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how to choose your first river cruise the right way


Hey, I admit it.

When I watched Downton Abbey, my eyes stayed glued to the TV when river cruise commercials came on.

Who isn’t mesmerized with the images of the picturesque towns along the river?

But, here’s the problem.

People see the commercials, decide they want to river cruise, and simply google “river cruise deals.”

The “deal” you see advertised might be great for some people, but is it the right value for YOU?

Always keep this in mind when you make your travel plans.

Just because your neighbor loves a particular river cruise line doesn’t mean that you will find value in the amenities offered(or lack of amenities for that matter).

With your first river cruise, keep these next points in mind when you are making your decision. Then you will have a better understanding if that so called “deal” is the right fit for you.

1. Decide Your Trip Length

I know. This seems obvious.

But once you start looking at river cruises, you quickly find out you have hundreds of sailing to choose from. Deciding your trip length first, allows you to narrow down your trip choices. It makes things less overwhelming.

2. Determine When You Want to Travel

Summer typically provides you the best weather, but it also brings out the crowds.

Fall has less tourists, but it will be chillier. Christmas markets are majestic and festive, but again you deal with colder weather.

Spring is lovely. The flowers are in bloom, but the weather can be unpredictable.

As you can see, each season has its pros and cons. Don’t let this cause paralysis by analysis in your decision making.

Set your expectations properly and you will have the right travel mindset.

Personally, I prefer traveling in Fall. You see the cities more in their day-to-day life without the crowds.

I mentally plan for the cooler weather and prepare. I set my expectations so I’m not a grumpy traveler.

3. Choose Your Itinerary

Now that you have decided your trip length and travel season, it’s time to look at the specific itineraries themselves.

Most Common Itineraries for First River Cruises

The two itineraries I sell the most to first-time river cruisers are the upper Danube cruise or a Rhine river cruise. If people have enough time, they will combine these itineraries for one awesome 15 day river cruise. If you have the time, this is a fabulous idea. If you don’t have 15 days to travel, take a peek at one of these 7 day trips to see if they interest you.

Below is a list of some other popular river cruise trips that people take.

Travelers interested in wine will do one of the popular wine cruises. Winery owners often travel along, which can be great fun.

I have to say, heritage trips are my personal favorite. My grandmother was Hungarian. Unfortunately, she passed away before I got to meet her. But when I travel to Budapest, I feel so connected to her.

Flower lovers will love the tulip time cruises in Holland. Cycle trips are quite popular so reserve early for these bike trips if you would like to do one.

Culinary delights are onboard each sailing but foodies will love especially love the truffle hunting excursions and the shop with a chef experiences on some of the French itineraries.

History buffs – You will be delighted with any river cruise you take. But, sitting in Courtroom 600 where the Nuremberg trials took place is a “must”.

4. Choose Your River Cruise Line

Ok, now that you have your chosen itinerary, start looking at what the different cruise lines offer. At this point, it will be much simpler to choose the right river cruise for you.

Is a Christmas market river cruise on your list? Join mom and me as we sail through the Christmas markets on the Danube. Contact me or take a peek at the group trips page to see more details!

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