Cruising Europe by River or Sea

How will you decide which is better for your next adventure?

When it comes to cruising Europe, the options are just as vast as the destinations to explore. Whether you are new to cruising in Europe or returning for another adventure, there are different types of cruising, and a variety of destinations to consider.

When making your decision on which cruise style is best for you, consider what you’d like to get out of your vacation. While river cruising is one of the fastest growing forms of travel, ocean cruise vendors have spent years perfecting their travel and itineraries. When considering your options, decide first where you want to go and what you want to see and then select the cruise that best fits your needs.

River cruising puts you right in the heart of your destination, with plenty of time to explore the historic cities in which you dock. This type of travel is always more about the destination and not as much about what is onboard the ship.

River cruise ships are smaller due to the rivers they travel, and they offer a more intimate experience with the amenities they offer onboard. Many ships hold 200 or fewer passengers, and while the cabins may be slightly smaller than an ocean liner, they offer thoughtful amenities. These smaller ship size provide easy access to everything onboard. Think of it as your floating luxury resort that provides you a peaceful, relaxing place to unwind after a day of exploring. Onboard, you will dine on locally sourced gourmet cuisine and enjoy local performers that join you onboard for an evening of entertainment. There is also wine and beer included with dinner on many of the river cruise ships, along with bottled water and excursions in every port.

Ocean cruising is great for those travelers who are looking to have a balance of days of touring and days at sea. Many ocean cruises visit several different regions in an itinerary there is normally a day or two at sea, allowing you some full day relaxation time. Even though your ports may not be your land destination, major cities are easily accessible by train, bus or car. Ocean cruise liners offer many different types of entertainment onboard their ships including nightly shows, singers, dancers, comedians, and various other types of entertainment. They also have a variety of restaurants and buffets, many of which many are included, but some may have an additional to enjoy.

Ocean liners come in a variety of sizes, amenities and levels of luxury. Depending on your cruise line, almost everything can be in the cruise fare, or you may have the option to add on drink and dining packages, excursions, land transportation and more. Consider what level of entertainment and experience options you’d like to have on a ship before making a decision. All of AAA’s preferred river cruise lines offer at least one included excursion in every port (AmaWaterways and Uniworld offer multiple excursions to choose from in each port), while most ocean cruise lines offer lots of excursion options but at an additional cost. Before making your decision on based on price, make sure you understand what is included and what is an extra cost.

Both river and ocean cruising offer sailings of 7 days or longer and if time allows, you have an option to extend your sailing, and do what is known as a back to back sailing. Combining two cruises allows you the opportunity to see twice as much in the same trip!

If you have traveled to Europe before, or if you have always dreamed of it but weren’t sure how to decide what to see or where to go, both river and ocean cruise companies can allow you to see these incredible destinations with itineraries that have been perfected to highlight the most iconic and memorable destinations in Europe.

No matter where you travel, your AAA travel agent can help you select the cruise that best fits your vacation dreams. Schedule an appointment today and start planning your trip to Europe.

Michelle Tucker-Bradford is Director of Travel Sales for AAA Ohio Auto Club.