A river runs through it
10 reasons why a luxury river cruise is the best way to see Europe.
When luxury travellers begin planning a European holiday, they often start with a “bucket list”. Everything from exploring grand palaces to savouring culinary delights, from interacting with locals to viewing art treasures or going on eco-adventures. Tasting local wines, gazing at iconic buildings, seeing stunning scenery and having a customized “just for me” experience are other desires. Spear Travels offer you 10 reasons why a luxury river cruise can be the most efficient, enjoyable and pampering way to do all that.
1 DELVE DEEPER, DON’T SKIRT THE EDGES
On an ocean cruise, the ship calls at ports touching the continent’s edges. Guests often travel by motorcoach, sometimes an hour or two, to reach their desired interior destination. In contrast, a luxury river cruise can transport cruisers into the heart of a country or region. Guests wake up after a restful night’s sleep on their floating five-star hotel, enjoy breakfast onboard, and simply walk out in to, for example, the sites of Venice. The experience is time-efficient, and the simplicity is priceless.
2 RELAX WITH ALL INCLUSIVE FEATURES
It’s a “no brainer.” More is better than less, especially when it comes to value-added inclusions guests receive on a luxury river voyage. Once they sail, they just want to relax and enjoy the experience. It’s important to compare river cruise products. It’s not one size fits all. A luxury river cruise fare can include such features as flights, gratuities; in-suite butler service; speciality dining; unlimited beverages (bottled water, sodas, wine, beer and even premium wines and spirits); all transfers; and even curated shore excursions led by expert English-speaking guides.
3 UNPACK ONLY ONCE ONBOARD
If travellers stay in a luxury hotel or resort and move from city to city throughout Europe, they’ll have to pack and unpack multiple times. That also can happen on tour vacations or back-to-back city stays. But on a luxury cruise, they’ll unpack just once, and then don’t even have to do that if they choose a line that has butlers who will graciously and carefully unpack for a guest and repack the bags when it’s time to return home.
4 STAY ACTIVE WHILE EXPLORING EUROPE
Travellers who pride themselves on fitness can maintain their regular fitness regimen, while sailing through Europe. After the vessel docks in such destinations as Chioggia, Italy, cruisers can take an organized walking or biking excursion or head out independently, using the high-quality bicycles and Nordic walking sticks carried by the line for guest use. Top river lines offer many great adventures and private tours. Back onboard, river ships have small, well- equipped wellness and exercise centres with state-of-the-art equipment, plus such activities as Pilates or yoga classes.
5 STAY CONNECTED WITH TECHNOLOGY
Luxury vessels offer complimentary Wi-Fi/Internet access, enabling travellers to stay in touch with family and friends back home. Most importantly, travellers can quickly post those “bragging rights” selfies of the Venice lagoon, Pasta making in Bologna or even sharing your private after-hours experience to St. Marks Basilica, without the crowds, only available on a Uniworld River Cruise. Easy access to Wi-Fi provides plenty of time to surf the net before cocktails and dinner.
6 EXPECT, AND GET, IMPECCABLE SERVICE
Luxury river cruising translates into impeccable, personalized service provided by an experienced onboard crew. The prime goal is to make the guest’s sailing experience a perfect 10. For example, a concierge or the guest’s private butler can arrange an al fresco romantic dinner on the guest’s private balcony, book spa treatments, set up shore adventures or arrange for a reservation at a Michelin-star restaurant ashore. Seeing Europe on a luxury vessel serving 130 guests, for example, is far different than seeing it on an ocean ship carrying thousands. Luxury river ships also have a high guest-to-staff ratio — assuring personalized attention.
7 SAVOUR GOURMET DINING AND FARM-TO-TABLE FRESHNESS
What’s better than mouth-watering gourmet cuisine created by master chefs? How about fresh, local, farm-to-table cuisine? Luxury river cruise guests can have both. They can order succulent prime rib, lobster or other favourites creatively prepared, but they can also try such regional specialities as Prosciutto di Parma pizza and Osso Buco Milanese. Meats and vegetables are sourced by luxury river lines from local farms and fresh markets, often only a few miles away from the ship. Seafood and fish are often “same day fresh” — caught in the morning by local fishermen and served at night for dinner on the river vessel.
8 “OOH AND AAH” AT THE HIGH-END ACCOMMODATIONS
It’s a fact: Not all river cruise accommodations are created equal. It’s important for those seeking luxury to pick a river line that offers staterooms and suites that double as “enclaves of luxury. Look for upscale accommodations that have separate sitting areas, wet bars, dining space for multiple people, marble bathrooms with rainforest showers and soaking tubs, personalized stationery, butler service, lovely artwork, and private or French balconies, among other perks.
9 IMBIBE TOP WINES, BREWS AND SPIRITS
Whether it’s wine tasting conducted onboard by a vintner or ashore, guests can delve into local culture through the wines, beers and spirits the locals enjoy. Why not head ashore in Italy, to taste the famous prosecco at a local bacaro (a casual wine bar) during the venetian version of happy hour, called ombra e cicchetti?
10 SAIL ON AN ENRICHING JOURNEY
A luxury river cruise is a “complete experience.” Travellers don’t just see the sights, they delve into the culture, sample the cuisine, meet local people and enjoy exclusive experiences such as curated shore adventures and special events. Enriching lectures set the stage too, with expert speakers in theatre, archaeology, culinary arts, history, politics, geology, winemaking and so on.
You can read more articles like this one in the latest edition of Thame Out.