Is almost every river cruise expensive? Are there cost-effective river cruises that you can voyage on without sacrificing all the luxuries? We have compiled a list of the top 5 most affordable river cruises that offer great value for money.
Most river cruises are all-inclusive, going around the rivers of Europe and beyond. Many river cruises include shore excursions and other activities, with almost the same grandeur as bigger cruise ships but a little less expensive. Some people do consider river cruises as somewhat expensive. However, if you list things down carefully about what is included in the price tag and what is not, the cost can be justified instantly. So, when you do your research right, you can make your river cruises affordable.
Things To Expect On A River Cruise
People traveling on a river cruise for the first time might worry about quivering on a small ship; however, in reality, a river cruise is so much more than that. The ship offers more stops than a bigger one; most of these stops are in the heart of popular tourist destinations. Moreover, on a river cruise, you also get the opportunity to explore the destination on foot, without any significant hassle to get on and off the ship.
River cruises are generally home to friendly crew members and staff, who will remember you by your name, along with your preferences. The atmosphere on the ship is pretty laid-back, with many opportunities to socialize and make new friends.
In fact, the best part about affordable river cruises is that there are no formal dress codes compared to the ones on bigger cruise ships. The overall environment and vibe on the river cruises are relaxed, intuitive, and friendly, similar to that of a small boutique hotel. River cruises also usually only have one restaurant with a common dinner time, unlike bigger cruise ships that house multiple dining options and times.
Things included in affordable river cruises
When it comes to comparing river cruise options, the prices can and will undoubtedly vary, sometimes hugely. While this partly reflects the overall quality of accommodation you will be offered on a river cruise, along with the type of service, major price variations come from what is included in the cruise.
Things like flights, shore excursions, port taxes, and other things on the same lines will affect the price of some affordable river cruises. Therefore, when booking a river cruise for yourself, make sure you book one that suits your budget. This in no way means you have to take up the cheapest possible deal since there is not a lot to be gained from getting the cheapest river cruise tickets. There will be hundreds of dollars you might have to spend while onboard a cheap river cruise.
Unlike bigger cruise ships, you will always get to see the river right from your room, either through a porthole, french balconies, or an actual balcony.
When booking a river cruise for yourself, you should look at things included in the same. Pick the ones that offer you good value for money. So, you will want to look out for some affordable river cruises that have the majority of amenities included.
Here are some of the amenities that can be included on your river cruise:
- Flights and transfers
- Dining options
- Tea and coffee/beverages
- Port Taxes
- Shore Excursions
Things not included in a river cruise
The number one thing that will not be a part of your river cruise is sickness. Since there is very little motion, you will not feel any kind of seasickness.
Let’s look at the other things not included on a river cruise. You might not find a lot of extras. Almost all river cruises around the world are managed on an all-inclusive basis, which involves shore excursions, beverages and dining options, 24-hour tea, coffee and snacks, and tips. So even though the price might seem a little steep, you will still have a clear budget in front of you before you start voyaging out.
You will not get to spend a lot of days voyaging around the sea, apart from a few scenic cruise stretches, like a cruise on the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley Danube river cruise. Many river cruises will take place during the night, so you can reach the ports early in the morning to start your day afresh.
Another thing that will not be a part of your river cruise is a lavish and grand cabin. It will just be a simple place where you can sleep, without much room and space. You will also not find any spas, state-of-the-art gyms, and other grandeur like on an ocean cruise ship. However, some river cruise ships include yoga sessions, compact massage areas, or an in-chair massage option.
Packing Tips For A River Cruise
Packing for a river cruise will depend on the destination you are going to. However, it should be noted that almost all river cruises around the world are informal in nature. The focus here is on getting out to explore the destination ports you are reaching.
Therefore, you can pack more casual clothing, informal jackets, dresses, and clothes on these lines. Smart casuals should be your pick for a river cruise. As far as your gowns, formal dresses, and tuxedos are concerned, you would probably want to leave them at home.
Check out the weather before you start packing. If you are going to be away from the ship for a longer period, pack some layers, light waterproof clothing, and comfortable shoes.
Top 5 Affordable River Cruises
1. For people who love wellness - AmaWaterways
For wellness lovers and people with a love for comfort and mindfulness, AmaWaterways river cruises are ideal. The game-changer river cruise line is double the total width of conventional European cruises, making more room for larger staterooms.
Staterooms on the AmaWaterways also come with outside balconies, seating areas, marble-clad bathrooms with walk-in shower areas, and double sinks. The river cruise ship also has four different dining options onboard.
The factor that sets AmaWaterways apart from the other river cruises is the host of wellness-based activities, led by hosts that take the passengers through fitness classes, biking, hiking tours, pilates, yoga, spinning classes, and much more! The river cruise line is also one of a kind to offer complimentary bikes on board.
