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View of a hillside castle along the Rhine, viewed from the deck of MS Bellejour
17 February, 20214 minute read

River cruise myths: your questions answered

Historic, world-renowned cities one day, peaceful age-old towns the next. And in between the two: breathtaking landscapes taken straight from a canvas painting. The benefits of river cruising are plain to see, but some are a little cautious to hop on board without asking questions first - especially the seasoned ocean cruisers out there. But not to worry, we've tested the waters for you and we're pretty confident we can put your mind at rest when it comes to cruising the world's best waterways...

I'm worried river cruising is too 'old' for me

Sipping a glass of something bubbly as you sail along a scenic stretch of river sounds like a pastime that can be enjoyed by anyone at any age, don’t you think?

River cruising is certainly a leisurely and more relaxing way to travel. While you're unlikely to be surrounded by noisy children or sullen teenagers (perhaps more reason to book?), the average age of river cruise passengers has been falling over the last couple of years, so we think you'll be pleased to meet a diverse range of people of different ages and walks of life. Regardless of age, one thing you'll all have in common: a passion for exploring the world.

River cruising is too sedate and there isn't enough activity

Unlike ocean cruises, you will rarely have a day of cruising without docking so there’s always somewhere new to explore. We think you’ll be surprised by how easily you rack up the steps on your Fitbit by exploration alone – especially on the days you dock in more than one destination in a day. But if you really want to get your sweat on, MS Serenade 1 and MS River Discovery II each have a mini gym equipped with some work out facilities. In terms of onboard entertainment, our exclusive Titan sailings feature a flurry of specialist evening entertainers, including string quartets and local musicians.

I want adventure; will there be enough independence on a river cruise?

There are a number of reasons why people choose to cruise. Spectacular scenery and top notch service aside, some people cruise for the ease. Some travellers aren't quite confident enough to explore a new destination on their own, or they want a 'taste' of a city before returning independently on another holiday. For those people, included excursions and city tours are ideal.

However, just because a tour is included, doesn’t mean you have to partake. Before you go ashore each day, your cruise director and tour managers will provide you with maps, recommendations, suggestions and directions for the destination of the day, so there's really nothing stopping you from finding your own adventure if that's your style. Use public transport. Try a local restaurant. Maybe even visit a neighbouring town, if there's time.

Remember - every destination has been selected for a reason. In cities, a myriad of sights, shops, markets and museums are waiting to be discovered. In smaller towns, hilltop castles, temples and vineyards beckon you.

Will the ships and cabins be too small?

We like to use the term ‘intimate’, so no, you won’t find an ice-skating rink, casino or water park on board, but that’s part of the charm of river cruising.

Yes, river ships are smaller than ocean liners - but that shouldn't be seen as a negative. Smaller ships equals fewer passengers and a higher crew-to-passenger ratio, so you'll enjoy a more personalised service from the crew (read: the barman will learn your favourite drink sooner). On a river cruise ship, there's a beautiful scenic view from practically anywhere onboard and you'll enjoy less crowded public areas, including the bar, top deck and restaurant. And yet, there's always a quiet place to read or watch the world go by (literally).

MS Serenade 1 boasts a fantastic use of space in its cabins, with a spacious wardrobe, desk and seating area plus a separate bath and shower in the en suite. Don't say we never treat you.

Is there much choice when it comes to dining on board?

Does a six-course gala dinner with free-flowing wine sound good? We kick off all our cruises in style with a lavish celebratory dinner on board MS Serenade 1 and MS River Discovery II. And on the other days, savour a not-too-shabby four-course lunch and dinner (and buffet breakfast with all the trimmings). There's always a meat, fish and vegetarian option and a number of desserts to choose from. Ingredients are fresh and often brought in from wherever you've docked that day.

Find out more about our river cruises.

First published in 2019; updated in 2021.

Image of blog author Natalie Carmen

From the coffee-clad highlands of Colombia to getting up-close-and-personal with elephants in Thailand and the exploring the sprawling winelands of South Africa, Natalie is a wannabe-adventurer and finds it hard to pick favourites when it comes to travel destinations. She has a weakness for wildlife and good wine, so her escapades are usually in pursuit of one or the other. As well as writing for The Scenic Route, Natalie also manages our social media channels. Be sure to follow Titan on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest news.

Natalie | About the author

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