Top Ten Tips for River Cruises

2020 will go down as the year that most River Cruise brands would prefer to forget. With most River cruises cancelled for the entire 2020 season, we need to look forward to 2021 to see what is on offer to explore the world’s best rivers.

Let’s take a look at the Top Ten River Cruise questions from our valued customers:

  • What is the best River Cruise Line for Kiwis?
    This is kind of personal and just like Ocean cruising we think its super important to get a good match. Our HOOT Cruises team will firstly establish your needs. Is it “All Inclusive” you prefer, or do you value holidays with a bit more independence. Is it slow and leisurely that suits, or do you prefer active and adventure. There is a River Cruise line to suit both budget and holiday style, so let us help you make the perfect match.
    HOOT Tip! If it is important for you to know who your fellow passengers will be, then talk to our team. Brands like APT, Scenic and Avalon Waterways tend to be mostly Kiwis and Aussies. Croisi will be mostly Europeans, with Viking and Uniworld leaning more to the US source market. There are also brands like A-Rosa who cater mostly to the German speaking market.

  • How much do River cruises cost?
    This is a great question and there are a number of factors that can influence the cost. The Actual river you wish to cruise along can be a big factor! The most popular river cruise is Amsterdam to Budapest. With fierce competition from many cruise lines, although longer in duration, this river cruise can often have the sharpest per day pricing.
    The latest hip rivers such as the “Douro” in Portugal has smaller ships and less competition, so can be pricier per day. But hey who doesn’t like to be the first to do something new and cool, so its worth the premium.
    HOOT Tip! When comparing River Cruise companies, ensure that you are looking at like for like. Some are pretty much “All Inclusive”, but there are others where you will pay as you go for things like drinks, shore excursions etc

  • What is the best River Cruise in Europe?
    River Cruise holidays are the perfect addition to a longer Europe holiday and you will find you can slot in River cruises all over the continent.
    First timers definitely tend to go for the Amsterdam to Budapest option. This encompasses so much and ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to countries visited, classic river scenery, fairy tale castles, tempting local markets etc.
    Repeat river cruisers often choose the French waterways for their second experience. France in the summer is perfect for river cruising with beautiful villages, music festivals on route and a real gourmet experience. Its also a photographers dream when the lavendar and sun flowers are blooming! Think the Vineyards of Burgundy or the
    Chateauxs of the Loire!
    HOOT Tip! Cruising “up river” can often be cheaper, especially in the high season. It is the same great experience but for some strange reason the up river dates are slower to sell

  • Why are River cruises so expensive?
    River cruises can appear to be expensive on a per day basis, until you look under the hood! You will find that River Cruise holidays not only include your accommodation and transport, they are often loaded with lots of included extras! Inclusions can often be drinks with meals, shore excursions and often unique sight seeing that can offer exclusive money can’t buy experiences. Remember River cruise ships are also much smaller than their Ocean going siblings as they are restricted in size by the locks and gauge of the rivers they cruise. PLUS if you get in early and score a Fly/Free offer with your River Cruise, then it really makes the whole River cruise price so cost effective
    HOOT Tip! When comparing with other sorts of holidays, rather than look at the up-front cost, work out what it will cost you to get off at the end!

  • Are River cruises boring?
    Not at all! Think of your River Cruise ship as your floating hotel, travelling through Europe with you. No Motorway traffic jams, no Airport immigration hassles, you are simply transported each day to a fantastic new place to explore. Most of the cruising is done at night time, leaving your days free to explore the cute little towns and villages along the way. A lot of River Cruise companies now carry a fleet of bikes for the more energetic, so you can head off and explore on your own. Avalon Waterways for example have a fantastic choice of Active Discovery holidays that let you indulge your hobbies such as painting, cooking even ancestry and history options.
    HOOT Tip! Pack good walking shoes, the streets of these ancient cities can be cobble stones so you want to make sure you are comfortable

  • Do River Cruises have entertainment?
    Yes River cruise ships also have onboard entertainment. Don’t expect Broadway shows, but most will bring on board local entertainers, folklore groups or interesting speakers. On our last Avalon Waterways cruise we had a fantastic afternoon with a chocolatier, complete with chocolate tasting. We didn’t know there was so much to learn about chocolate but it was hugely entertaining! Our Viking Russia cruise was fascinating and every day we learned so much about Russian culture, politics and the Russian towns along the way from the interesting guest lectures.
    HOOT Tip! Remember there is plenty of free time to enjoy the local town entertainment along the way. Check the calendar of events for any towns you are visiting, you could end up in the right place at the right time for a fantastic local festival.

  • What is the cheapest river cruise?
    As we mentioned above, the most competitive pricing can often be on the Amsterdam to Budapest route, or on up river cruises. If you are looking to save money, then you could also look at the lead in cabins on some River cruise lines. These are cheekily known as “Swan View” The cabins do have windows, but they are level with the River, so you often see a Swan swimming past! Our suggestion would be to go with a French Balcony, or a Veranda cabin as there is so much to see along the way. There is nothing better than kicking back on your veranda with a pre dinner drink after a busy day of sight seeing!
    HOOT Tip! River ships often raft up side by side when mooring, so always peep through your curtains before you throw them back, as you could be looking in to someone else’s cabin on the next ship

  • How do I get the best deal on a river cruise?
    Generally the best deals are the first ones out. With River cruises the earlier you book the better the deal. Early bird offers can include things like Free Flights from New Zealand or Air Credits and/or cabin upgrades. As you get closer the Air credits can often reduce in value, or disappear completely. River ships are much smaller than Ocean cruise lines and fill up quickly, so you don’t tend to get a lot of last minute offers.
    HOOT Tip! River cruise itineraries often go on sale two years in advance and most companies offer a fairly low cost “cancel for any reason insurance policy”. Well worth the investment to protect your deposit and gives peace of mind when booking up to two years in advance!

  • What is the dress code for river cruises
    River cruises are pretty casual, they don’t tend to go in for the Black Tie gala dinners etc that can be offered on Ocean ships. There are some exceptions though, as some of the Exclusive Excursion experiences will definitely include opportunities to dress up for those that want to. APT for instance often include an exclusive cocktail party and piano recital at Namedy castle or a visit to Vienna’s City Palace for a cocktail party and private classical concert. On our recent Viking Russia cruise we attended the ballet in St.Petersburg where it just felt like the right thing to do to don the finery for the evening!
    HOOT Tip! Pack a couple of nice outfits with things that you can potentially interchange. Europeans love to dress in style so take the chance to show off your own Kiwi style!

  • What is the average age on River Cruises?
    River Cruisers do tend to be older. You won’t find a lot of children or families on board. Some cruise lines like Viking for instance don’t allow any children at all. As a general rule if you prefer to be with younger fellow travellers then look at brands such as U by Uniworld. Their two ship fleet are perfect for the “Insta” generation and even include things like Mixology classes, Silent Discos, Yoga and Kayaking.
    You will also tend to get a younger crowd on the Avalon Active discoveries, or on the shorter River Cruise itineraries from brands like Croisi and Emerald Waterways.

We are pleased to advise that the first five River Cruise companies are now live on our HOOT cruises web site. You can now compare River Cruise itineraries, check availability and Compare offers for a range of River Cruise companies.
River Cruise Search

If you have any questions about River Cruises, feel free to talk to our friendly Hoot Cruise Champions, we are happy to help!
 FreePhone: 0800 99 44 88

Just quote your AA SmartFuel or AA Membership Card Number at the time of cruise payment for savings at the pump! This discount will be applied to your AA SmartFuel account within 48 hours. T&C apply

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