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Going Rogue: 5 Reasons To Leave The Tour Group On A River Cruise

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Free shore excursions at almost every port are one of the benefits of river cruising: You receive an orientation and introduction to a destination without having to arrange the logistics of a tour or pay for it yourself.

Generally, these tours are quite good but in some destinations—especially in places where tourism isn’t well developed, where language barriers exist, and/or when group sizes are very large—group tours can be pretty lackluster. In addition, the quality of a particular tour varies greatly depending on the individual who conducts it.

What type of river cruiser are you?

In a recent article in Travel Weekly (an industry publication), river cruise expert Michelle Baran explains that there are two general approaches travelers can take to river cruising.

“In one version, the vessel acts as a sort of floating hotel and passengers who like to do things on their own use the ship and its included meals, excursions and amenities at their convenience, “ she writes. “In the other version, river cruising is similar to a fully organized guided tour where you do everything with your fellow passengers: eat together, go on excursions together and ultimately, really bond with each other,” she adds.

Having traveled on many river cruises on different cruise lines, we’ve discovered that it’s possible to meld the best of both worlds: going with the group on excursions that seem of particular interest, particularly if you have never visited a port before, and going rogue when you want the freedom of being on your own.

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Here are some good reasons to ditch the group and venture out on your own:

1) You can set your own priorities

When you’re part of a group, to a large extent, you’re obliged to follow “the program” and keep up with the group. However, on your own, you’ll be able to pursue your own passions and interests. A little research up front will allow you, for example, to identify a special museum or another point of interest that you wouldn’t want to miss.

If you’re a food enthusiast, you can use your time enjoying a meal at a destination restaurant you have always wanted to visit. Shopaholics can carve out the time to make a coveted purchase to take home.

 Another alternative: If you plan in advance, you can hire an independent tour guide or tour operator at one or more ports.

2) You can set your own pace

Most river cruise lines allow passengers to divide into at least two groups on land tours: regular and “gentle” walkers. Gentle walker groups are more attentive to those with mobility challenges.

But whether you’re a fast or slow walker, ditching the group really allows you to stop and linger whenever you want without the fear of having to quickly catch up. When you see something that captures your interest, you have the liberty to stop to take a special photograph or even a series of photos. (You’ll also have the advantage of not having the backs of a bunch of heads in your shots.)

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3) You can revel in the pleasure of discovery

There is much to be said for serendipity. Aimless wandering allows tourists to find the unexpected. There’s a certain joy to not knowing what is around the next corner and discovering it on your own. Once there, apps like Google Maps allow you to pinpoint your location and learn more about what you’ve seen.

4) You can go incognito if you choose

Nothing spells tourist like a group following a guide with a lollipop. And if that isn’t a giveaway sign, then wearing a QuietVox or other wireless listening device around your neck is another. Leaving the group allows you to immerse yourself among locals and get a truer experience of a destination.

5) You will have more time and opportunity to talk to locals

As an individual or couple, rather than as part of a group, you’re more likely to interact with locals who can help you identify the best vantage point for a photograph or the best place to savor a local food specialty.

Mussels at De Koetse Restaurant in Bruges (Credit: Jerome Levine)
Dish of mussels at De Koetse Restaurant in Bruges (Credit: Jerome Levine)
Most guided tours tend to be heavy on history. Spending time with locals is more likely to allow you a peek at contemporary culture and customs. You will also have the opportunity to serve as an emissary/goodwill ambassador for your own country.

And remember: Even in the midst of a group tour, you’re always free to leave if it isn’t to your liking. Just make sure you let the guide know you are going; find out when and where you need to get back on the ship, or the time and place of a meeting point at the port; and watch the time. Like ocean-going vessels, river cruises can’t afford to wait for stragglers.

Author, Irene S. Levine , Contributor Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Note:  I always take a photo of the daily cruise planner info with the docking location and also mark myself on Google maps as I am leaving the ship.  I use the *parking*  function.

 

Christmas Markets and River Cruising in December

We are so excited to share with you our month long experience with traveling throughout the month of December beginning in Germany, a bit of France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary finishing in the Czech Republic.

Our journey will include 2 full river cruises. A Christmas Markets Cruise with Uniworld on the beautiful S.S. Antoinette, Rhine River, Cologne, (Köln] Germany to Basel Switzerland. We will follow this with a train ride from Basel to Salzburg, Austria which is the name of Mozart and the Sound of Music for a couple of days in their charming village. Then back on the train to to visit Budapest, Hungary. Here we will spend the days just prior to Christmas including boarding our next ship on Christmas Day! We will be joining the AmaWaterways vessel, AmaCerto and travel from Budapest, Hungary on the Danube River stopping at wonderful places like Vienna ending in Vilshofen where we will transfer to Munich for a night and then finally fly to Prague for to end our amazing month of travel before heading home.

Here are a couple of images of our itinerary.

I wanted to pop in and give you an overview of the plans so that you can follow along with us!

I am going to attempt to mainly post here so I can share our days and my thoughts with you in a longer format but also please follow my Facebook pages and Instagram for more photos and videos than I will put up here.

