Q – We read your site after thinking we might take a river cruise. Our conclusion is that we would want to go with one of your top recommendations. Your site gives both the up and downside in a really refreshing way that we have not seen elsewhere. But given those downsides, how is river cruising as popular as it is what with the flooding issues, the just OK food, and limited shore excursion choices. Don’t take offense, but a really cynical person could conclude that riverboatratings is actually written by the mainstream cruise lines to point out the negatives in a river boat vacation?
A – Oops – you caught us. This is really a cruise site masquerading as a river boat review site. How insightful of you. The only thing is if you read our sister site, www.luxurycruiseratings.com, you will see that we take the same approach with the cruise industry.
Please understand that the goal of the travel provider is to so befuddle the consumer that you will actually believe the product hype. Most travel products are designed for the typical American traveler. That translates to a demographic profile something like this:
A lack of knowledge and interest in other cultures, strict budget, no foreign language skills, not gourmets, and prefers package pricing. Yet, most travel advertising sells the dream of hassle-free luxury combined with romance and privacy in an unspoiled paradise. So there is the disconnect. They are trying to sell luxury to people who are unwilling to pay for it.
River boats provide wonderful vacations as long as the consumer is informed about the product and knows what to expect minus the hype.
There are dozens of river boat companies. We only review the top-rated among them. So, as a consumer, you might be wise to pick # 4 or # 5 on our list of the top lines. We hope that all visitors to our site will recognize that these are the best of the best – we’ve left off the really miserable options clogging up the rivers of Europe.
The big question we think that any first-time river boater needs to ask is whether or not they might be better off on a small, five-star luxury cruise ship. It is important for travelers to understand the differences. For us, the value of being in the center of charming and culturally significant villages and towns in Europe at a reasonable cost with a choice of inclusive or non-inclusive services makes river cruising a good option for most travelers. As to your specifics; flooding is a statistical possibility. You pays your money and you takes your chances. The food can be good, it is often fresh from local markets, but it is rarely the stuff of Foodie legends. To that we say : “So What?” You can find excellent food in virtually any river boat port. Finally, yes, there are limited shore excursions. But you are in the center of someplace fascinating and many travelers just walk off their river boat and do their own thing. Some guests do walking or even hiking tours. Virtually all of the lines have bicycles available for the use of their guests. No need to do a bus tour unless you feel it is what you want to do. Don’t take our style, and occasional criticism, as negativity. If river boating was not a wonderful vacation option, we would not be devoting this much effort to this site.
Except for the conspiracy theory part Mel Gibson, we really appreciate your question.