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Ocean Cruising versus River Cruising

Apples to Apples Price Comparison

Have you ever priced a river cruise vacation and recoiled in sticker shock?  We certainly have.  Actually, that is, until we started digging and then realized that when you compare “Apples to Apples,” many times, the river cruises offer quite a lot for the price tag.


Now, we're not here to convince you that river cruises are better than ocean cruises, the pros and cons of both are a topic for another day and another blog.  HOWEVER, this graphic gives you a side-by-side comparison of just what you’re paying for when you see those totals when a quote is given.

Data Chat

For data purposes, we pulled 7-9 night cruises for 2 adults from four popular vendors from both River and Ocean Cruise Line operators. These prices are for 2 adults double occupancy.

River Cruises – 7 – 9 night cruises with Viking, AMA Waterways, Uniworld, and Avalon.  To make the numbers as close as possible, each river cruise itinerary visited 5 Northern European Countries, with excursions offered in each port.   The 7-night Itineraries were considered to have 6 included excursions.  

Ocean Cruises – 7-9 night European itineraries from Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages, and Disney.

Drink packages – pricing for the ocean cruises were taken directly from the vendor websites and averaged together.  Disney doesn’t offer a liquor package, but they do have a wine package that was used in this average.


Excursions – prices were calculated based on $150 per person excursions or activities on each of the sailing days to best compare to the excursion offerings on the River Cruise lines.  


Ground transfers 

Most River Cruise lines offer ground transfers as part of their original cruise fare.  Ocean cruise lines usually DON’T.  However, ground transfers are often necessary with cruise travel, and a lot of travelers don’t take it into account when looking at the overall cost.  

Example – Disney Cruise Line offers transfers to their cruise clients.  Those sailing on DCL can choose between one way transfers.  One-way transfers are $39 per person so for 2 adults that’s $78.  Round trip cost is $78 per person, so ground transfers are worth $156 

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