The cruise industry is the fastest growing travel segment in the world. Ocean cruising with lines such as Carnival, Holland America, Princess, and Norwegian has become increasingly appealing to the modern traveller. Likewise, accessibility and flexibility has increased due to the vast number of ships cruising the seas world-wide resulting in an overall decrease in fares. River cruising, a smaller component of the cruise industry has averaged 10 percent growth for several years now. Although both ocean and river cruising take place on the water, they are very different travel experiences with advantages and disadvantages for both.
I have had the very good fortune working in the travel industry to experience large and small ship cruising as well as river cruising and I like both. I do however, recommend that you should be aware of the distinctive differences between the two before selecting your cruise.
- Value: The variety of cabins available provides budget choice. The price point in the lowest category cabin is very affordable for the medium budget traveller, and the price is inclusive of all meals.
- Accommodation: Unpack once and get settled into your room with no need to change rooms as the ship takes you from port destination to port destination.
- Itinerary: Cruises sail all over the world. Destinations are as varied as Alaska to Antarctica and the Indian Ocean to the Black Sea.
- Shore Excursions: Every cruise ship provides the opportunity to partake in a variety of shore excursions in the ports they visit. It is easy to book these excursions prior to sailing or once on board. There is something for every taste and ability – scuba diving, helicopter exploring, walking tours, kayaking, horseback riding and experiencing local food & culture.
- Ship Board Experience: Entertainment is top notch, lounges have great music, casino, educational workshops, shopping and special events, full spa and fitness facilities, and many different dining experiences. I recommend always investigating what demographic market each cruise line caters to. Is it a family market, young adults, or the older adult/senior market? Finding the right cruise experience makes all the difference.
- Extra costs: All beverages on board, reservations for upscale dining room(s), shore excursions, transfers if cruise dock is not in the centre of town. When booking, always ask if there are any ship specials on the departure you are considering. Many times there is a beverage package incentive for booking a specific departure date. Also ask about airport transportation if you are flying to a destination to meet a cruise.
- Size: Anywhere from 1200 to 6000 people depending on the cruise will be on board with you.
The larger the ship, the harder you may find it to get to know your way around and to mingle with other travellers. Also, large numbers of passengers descending on any given port may dilute the authentic experience.
- Size: Passenger capacity is usually 150 to 250 people, making it a more intimate experience. It is easy to get to know the staff on board and the service is more personal. Smaller numbers also provide a more natural and authentic experience at the destinations you are visiting.
- Accommodations: There is not a large variety in the accommodation, but there is still the advantage of only unpacking once.
- River Travel: Rivers were the transportation routes of yesterday and this is where the oldest and most historic parts of many cities are located and usually easily accessible from the dock.
- Inclusive experience. Beverages are included, except for specialty drinks. There is a cruise director on board, guided walking tours or sightseeing drives are included in almost every port of call.
- Entertainment: Entertainment is of a small, intimate and regional nature, no large Broadway shows here. There are usually knowledgeable lecturers on board that provide insight into the local history, culture and wildlife.
- Price: Often twice the price per diem for a basic cabin and you often have to fly overseas to begin your cruise.
- Limited ship board experience: Diversions are mostly in the way of getting to know your fellow travellers. You will not find all the game rooms, dining options, activity centers and shopping that are standard on cruise ships.
- Mobility: If you have mobility issues, check out the port access and excursions as many of the ports are toured on foot. Often there are no elevators on board so access is often by stairway to other decks.
Wells Gray Tours has some exciting destinations coming up for both Ocean and River Cruising.
2017 – Greenland & Wild Labrador
2017 – Hawaii Cruise
2018 – Antarctica, Argentina & Chile
2108 – Southern Caribbean
2018 – New Zealand President’s Cruise – Sold Out
2018 – Panama Canal
2018 – Trans-Atlantic Cruise to Spain
2017 – St. Lawrence River Cruise – Sold Out
2018 – Columbia River Cruise – Sold Out
2018 – Danube River Cruise – 9 Seats Left!