Thanks for following. I hope you enjoy!

The evolution of luxury on River Cruises with Crystal Cruises

See what is new with Crystal River Cruises:

Offering all the hallmarks of a luxurious getaway, Crystal River Cruises is the perfect way to travel through Europe. Enjoy six–star service, first–class dining, spacious rooms and all–inclusive amenities all while taking in the breathtaking scenery of Europe’s waterways. Their carefully crafted itineraries allow for more time to explore beautiful cities such as Basel, Switzerland and Vienna, Austria. With smaller ships, the atmosphere becomes more intimate and the service becomes more personalized… not to mention every suite gets a personal butler.

We have some special offers right now that I wanted to share with you.

Exclusive to us ….Up to $200 in Savings AND Up to $400 Onboard Spending

By clicking on the above link you will see great savings on the last of the 2017 Christmas Markets and Holiday sailings if you want to get away.

danube southbound Crystal

Sailing to: Bratislava, Slovakia • Melk, Austria • Weissenkirchen, Austria • Linz, Austria • Krem, Austria • Vienna, Austria

With an itinerary full of culturally rich countries, you’ll fall in love with Hungary, Slovakia, and Austria. Explore Budapest’s Parliament, visit Bratislava’s castle and take the tour of hidden treasures in Vienna. You’ll be wrapped in a desire to dive deeper into the charms of the Danube, as each day’s adventures uncover more and more fascination and splendor.

From $3,350 per person.  View Details here….

Our Crystal River Exclusive: Up to $200 in Savings

 

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Be home for Christmas!  View Details here

Call Real World Travels – Dream Vacations at 866.566.6677 or 760.566.6677 nreal@dreamvacations.com.  We are standing by to assist with your next voyage!

Tulips in the Spring? Why not!

 

 

Springtime with the Tulipsamaprima-aft.jpg

Please join us on our small group *tip toe through the tulips and canals* tour through Holland and Belgium next spring.  April 28, 2018, 7 nights aboard the beautiful AmaPrima vessel, built and operated by the company that has received numerous awards and kudos particularly from Travel Professionals and Guests alike.  She was built recently in 2013.  She has 81 staterooms for an intimate environment..  Inspired by classic ocean yachts she boasts a magnificent glass elevator with is very unique and also has one of AmaWaterways firsts, twin balconies,  a French balcony and an outside step out balcony.

AMAwaterways has MORE to offer.  More views, More room, More included tours, More active ways to discover, More included dining discoveries including a special Chef’s Table experience, More service, More Wi-Fi, etc. etc. etc.   It is all included.  Special unlimited brews (we will be in Belgium!)  and wines at lunch and dinner and sparkling wine at breakfast.

We will also begin our voyage with our floating hotel with an overnight both at the beginning and end of our tour in Amsterdam so you don’t have to get a pre-cruise hotel to enjoy all Amsterdam has to offer.  If you are really into special events and experiences our dates fall right before the yearly KINGS DAY which is an annual Dutch holiday in honor of King Williem-Alexander.  If you like parties, you will want to come in early for this!

Here is a glimpse of our itinerary.

Tulip_timeTulip time itinerary

Extend your Amsterdam adventure with a 1 or 2 night pre cruise option as well.

Included will be some special hosted events onboard and ashore just for our guests.  We do hope you join us for an amazing week to kick off the spring in Europe.

Would you like to extend your experiences in Europe?   We are happy to explore options for any option you would like to add to your 2018 European adventure.

 

You can view different stateroom options and pricing here.  We have $1000 off per stateroom through the end of Sept.  2017.  http://nreal.sealuxegroups.com/#/groups/8909303

Or contact us at nreal@dreamvacations.com    866.566.6677

Please mention you saw us here.

 

 

First blog post

My name is Nancy Real,  I have been the owner of Real World Travels ~ a Dream Vacations Franchise for 10 years and have learned a bit regarding River Cruising throughout that time and booked many clients on various River Cruise Vacations but have focused mostly on Ocean Cruising and Land Vacations/Tours.

It is high time I got out there on the rivers myself and learn first hand the differences in the ships, company offerings, services along with the destinations along the rivers as well.

Previously I have set aside a year or 2 to focus on a destination and learn everything I could about it and it has paid off in my knowledge and confidence in being able to really know that location for my clients. I have done so with Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean, Resorts of Cancun and the Riviera Maya and the Hawaiian Islands.  I consider myself a Destination Expert in these locations and have Certifications to back them up.

I have decided that for then next couple of years that River Cruises will be my focus.  My time, energy, education and money, (yes, travel agents DO spend their own $$ to travel!), on exploring the different destinations and companies out there on the rivers of the world.

I started this blog so that I would have the space to write my experiences in learning about them and sailing on them with you, my readers and clients, who may be interested in what I am finding out as well.  This way it will also be stored for future readers and research also.  Of course I will cross post with various social networks so you can get notifications and come here for more content.

I hope you enjoy, comment and share with me and others!  I also hope you come join me on some new adventures on the many rivers out there.

nancy sig