The Difference Between a River and An Ocean Cruise

If you’re looking to book your ultimate cruise holiday, it might help to understand the difference between a river and an ocean cruise.

A cruise ship is the “original” floating hotel and offers an excellent counter to its inland alternatives. With world-class dining, personalised service, comfortable staterooms and suites, complete with a lounge area and bathroom, what is not to adore? Cruising is an inclusive experience that lets you explore various destinations comfortably while enjoying entertainment and food anytime you wish.

While ocean cruises are very well-known, river cruises are becoming increasingly popular for their exotic and exciting destinations. Cruising rivers allows passengers to engage with various destinations like a local would, enjoy the scenery, sample the local cuisine and interact with people of different cultures and backgrounds. The choice is yours if you’d like to sail gently along as mediaeval castles float by your balcony or prefer the hustle and bustle of a trip through an Asian metropolis. So, while ocean cruises are the most popular among travellers today, don’t discount a river cruise as an alternative. Some significant differences between the two make river cruising a perfect option for some travellers.

What’s the Difference? And Which Cruise is Right For You?

River Cruise ships are much smaller than their ocean counterparts, allowing them to travel along rivers and waterways that are not accessible to larger vessels. Due to their larger size, ocean liners usually have a wider variety of restaurants and bars that passengers can choose from. Their entertainment and activities are also generally more varied and numerous. As can be expected, with a larger size comes a more significant number of people. Ocean liners can accommodate from a few hundred to thousands of passengers, while river cruises typically only carry between 100 and 500 travellers.

River cruises tend to focus more on shore excursions than ocean liners do, as the smaller ships often dock in centres of towns and other places where ocean vessels may not fit. This allows passengers to disembark at each new port of call and explore it on their own time or as part of a small group guided by expert tour guides. River cruises are an excellent solution for people who want to dive deeply into a region’s culture, history and scenery.

How Do The Cabins Compare?

Whether you opt for a smaller river cruise or a larger ocean liner, top-tier accommodation always comes first. Passengers on river cruises can enjoy the ever-changing scenery from their cabin windows as the smaller size does not allow for inside cabins. A much larger variety of cabins to choose from on ocean ships means that prices often differ depending on their position, size and view. The choice is truly yours concerning accommodation on ocean liners, whether you prefer a cosy inside cabin or a spacious stateroom with a balcony, or a suite.

What About the Food?

Ocean cruise lines offer a variety of dining options with buffet-style meals as well as served meals in a selection of restaurants, gastro pubs and outdoor venues, while river cruise ships typically have a single elegant restaurant and possibly a cafe. Chefs can go ashore daily for local specialities on river cruises which adds an exciting sense of anticipation when it comes to your dining experience. The incredible evening dining experience on river cruises is unmatched and is a cosy, intimate affair for anyone involved. Although you’re guaranteed five-star service, whatever option you choose, food and dining experience are important factors to consider for any cruise lover. An ocean liner may be your choice if you’re a fan of variety and a wide selection of places to eat. However, a river cruise could suit you perfectly if you want a more personal and engaging dining experience.

Entertainment and Amenities: River Cruise vs Ocean Cruise?

Ocean cruise ships are designed with plenty of deck space, pools, and outdoor restaurants and activities so passengers can enjoy their surroundings while on board. These ships are never short of things to do and often offer guests extras like spa treatments, fitness classes, and cocktail lounges with live music. Many ocean cruise ships may also have steam rooms, casinos, art galleries and Kids Clubs. There is something for everyone! You can have a party or relax in solitude.

River cruises offer entertainment and amenities on a much smaller scale, but this is by no means a disadvantage. When on a river cruise line, you can expect to be immersed in the culture wherever you decide to visit. Local food and wine tastings are prevalent on these lines and may even feature entertainment from regional dancers and musicians. While ocean cruise liners entertain on a much grander scale than their river counterparts, the more conservative and personalised experience on a river cruise may be better suited to you. After all, the choice is in your hands!

Are There Significant Cost Differences Between River and Ocean Cruises?

Cruising offers fantastic value for money and options for all budgets. The inclusive nature of cruising allows for a more stress-free approach to going on holiday, and who wouldn’t want to remove unnecessary stress from their life? River cruises also represent exceptional value – wifi, complimentary tea or coffee, and tours through local areas, led by professional guides, which may be included in your fare. The price of ocean cruises may include complimentary drinks and the services of a skilled and insightful tour manager for booking excursions. Depending on the type of cruise you book, guided tours and accommodation for nights ashore may be included in your cruise fare.

A river cruise may seem more expensive than an ocean cruise. One should consider all the inclusions in the price and that there are fewer passengers than on an ocean cruise. The feeling on a riverboat cruise is highly unique and often personalised, leaving guests with new travel experiences and stories they will never forget.

Still Can’t Decide?

River cruises offer a unique way to experience the world with an intimate charm that is hard to beat. As seen above, they provide a great deal of freedom and comfort—but they also present a wide range of possibilities, from relaxing city breaks to rich cultural treks. River cruising isn’t for everyone, but it’s certainly worth considering!

An ocean cruise offers a more varied experience that includes plenty of entertainment options and activities and dining in some of the finest restaurants. So, perhaps it might be time to spoil yourself with a spacious suite and embark on an extended holiday that allows you to visit exotic destinations further afield.

Whichever option suits you, we at Whitestar are here to help you make your vision a reality. Browse through our cruising options today, and you’ll be sure to find the perfect cruise for you!