The Top 5 Differences Between an Ocean Cruise and a River Cruise

I recently had the opportunity to take my first ever River cruise on the beautiful Viking Hlin along the Rhine River. I have been an avid cruiser for many years, but had never experienced a River cruise.

I had the best time and learned so much. There are several differences between ocean and river cruising. Here is a list of what jumped out at me as the top 5 differences between the two!

1. Smooth Sailing – if you are prone to sea sickness or just don’t love the idea of being out on the ocean for days at a time, then you are in for a treat when river cruising. There are no waves and the ride is incredibly smooth. I honestly only felt the movement of the ship once during my 7 day sailing and I am someone who is very sensitive to the movement of the ship when ocean cruising.

Additionally, you can always see land! There is never a point where you are not sailing past a cute little town or rivers edge where people are camping, sunbathing or even swimming. It’s very comforting to know you are always close to shore.

2. Easy on and Easy Off – I was pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is to board a river boat. We were greeted at the dock and our luggage was swept away while we walked onboard, showed our passport at the front desk and received stateroom keys.

Our room was ready right away. The process is seamless and so quick! If you have experienced an Ocean Cruise, you know the process at the port can take quite a bit of time. Once checked in, there may still be a wait to actually board. That is definitely not the case on a Viking River Cruise.

The process was just as easy on disembarkation day. Viking crew members picked up our luggage and it was waiting for us at our shuttle after breakfast. The shuttle was just steps away from the ship – which brings me to my next difference.

3. Excursions – Viking River Cruises include one excursion at every single port! There are also 3 optional excursions available for an additional fee. If you prefer to explore on your own, that’s absolutely fine.

Viking’s ports are situated within walking distance of your port towns and getting on and off is so convenient. We made it back to our ship each day between excursions for lunch and even had the opportunity to explore a few towns at night after dinner when we weren’t sailing.

4. Facts and Figures – Viking River Cruises accommodate less than 200 passengers! All cabins have a maximum of 2 passengers. Unlike ocean cruises with thousands of people on board, the low number of passengers make it almost impossible not to get to know one another. We made friends quickly and enjoyed dining and exploring with them each day.

The dining room is set up with large tables which encourage guests to sit together and get to know one another. If you prefer to keep to yourself, there is also a small dining area with tables for 2 to 4.

You also have fewer crew members on board and the crew on the Viking Hlin was just amazing! They knew our drink orders by the end of the first day. They were attentive and friendly and we had inside jokes with several of them by the end of the week. Our sailing had just 59 crew members compared to more than 1,000 on an average Ocean Cruise.

5. Size Matters – The Viking Hlin features just 4 decks with one main dining room, a lounge, and an upper deck where you can relax, play shuffleboard and take in the sites as you sail along the beautiful river. Despite being smaller, you never feel cramped or crowded. Unlike a huge ocean ship, you can get from your stateroom to any given space on a River Cruise with just a short walk.

An ocean cruise and a river cruise are clearly very different experiences, but both are great vacation options!

Viking River Cruises are adult only sailings focused on your ports and are truly an elevated travel experience. The next time I am looking for an all-inclusive adult vacation, Viking will be my go to choice!

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