You Asked, We Answer: Are River Cruises Boring?

Updated on August 17, 2022

When it comes to river cruises, there’s one question that always seems to come to the surface: aren’t river cruises boring? Today there’s an undeniable stereotype that river cruises are for aging retirees who want to relax on a small boat and only embark on overly organized, touristy excursions. But today, that’s simply not the case.

Travel on: A river cruise

The industry is changing

If you’re interested in a “boring” river cruise, you’ll likely be able to find one, because they definitely exist – there’s no denying it. But at the same time, there are a number of river cruise operators that are shifting their focus, adopting more unique and authentic itineraries and experiences. From culturally immersive tours to foodie-themed adventures, there’s something for everyone. So, whether you’re a 20-something looking for adventure or a couple looking for a romantic honeymoon, river cruises are available that cater to specific interests, activities, and lifestyles.

No two cruises are the same

Every cruise line and the itineraries they offer are completely different. If you’re looking for a low-key and relaxing cruise, you’ll likely need to look at a different company or cruise than if you’re looking for an adventure cruise. Always do research or reach out to the tour operator to explore their various cruises, itineraries, excursions, and inclusions they offer. That way you’ll be confident that the tour you select will meet your expectations.

A European city by a blue river
Cruise through stunning historic cities and explore at your own pace | © Ivanna Salgado/Unsplash

Types & themes of river cruises

River cruises have begun to shift their offerings to include a number of curated experiences or themes, ranging from but not limited to:

  • Wine Tasting Cruises
  • Couples or Romantic Cruises
  • Family Cruises
  • Food-Inspired Cruises
  • LGBTQ+ Cruises
  • Solo Traveller Cruises
  • Culturally Immersive Cruises
  • Luxury Cruises
  • Christmas/New Year’s Cruises
  • Historical Cruises
  • Architecture Cruises
  • Adventure Cruises

The list goes on and on, but regardless of your interest, you can be sure there’s a cruise with your name on it. There are even tattoo and drag queen-themed cruises, so really, anything is possible.

Why you’ll love a river cruise (and never be bored)

If you’re still worried you’ll be bored on a river cruise, have no fear. River cruises offer the perfect combination of organized activities and free time, meaning you can make the most of your experience by tailoring it to what interests you. Here’s what you can expect and why you’ll love a river cruise.

It’s hassle-free travel

Imagine your river cruise as a hotel on wheels – you experience fabulous cities and pass through different countries, yet only unpack once. Don’t worry about catching trains or missing flights, dragging baggage through dozens of hotels, or making complicated reservations. On a river cruise, it’s one booking with the experience of a dozen.

A person in a green jacket standing at the top of a ski slope
There’s plenty of adventure to be had during a river cruise! | © asoggetti/Unsplash

Plan your day as you please

Whether you find yourself wanting to relax on board, explore city streets on your own, or embark on a guided excursion, it’s entirely up to you how and where you spend your time. As long as you’re back in time to set sail to your next destination, what happens day to day is entirely up to you.

See multiple cities at once

Imagine being able to cover a handful of cities on your bucket list, all in one trip. On a river cruise, you can do just that; explore multiple cities (sometimes countries) throughout the duration of your trip. You don’t even have to worry about getting from one destination to the other, just board the ship and enjoy where it takes you.

Participate when you want

River cruises offer onboard activities along with excursions in cities when you reach your destination. Yoga sessions, cooking classes, city tours, museum visits – you decide what you want to participate in and what you’d rather pass on. This allows you to shape your experience to make the most of what a cruise has to offer.

A river cruise ship floating through a green, hilly area
On board a Uniworld river cruise ship | © Gary Bembridge/Flickr

Enjoy amazing food

Whether you opt to eat onboard or at artisanal restaurants in the cities you visit, the food is going to be amazing. With top-quality chefs cooking for you while you cruise and the added bonus of indulging in local delicacies when you dock, you truly get to experience the best of both worlds when it comes to food from around the world.  

Where to cruise

River cruises are now available in a number of destinations around the world, including those totally underrated cities you’d never expect to be included. Some of the most popular river cruise itineraries include:

Romantic Rhine: Amsterdam to Basel

This eight-day tour includes the best the Netherlands and 10 other beautiful destinations have to offer, including trips to Holland’s Muiderslot Castle, an excursion to The Black Forest, and strolls through the Petite France District.

The Legendary Danube: Prague to Budapest

Tour through the legendary Danube River with this 10-day river cruise. Enjoy a folklore dinner show in Prague, walk through the “City of Three Rivers” and take a dip in the famous thermal baths of Budapest.

The Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest
What better way to see incredible sights in Hungary than via a river cruise? | © Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

Egypt Nile Jewel: Cairo to Cairo

Indulge in a luxury 5-star river liner with an in-depth cultural tour through Egypt’s most famous destinations. Read ancient hieroglyphs at Abu Simbel, tour the East Bank of Luxor, and enjoy the sunset over the Nile River.

Mekong River Experience: Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap

Get to know Asia a little better with this eight-day river cruise through over 11 breathtaking destinations. Coast casually along the Mekong river, explore charming floating villages, and ride a bike through Vietnam’s countryside.

The idea that river cruises are boring has become an assumption of the past. New destinations, itineraries, activities, and excursions have made river cruises popular amongst many different age groups and types of travelers. The key is finding the one that’s perfect for you!

Jesse is a blogger and content creator who loves travel, the outdoors, and her dog, Molly. When she isn't planning her next trip, she can be found watching Netflix documentaries, enjoying time by the water, or eating soft-serve ice cream. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, or check out her blog.

A man opening his arms in front of a waterfall in Bangkok, Thailand
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