river vs ocean blog

Clients often ask how a river cruise is different from any other cruise. We often hear “what’s the difference between cruising on a river instead of the ocean?”, or “what is a river cruise?”, and “are river cruises more expensive than ocean cruises?” So let’s clear it up for you!


To begin at the beginning, and all joking aside, the main and most obvious difference is one is on a river, and one is on the ocean. How does that matter? Well, if motion sickness is an issue for you, or you like or need to be able to see land while cruising, it matters. On a river cruise, there is constant scenery on both sides of the ship, and the shore is most often just yards away instead of miles. The boat flows along smoothly with the natural ebb and flow of the river – no big waves or rocking motions.


River cruise ships are smaller in size, allowing for a smaller amount of passengers as compared to an ocean liner. This is a major difference if you enjoy meeting and socializing with fellow cruisers, being treated to more personalized service, and having easy access to your cabin. The size of river cruise ships also allows the ability to dock right in the heart of the world’s most desirable destinations, allowing you the opportunity to see and do more. One thing both have in common is you see multiple destinations and only unpack once.


Dining is often all open seating, with a more “smart casual” attire being acceptable dress for dinner. The food is certainly plentiful, but unlike large ocean cruises, there aren’t 24-hour buffets. However, there is often always bottled water, coffee, tea, and fresh fruit and cookies available. Meal options are often buffet style breakfast and lunch, and 4 or 5 course dinners.


As for the question of river cruises being more costly than ocean cruises, on the surface it would appear so. However, when you factor in the inclusions of a river cruise, the cost is a great value. River cruises often include your accommodations, all meals while on board, wine, beer, and soft drinks with dinner (and on some vessels with lunch also), daily bottled water, coffee, tea, snacks, guided sightseeing at port stops, on board entertainment, lectures and demonstrations, and all English-speaking crews. Typically on ocean cruises, the only inclusions are your accommodations, all meals, and some on board entertainment.

We hope this helps to clear up your curiosities as to what the differences are, and that it gives you a better understanding of why we think river cruising is the best way to travel!

Give us a call for any additional questions, or if you’d like to get started planning your river cruise! Let’s Imagine your Journey… (800)578-1479