Rivercruise conference Amsterdam

Michael Kelly 11 March 2024
The popularity of river cruising is booming. Having cruised on larger cruise ships myself, the opportunity to experience a river cruise ship first hand was a very welcome opportunity for me.

I was invited to attend the CLIA River Cruise conference in Amsterdam on 11th March 2024 to learn and expand my knowledge of what exactly is a river cruise and to experience the dynamics of these smaller, more intimate vessels. Plus, the opportunity to visit not one but multiple river cruise ships at the same time was a superb way to compare the products from each individual company.

A river cruise is a unique way of cruising. Relaxed, enriching and the only way to get up close and personal with multiple bustling cities and hidden gems on your chosen itinerary. Travel in exceptional comfort and style with likeminded people while unpacking only once. The experience is immersive, authentic, scenic, and very safe. Wake up each morning in a new location to which you can walk or cycle straight into. Enjoy hand crafted excursions at each destination. In a nutshell it is a floating hotel.

Typically, a river cruise ship will hold a small number of guests from approx. 120-180 passengers. Compare this to anything from 3500–7000 guests on a large ocean cruise ship, the word intimate is exceptionally prominent, therefore the service on board is immensely more personal and concierge style.

Each river cruise ship I boarded was quite similar in layout, yet unique to each brand. On board the 3-deck ship you will enjoy a welcome reception area, a large main lounge with bar, comfortable seating, and large windows to view the rivers and sights as you leisurely sail by. Long top solarium deck with seating and bar, some have pools or jacuzzi pools on top deck. Dining is offered in the main restaurant with A La Carte menu or casual dining in the bar or on-board café. Most will have a spa on board for massage and treatments, a gym, and all offer Bicycles for free or to rent to explore the city at hand.

Depending on your chosen river cruise, accommodation can range from lower deck rooms with small window, mid deck rooms with larger windows, top deck staterooms with balconies or picture windows to suites, junior suites, and owners’ suites. Each brand will offer a different variety of accommodation options.

One of the main aspects as to why river cruising is booming is due to the sustainability aspect with each company’s emphasis and approach to protecting the rivers in Europe and further afield. From single use plastics, recycling, lower emissions on the rivers and noise reduction.

River Cruise is available throughout the rivers of Europe including The Rhine, The Danube, The Moselle, and The Main, to The Douro in Portugal, The Venice Lagoon in Italy, The Dordogne, Garonne, Rhône, Saóne and Seine in France. But that is not all, you can also river cruise further afield in Egypt, India, Vietnam, and Cambodia even South America. The main differences in the brands range from décor onboard, where one might be minimal and modern the next will offer traditional luxury to the in between, so there is a brand to suit everyone. One company may offer fully All Inclusive where another will offer Full Board with drinks. My experience of the culinary side was exceptional on all. Service was professional, welcoming with an emphasis on the guests experience at all times.

In recent years passengers are looking for “that something different,” “a cultural experience,” “new experiences” therefore a river cruise provides exactly all this and more for them. Families are starting to request the above also and guess what there is a perfect company who encourages and welcomes families on board of all ages. There is also a range of activities on and off board to enjoy from games to wellness to live entertainment each evening provided by local acts. Excursions from walking, cycling, kayaking, golfing, museums, ancient ruins and much more.

River Cruise brands I was lucky to experience included: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise AmaWaterways APT Travel Marvel Riviera Travel Emerald Cruises A-ROSA – (Perfect family option with younger guests) Viva Cruises Amadeus River Cruises Riverside Luxury Cruises Avalon Waterways

Is river cruise for you? Absolutely. Solo passengers, Couples, Friends, Multi-Generational family, Groups, this product is just amazing. If you would like to discuss this further or have any questions regarding my experience, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for taking the time to read my personal blog and look forward to hearing from you. Regards Michael.