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Best River Cruises

R

iver cruises offer opportunities to step ashore in fairy-tale towns and major capitals that can’t be reached on a traditional cruise ship. The onboard ambience spans such a range that there are ships to suit most travel preferences and lifestyles.

Designed specifically to transit the locks of river canals, modern river cruisers tend to be long and narrow, just like the locks. They rarely carry more than 200 passengers. The typical river cruiser has four decks, including an upper sundeck, with two to three decks below it containing a series of staterooms on each side of the ship. Staterooms typically have a queen-size bed that can be reconfigured to two single beds, a TV, storage space, and small bathroom with shower and usually no tub.

Public rooms typically include a single dining room, a lounge, and perhaps a sundeck, but common areas are limited, as are fancy amenities. Spas and gyms are rare (massage rooms more common), and the "pool" may be little more than a plunge pool or hot tub.

They are often not suited to families or travelers with disabilities, though some newer ships do have elevators. Nonsmokers, in particular, should beware, because few river ships ban smoking completely. On some vessels smoking is allowed in public areas or at least a part of the lounge.

Here's a list of the best river ships.

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