Whenever I tell people I went on a river cruise, everyone giggles because we’ve all got those Viking river cruise flyers in our mail box, no? Well I actually did it! Except not with Viking, with AmaWaterways and I’m here to break the stereotype and tell you river cruises are the sheeeeeeet!
First things first, NO I was not the youngest person on the boat… my younger brother was with me #jokes. But seriously, yes we did go with my parents and grandparents and it’s certainly not a young single party cruise, but by no way were we the only “kids” there.
So now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s compare and contrast a river cruise with a… cruise? A cruise cruise? A big cruise? Idk what it’s called, lets go with Carnival Cruise.
– One dining room
– Large lounge space with bar and piano
– Top deck with giant chess board, running track, pool with swim up bar and a hot tub
– 5,000 people on ship
– Multiple dining hall plus open all day buffet, and usually a pizza joint and pastry place
– Night clubs, swanky piano bars, and even evening entertainment shows
– Wet deck with limbo and conga lines, multiple pools, water slides and zip lines
So now you’re probably thinking Carnival all the way right? WRONG.
Let me put it this way, the point of a carnival cruise is to enjoy the cruise ship right? Right! If you’re the all American middle class white family with 2.5 kids then you’ve found your paradise. How much trouble can kids get into on a ship anyways, AND carnival offers day care options and will take full responsibility of your little rascals while mom and dad hit the spa. Relaxing right?
If you’re not the average American family, or you’re above the age of… well, let’s say 15, you’re probably going to get pretty ancy on the ship the ENTIRE WEEK LONG TRIP. This, my friends, is where a river cruise comes in. River cruises are essentially floating hotels! And the whole point of the cruise is to get off the ship and explore land! It’s a completely different experience.
Let me break this down for you, here is a abbreviated version of our river Cruise itinerary, called The Melodies of The Danube. And the best part is this was all included in our cruise pricing (which I’ll cover at the end), so no additional “excursion” charges.
Day 1: arrive on ship, welcome on board champagne toast (because we’re all adults), music, dancing, and hor d’oeuvres.
– Budapest, Hungary walking and bike tour
– Christmas Market shopping at night
– Bratislava, Slovakia bus tour and walking tour around the city
– Vienna, Austria for a traditional Viennese wine evening with drinking and dancing
– Vienna, Austria walking tour and city tour
– Christmas Market shopping at night
– Hike to Durstein Castle in Austria
– Weissenkirchen, Austria apricots and sweet tasting
– Melk Abby tour
– Linz, Austria
– Linz, Austria walking tour
– Day trip to Chesky Krumlov, Czech Republic for a walking tour and castle tour
– Christmas Markets shopping at night
– Passau, Germany walking tour
– Vilshoven, Germany private Oktoberfest with drink and dancing
– On ship New Year’s Eve celebration with drinking and dancing
Day 8: disembark and head home
Listen, if you like drinking and dancing a river cruise is definitely for you. Now we did leave for our cruise on Christmas Day and last night on board was New Year’s Eve, but it was magical! The ship was beautifully decorated in with festive trees and ornaments, and one night Santa even stopped by to pass out gifts. On the very last night, AmaWaters threw a NYE party full of, you guessed it, drinking and dancing and we watched fireworks from the top deck of the ship on the Danube River in Germany. Can you imagine anything better?!
Let me do a little recap here:
– 7 days
– 5 different countries
– 10 different cities
The best part was the only time you were ever on the ship is, of course, at night to sleep when the ship is floating to the next destination. Other than that you have the option to be on the ship for all three meals (or all day) but it’s your choice! Because there are only 150 total, you swipe in and swipe out and come and go as your please. AmaWaterways even provides buses from the ship into the city center and back, and has about 25 bikes on ship that are available for you to take out whenever.
Side note: don’t ever call it a boat because that makes Captain Henk mad. It’s a ship. AYE AYE CAPTAIN.
And even better, since the ship is only three stories high and rather small compared to a Carnival Ship you can dock right up on the rivers edge so you’re constantly in the middle of the city. No herding 5,000 cattle off one main point, on a dingy boat, to land, and then from the port city (with crazy trinket salesman) into the city center. Oey vey. I have a headache just thinking about that process.
Now, I’m not hating on a Carnival cruise, don’t get me wrong, I could lay by the pool, sip yellow birds, and listen to Mambo Number 5 all day long. But if you’re trying to explore Europe and want to see different countries and cities you’ve got to do a river cruise.
Also they are classy AF! No kids peeing in the pool, free wine and beer at LUNCH and dinner and the food is above and beyond any buffet pizza Carnival is serving. The ship actually restocked their food at each stop so the food and wine they serve that day is local to the region. Think schnitzel in Vienna and sausage in Bavaria.
Now the last little part, let’s talk cost of river cruise and what you do and do not pay for. Cost of 7 day river cruise was essentially $250 per person per day + flights. But here is what you get:
– Room for 2 people with slide doors and private balcony
– Buffet breakfast every day
– Plated 5 course lunch and dinner every day
– Snacks/coffee all day
– Unlimited beer and wine at lunch and dinner
– And all your tours, activities, and entertainment included
TRUST, if you add my wine tab and my ice cream sundae tab together I easily hit $250 a day.
And a quick side note on the tours, AmaWaters books tours with local guides to provide options. The morning of the tour you sign up for which option you like: bus tour, gentle walking tour, regular walking tour, active walking tour, bike tour, or even a castle hike tour or apricot tasting tour. They literally accommodate whatever pace you want to go. Sooooo yes if you want to bring your grandparents they will have a blast too, mine did!
Gosh, I know I’m raving about this right now, but I seriously cannot say enough good things. Just do it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed… but take me with you! I’m free in May!