Reichsburg Castle and village below in Cochem, Germany.

10 Reasons Why You May NOT Want to Take a River Cruise

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If you’re trying to decide between a European river cruise or an ocean cruise in Europe, here are my 10 reasons why you might not want to take a river cruise.

What does YOUR fun look like?

Life-size chess set on river boat and water slides on big ships.
Which would you prefer? (Photo: Sherry Laskin/Cruise Maven)

Any cruise vacation can be one of your most memorable getaway experiences. Choose the wrong cruise, however, and it not only ruins your anticipated vacation, it’s money thrown out the door.

Considering a river cruise? Here are our best reasons not to take a river cruise!

Scenic view of Main River from atop Miltenberg Castle.
Scenic view from atop Miltenberg Castle on the Main River. (Photo: Sherry Laskin)

This begs the question that we’ll answer here…

Is a River Cruise Right for You?

This list of why you might not want a river cruise is based on my years of comparing 200+ ocean cruises to river cruises in Europe and the U.S. 

1. You prefer to wait in shore excursion lines with a few thousand fellow passengers. Ocean:  900-6,000 passengers vs. River:  8-190 passengers.

Hundreds of cruise passengers wait in line to enter the terminal.
Thousands of cruise passengers from three ships wait in line to enter the terminal in Alicante, Spain. (Photo: Sherry Laskin/ Cruise Maven)

2. You like to dine in a different restaurant each night and love all the different culinary options. River ships have one or two specialty dining experiences, not 20.

3. The idea of a catamaran booze cruise in the sunny Caribbean is much more appealing to you than sipping Prosecco in Scotland or wine tasting in Willamette, Oregon.

Split image of a Caribbean booze cruise on a catamaran and intimate dining on a small ship.
Caribbean booze cruise or an intimate welcome Prosecco aboard Argyll Cruising’s Splendour. (Photos: Sherry Laskin/Cruise Maven)

4. You’d rather pay a premium for your wine, beer and cocktails. Most river cruise ships everywhere include wine and beer at lunch and dinner. Most of the U.S.A. river cruise lines include a complimentary cocktail hour.

5. You don’t mind paying extra for shore excursions. Tours are included on river cruises, except for an occasional optional tour in a special city.

On a tour with Viking River to a market in Vienna.
Small tour group with Viking visiting the Naschtmarkt in Vienna. (Photo: Sherry Laskin/Cruise Maven)

6. You’d rather rush after dinner to watch daring acrobats or a juggler perform in the main show room than walk a few feet to the main lounge to hear a local performer sing French ballads or enjoy classical quartet.

AmaWaterways musicians evening entertainment.
AmaWaterways musicians evening entertainment. (Photo: Sherry Laskin/Cruise Maven)

7. You’re addicted to water slides. The most aquatic entertainment you’ll find on a river ship is a small pool. If you’re lucky, it might have a swim-up bar or a retractable dome for inclement weather plus the ever-present chess set.

8. A motor coach ride from an industrial port to the nearest shopping mall has more appeal than the ability to walk from your river ship right into medieval towns, charming cafés and historic ruins.

Breisach, Germany. St. Stephen's Cathedral at sunset.
It’s a short walk into Breisach, Germany and St. Stephen’s Cathedral from the river cruise dock. (Photo: Sherry Laskin/Cruise Maven)

9. If you’d prefer to travel with your toddlers than your parents then river cruises aren’t for you. There are no onboard programs for very small children. However, during holidays, a few river cruise lines may offer a handful of family-oriented cruises in Europe.

10. You’re on a budget. River cruises are an expensive vacation option. While you can easily find a $50 per person per night Caribbean cruise, a river cruise isn’t a cheap getaway. They can range from $300 – $750 per night per person. But if you factor in all the extras that you pay for on an ocean cruise, a river cruise might be within reach.

There you have it; 10 reasons not to take a river cruise.

If you simply can’t vacation without glitzy, broadway-style entertainment, a dazzling array of dining options and dozens of innovative onboard activities, stick with ocean cruises.

However, if you said no to any or all of the above items, you might seriously fall in love with river cruises.

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One Comment

  1. Hi Charles, Thanks for your positive comment! What’s not to love about a river cruise!

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