How much will it cost you?
An average 7-day river cruise on AmaWaterways on the Danube river starts at $2,499 per person. This price includes everything, from wine, beer, meals, wellness programs, shore excursions, and much more. There are different places to explore, like the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, and Germany.
2. For people who are sticking to a budget - CroisiEurope
A French River Cruise, the CroisiEurope is unique when it comes to the diversity of travelers onboard. Most river cruises travel from France and Germany and are one of the most affordable river cruises on the list.
The CroisiEurope river cruises travel to Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Koblenz, Speyer and Mannheim. There are plenty of shore excursions to choose from, like a guided tour of the Heidelberg Castle or hikes through the vineyards of Rudesheim.
How much will it cost you?
The average price for a five-day river cruise on the CroisiEurope line starts at $1163 per person. The price is inclusive of meals, beverages, and shore excursions.
3. For people who love adventure - U River Cruises
U River Cruises by Uniworld cruise line is one of the only river cruises dedicated to millennials’ traveling agendas. The cruise lines offer longer stays, immersive experiences, allow people to interact, socialize, and connect with the destination’s locals and let passengers enjoy their nightlife.
The cruise line started during an ill-fated time in 2020. But the river cruise offered an average 7-night itinerary sailing to the hottest destinations in Europe like Vienna, Brussels, Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Bratislava, and Belgrade.
Apart from this, the cruise also offers biking and hiking experiences to the people. There are also options for photography tours in Antwerp, led by professional photographers, and cruises through Amsterdam’s red-light areas. Some river cruises also offer passengers cooking classes where participants can indulge in making Serbian, Belgian, and other delicacies.
The newer packages on the affordable river cruises by Uniworld also offer passengers complimentary happy hours, active excursions, and overnight stays.
How much will it cost you?
Prices for these river cruises average at around $1959 per person. The price includes three meals every day, shore excursion activities, happy hours drinks, complimentary WiFi, classes, and so much more.
4. For people who love food - Boutique River Cruises
Uniworld brings yet another option of affordable river cruises for people who are a foodie at heart.
The 8-day Boutique River Cruises by Uniworld engage passengers on the SS Bon Voyage in France’s culture, art, and romance.
Shore excursion activities include walking tours and wine tasting around Saint Emilion in Bordeaux, which also happens to be a famous wine town. There are other options for a trip to the farmer's market in Libourne or biking tours around the lush vineyards of Medoc.
Passengers aboard the river cruise can easily explore and indulge in delectable French cuisines as a part of the ship’s Connoisseur Collection Program. It also includes trips to assorted culinary lands and events, like visits to orchards, vineyards, museums, restaurants, and other hot spots.
How much will it cost you?
The average price for these river cruises is around $3,099 per person for a double occupancy stateroom with unlimited choices of beverages and wines. The price also includes impeccable meals, airport transfers, gratuities (both onboard and ashore), customized shore excursions, wellness activities and programs, entertainment options, WiFi, in-suite butler service, and so much more.
5. For people who love to take charge- Le Boat
If you are all set to start voyaging out on your own, the Le Boat is the ultimate way to go about the same. The biggest self-driving boat operators in North America and Europe bring you and your loved ones, including your pets, on one boat.
You will be given an option to choose your escapade with more than 15 destinations in nine different countries. You can rent a boat of your liking, depending on your choice of the number of travelers, do your cooking, and have meals as per your time.
The rental company does offer itinerary suggestions; however, it is up to you; whatever you feel like doing.
The Horizon Cruisers are the latest additions to the cruise lines catered to individual travelers who love taking charge of their own travel experience with their loved ones. So party all you want, you have the whole boat.
Other features on these cruises include large staterooms, a "fun deck" for parties, and so much more. Le Boat cruises are all navigation-friendly, with proper bow and stern thrusters helping you through the way. You can park, navigate locks and go about your business during your trip.
The best part about the ships is that you need no special licenses or boating experience to drive the same. Other than in Germany, you can be a rookie and drive the boat freely. You will, of course, get the basic boat-handling lessons before you start voyaging, but hey, you do not have to be an expert!
How much will it cost you?
The average price for the most popular boats of Le Boat starts around $1,099 for a 7-days rental. The prices keep changing, especially around summers. The rental price offers you not just the boat but a fully-equipped kitchen, towels, and bed linens. However, you will have to pay for the fuel, food, grocery and barbeque rentals, WiFi, boat damage insurance, and other extras that you require.
After the tough times we have all faced so far in the past year since the coronavirus pandemic, it is time to start voyaging out to undiscovered and unexplored regions worldwide. Life is too short to be sitting idle at home. Pack your bags, cross off your bucket list, and step out to book your spot on affordable river cruises and explore luxury in its way.
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