Expensive or Great Value for Money?

It is a very common belief that a river cruise is an expensive holiday (compared with a mainstream ocean cruise or even a land based holiday).

And yes, at first glance a river cruise does look rather pricey… BUT I would like to take a closer look at what’s included and show you what incredible value for money a river cruise really offers!

What’s included in the price of a river cruise?

Let’s take a standard 7 night river cruise as an example - with a leading river cruise operator such as Emerald Waterways, Avalon Waterways or AmaWaterways.

Within the up-front price of the river cruise the following will be included…

• 7 night’s luxurious accommodation with excellent amenities such as bathrobes, hotel style bathroom amenities, daily bottled water, flat screen television, daily housekeeping and more! The lowest fare stateroom may be that with only a window – but check with one of our cruise experts because it depends on the ship – some ships have nothing less than a floor-to-ceiling window!

• All meals onboard
- Every river cruise will include breakfast, lunch and dinner daily!
- Dining on board is superb and restaurant staff are brilliant

• Complimentary drinks - usually with lunch & dinner
- Most river cruise operators offer complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
- PLUS unlimited speciality coffees and tea 24 hours a day (usually from a coffee machine/tea station to help yourself)
- There are some more inclusive river cruise operators who offer drinks at all times - and there are a couple of who do not include any drinks.

• Shore excursions
- At almost each and every port of call a complimentary shore excursion will be arranged & run by an expert/local English speaking guide
- Many excursions include visits to UNESCO world heritage sites
- To maximise your experience most river cruise operators also provide an audio headset which enables you to listen to your guide very easily!

• Overseas airport transfers
- Most operators include your non-UK airport transfer within the price to transfer you from the airport to the ship and at the end of your cruise from the ship to your departure airport – making your holiday extremely hassle-free!
- Avalon Waterways even include UK VIP airport transfers free of charge

• Air Fare
- Always check with one of our river cruise experts or within the details of the cruise because many river cruise fares include your return air fare!
- Although you can request a cruise-only price it is worth choosing our recommended scheduled flights, partly because it is already packaged together for you & because if for any reason your flight is delayed or cancelled the river cruise operator will do all they can to organise your flight to join the cruise!

• Top class service onboard from English speaking crew!
- & speaking from experience – the staff onboard are great, they can’t do enough for you!

• Complimentary Wi-Fi
– Most, if not all river cruise lines now provide complimentary Wi-Fi access for the duration of your cruise!


What’s not included?

Okay, so from the list above you can see that most things are covered in the up-front price of a river cruise!

• You will be presented with a bill at the end of your river cruise
– This will include any drinks you have purchased onboard (you will pay for any drinks that are not included with your meal – usually spirits and cocktails – and of course any drinks you had outside of dining times).

• There is often a choice of extra shore excursions which incur an extra charge

• There is sometimes a spa/hair salon onboard whereby any treatments will be added to your onboard account also.

• You will have a choice at the end of your cruise to pay staff gratuities – they are not compulsory! (Some cruise fares include staff gratuities, so check with one of our cruise experts)

It is worth mentioning here that you will also require local currencies for each port of call if you choose to spend whilst off the ship.

I thought river cruises were all-inclusive?

Be careful when you read ‘full-board’ or even ‘all-inclusive’ because the list above is the most common description of what is included in a river cruise!

HOWEVER ….. YES you can book an all-inclusive river cruise, but of course for a slightly higher price. Tauck or Scenic River Cruises are the best options for an all-inclusive river cruise – there isn’t a single thing they ask you to pay for, they even challenge you to leave your wallet at home!

Compare river cruising with a mainstream ocean cruise!

May I add - I am a massive fan of ocean cruising, I think they are a fantastic holiday (a total different experience to that of a river cruise) but by comparing both river cruising and ocean cruising it shows the incredible value you receive in the price of a river cruise!

What's included in the price of an Ocean Cruise?

First of all let’s have a look at what’s included in the initial price of a standard 7 night ocean cruise with a leading cruise line such as P&O Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line or Princess Cruises.

• 7 nights’ accommodation (and it is worth mentioning here, the lowest-fare cabin will be an inside cabin with no window)

• All meals onboard – which by the way are delightful & served by top class waiters!

• All onboard entertainment (which you do not find on a river cruise) – the shows are awesome!

What's not included on an Ocean Cruise

• Flights
- Most advertised cruise fares do not include your flights – that being said, many cruise lines do charter flights and offer fares with included flights and non-UK transfers!

• Drinks
- You will usually pay for all drinks onboard unless you have booked a special promotion which includes a drinks package within the price of your cruise.

• Wi-Fi
- If you would like Wi-Fi access it will come at a charge (unless you are a past passenger and are entitled to so many complimentary minutes of internet access)

• Shore excursions come at an extra charge, unless you book a premium ocean cruise whereby they do offer some complimentary excursions!

So is a river cruise an expensive holiday?

I guess what I am trying to say, is that by the time you have spent a week on an ocean cruise, booked a few shore excursions and payed for your flights, the cost of an ocean cruise totals to a similar price to that of a river cruise!

When you look at what is included in your upfront cost of a river cruise it becomes much easier to understand what exactly you are paying for and the incredible value for money you receive! 

River Cruising or Ocean Cruising, which is better? Find out their major differences here!

Never been on a river cruise? Read all about life onboard here!

You can find some top tips for your first river cruise by clicking here!

Come back soon. Jess Nuttall - RiverCruising.co.uk