Rooftop bars, craft beer, brunch, yoga and street art. No, we’re not referring to a new foodie hotspot or a trendy Airbnb experience. We’re talking about a new generation of river cruising, predicted to be the most significant travel trend for the Millennial and Millennial-minded travel market in 2019.
Whether you’re flying solo or travelling together with your squad, it's time to step aboard.
Relax and see Europe differently
“For anyone that’s visited Europe before, or first-time travellers who want to experience Europe differently, river cruising is the way to go,” says Divan Viljoen, Marketing Campaign Manager at Cruiseabout, a division of the Flight Centre Travel Group.
Divan embarked on a U by Uniworld Danube river cruise in August. “It’s not a standard tour going from city to city. These cruise ships are unique floating hotels offering new, trendier experiences aimed at travellers aged 18 and up,” he says. “It’s much more relaxing than ocean cruising as the ship is much smaller with a max of 120 passengers, creating a cosier cruise experience.”
“This was the best holiday as your days can be as busy as you want,” agrees 32-year-old Nadine van Zyl from Pentravel in Brooklyn, Gauteng, who travelled on U by Uniworld’s ship, ‘The A’, in August.
“You only unpack once. You don’t need to sit on a coach for hours at a time and instead you can relax on the deck with a G&T or join a yoga class while you travel to your next destination,” says Van Zyl.
“I just loved how relaxed it was,” adds 33-year old Natasha Hazell from Pentravel in Hillcrest, Durban, who embarked on the same cruise.
Forget cookie-cutter cruise excursions and experiences. River cruising puts you in the heart of the destination, with different experiences taking in a side of the destination many travellers miss.
“It’s just so convenient that you can disembark and walk straight into town,” says Van Zyl.
“City tours are included and start later than usual cruise excursions so you can sleep in... Then you are free to explore at your own pace,” says Viljoen.
“A highlight was a lovely wine tasting in the Wachau Valley and the optional excursion to the Abbey in Melk, Austria,” says van Zyl. “It was something I would never have thought of doing but was the most amazing experience. Inside a working monastery, there’s a world-famous library housing 16,000 ancient books, many of them a good 500 years old. It was amazing,” says van Zyl.
“We used the complimentary bikes to cycle about 35 kilometres on our second day; crossing the border between Austria and Germany,” says Viljoen.
“Cruises often coincide with local events, and the extremely knowledgeable onboard hosts will give you all the details.
“We were in Budapest during the Film Festival, and our onboard hosts alerted us to this event and sent us the location pin and details so we could visit ourselves,” he adds.
There is also ample opportunity to relax or get active onboard.
“One evening, we set sail and had a saxophonist on deck who played while we had evening cocktails,” says Hazell.
“If we were sailing during the day, you could enjoy the sun on the rooftop, playing board games, catch a snooze [or] get to know the people on board. In the evenings, if we weren’t docked to explore the cities, there were silent discos, karaoke, drumming, paint and wine nights, and beer mixology classes on board,” says Hazell.
Why stay in an average hotel or even a cool Airbnb when you could stay in a luxury floating boutique hotel?
The coolest way to get from A to B on Europe’s legendary rivers is on board U by Uniworld ships, The A and The B. They are the only matte black ships on the river, and not only do they make a statement, but it’s also much easier to make sure you’re getting on board the right boat.
Cabins have hotel amenities including Savoir Beds of England (the UK’s most luxurious mattress and bed company) and built-in Bluetooth speakers, BeeKind toiletries and enough plugs to charge all your devices.
“On comes cruises you can even treat yourself to the ultimate glamping experience by booking a camping experience on the rooftop deck, sleeping under the stars with the twinkling lights of the city reflected on the river,” says Viljoen.
Food to Instagram
No desperate trips to McDonald's here - unless, of course, that’s what you want from your holiday.
When it comes to meal times, think communal dining tables, fresh-pressed juices for brunch, and cocktails and craft beer at the rooftop Ice Bar.
“There’s a real farm to table philosophy and every night’s dining was influenced by the city we were in,” says Viljoen.
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