River cruises differ significantly from cruise boats travel in the Caribbean or any other popular cruise region i.e Alaska, South America, Australia, south-eastern Asia, the Baltic Sea, and Norway.
Most river cruise offerings are in Europe due to geography and early evolution of the genre.
River cruises cater to a smaller number of people, (some are as small as 10 – 12 people) others a maximum of 150. There is no turbulence hazard on river cruises, and as the boat glides on calm-flowing river waters, you gain a completely different view of the landscape from sea level.
Distances between you and the shore are very short. Many companies offer free use of a fleet of bicycles to those interested in exploring a city or town on their own.
Boats travel mostly during the day and moor at night for excursions, or even an occasional restaurant dining. Some luxury river cruise companies (yes, there are now specialized river cruise boat companies with specially designed boats) offer butler service, including all the alcoholic beverages, sightseeing trips (unlike ocean going boats), on board activities, and airport transfers.
Recently, I flew to Paris, stayed overnight in a fine hotel, and took the TGV (high speed train) to Lyon, the gastronomic capital of France, then by bus to Beaune, the heart of the Burgundy wine trade. (All arranged by the company).
The river cruise started in Chalon-sur-Saone going south to Macon, Lyon, Vienne, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Avignon, Arles. Here you can continue by small bus to Marseille, Cannes, Nice, and Monte Carlo.
In Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a former summer residence of the Pope, we met a grape grower, visited his vineyard, cellars, attended a tasting of his wines, followed by a sumptuous dinner.
Marseille is a multicultural city with a distinct Arab flavour, due to a large number of Moroccans, Algerians, and Tunisians, all North African countries administered for a long time by France.
There are also river cruises from Saint Petersburg to Moscow, from Amsterdam to Basel and Zurich, and Amsterdam to Budapest.
For those who want to avoid interminable passport controls while crossing borders and going through customs inspections, river cruises through several countries is Godsend.
Several companies specialize in river cruises.
For more information log on to scenictours.com