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Which One is Right for You?: Ocean Cruise vs European River Cruise

Updated: May 16, 2020

If you love ocean cruises but also have a desire to see Europe, then you are going to love a European River Cruise. Let’s compare!

An ocean cruise often travels hundreds of miles on a usual itinerary. On a typical route, a river cruise travels less than a hundred miles. When on an ocean cruise, much of the time, the open sea is the view. River cruises offer 360-degree views of the countryside.

Most ocean-going ships have 1500 to as many as 6000 passengers or more. River cruises have, on average, 195 passengers per ship. Ocean cruising includes buffet and some main dining sit-down meals. (Specialty meals and beverages are an extra cost except for coffee and tea). Most river cruises include all onboard meals and beer and wine at lunch and dinner.

Ocean cruises are more about the onboard experience, while river cruises focus on the destinations and experiences at each stop. Ocean cruises generally have passengers of all ages on board, while river cruises cater mostly to adults. Some river cruise lines have minimum age requirements of 18yrs and older to sail.

Ocean cruises go around the coastlines of a country while river cruises travel through countries allowing a more immersive experience and spectacular scenic views. Ocean cruises have multiple forms of entertainment designed for large crowds onboard while river cruises have small intimate settings for string quartets, dance groups, and other local performers.

Generally, ocean cruises have excursions at each port for an extra cost. Most river cruises have one excursion per port included with the availability to upgrade to a premium excursion for an additional charge.

On the excursions, ocean cruises generally lean toward the higher activity type, (think jet skis, zipline, or ATVing). On the other hand, river cruise excursions are more cultural and historic (museums, architectural, local cuisine, and concerts)

Most river cruise excursions do require a degree of mobility since many of them are walking tours around small towns, with some of them having uneven cobblestone streets. River cruises are generally more expensive than similar length ocean cruises, but they are more inclusive than ocean cruises as noted. Some river cruises have itineraries with a focus on wines, wineries, and wine pairing both on and off the ship, and others have a focus on wellness and wellness activities.

Overall river cruises allow one to experience multiple destinations and cultures in a more intimate, relaxed, and luxurious setting.

You may not be familiar with river cruises, but they are one of the fastest-growing travel industries. In fact, there are several to choose from. And we focus on two of the best in the industry. Interested in learning more? Contact AJ! Clonts at 440-965-6868 or by email at

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