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Ocean versus River Cruising

24th February 2015

So you’ve decided to hit the high seas but haven’t quite figured out whether to go on an ocean or a river cruise? You wonder, how different can they really be? After all, both involve a ship on water, right? But the fact of the matter is a river cruise is vastly different from an ocean cruise. So to ensure you pick the right holiday for you, we’ve put together a helpful guide so you can decide which floats your boat – river cruising or ocean cruising.

Here are five things to consider before deciding between an ocean and river cruise.

River versus Ocean Cruising

The size of the ship
Typically a river cruise ship is going to be considerably smaller than an ocean liner. While this may sound unappealing for some, a smaller ship means fewer passengers which means less crowds and shorter lines. While a larger ship can tour the ocean, a smaller one can visit narrow passages and get close to idyllic destinations. Many with a sensitive stomach will prefer river cruising as the risk of getting sea sick is minimal. On the other hand, adventurous souls love the open sea and the thrill that comes with meandering far on an ocean cruise.

Time on land vs. time at sea
Travelling shorter distances, river cruises will have you on land every other day, pulling into ports regularly, while an ocean cruise could have you enjoying multiple days at sea at a time. Offering a bounty of entertainment, days at sea become part of the journey on an ocean cruise, as the ship itself is something of a destination for its guests. Enjoying endless sea views on an ocean liner is heaven for some, while the ever changing vistas of a river cruise can be equally enticing. Your daily scenery on a river cruise will rotate from ancient cities to sweet small towns, rolling hills and expansive lakes.

Are you content with a lounge chair and a cocktail? Or do you prefer to watch big Broadway-style shows, race down waterslides and eat at a different restaurant every night? Whether you are travelling solo or with the kids, an ocean cruise ship is designed to keep you entertained from sun up to sun down. Big ships mean big entertainment, with fun facilities for all ages. On the other hand, a river vessel has a more relaxing atmosphere. Those who are satisfied with a quiet wine in the library, a fascinating lecture, or a day at the spa, may be well suited to a peaceful river cruise.

24-hour pizza and ice cream, sumptuous buffets and a selection of a la carte restaurants will be at your fingertips on an ocean cruise. Catering to all kinds of travellers, these ships prioritise dining with a variety of speciality themed restaurants and hard-to-resist buffets. On the other hand, river vessels may only have one or two dining rooms but you are guaranteed to enjoy a fine dining experience. Prepared using locally-sourced ingredients, you can sample sumptuous dishes, paired with the finest wines.

Do you have your heart set on certain destinations? The fact that big ships can go where little ships can’t and vice versa means the choice may be already made for you. The many beautiful waterways of Europe attract tourists from all over the globe, from the Danube to the Rhine. The famous river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest remains one of most popular routes in Europe. Meanwhile, an ocean cruise through the Mediterranean will promise an enviable adventure, as you sail from the sunny shores of Barcelona to the quaint seaside towns of France.

Can you choose between ocean and river cruising?

Viking Cruises offer both ocean and river options for eager travellers. And there’s no better time to lock in an affordable European getaway, thanks to Viking’s all-inclusive pricing. Stylish staterooms, top-notch cuisine, attentive staff and specially designed itineraries will ensure the trip of a lifetime.