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Tom Garrett

Chicago, Illinois Travel Agent

The Ins and Outs of European River Cruising

River cruising takes you into the authentic heart of Europe. Since your ship docks right in the center of town, and you are never out of sight of land, it offers all the advantages of a land tour—without the need for packing and unpacking.

Some ocean cruisers are surprised that there are no formal nights or Broadway-style shows on river cruises. River cruising is a whole different kind of experience. You’ll probably be sailing with no more than 150 other passengers.

And while the ships are luxurious and the food will be scrumptious, your experience will be more personal and the focus of your vacation will be on the ports, not the shipboard activities.

In most places, you will be able to step off the ship and be steps from the main sights and attractions of each place you go. Excursions tend to be walking tours, and as you travel from place to place you will be seeing the countryside where people live.

Another thing that is different from ocean cruising is that your itinerary is likely to include small towns you haven’t heard of—and that is part of the charm. For example, how many people have heard of Vilshofen-an-der-Donau--a popular departure port for Danube cruises--much less know what to do there. As your travel advisor, I can proactively guide you to the best ship and itinerary for your tastes and also what to do in the various ports you visit.

The status of pricing and deals is in constant flux. Each line has its own strategy for filling their ships and I stay on top of that and look for opportunities for my clients. Sometimes, by shifting your trip by a week, I can find you significant savings—sometimes as much as 30% off.

I work a lot with AmaWaterways because it is a great line and they tend to offer their best deals early on. And since I sell a lot of their cruises, they are especially good to my clients.  

Almost all the river cruise lines do a good job. It is a matter of very good, great and over-the-top, plus subtle differences that sometimes matter to particular clients, such as décor, the availability of bicycles, or having a gym on board.

If you’re looking for a travel agent who knows the ins and outs of river cruising, please contact me.

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