Which is Better - River Cruises vs. Ocean Cruises?

Posted by North South Travel Blogger · Apr 10 · in Caribbean, · about River or Ocean Cruises

Which is Better - River Cruises vs. Ocean Cruises?

With more travellers discovering river cruising for the first time, it could be tempting to draw parallels between river cruising and ocean cruising. Although the two share numerous positive characteristics, there are a few key differences that experienced ocean cruisers, in particular, should be aware of.

Here are 5 things that are different between River and Ocean Cruises:

1. River Cruise Ships are Much Smaller

On a typical river cruise you’ll typically find about 100 – 190 passengers on-board. This is a tiny number compared to the 3,000 to 5,000 passengers you’ll find on some ocean cruises. Ocean cruise ships are generally much bigger and have the space for things like – mini golf courses, ice rinks, pools and climbing walls. Because a river cruise has a smaller number of passengers means that you’ll get a lot more personal attention from the staff, and they’ll probably learn your name. That said, ocean cruise crew can be very attentive too, particularly if you tip well.


2. You’re on Land and Close to Shore Every Day with River Cruises

On river cruises, you’re in port and on land for at least some portion of each day and there are many activities planned every day on land excursions. On ocean cruises you might be at sea for a few days before you even see land. Another difference between the two is on river cruise vessels they’re able to dock at small ports and you can begin exploring on foot immediately. The ocean cruise ships are much larger and it can take longer to get into town.


3. You Must Eat at Specific Hours on River Cruises

On river ships, everybody eats at the same time. Usually breakfast is from 7 to 9 am, lunch is from 12 to 2 pm, and dinner is from 7 to 9 pm. On most ocean cruises, the times are the same as the river cruises - but many ocean cruise ships offer open seating dining rather than set meal times.


4. The Balcony and View on River and Ocean Cruises

Some people find it very relaxing to enjoy the panorama of sparkling blue sea for as far as the eye can see. But others prefer ever changing scenery, where you might spot mysterious castles, enchanting forests, quaint villages, mountain ranges citrus groves and bulb fields. This is an important consideration when choosing which type of voyage is right for you.

When booking an ocean cruise, you’re faced with a huge choice of rooms – varying from tiny inside cabins with bunk beds right up to huge suites with balconies, separate living areas and maybe even your own baby grand piano. Choosing a cabin is an important decision, so take some time to look at all the options before picking the cabin which best matches your needs (and your budget). With river cruises, the process is usually much simpler as you’ll get an outside view whichever cabin you choose.

On a river cruise your balcony means less than on an ocean cruise. You’ll love having a French Balcony on a river cruise, or even a full step-out balcony, but on a river cruise vessel that stays docked for extended portions of the day a balcony becomes less important. An ocean cruise is on a much larger (up to several thousand passenger) ship where your balcony functions as your own little oasis and can be very important to escape the crowd of people or to spend time alone with your partner.


5. River Cruises are More Social

Because river cruise ships are much smaller than ocean cruise ships, you get to know other passengers. Not all river cruise ships offer room service, so you will usually dine at tables of 4-8 people and you’ll find it more social and an easy way to get to know other passengers.

Don’t like chatting to strangers? Well you may prefer the anonymity of an ocean cruise – There are so many people that you might never see the same face twice, and there are plenty of places to enjoy some time alone. You can order room service or find an empty table in one of the restaurants.

On some river cruises, walking tours are offered at differing activity levels to intimate wine tastings or unique cultural explorations. You'll find this a very social activity and a great way of meeting other people.


For more information on booking a cruise, please contact a Cruise Specialist at North South Travel today

Click Here to download our new Cruise E-Brochure on helpful hints and some additional cruise specials. 

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