise Lines’ Mardi Gras to today’s big, bigger, and biggest megaships plying the world’s waters. But, believe it or not, I had yet to sail on a river ship. So when the opportunity arose to sail aboard AmaWaterways’ AmaCerto, I jumped at the chance. After just 12 days on board, I quickly realized the five favorite things I love about a river cruise.
On a river cruise such as AmaWaterways’ Melodies of the Danube, you’ll find that the views are constantly changing. From the landscapes of Austria and Germany to the amazing architecture of Budapest and Vienna, relaxing on deck and watching the scenery go by is what river cruising is all about.
A smaller river ship brings a smaller crewmember-to-guest ratio. After just one day, I felt a family-like atmosphere that was both warm and welcoming. From knowing your dining preferences to greeting you by name as you come back aboard, the crew becomes like kin almost immediately. Plus, it’s not every day that you get to tour a bridge and take in the view with the captain.
Walk to Town
One of the best things about river ships is their ability to dock in the heart of the towns they visit, which allows guests to simply walk off the ship and into the main pedestrian areas. And what beautiful walking towns they are! From Dürnstein to Melk to Linz, it was one magical sight after the next.
Tours are a huge part of the river cruise experience (and are often included in the cruise fare). From educational excursions to winery tours to castles and cathedrals, European cities abound with history, architecture, and cultural experiences. And whether you’re walking or biking, all excursions are your chance to not only learn something, but to stay active in the process. Bonus is that AmaWaterways offers its guests complimentary use of a fleet of bicycles for exploring on your own or as part of a guided tour.
Like ocean cruises, a river cruise lets you visit several countries in one week, albeit countries that only a river can bring you to. Along the Danube River, for example, you can explore Germany, Hungary, and Austria – all in one to two weeks. What’s more is that the itineraries often include overnights on the ship on both ends of the itinerary, allowing your river ship to serve as your floating pre/post hotel. The nights I spent in Budapest and Prague were perfect for exploring the cities by day and then retiring to our stateroom at night.
— Bill Panoff, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief