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13th February, 2020

How is a river cruise ship different from an ocean cruise ship?

We firmly believe that cruises are one of the best ways to see the world. Not only do they give you the freedom to explore lots of destinations within one trip, but they also boast award-winning restaurants, top-shelf entertainment and tons of things to keep you busy while you’re at sea.

When it comes to choosing a cruise, you typically have two options - ocean or river. Both offer different benefits and opportunities when it comes to holidays, from the places that they visit to the facilities that they have on board.

But these aren’t the only differences between an ocean cruise ship and a river cruise ship. In fact, there are some key differences between the ships, and what they can offer holidaymakers looking to take to the water.

Does size matter?

River cruise ships tend to be quite a bit smaller than their seafaring counterparts, due largely to the difference in size between the two bodies of water. Because of this, river cruises typically accommodate less people overall - often around 200 - 300, unlike ocean ships, which can carry thousands of passengers.

This can also affect the amenities available on board. For example, cruise ships may have theatres, swimming pools, casinos or other on-deck activities. On a river cruise ship, you’re likely to find a more modest range of facilities, typically including a library, a gym, terrace areas, and spaces to play some games, like chess. On our new Spirit of the Rhine ship, you’ll also find two restaurants and a hot tub, to help you make the most of your time on board.

You may also find that river cruise ship cabins are a little smaller than their ocean counterparts, although usually all of them face the water - whereas on ocean cruise liners, some are inside. You won’t be missing out on luxury though, with all modern ships making sure that they’re packing in those special touches. In fact, on our new river ship you’ll find some cabins even have French balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows, making sure you never miss a moment of the spectacular views.

One of the benefits of a smaller ship is that you can embark and depart the boat much quicker, due to there being less people overall. On cruise ships, it can take a while for the thousands of passengers to get on and off, which eats into your time at port, which doesn’t happen on smaller river cruise vessels.

Time to explore

One of the other reasons that river cruise boats tend to be more simple on-board is because they typically spend a lot more time at port than ocean cruises. This means that you’ll get to spend more time on land, exploring the many wonderful destinations dotted along your river route.

River cruises can often visit more ports on one trip than ocean cruises, and there are plenty of excursions and opportunities to explore offered while you’re docked. Due to the distance between destinations on ocean cruises, you may find yourself spending more time at sea, which is why it helps to have more facilities on board the boat itself.

River cruising with Saga Travel

River cruises are one of the fastest growing sectors of the cruise industry in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. With a whole host of benefits, tons of exciting excursions and a laid-back pace of life, there’s a river cruise out there to suit everyone. Find out more about our brand new Spirit of the Rhine river ship, launching in 2021, or learn more about our other wonderful river cruise opportunities.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.