When you think of cruises, you might be one of the many who envisions crowded decks, tourist port excursions and cookie-cutter buffet dinners. Indeed, not a travel style suitable for culture junkies, adventure enthusiasts or foodies like us. But nobody’s perfect, and in this case, we’ve all been wrong this whole time. River cruising is cool, it is authentic, and it’s not only for the grandparents (though we aren’t saying you can’t bring your grandpa along for the adventure).
Do your homework, and you’ll discover that you can seamlessly travel to lots of cities on cruises curated with the young-at-heart (and just plain young) in mind. U by Uniworld, in particular, offers a really unique take on the genre with its dynamic European river cruises designed specifically with 20 somethings in mind. Their ships provide fantastic amenities and activities on board like insta-worthy private rooms and silent discos and pair them with unique local experiences like street-art tours through Paris’ buzzy Belleville district or rock climbing in Germany. So without further delay here are 11 things that will make you re-think what it means to be on a river cruise.
1. You can live in a floating boutique hotel
These sleek black river cruise ships are about so much more than getting from point A to B. The swanky vessels are floating boutique hotels and resorts where you can live your best luxe life. Take your best shots onboard the top deck patio, or while you hop from one city to the next! The indoor bar has a special hydraulic roof that will collapse as the boat goes under bridges and all rooms come with a view so you can fall asleep to twinkling city lights every night, it’s a hard life!
2. Unpack your suitcase once
There’s a romantic side to exploring European cities, but navigating your way on public transport, carting baggage around and always having to pack and unpack can be a headache. One of the best things about being on a river cruise is it’s an effortless way to travel. You’ll only have to pack and unpack once, all with a view of stunning city skylines and landscapes while you contemplate why you packed those 6 pairs of shoes but only three pairs of underwear.
3. Enjoy a leisurely brunch every day
First: let’s all agree that brunch is the best. It’s a must-have for any great truly complete Saturday or Sunday. So what could be better than brunching on the weekend? Being able to grab brunch every day of course! The fabulous chefs on a river cruise know the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach and are offering up all the granola, fresh-pressed juices, pancakes and eggs you could want. They also know that no one wants to wake up at the crack of dawn on holiday, so brunch means you also get to sleep in without missing your precious eggs benny!
4. Let loose at a silent disco
Silent discos have become a chic way to get your dance moves on without ruining the lives of local wildlife. Attendees get a pair of wireless headphones to party with and select a music genre of their choice. DJs spin tracks on different channels; each headset has a colour that will let others know what music you are listening to so they can also dance along with you if they are on the same channel. It makes for a more social experience than traditional nightclub scenes. And if you want to have a conversation with someone, you won’t need to shout because there’s no loud music!
5. Complimentary yoga and TRX classes
Love staying active and want to keep those squats and downward dogs going even while on vacation? Firstly, kudos to you and secondly, you absolutely can on a river cruise. While gyms can be found everywhere now, why not be extra with complimentary yoga classes led by a wellness coach on a rooftop deck or complimentary TRX classes?
Travel to: Europe
6. Eat locally inspired farm-to-table cuisine
The food on cruise ships isn’t always a highlight, but even if you aren’t an avid foodie, eating food worthy of your feed is one of the highlights of being alive in the digital age. Experiencing the world through our taste buds is also one of the best things about being on holiday, but looking for a restaurant where you can get delicious local food can be tiresome at the end of a long day. It can also result in making a huge misstep that ends with an expensive visit to a TripAdvisor tourist trap because you are vulnerable to hanger. On boutique river cruises, farm-to-table food (inspired by the destinations being visited) is only ever a few steps away.
7. Drink bespoke cocktails & take mixology classes
Have you always wanted to learn how to make signature concoctions worthy of the hangover? Or how about leisurely sipping a bespoke cocktail riverside? With bartenders whipping up drinks and providing you mixology classes, one of the coolest things you’ll take home from this trip are some new found skills and drinks to toast with.
8. Glamp on a rooftop deck
Chic state of the art rooms aside, what could be more glamorous than sleeping under a starry European sky while sailing down a river? While your friends are heading into the deep woods you can feel especially unique since you’re doing your glamping on a famous European river! Make one thing clear: this is a glamping experience like no other. Complete with ambient lighting, your cocktail in tow and stunning, starry views, enjoy spending a night or two sleeping in a cosy tent on the rooftop deck!
9. Paint and wine nights
What’s not to love about unleashing your artistic skills while sipping fermented grapes? Imagine painting Europe’s most scenic locations while you’re deep in the heart of them yourself. Finding the inspiration to access your creative skills won’t be difficult as you explore the world’s artistic centres throughout the day. Paint and wine nights aboard these river cruises will give you all the supplies (and views) you need to get your Monet on, just bring your creativity!
10. Mix and match your adventures and excursions
With river cruises that dock in the centre of the city, as soon as you step off the ship, you’ll be at the heart of everything. The cruises stay late-night or overnight in the port, so you have more freedom to explore every destination thoroughly. We really like U time outings because they have later start times which means you can chill in bed and contemplate #AboutLastNight, before heading out for the day. Their varied selection of excursions means you can also pick and choose your adventure, from rooftops in Paris and hanging off rocks in Swiss Franconia to eating all the Dutch cheese and hiking in vineyards. Oh and if excursions aren’t your thing, then you can also go off and explore by yourself, with your travel buddies or newly made friends.
11. You do you
A persistent myth about group travel is that you’re bound to a constrictive schedule and forced to go along with the herd. We’ve taken enough tours to know that’s simply not true. Of course, some itineraries encourage more group time than others but if you thrive when marching to the beat of your own drum and just want a classy, relaxing and indulgent-#treatyourself-way to explore Europe, you needed to know about river cruising yesterday.
No matter if you’re a culture vulture or a foodie, adventure enthusiast or hardcore explorer, U by Uniworld gets it, which is why they’ve created many different trips so you can take the journey you want. Eat your way around Europe, discover the soul of a city, party till the sun comes up or get your adrenaline pumping with some fierce outdoor activities, either way, they know what’s good.