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Vitamin Sea: Active River Cruises

A River Runs (and Bikes and Hikes and Swims) Through It

Boomers are steering river ships to more active itineraries.

By Ilona Biro


Baby boomers realize that the secret to successful aging isn’t doing less, it’s doing more. And lately, they’re bringing that habit of regular exercise to everything they do, including their vacations.


As river cruises explode in popularity, the old model of pulling into port, leisurely walking around the city, and then calling it a day won’t cut it anymore. While many river ships provide walking sticks and bicycles for use in port, the demand for more active itineraries is growing. To answer the call, cruise lines are steadily changing course and bringing new excursions on stream.

Active Excursions

On a recent Emerald Waterways cruise on the Rhine River, I joined fellow passengers on several complimentary “Emerald Active” excursions, complimentary hiking and biking tours that allow participants to enjoy some of Europe’s must-see sights and hidden gems. Typically these are bike rides along the river or hikes up to castles, so I took full advantage of what was available.


With a Fitbit, I was able to measure the amount of exercise I got on regular days and compare them with Emerald Active days: During a standard city walking tour I took 9,000 to 10,000 steps, roughly equivalent to walking 4 to 4.5 miles. On the day I took part in an Emerald Active excursion — a hike up to Wertheim Castle in Germany — I clocked around 13,000 steps or roughly 6 miles.


During my cruise, I met many like-minded passengers including Maggie and Bern Gorecki, who are exactly the kind of active travelers that river cruises are beginning to attract. The couple from Collingwood, Ontario, are avid golfers, runners, and cyclists who exercise every day. So Maggie took advantage of…


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Photo: Backroads/Amawaterways