Thursday, October 2, 2014

River? . . . . . Ocean? . . . . .

River cruising is not the same as ocean cruising. There are many differences, but the main two are the number of people on the boat, and the scenery you get as you cruise.

On Board and Ready to Cruise
The River, the Ship and already a Cathedral
I love ocean cruises, but even I will admit they are getting a bit out of control in the size department. Some of the new “Super-ships” hold more than 3000 passengers. Even on some of the ships we have sailed on, we often see people seven days later that we have never seen previously. On one cruise we met a couple as we were standing in line to check in, and never saw them again. If you sign up for “Set” seating for dinner you sit with the same people all the time, and therefore get to know them well by the end of the cruise, but many of the cruise companies are opting for “Open-seating” or “Freestyle-dining”, where you sit with different people each meal. Sometimes you meet interesting people and then never run into them again. On the River Cruises this is not the case. There were only 183 passengers on the boat, so in 14 days you get to know lots of people. It only takes a few days until you recognize everyone, and it is easy to really get to know many people. Unless you are very anti-social and sit in the corner every meal, over time, you usually sit with someone you have sat with before. We have met many wonderful people on this cruise from all over the world. There is no one else from Nova Scotia, but lots of Canadians. The majority are from the US, but there are Australians, and quite a few from Great Britain as well. All good sources of travel information for future trips, and my personal travel advisor is making good use of these resources. A number of couples we have sat with at dinner or taken tours with and we have gotten to know them well. I met someone who takes pictures of interesting things to sketch later as I do, and I even met another person who collects pictures of doors . . . . and like me, he really does not know what he is going to do with them . . . I love people watching, and often as I observe people I wonder what their story is, but on this boat I have actually gotten to know many of those stories.
Another Bloody Castle!

It is the same with the crew. You really get to now them, and they get to know you. Even though we switched boats mid cruise, the crew is small enough that you actually get to know many of them. I know their names and they know mine.

The other major difference is the scenery. On both types of cruises, you sail between ports where you stop and tour interesting locations. The difference is that while cruising on the ocean your scenery is waves, waves, and perhaps another boat or an island in the distance. We all saw what happened when the captain of the Costa Ship tried to make the scenery better . . . Now I love sitting out on my Ocean Cruise balcony relaxing as the ocean glides by, but the scenery is really far more interesting on a river cruise. This ship has taken us through some of the most scenic areas of Europe and we have seen so many castles, churches and quaint villages that to be honest, it is getting a bit boring. We just got back from a tour of Vienna and I almost did not bother going into St Stephen’s Cathedral, since it really just looked like all the others, a big church, twin steeples, vaulted ceilings, and big pipe organs . . . nothing new . .
A beautiful Cathedral?

I think that the general consensus of people on this ship is that river cruising is far superior to ocean cruising, but I am not so sure. In fact I think each has its place. Twelve days into the cruise, and to be honest, I am ready for a couple of “Relax Days” in Budapest, but I do not dare skip any activities because I may miss something wonderful. On ocean cruises, I relax. I have seen most of the islands, so some I do not even get off the boat; time to sit in the warm Caribbean breeze with a cold beer and a book.

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