For those only familiar with the rules of big ships, here are three reasons riverboat fanatics come back, time and again, for more.
Forget buffet dining with 2,000 strangers. River cruises average about 200 passengers per boat, so the waitstaff will likely know your name by the end of the first meal (and so will your fellow travelers).
Instead of dance clubs, karaoke, and glitzy Vegas-style reviews, nightlife on river cruises trends toward string quartets, guest lectures on regional history, and staring out at actual scenery, not just a watery horizon.
The dirty little secrets of ocean cruises? They always charge extra for excursions, and beer and wine costs are on par with pro sports arenas. River cruise lines opt for flat fees up front.
Ask Trip Coach: River Cruises
—From the October 2010 issue of Budget Travel