LIFE IN BALANCE
Tips for taking advantage of the river cruising travel trend.
Once the staid backwater of the travel industry, river cruising is enjoying a renaissance. No longer just for passengers of a certain age and temperament, cruise ships are plying the Yangtze, Danube and Nile with a new vibe, and enhanced amenities and experiences aimed at younger professionals — busy doctors and dentists, for example — looking for unique getaways. Here’s why you might enjoy this travel trend.
If you’ve always been curious about river cruising, now may be the time to go. In response to rising demand, cruise lines added 25 vessels in 2015, according to Frommer’s — one reason the legendary travel guide named “slightly cheaper river cruises” one of its top trends for 2016.
If you’re imagining thousands of lotioned-up cruise ship passengers disgorged at the latest tropical port of call, you are in for a pleasant surprise. River cruises often take advantage of their smaller size and numerous stops to create more intimate experiences, whether a customized winery tour, dinner with a celebrated local chef, or a private concert.
Unless you count the weather, there’s not a whole lot to see from the deck when you’re in the middle of the ocean. One of the joys of river cruising is the endless process of discovering the beauty of the landscape directly before your eyes and the mystery of what’s around the next bend.
Enhanced on-board amenities
River cruises have long been known for a certain sameness of on-board life — standardized meals at a lone restaurant, limited room choices and modest on-board amenities. That’s changing. As cruise companies strive to attract a wider base, many are adding suites, restaurant choices and enhanced entertainment. Shop around to find the level of diversions you want.
For all of its advantages, river cruising isn’t for everybody. No matter the new amenities, the physical size of river ships means they’ll never match the glitz and variety of their oceangoing cousins. If you’d like to distance yourself from fellow passengers, there’s less chance to lose yourself in a different part of the ship. Finally, if you thrill to the adventure of the high seas, a river cruise may seem tame.
Yet if you’re open to new experiences and a change of pace, a leisurely cruise up the river may be just what you need to get away from the cares of your practice.
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