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River cruising on a budget

20 August 2015

River in Paris

River cruising is a great way to see the world whether exploring Europe's hidden gems or embracing the culture of Southeast Asia.

A week or two-week long trip will take you to some of the places you may have never considered venturing before. Cruises along rivers like the Rhine and Danube bring the rich histories of Eastern Europe to life, whilst river cruising Asia gives you a real sense of being an intrepid explorer.

There is a common view with many of those who have never been on a river cruise before, that river cruising is expensive. However, many river cruise lines are All Inclusive and include excursions. If you consider the cost of an All Inclusive ocean cruise, plus the total price on average of an excursion in each destination, the price of river cruising compared with ocean cruising soon even out. As with ocean cruising, there are different classes of staterooms for every budget and with a bit of careful planning you can ensure you enjoy your holiday without the fear of overspending. Here are our tips for a cost-effective cruise to some of the most picturesque places in the world.

Pick an all inclusive river cruise

When picking your cruise make sure that you opt for an all-inclusive option. This means you won't have to worry about any extra expenditure whilst onboard. The majority of river cruise lines will offer all-inclusive holidays which cover essentials such as breakfast, lunch and dinner, drinks, evening entertainment and a number of excursions.

If you can, look for cruises that will include flights and transfers within the price. For example, many of the Rhine cruises begin in Amsterdam so you will need to either fly or catch the Eurostar to the Dutch capital. Having this cost included can be a weight off your mind and one less thing to organise.

Seek out free attractions

Aside from the organised excursions included in the price of your cruise, you can save a bit of cash by seeking out the free attractions. Luckily, no matter what city your boat docks at there will be plenty of things to see and do completely free of charge.

Take Cologne, for example, this major city sits on the banks of the mighty Rhine in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany. Its landscape is dominated by the imposing Do, a cathedral regarded as a focal point of the city. What makes it even better for tourists is that it is free, allowing people to wander around this magnificent Gothic structure for as long as they like.

Other favourites along traditional river cruise routes are the German National Museum of Contemporary History in Bonn, Begijnhof in Amsterdam and Geldmuseum in Vienna, all free of charge.

Sample delicious street food

Another way to save a bit of cash is by opting for the smaller street food vendors as opposed to lavish meals. Every stop on a river cruise can be a gastronomic adventure that doesn't cost the earth.

Why not hop off the boat in Germany and indulge in some currywurst for as little as €3 (£2.10) or a bowl of goulash in Budapest or even a delicious slice of apfelstrudel on the streets of Vienna? All of this glorious fare can be purchased for very little and can keep you fuelled throughout a busy day of sightseeing.

Having something on the go can mean you don't have to slow down your holiday or potentially be hit by an unexpected charge at a restaurant. If you have booked an all-inclusive river cruise you will be able to grab something whilst back on the boat.

Walk, walk, walk

One major expenditure that any tourist can be caught out by is transport around a city. If your ship has docked for a couple of days you will be able to explore a little more but you need to be aware of how much public transport and, especially, taxis might cost.

With river cruising you can save on transport costs by exploring on foot because you can always expect to dock in a central location. Walking is an ideal way of navigating around a foreign city and you are more likely to discover some real hidden gems that you otherwise may have missed.

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