Get the thought out of your head that river cruising is reserved only for the older set. We thought that too before we set foot aboard the Torgil, Viking River Cruises’ boat that sails along the Duoro River from Porto, Portugal to the border of Spain. But any doubts we had were left ashore once we checked into our super comfy, luxe stateroom with a pretty view of the city of Porto. That was just the beginning of the amazing river cruise experience. From the sightseeing land excursions to the cozy atmosphere aboard the boat, there are many reasons why you should book yourself a river cruise. It’s hard to narrow it down to just five, but we thought it was a good place to start.
1. Time Saver
Why go to just one country when you can go to five, six or seven? Whether you are cruising on a river or an ocean, it’s an efficient way to see so much on one trip. You can literally fall asleep in one country and wake up in another. Rise and shine in Budapest one day, dock in Vienna the next day, and then arrive in Germany two days later.
2. It’s Incredibly Relaxing
River cruising is like an all-inclusive, but better. If you are looking for a true escape from your hectic life, a river cruise is a way to get that all-inclusive, no-worry experience with your meals and excursions arranged for you beforehand. You can also opt to stay on the boat – you’ll get in some extra sailing time and can really just veg out.
3. You Can’t Beat the Views
If you are an avid traveller, chances are you have seen many European cities from street level. But cruising through the countryside along one of Europe’s famed rivers will give you a completely different perspective. Case in point: sailing along Portugal’s Douro River on Viking’s River of Gold trip gives spectacular views like the one above. The winding river is lined with picturesque rolling vineyards and charming towns that you would be hard-pressed to spot and capture from a car, bus or train. And the quaint ports are worth exploring once you dock (in the case of this trip to Portugal, to test out all the delicious pastries and port wines in each town, obviously).
4. It’s a Good Way to Break into Cruising
If you are like us, chances are you ignored cruising as a way of travel thinking only of those massive cruise ships with their waterslides and casinos. But setting sail on a river boat might be just the trick to suck you into the cruising vibe. With the smaller size – our Viking vessel, the Torgil, had 53 staterooms and about 90 passengers on board – you can easily meet and get to know your fellow travellers and not have to worry about getting lost on board or contending with rough seas if you are prone to motion sickness.
5. It’s Not Just for the Older Set
While it is true that river cruises have long been geared towards an older traveller who has the time (some cruises can be up to 15 days long) and the money (those lucky retirees with extra cash to spend), that shouldn’t sway you. With seemingly limitless photo ops, a variety of excursions to pick from, and delicious food on and off the boat, river cruising offers a well-rounded travel experience for young and older. At the end of each day, guests of all ages might be found enjoying drinks and a little dancing together in the boat’s lounge … and you can honestly flip a coin to decide which age set will outlast the other.