River cruises are a great way to see the interior of a country, rather than the main ports-of-call that the larger sea-going cruise ships often travel to. While the main cruise ship destinations such as Alaska, the South Pacific, South America and the Caribbean offer incredible sights close to shore, there are also some great places to see inland, particularly throughout Europe. Many of the best river cruise vacations, in fact, can be enjoyed via river cruises in Europe. Many of Europe's best attractions are actually found by taking a river cruise tour. Other popular areas for river cruises include the Mississippi River in the United States, as well as the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington and the Yangtze River in China.
River cruise vacations, no matter where you take them, will have some things in common. Since rivers are clearly smaller than oceans, the ships making river cruise tours will also be smaller than the mammoth oceanic cruise ships which travel between continents. As such, the amenities on board river cruises will also be somewhat limited; you will not often find the enormous swimming pools and huge gambling halls onboard a river cruise tour. That said, you can still find incredible dining rooms serving scrumptious food throughout your river cruise vacation, as well as lounges, bars, small gambling rooms and even music entertainment. The number of passengers on board river cruise ships will almost never exceed 200, so the crowd will also be a bit smaller than on larger cruise ships.
Many of the cruise basics for first-cruisers and more seasoned cruisers will remain the same. Bring both formal wear and comfortable walking and hiking gear, and invest in traveler's insurance to ensure a hitch-free river cruise vacation. Most river cruise tours will also include trips and things to do when you get to the various ports.
River cruises in Europe in particular are known for the excellent day trips available at the different ports along the river cruise tour. Amsterdam and France in particular are two of the best places for river cruises in Europe, thanks to the major waterways that flow through the best tourist cities in each of these countries. Typical itineraries for river cruises through Europe will include stops at cities along the way, and most often some of the smaller river towns that make up some of the most delightful parts of European culture.
Travelers can also expect meal times to be a central feature of river cruise entertainment, and there will still be some formal dinners served onboard. As with larger cruise ships, meals are almost always all-inclusive, meaning the price of food is included in your cruise ticket price. River cruises in North America and Europe are most popular between May and September, when the weather is warm, skies are clear, and folks have more time to vacation.
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