10 Reasons to Take Luxury River Cruises
If you are thinking of taking a luxury river cruise, there has never been a better time. You might be weighing the idea if a splurge is really worth it? What river line is the best for a luxurious river cruise?
You have questions — we have answers! Travel Team books river cruises on all the major lines, and our agents have cruised many of the rivers! So if you want to know if a luxury river cruise is for you, read this list of reasons why a splurge is definitely worth it:
- Unlimited Beverages
Some river lines include beer, wine and soft drinks with meals (AmaWaterways, Emerald and Avalon, for instance), but luxury river cruises like Uniworld, Scenic and Tauck offer all-inclusive beverage programs. If you like to sip a flute of quality Champagne before dinner, quaff wines paired with your meal and enjoy a snifter of Cognac afterward, all-inclusive beverages can be a good deal.
- Lots of Choices for Shore Excursions
If you don’t like being herded into one mass shore excursion, luxury river cruises give you more choices at each destination. You can expect that most companies offer at least two different shore excursions, with one usually tailored for first-time visitors and another for those who may have visited before. Also, the groups on these tours tend to be split into 15 passengers or fewer, often with a separate group for “gentle walkers.” On some occasions, the range of activities is much wider than walking, with opportunities to learn painting, go for a hike, ride a bike, or visit a brewery. And, of course, all but a few optional excursions were included in the fare. Scenic has walking, biking and self-guided tours using nifty ScenicTailorMade GPS electronic devices. Tauck’s larger ships carry three tour directors, and offerings also include small groups and a “leisurely” walking option.
- No Tipping
On luxury river cruises on lines such as scenic, expect to be pampered at every turn, making you feel thoroughly spoiled. Service is excellent and you won’t have that end-of-cruise crisis where you desperately try to figure out how much to tip everyone. None of that “automatic tip” sticker shock on the final bill, either. APT, Scenic and Tauck include tips in their fares, too.
- Posh Suites
Luxury river cruise ships tend to have more suites than other river ships do. Tauck’s ms Inspire has eight loft cabins that span two decks and 22 suites measuring a generous 300 square feet. Often, suites may be individually decorated, so you can choose one that suits your personality — from feminine decor fit for a queen to something more manly and regal. Suites on riverboats will typically have double sets of windows or French balconies. What’s more, suites on most ships allow for the bed to face the windows, so you can lounge in bed and watch the scenery float by.
Most of us don’t have the luxury of a butler waiting on us, but trust us, learning to be spoiled is remarkably easy. Butlers are rare on river ships; however, all Uniworld suites and all Scenic cabins come with butler service. Uniworld’s Maria Theresa carries two butlers to serve only 11 suites, while Scenic’s Jewel has four onboard butlers who cater to the entire ship of 67 cabins — so the level of attention you experience may differ depending on which line you choose Breakfast in bed? A shoe shine? Ask him for a couple of glasses of Champagne, and he’d probably come back with the whole bottle.
- Personal Service
Even if you don’t have a butler, luxury lines make a point of learning passenger preferences. Dining room staff make it a point to know passengers’ morning beverages of choice and want to offer yours as soon as you sit down to breakfast..
- Luxe Bathrooms
Even bathroom quality improves when you upgrade to a luxury river cruise ship. On Maria Theresa, all cabins are stocked with L’Occitane en Provence toiletries and suites have additional Hermes products. Scenic also offers L’Occitane products, while Tauck stocks Molton Brown. Ship bathrooms can sometimes be tiny, plastic and depressing. On the other hand, Maria Theresa’s bathrooms — even in the least expensive cabins — are like little marble-clad palaces. Not only heated floors, but heated towel racks and heated mirrors that don’t fog up. Bathrobes and slippers? You bet.
- Restaurant-Quality Dining
Open seating, flexible dining times, high-quality ingredients and artistic presentations make dining a pleasure. There’s also a real effort to present regional cuisine from the itinerary. Uniworld, Tauck and Scenic all offer exclusive alternative dining opportunities. For example, Scenic has a second restaurant offering (Portobellos, serving Italian cuisine), an exclusive tasting dinner for 10 (limited to passengers with Diamond Deck cabins) and 24-hour room service.
- Bells and Whistles
Luxury river cruise lines tend to have state-of-the-art gizmos and gadgets. Scenic carries electric bicycles and replaces loudspeaker commentary with its TailorMade GPS electronic devices, which supply information about sights along the itinerary. Uniworld’s Maria Theresa’s TVs magically appear from behind the mirrors and each cabin is equipped with a keyboard to access the Internet through the “infotainment” system. Many Tauck cabins are equipped with Keurig coffee makers.
- No Nickel and Diming
The higher-end cruise lines will transfer you between airport and ship, included in your fare. They’ll throw in free Wi-Fi. They won’t charge you for specialty coffees. Exercise classes and hikes are included. Some, like Scenic, offer laundry services to nearly all passengers. Uniworld provides unlimited free laundry service to suite passengers. Chances are, your bill at the end of the cruise will only have a few line items.
Ready to plan your dream vacation or luxury river cruise?