Insider Journeys has put together a top 5 list of the ‘must know’ considerations when selecting the most appropriate Asian river cruise to travel on.
Managing Director and Co-Founder, Paul Hole says even though river cruising is one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism, it is still a relatively new concept for many travellers, meaning consumers have many questions.
“Travellers are really starting to discover river cruising and its great value offerings,” explains Hole.
“River cruising’s popularity has skyrocketed and travellers are reaching out to us in large numbers asking, ‘how do we choose the right Asian river cruise?’.”
“My team at Insider Journeys and I have put together a list of the top 5 considerations prospective travellers ‘need to know’ to select the most appropriate Asian river cruise for them,” says Hole.
Insider Journeys’ top 5 list of considerations when booking an Asian river cruise are:
- Focus on the product and its inherent value, not the price. Unlike ocean cruises which only touch the edges of the continents, river cruises take you to the very heart of magnificent cities and ancient towns, where guests are able to have personal interactions with locals to learn about the rich history, culture and influences surrounding the river.
Like most products, river cruise vessels have different qualities of ships and tiered levels of brands. Some river cruise lines are considered more of a ‘luxury line’, while others ‘contemporary’ mass-market, and those with older ships are known for being more affordable. For instance, where prices may look similar in the lower price category, a newer ship may have considerably larger cabin spaces.
Check with your travel agent or tour provider to see what you are getting and whether it matches your requirements.
- Is your river cruise tailored to you? Different cruises appeal to different ages and different demographics, which is why this consideration needs to be high on your list.
Is your river cruise suitable for single travellers, childless young or elderly couples, and do the onshore excursions match your level of physical abilities? All Asian river cruises with excursions, whatever their grading, require walking and general mobility. Travellers must be able to walk reasonable distances unassisted, negotiate uneven surfaces, climb stairs and board boats as the journey requires. Some journeys involve long distance travel and occasional basic accommodation, so be sure to check!
- What is included in your river cruise fare? One of the benefits of river cruising is that the vast majority of what you will do on the trip is paid as part of your fare, so you can budget well in advance, including shore excursions so you don’t have to keep reaching into your pocket once you are onboard.
It is important to read the fine print to see what is and is not included in your fare. Be aware of other charges you may incur. Does your river cruise include complimentary airport transfers, or is wine and beer included with dinner? What about airfare and travel cancellation insurance? While port charges are usually included, tips for crew and local guides may not be.
- Add a few days. Paul Hole says, while river cruising shows you a different side of the lifeblood of Asia, consider marrying a cruise with some land components.
“Trip extensions have become very popular. In the last 12 months, Insider Journeys’ Mekong cruises have seen almost half of our passengers take the ‘cruise plus’ option of combining cruise and land arrangements,” says Hole.
Paul Hole says Insider Journeys has combined cruise with pre and post land touring in response to passenger demand.
“For the first time, we’re now offering a ‘Mekong & Beyond’ package, which is a small group journey combined with a river cruise due to this increasing passenger trend.”
By adding a few more days with pre or post-land stays, you get to enjoy more of the sights your destination has to offer.
- Insider knowledge. Consider the experience and expertise of the cruise director and guides on your Asian river cruise. The guides used for shore excursions can provide tremendous insight into local life. In select cases, you may even be able to join an exclusive charter.
One of many benefits of choosing to travel with an exclusive charter is sharing a journey with like-minded passengers who have all booked with the same company. There is also the added benefit of peace of mind knowing you are guaranteed a Western tour leader, in addition to the local English speaking cruise director, to provide added insights and oversight to your experience.
Insider Journeys offer cruise bookings on a range of small boat river cruises across Asia, as well as exclusive charters and ‘cruise plus’ options that are blended river and lands tours, including the following packages:
- Insider Journeys gives travellers the opportunity to explore the ‘Treasures of Golden Burma’ on a 12 day exclusive charter, cruising along the Irrawaddy River that will allow you to uncover the unique charms, friendly locals and stunning scenery of Burma in complete luxury.
The itinerary includes: Mandalay, Amarapury, Monywa, Bagan, Salay, Magwe, Thayetmyo, Pyay (Prome), and Yangon.
From $6,262 (AUD)* per person twin share
- Enjoy the ‘Mekong & Beyond’ 16 day tour, experiencing Cambodia and Vietnam’s rich cultures, fascinating history, welcoming people and natural beauty on this journey blending river cruising with land touring. Explore the mysterious temples of Angkor in Siem Reap, and cruise the vast Tonle Sap Lake and Mekong River, visiting fascinating towns and temples along the way. Experience the riverside charm of Phnom Penh, and cruise across the border to Vietnam. Travel from the country’s south to north, taking in the floating markets of the Mekong Delta, bustling Saigon and character-filled Hoi An. Cruise the picturesque waterways of Halong Bay before finishing in the vibrant capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, with its enticing blend of old and new.
The itinerary includes: Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Mekong Cruise, Cu Chi Tunnels, Hoi An Old Town, Halong Bay overnight, and Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
From $6,075 (AUD) per person twin share
Insider Journeys Small Group Journeys packages are available for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma, China, India, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Japan, and Mongolia.
Small Group Journeys guarantee a maximum of 16 travellers, with exclusive ‘insider experiences’, designed to gain authentic travel experiences and real insights into each destination, many of which cannot be accessed or replicated without the insider knowledge of Insider Journeys expert local guides.