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River cruise vs ocean cruise - which one's for you?

02 May 2017

If a holiday on board a cruise ship is an adventure you've always considered, now's the time to set sail.

Female hands on the deck of a cruise liner

Both the ocean and river cruising markets are on the rise with cruise companies designing increasingly fancy ships that offer a wide range of excellent facilities from state-of-the-art cinemas to swimming pools to musical performances worthy of Broadway.

The traditional ocean cruise that was once seen as a sleepy, retirement trip has been given a makeover with exciting new routes, whilst river cruise have become a hugely popular way of exploring a region at leisure.

If a cruise sounds like it could be right up your street, the first decision to make is river cruise or ocean cruise. So, which one's for you?

Why choose a river cruise?

One of the top reasons cruisers pick a river voyage is that the ships are usually much smaller than the ocean liners, built to tackle the open sea. 

You're likely to get to know the staff pretty well too which makes for a happy, family atmosphere and a memorable experience.

Another key feature is that as you're wending your way along the Rhine or the Danube, you can expect to enjoy blissful and constantly changing scenes of the surrounding towns and countryside – no extended periods of nothing but ocean views. 

Plus, when you dock, you are right in the heart of the action with no long embarkation and disembarkation procedures that might leave you hanging around.

Finally, although the costs of a river cruise can sometimes be a little steeper than those out on the ocean blue, many are truly all-inclusive with shore excursions often included in the upfront price.

As a Saga customer, you will receive a £50 discount on an APT river cruise, plus more great offers. Find out more here.

Why pick an ocean cruise?

Whilst the ships may be larger with a higher capacity for guests, this usually means you can expect a diverse range of facilities. 

Whether you're looking for a relaxing massage in a luxurious spa or a round of mini-golf, ocean liners are likely to deliver the goods. 

Additionally, for those that enjoy experimenting with their food and drink, ocean liners offer a wider variety of restaurants and bars – you can try somewhere new every day.

When it comes to costs, if you choose to go with an ocean cruise, you are very likely to land the sort of cut-price deal you'll be talking about for years. 

The reason for this is that there is a huge range of choice out there and lots of competition from cruise companies. Keep a weather eye out and you'll be ready to hook that bargain, the minute it pops up for air.

Last but not least, consider the fact that whilst a river cruise is often focused on the destination, an ocean cruise is an experience within itself. 

You can expect to set your own timetable, enjoy great entertainment and take your pick from the range of activities, excursions and facilities on offer.

Be inspired by our collection of award-winning small ship cruises. Whether you cruise to Norway to try your hand at dog sledding or sail to the Canaries to soak up some much needed Vitamin D, you can expect a high quality of service with Saga.

 In fact, if you don't love your first Saga cruise, we'll refund the fare. Who can argue with that?

Don't miss your chance to book our late availability ocean cruises! Hurry, as cabins are limited and these voyages will soon be setting sail. Find out more here

EXCITING NEWS: The countdown is on for the arrival of our second new ship, Spirit of Adventure, who will take to the oceans this summer! Find out more about cruising aboard our newest ship…

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.