What Type of Cabin to Buy on Your First River Cruise

River cruising in Europe has become one of the most demanded vacations options for “boomers and pre-boomers” alike. This demand is fueled by both past ocean cruise customers and those who have never enjoyed an ocean cruise before. The reasons for this demand are; the all-inclusive nature of the river cruise experience, the immersive destination experience and overall affordability that every river cruise customer enjoys on their vacation.

While the European river cruise experience is very rewarding and river trips enjoy an extremely high satisfaction level, we know that some elements of planning your first river trip can be a bit daunting. That’s because all cruise lines and all river cruise ships are not created equal and that most certainly applies to the type of cabin you buy.

In talking with thousands of first time buyers, a significant number of those first time buyers commented that choosing the right cabin on their first river trip was one of the most frustrating and challenging things that they faced as new customers.

If you have never enjoyed the wonders of a very affordable European river cruise, you may not understand how to select the best cabin for your trip. Selecting that perfect cabin can be made more confusing by two factors that may impact your decision; the different generations of river ships and the various types of cabins (also called staterooms) on each ship.

In addition to these distinctions, a number of other factors must be considered before selecting your stateroom. But you can take solace in knowing that cabin selection is a pretty logical process and that other than your stateroom selection, almost every other element of a guest’s shipboard and shore side experience is exactly the same, no matter what type of cabin you buy. Why? Because every passenger on a river ship enjoys the same in-depth shore excursions, delightful cuisine and excellent personal service.

At first glance, one might not understand why cabin selection is so important and maybe you will reach the same conclusion. The reason it is very relevant is because of the price difference between a window and balcony stateroom. In general, for a one week cruise, the difference can be between $599 and $1500 per person for the balcony, so if price is important, go window. If your prefer a balcony, but your budget mandates a window, by all means go for the window stateroom versus not going as all other elements of the trip will be exactly the same as if you had bought the balcony.

Traveling with like-minded, like-aged travelers is one of the other very rewarding elements of a river trip. They are geared to those who are 55+ years of age and while there are many active shore excursions, these types of cruises are not suitable for children.

While not suited for children, these river trips are well suited for single or solo travelers looking for a vacation that attracts other such travelers.

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Royal Caribbean Vs Regent: Choosing a Contemporary or Luxury Cruise

Since the cruise market emerged in the 1970s, options for a vacation have grown. Do you stick with a standard, or “contemporary,” cruise? Or, do you take advantage of all-inclusive package deals offered by luxury liners? Or, as river cruises are now a popular option, do you prefer the slower trip that spends more time in each port?

Essentially, the choice all comes down to the traveler – the type of trip and features he or she wants. Nevertheless, contemporary and luxury liners both have advantages.

Contemporary Cruises

While not the first liner, Royal Caribbean embodies the contemporary cruise. This particular brand consists of more than 20 ships, including two of the largest in the world, and also encompasses Celebrity Cruises as its upscale traveling experience.

Royal Caribbean’s larger ships mirror the amount of activities contemporary cruises offer. Baseline activities and entertainment covers spas for relaxation, gyms and other recreation facilities, evening shows, nightclubs, and multiple onboard restaurants. The sheer possibilities resulting from such combinations have created the “freestyle cruising” experience, one that, beyond the standard features of a ticket price and itinerary, a traveler can create alone.

Larger ships, as well, have resulted in expanding activities on board. Beyond the basics, a contemporary cruise may include nightclubs for all ages, restaurants for a larger range of taste buds, rock climbing walls and other high-level recreation options, and multiple slides and water activities.

The variable, freestyle, or a la carte cruise experience is often within the budget of many travelers and extends past activities. Such a cruise, be it in a Royal Caribbean or other contemporary ship, involves rotational or open dining, rather than the fixed schedule of years past.

Additionally, contemporary cruises are said to have more family-friendly features on board, be it activities and dining specifically for children or even child care run by experienced professionals.

Luxury Cruises

If Royal Caribbean liners represent the contemporary cruising experience, Regent Seven Seas Cruise is the apex of the luxury market. Considered one of the top-rated cruise lines, Regent consists of a small fleet – just three ships – with each vessel holding 700 or fewer passengers. The experience onboard, however, is considered more spacious and lavish, with personal service and gourmet food a top priority.

Part of luxury travels is the educational experience. Aside from excursions in each port, as well as trips going to less-traveled destinations, luxury cruises often include lectures and demonstrations, as well as other enrichment opportunities.

An aspect of Regent and other luxury cruises is all-inclusive deals. Tickets, while priced higher, cover the cost of not only food, a stateroom, access to pools and gyms, and entertainment, but also complimentary beverages, tours at ports, airfare, and hotel stays.

Travelers should keep in mind that luxury cruises are typically geared toward adults. Although activities may be on board for children, the full experience is designed with the adult traveler in mind.

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