For those of you who’ve sworn to never take a cruise for reasons including fear of sea sickness, too large crowds, too much partying and too little time to explore, river cruising might just be the alternative you’ve been looking for. River cruises offer fun, camaraderie, soft adventure and more time to explore destinations, all in a more sophisticated, but never stuffy environment.
If you’ve already experienced ocean cruises on vessels larger than 200 passengers, you’re in for a wonderful surprise when you first experience river cruising. The small size of these vessels, dictated by the size of the rivers they travel, provides a much more intimate and personal experience than one can ever achieve on larger cruise ships.
Traveling by river allows you arrive in the heart of cities and villages you want to visit, eliminating the need for long bus transfers and affording more time to actually explore the destination. Gone are the long lines for excursion sign ups, and dinner and show reservations. They are replaced by face to face, friendly and personal service by attentive staff who actually know your name.
River cruising is currently the fastest growing segment of the cruise industry. Much of the increased popularity can likely be attributed to Viking River Cruise’s prime advertising spots on PBS’s Downton Abbey. It also owes much of its appeal to frequent cruisers who are looking for an alternative to the big ship experience and who have already traveled to most destinations visited by ocean going vessels.
The most obvious choice for first timers are the rivers of Europe, and by far the most popular of these is the Danube due to the allure of great cities like Prague, Vienna and Budapest. While the destination cities on other European river itineraries may not be household names, there is much to offer on trips down the Rhine, Rhone, Douro and Po Rivers, just to name a few. Then there are the more exotic destinations such as the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia, the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, the Ganges in India and the Amazon in Peru.
On a river cruise you’ll enjoy the benefits of a pre-planned, virtually all-inclusive vacation that is also a value when you consider the inclusions. It’s also a great option when traveling to more exotic destinations such as Myanmar and India to ensure you’ll have safe and reliable food and lodging. Although upscale, you can leave your dress clothes at home since casual and smart casual is always the dress of the day.
If you’re comfortable traveling with a primarily straight crowd your options are endless. But, the last thing you want on your vacation is to be made to feel uncomfortable for who you are. In this unique small ship environment, being with like-minded people is more important than ever.
When Googling “gay river cruises” you’ll come up with various options including hosted groups and full ship charters from several providers. Again, your comfort level in a mixed group will factor into your decision as will dates offered. Hosted gay groups such as Pied Piper or Aquafest may offer more departure dates, whereas all-lgbt charters offer specific dates which are more tailored to the audience.
When companies like Brand g Vacations, Olivia or RSVP Vacations charter the entire vessel your experience is more customized, often adding special entertainment and programming which enhances the experience for gay and lesbian guests. Plus, you have the added benefit of feeling comfortable to be the truest version of yourself.
As owners of Brand g Vacations we are intimately involved in every aspect of your vacation from planning to hosting the trip and everything in between. Specializing in small-ship vacations allows us to focus on unique destinations and develop deep relationships with the best local operators in the business. By our level of involvement, we are truly accountable to be sure you have an unforgettable vacation. Our goal is that you feel part of a family and make lifelong friends while exploring some of the most fascinating and lesser-traveled corners of the world. We hope you’ll join us and find out for yourself why river cruising has become so popular.
Contributed by Jeff Gundvaldson and Brian Van Wey , co-owners and operators of Brand g Vacations www.brandgvacations.com