Have you ever taken a cruise?

I’m sure many readers will answer in the affirmative, but have you ever considered taking a river cruise?

Rivers, like our oceans, have been around forever. All too often when folks talk about taking a cruise, it usually means they’re thinking about an ocean cruise. However, the ever increasing popularity of a different form of vacation, on a river, grows and expands around the world almost daily.

The choices for a stunning, gorgeous river cruise are as big and wide as the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean.

Europe has one of the largest expanses of spectacular scenery for river cruises. It's an excellent place to start your adventure.

Douglas Ward, arguably one of the most talented cruise book authors around, has the definitive river cruise publication titled “The Berlitz River Cruising in Europe” guide book. At 260 pages, it's jam-packed with (almost) everything you need to know about the wonders, and treasures, of river cruises.

What makes this an even more outstanding cruise book, is that it also spills the beans about taking a barge cruise! Yes, barge cruising, but they’re not what one traditionally thinks of—that’s because most are luxurious, and feature dining adventures that highlight epicurean food delights. Again, these delicacies are made possible by the fact that the number of passengers varies between as few as 6 up to a dozen people.

Ward is as much at home aboard a ship, boat or cruise vessel, as he is in his own home on dry land. Indeed, Ward claims to visit about 40 to 70 ships each year and has now made more than 900 cruises (including more than 150 Atlantic crossings), spending more than 5000 days at sea, and is thus the river cruise expert. 

Separate sections include: Why even take a cruise; details on the wide variety of dining options; what life’s like on a river cruise; how to budget and book a river cruise; then too, colorful information about many of the river cruise destinations in Europe; route maps and, even better, a spot on ratings system so you know the real highs and lows of each vessel; news about shore excursions; rounding out this galaxy of knowledge, you’ll be delighted by the colorful selection of river cruise photos.

Ward’s book, even though it was first published in 2014, is a gold mine of river cruise information.

Several years ago my wife and I took a Rhine River Viking River Cruise (VRC) from Dusseldorf in Germany, to Basle in Switzerland, and it was spellbinding.

Unusual and spectacular because you get to see many of Germany’s countless centuries old castles that are either on the top of nearby peaks, or perched along the banks of this majestic river. One more fact I found intriguing, is that the vessel you’re on, traverses lots of mesmerizing locks on your way up to the mountains of Switzerland. 

Another marvelous benefit of river cruises is there are no rough ocean seas to worry about, and so little likelihood of getting seasick.

In fact, we loved our Rhine River cruise so much, several years later we again took a Viking River Cruise, but this time in China, along the Yangtze River—but that magical and memorable river trip is another story for another time. 

John Clayton can be reached at jdcradio@gmail.com.

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