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Why should you choose a river cruise over an ocean cruise? We ask the experts

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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River cruises take passengers right into the heart of destinations, wending their way past beautiful scenery and historic towns... but can be overshadowed by their larger cousins, ocean cruises.

River cruises might not hit up the sun sea and sand of the Caribbean or boast the countless bells and whistles of certain ocean liners but they have a plethora of reasons to be celebrated.

From exploring the gorgeous waterways of the Mediterranean to enjoying high-quality service from the crew, there are multiple reasons to undertake a river sailing.

After all, as Pocahontas said, who knows what's in store "just around the river bend" and the adventures that lie ahead?

We spoke to Stuart Milan, Channel Director at Riviera Travel to find out the many advantages of going on a river cruise.

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Why take a river cruise?

Smaller is better

A big perk of river cruising is that it's "more intimate," Stuart explained, as "the vessels are smaller."

This means you're not surrounded by huge crowds of other holidaymakers and can get more attention from staff.

"It's a maximum of 100 to 250 people on board at any time," said Stuart of Riviera ships, "and the staff ratios are very high so the number of staff to passengers is high which means the level of service is very high."

Small ships can also access ports and destinations that larger ships are unable to call at.

Maximum impact

Guests can visit a great many places in one trip without spending endless days at sea - perfect for those who dislike the idea of being "stuck" on a ship.

"One of our itineraries hits four or five capital cities if you do a two-week Danube river cruise," detailed Stuart. "You can experience a lot within itineraries in a short space of time."

- READ MORE: How to get the most out of your cruise excursions -

Rooms with a view

Sailing along rivers means you'll always be guaranteed a view, whether that's the rolling hills and vineyards alongside the Douro or the towering turrets of German castles.

"On an ocean cruise you can feel quite detached from the destination a lot of the time," pointed out Stuart, "whereas [when] you're on the river there are working boats going past, there are other local boats going past - you're seeing stuff constantly."

"You're never more than probably 10-20 metres away from the side of the river so there's always something to see."

He went on: "I think a lot of people won't realise how much you can see from a cruise vessel... you can just sit and watch the world go by; you're not just staring at an endless ocean - your eyes are always occupied by something."

River cruises: "There's a lot to be said around the level of service as well," said Stuart. Credit: Shutterstock

Top-quality service

Travellers shouldn't assume that smaller ships mean inferior service.

"There's a lot to be said around the level of service as well," said Stuart of Riviera river cruises. "Just because it's a small vessel, doesn't mean that you don't get good food and good drink."

- READ MORE: Win a 7-night Dalmatian Coast cruise with Riviera Travel -

So long seasickness

River cruises don't tend to sail during the night so "anyone who might fear a bit of rocky seas in the middle of the night when cruising" needn't fear "massive waves" as that simply doesn't happen on a river.

"I think it's probably much more peaceful," said Stuart.

River cruises: "I think a lot of people won't realise how much you can see from a cruise vessel." Credit: Shutterstock

Play time

Guests will get plenty of time to explore their destinations without having to rush back before the ship leaves.

"You moor up in a city or a town in good time - you're not doing hours and hours of sailing every day," Stuart explained.

Consequently, "you've got the chance to explore and roam and have a bit of freedom, and there's no rush back because generally you're moored up overnight."

- READ MORE: TUI River Cruises launches winter holiday 2022 sale -

Relax to the max

Don't assume smaller ships have nothing to keep you occupied while onboard. There might not be casinos or rollercoasters but they often still have a spa and fitness room. Riviera ships also have a jacuzzi and plunge pool on deck - so there's plenty of opportunities to recharge and enjoy some TLC onboard.

And remember, because you're moored up overnight you can head out into your port of call in the evening rather than limit yourself to the restaurants onboard.

The world really is your oyster!

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