A big expense on an ocean cruise can be the shore excursions. The boat takes you to this wonderful place and then leaves you to wonder on your own or pay for help and direction. This is not what you see on a riverboat. One thing that helps a river cruise be more immersive is that on most lines they include atleast one shore excursion in each port.
Many lines like AmaWaterways actually include multiple options for you to explore the port. On our River cruise last August when we stopped at Wertheim we had 4 options
Walking City tour
OR Main River bike tour
OR Pretzel bakery visit and tasting (these tasted great by the way)
OR Castle hike
In Rüdesheim we had 4 options again, of which we took half of one of them. The option we kind of choose was the Gondola ride and wine tasting. Well since we are neither big wine drinkers we did the intro city walk and then left the group and did the Gondola while the group was doing the wine tasting. This gave us extra time to explore and talk to some locals. We found the most awesome lamps. Anyway since there was only 130 people on the cruise it is not an issue with you going out on your own.
Gondola ride and wine tasting
OR Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Museum
OR Vineyard hike
OR Guided bike tour of the Rheingau
Of course we could have also just walked off the ship and explored on our own. With the city map they provide, an app with maps and details about the destination, and the phone number of the cruise manager and the boat we felt really safe. In fact in Würzburg after taking a great tour of the Würzburg’s Baroque Residenz Palace, we explored the city on our own and had a great meal at little restaurant right off of the main square.
In Trier the oldest city in Germany we enjoyed a great city tour with stories involving the Romans and their time in the city. Afterwards we had 2 hours on our own to explore, shop, and enjoy a wonderful coffee sitting in a city square watching everyone go by(the coffee was really good)
This is also one where we could have chosen between 4 options, all included.
“Rome of the North” tour
OR “Ancient tales of the Porta Nigra”
OR Petrisberg hike
OR Trier bike tour
In summary, come take a river cruise, there are so many included options you may have to take the same cruise a few times to do everything you want to do.