River and barge cruising are Back

People are talking about cruising again. River and barge cruises are currently sailing the rivers and canals as you read this. Intrepid travelers out there this Fall and Winter will enjoy reduced crowds and unprecedented access to historical sites, museums, and other places of interest.

What’s the Difference Between the Two?

Riverboats sail the major rivers and waterways carrying up to 180 guests and dock at the world’s best ports, typically visiting multiple countries. This gives you the advantage of stepping off the boat and right into a city or destination to explore on foot. Some lines offer more than one restaurant on board with meals and beverages included – most feature local and fine wine and beer with lunch and dinner. Most also include at least one guided group tour in each port.
Barges are more intimate, carry from 4 to 20 guests and travel slowly, generally less than 4 miles per hour. You won’t find balconies on a barge, but you and your small group of travel cohorts will have the run of the salon and the sun deck. All inclusive, you can expect fresh, elegant meals prepared daily, based on what the chef selects during daily shopping trips to local markets.

Reasons to Cruise

Board the ship, unpack once, and see multiple ports or countries.

Meals with beer and wine are included and most have coffee and tea available throughout the day along with some snacks. Most offer transfers to and from the airport/train station on the start and end dates of the cruise. Guided tours in each port are a fantastic value, especially if you’re not familiar with the destination. Some include economy air.

Appeals to All Age Groups

Savvy cruise lines are innovating and creating itineraries that appeal to different styles of traveling.
Uniworld appeals to an upscale clientele that appreciates traveling well – and they have another brand called “U” by Uniworld that appeals to travelers that have a more footloose style of travel. While their target market is Millennials, anyone can board their sleek black ships.

Scenic offers all-inclusive luxury with butler service, multiple food outlets on board, and several choices of daily included excursions.

Tauck is upscale and ideal for multi-generational families – their Bridges sailings offer activities for children and adults. Tauck also appeals to solo travelers with no single supplement in Category 1 cabins on European river cruises.

AmaWaterways appeals to active travelers and has bikes on board, family-friendly Disney cruises explore iconic destinations and storybook villages, while offering activities for adults and children. Several ships have solo cabins.

Viking Cruises appeals to a clientele that seek an inclusive, no-frills experience and value pricing.
If you’re looking for a cruise that will take you “through” a destination, rather than “to it”, river and barge cruising deliver!

Helen Jordan is the owner of Jordan Luxury Travel, an independent affiliate of Brownell Travel, a member of Virtuoso. She can be reached at helen@jordanluxurytravel.com.