There has been a fundamental shift in the dynamics of cruising thanks to an impossibly large roster of new destinations. From ports that belong in the realm of dreams, to gliding along rivers that shaped nations, to anchorages that are familiar from journals of endeavour, cruising is now at the cutting edge of travel trends.
It’s all too easy to draw parallels between ocean, river and expedition cruising. Although all three types of experiences share many of the same characteristics, there are subtle differences worth noting. Ocean cruises take you to countries, river cruises take you through them and expedition cruises head far off the beaten track.
Ocean cruises offer panoramas of sparkling blue seas under sun-kissed skies. They are generally larger than either river or expedition ships but luxury ships are never vast. The entertainment can be quite lavish; there’s often a variety of speciality dining options; a range of activities and enrichment programmes; as well as expansive pool decks and serene spas. An array of excursions is on offer, usually at extra cost.
River cruises are smaller craft and tend to attract an older clientele. They offer up-close and personal views from the panoramic windows and usually dock in the heart of the action. Dining is a more communal affair with set times and some ships also boast a smaller, upscale option. Guided group walking tours are included, optional in-depth excursions command a premium.
Expedition cruises are an adventure in the unexpected. Ships tend to be smaller and have casual dress codes. This type of cruise suits enquiring minds who revel in the scenery as well as wildlife on land, sea and sky. There’s a fleet of RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) to get you ashore, often involving beach landings. Cuisine is remarkable, while entertainment is educational.