Ocean vs. River Cruising: Which one is right for you?

When it comes to taking a cruise on a river or ocean, it’s pretty tough to go wrong. Both offer incredible views, luxurious amenities, and the opportunity to explore interesting ports.

Each one comes with its own unique perks. Depending on your specific needs for your next trip, you might find that one is a slightly better fit than the other. So what are the major differences?

1. River cruises tend to be much smaller. River cruise ships max out at 200 passengers compared with up to 6,200 on the largest ocean cruise ships. As a result, you’re much more likely to be interacting with other passengers and crew members.

That smaller scale translates to all areas of the river cruise. You dine on a regular schedule at tables with other passengers. Instead of 50 different things to do on board, amenities tend to be more modest with river cruises — think libraries, a workout room, cultural programs, and free Wifi vs. ten kids’ playrooms, glitzy Broadway shows, and a skydiving simulator. There tends to be fewer kids on river cruises, making them popular for couples seeking quiet and relaxed time together.

2. You stop at a new port and sometimes two ports every day with river cruises. A typical day starts off with an included walking tours through quaint towns with little tourist traffic. You’re always in view of land. With ocean cruises, you can go days without seeing land, and ports of call and excursions tend to be more exotic and high-adventure.

3. Because of their larger size, ocean cruises offer plenty of options for many ages. From young kids to octogenarians, there are tons of options and activities on ocean cruises. For the active traveler, ocean cruises provide a wide variety of activities on board, as well as exotic and more daring day excursions. They are also more able to accommodate a wide variety of special health needs. For this reason, they tend to make the best option for multi-generational family gatherings that include young children.

4. River cruises tend to be more expensive per person. The difference in price  includes more things such as excursions, wine and beer with meals, and Wifi. Ocean cruises have a lower sticker price per person, but excursions, beverage packages, and other amenities incur additional charges.

When you’re getting ready to plan your next on-the-water trip, here are a few questions to consider:

  1. How many people are traveling? What are their ages?

  2. What time of the year do you want to travel?

  3. Do you need the amenities of a mega ship — spas, gyms, a dozen restaurants, and many activities?

  4. Are you looking to cruise with fewer people, smaller ships, and a kids-free experience?

  5. Are you seeking authentic inter-cultural experiences? Or do you prefer more familiar settings?

As always, I’m here and would love to discuss your next cruise. We can look at all the moving parts of your upcoming trip — what you need, what you want, what your dream is — and together we can come up with a cruise you and your loved ones will remember fondly for the rest of your life.

Click here to get started with a complimentary 30-min consultation!

Leah Goerke, Travel Adviser

Escape The Nest Travel