What Not to Expect on a River Cruise

There are similarities between ocean cruising and river cruising. After all, you are cruising. You travel to different destinations while your floating hotel transports you there. Nearly every morning, you wake up in a different city. Despite the similarities, there are a handful differences that make one type of cruising experience different from the other. Here are things you’ll find across all ocean cruises that you won’t find on river cruises.

Broadway-Like Entertainment Shows in the Theatre

Some find it entertaining, some find it cheesy. Regardless, you won’t find this sort of entertainment aboard river cruise ships. Instead, river cruise lines brings local performers onboard to provide guests with entertainment that highlights the area’s culture.

In Cambodia on the Mekong River with AmaWaterways for example, Cambodian musicians and dancers perform traditional music and dances. Have a look at the 32 second mark in this video.


Who has time to sit in a casino when you have the opportunity to fully explore an amazing port of call all day and into the evening hours. When you do and see so much, a casino is not at the top of the list. A comfortable couch or bed is!

AmaWaterways AmaLyra french balcony

A French balcony stateroom aboard AmaWaterways AmaLyra. Photo courtesy of Aaron Saunders, FromTheDeckChair.com

Onboard Shopping

As with the casino, who needs to shop onboard when on a river cruise vacation? First, if you’re exploring all day, the last thing you’re thinking about is being on your feet in a shop on the ship. Plus, why not buy something unique and one-of-a-kind on at port?

Other Differences (luxury ocean cruises excluded)

Nickel and Diming

Very much like luxury ocean cruises, river cruising is a nearly all-inclusive experience. Some cruise lines include gratuities, some don’t. It’s best to confirm the details with your River Cruise Specialist regarding your river cruise. Uniworld offers the most inclusive river cruising experience. It was starting this year that “all onboard and onshore gratuities are included during the cruise and cruise/tour portion of your trip, including pre- and post-cruise extensions purchased in conjunction with your cruise and cruise/tour in Europe.”

Long line-ups

With generally less than 200 other travelers onboard, you are never waiting in line to get on the ship or to get off the ship. And that buffet line on ocean cruises? I’ve yet to see one on a river cruise.

AmaLyra hot tub

The hot tub on AmaWaterawys AmaLyra. Photo courtesy of Aaron Saunders, FromTheDeckChair.com.

Young Children

With limited onboard amenities and focus on immersion at port, river cruising is not catered for young children. You won’t see kids racing on the sun deck, even if there are a couple or few onboard. Families that take their children river cruising are interested in immersing their children in the culture which includes ample time at port and eating local cuisine.

What do you think? Is a river cruise the sort of vacation you’d like? When you decide you’d like to go, give us a call at 1-800-565-2784 or contact us online.

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