28 Aug August 28, 2015 by Vision Travel in Did You Know, River Cruising, Travel Info, Travel Tips It’s no secret that river cruising is one of the hottest trends in travel. More and more Canadians are intrigued by the small-ship intimacy, the off-the-beaten waves itineraries and generous inclusions to be found on a river cruise. Most of our clients “graduate” to river cruising after taking a number of big ship cruises. If this sounds like you, here’s a little rundown on the differences you may expect: Not surprisingly, ship size. A river cruise ship may hold as few as 36 or as many as 200 or so passengers – a huge difference from the big ships which now can host as many as 5,000 passengers. So while there’s not the room for the plethora of restaurants and bars, the exotic activities, shops and spas, the trade off is that your are never far from your stateroom; embarkation and disembarkation can take seconds rather than hours; and you’ll get to know the crew and your fellow passengers much more quickly. Speaking of restaurants, most river cruise ships offer one or two restaurants. For example, in Europe, Avalon Waterways’ ships have a main restaurant; a bistro offering tapas-style dining a couple of times a week; and a Skydeck open for al-fresco lunches, weather permitting. Wine and beer is included with dinner (and speaking of drinks, if you wish to purchase alcohol ashore and sample it in your cabin, that’s permitted, unlike on big ships which will hold your purchases until disembarkation). Evening entertainment may range from a visit by musicians or dancers to give you an insight into local culture. Tastings and informal lectures as well as port talks outlining the next day’s port of call are also part of the entertainment on a river cruise. It’s worth mentioning that these days, river cruise ships are known for their modern comforts. Many were within the last five years, and they often feature spacious cabins with WiFi, balconies or large sliding glass walls, marble bathrooms, minibars, movies on demand and more. But for many passengers the real highlight is the opportunity to walk on and off the ship as you wish. You often dock in the heart of a city or medieval town and are welcome to explore when you want. River cruising also gives you the opportunity to visit smaller ports of call that larger ships are simply too big to get to. Another significant difference with river cruises is that shore excursions are included, an excellent value when you consider the hundreds of dollars they can cost on a big ship cruise. You are also very welcome to join Vision Travel owners Brian Robertson and Stephanie Anevich on board the Avalon Expression departing August 20 next year, and sailing from Prague to Budapest. Divine! Click here for more details. Your Vision travel advisor can work with you to plan your perfect river cruise to Europe (the most popular destination) but also to China, Southeast Asia (Myanmar – formerly Burma – being a “hot” new destination), Peru, Egypt and more. Bon voyage!