River Cruise Basics from USA River Cruises

A river cruise is a broad term for an overnight cruise on an inland passage, such as a river, lake or intracoastal waterway. Generally speaking, these cruises are seven nights or longer.

River cruises stop in small ports of call but often dock on the river’s edge in locations where no dock exists.

Popular river cruise destinations in the United States include the Columbia River, Snake River, Mississippi River, Hudson River, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

River cruises are popular throughout the world.

In Europe, passengers embark on excursions along the Main River (Germany); the Danube River (the second-longest European river, which flows through Central and Eastern Europe); the Seine (France) and the Rhine, which flows through several countries before emptying into the North Sea.

In Southeast Asia, there are river cruises along the Mekong River, which forms the boundary between several nations, as well as the Ayeyarwady River in Myanmar.

Finally, there is the Chobe River, part of an enormous river system in south-central Africa.

Passenger Ships

The world is crisscrossed by tremendous and powerful rivers. However, for a variety of reasons, not all rivers can support passenger ships or allow them to travel on it.

But even once we eliminate the untraversable rivers, there are still many waterways right here in the U.S. that do allow small cruise ships passage.

Because these are rivers and not oceans, the ships can’t be massive, gigantic moving cities, like those we may be accustomed to seeing cruise the Caribbean. Additionally, ports along rivers can’t accommodate 5,000-plus people dropping by every week.

Between 150 people and 500 people, however … that is very manageable. It makes for an intimate, relaxed, personalized setting while also providing a boost to the economies of local river communities.

Big Rivers

Which U.S. rivers are big enough to support a cruise ship?

Our ships cruise more than just rivers, though. We also cruise intracoastal waterways, lakes, bays, and sounds. They’re too countless to name all of them, but they cover much of the US. They include:

USA River Cruises: The Small Ship Cruising Experts

If you want to experience America, get on a small ship and cruise the rivers.

That’s how America was formed! Rivers were used for exploration, transporting goods to new areas, building and sustaining new towns, for moving the military for battles, and more.

You’ll learn all about it on a river cruise, because all of our river cruises focus on the places you’re visiting, not the ship that’s getting you there.

You’re not booking a river cruise to stay onboard the ship all day for a week — although it might be nice to relax for a day or two. You’re booking a river cruise to see the sights! If you cruise to Alaska, you want to see Alaska! That means getting off the ship and hiking a glacier, or shopping for unique souvenirs in a small town that most people don’t know exist, or taking a tour with a local guide.

You’re booking a river cruise to learn something new about the destination, so you can share with your friends — “Did you know … ?” — when you get home. Booking a river cruise means planning for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and for a photo album of memories that you’ll treasure forever. You’re booking a river cruise for the stories you’ll share with your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In short, you’re booking a river cruise that allows you to visit unique islands and cities in an intimate setting.

Benefits of Small Ship Cruising

If the following perks sound enticing, then a small ship cruise may be right for you. And you should book one. Immediately.

Personal Touch

Our small ship river cruise lines carry 300 passengers or fewer. While they do stop in mainstream ports, they are also known for exploring other areas accessible only via the river. These ports of call are often less crowded — less touristy. Aboard one of these small ships, you’ll have access to little-known destinations that are unavailable to those ocean cruises aboard larger vessels.

Unique Benefits

Get ready to sit back and experience one-of-a-kind customized service from the ship’s crew. Two reasons many people prefer small ship cruising:

  1. exotic shore excursions to private islands and beaches
  2. flexibility to explore these spaces without strict adherence to a schedule

Entertainment Options

For entertainment, enjoy an array of enriching options and cruise itineraries, including seminars and classes about local culture, art, or other distinct hobbies. Onboard entertainment may also include other aboard-ship offers, such as music, dancing, and historical seminars, all providing a glimpse into the region.

Meet and Greet

Small ships also offer you the opportunity to build relationships with other passengers that you will see on a daily basis. You’ll eat together and will often spend time together on the group excursions. Get social with other, like-minded passengers looking for a unique travel experience, and make friends that you’ll keep in touch with for years — and maybe even tour with again!

Gourmet Dining

If you’re looking for an unmatched onboard culinary experience, small river cruise ships can provide exactly that. Unique menus (with all wine and spirits included) often include fresh ingredients from nearby ports and surrounding areas. Our teams of private chefs are known for their creativity in menu development and take great pleasure in delighting you with their latest creations.

Small ship river cruise operators provide wonderful opportunities for a single person, couples, or families looking for a journey that goes beyond the traditional cruise line experience.

If you’re adventurous and ready to make incredible memories, call one of our agents today. We are a river cruise company that wants to help you create lasting memories.

Contact USA River Cruises at 800-578-1479.