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Cruise Deals for Federal Employees

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River Cruises - Why They Offer the Best Values in Europe Cruising

Many of our clients are not familiar with river cruising or they are turned off when they see the price of the cruise, thinking it is out of their budget. However, focusing primarily on the price of a river cruise vs an ocean cruise is like comparing apples and bananas. In reality, river cruises offer great value and a unique way to explore Europe (and Asia).

Price vs Value

Yes, most 7-day river cruises are priced at $2000 or more per person. However, river cruises are all-inclusive, which eliminates a lot of the hidden costs in ocean cruises. Most 7-day European ocean cruises are priced at around $1000 per person for the lowest level Inside cabin. To that, you should add about $100/person for each shore excursion you take, which would cost the average cruiser about $500 over the seven days. Also, a typical drinks package on an ocean cruise costs about $80 per day, which would add another $500 to the cruise cost. Gratuities will add another $100 per person and you are already looking at over $2000 per person, which makes the price comparable to river cruises, which include all of the above features at no extra cost. In addition, some river cruise lines have occasional promotions offering Free Airfare or 2-for-1 Air Deals, which will save you additional money on the airfare to Europe.


Small Ships & Luxury Accommodations

While most ocean ships hold 3000 or more passengers, river boats average just 100-200 passengers. This allows for a much more intimate environment, no lines at the buffet, and a chance to meet many of your fellow passengers. There are no Inside cabins on river ships and each cabin has at least a window, most of them featuring a veranda. Many river ships also feature luxurious decor, 5-star food comparable to Michelin-star restaurants on land, designer furniture in the cabins and personalized service, only available on the highest level of cabins on ocean cruises.

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What many cruisers do not know is that river cruises are virtually all-inclusive. In addition to top-notch food, majority of river cruises include 1 or 2 free tours in each port, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, free internet and all gratuities. Some, like Uniworld, even include the transfers from the airport to the ship, premium drinks, specialty restaurants, and free bikes in certain ports. Expect intimate, unique tours like a visit to Julia Child’s first restaurant, a private culinary demonstration or a visit to an award-winning golf course.


See a New City Every Day

River cruises spend a lot less time moving from place to place and, unlike ocean cruises, they travel at night and you wake up in a new city each day. They also spend a lot more time in each port, many times staying until late at night, allowing cruisers to experience some of the night life of the city and see it like the locals do. In most cases, river cruises dock right in the middle of town, allowing guests to just walk off the ship and stroll to some of the best attractions or local restaurants and cafes.



There are river cruises along most of the large European rivers, including the Rheine, Loire, Moselle and Danube, among others. You can see most of the large European cities from a river cruise, as well as many small villages and castles, not normally accessible on a cruise. You can focus on one country or do a cruise along a river crossing into several countries. There are also may itineraries focusing on wine regions, famous artists, tulip time in Holland or Imperial history in Russia. River cruises run year-round and some of the most popular itineraries are actually in December, when you can take a Christmas Markets cruise featuring stops at some of the most amazing and famous Christmas markets in Europe.

There are also river cruises outside of Europe including India, Egypt and Vietnam. While these itineraries are less popular than the European sailings, they offer one of the most luxurious and convenient ways to see those exotic destinations.


Is river cruising for everyone?

River cruises are not for everyone. For one, they are not suitable for families with young kids, and some river cruises do not allow children under 12 to sail. If you like a lot of entertainment, big pools, water slides and casinos, river cruising may not be for you. River ships do offer some evening entertainment, usually a small band for dancing or a local performer, but typically people just use the downtime to relax and maybe socialize. And if you are physically-challenged, you should keep in mind that river cruises are very port-intense, many European cities may not be suitable for wheelchairs and there is quite a bit of walking involved in many of the tours.