Oceans dwarf rivers, it's true. But for those seeking to go big on culture, always-on scenery, and a series of curated excursions led by local experts, a lavish river cruise is your ticket, indeed.

Today’s modern river ships are floating, luxury hotels, complete with restaurants, wellness areas, swimming pools, massage rooms, staterooms (with balconies, even!), and more. And if that’s not incentive enough, consider these reasons for taking a river cruise . . .

Unpack once; cruise seven nights; visit four nations.

No need to backpack around Europe (or Asia or Africa or Egypt). Nor need you hop on trains, planes, or automobiles to see a continent’s great cities. For a river cruise, you make just one trip: to the ship. From there, all destinations come to you. In a week’s time, you can sail through as many as four-plus countries.

Always be in the middle of somewhere.

You’ll never find yourself staring at the open sea (not that there’s anything wrong with that). On a river cruise, the landscapes and cityscapes keep changing, and you'll likely awaken in a different, historic city daily. And if what you’re seeing at the moment doesn’t excite you, just wait a few minutes.

So. Many. Activities.

Ocean liners aren’t the only floating resorts. River cruising too can offer a luxe, intimate vacation overflowing with onboard activities and exciting excursions. From haute cuisine, to massage, to salon treatments, to heated pools, to live entertainment, and more, there’s no onboard boredom between arrival and departure.

Take tours with local guides.

River cruise ships dock just steps from city centers. As such, tours are easy, convenient, and efficient. See the sights more easily and at a relaxed and comfortable pace, whether by foot or by bus, with people who know them best—locals. AmaWaterways, for instance, includes complimentary sightseeing tours at every historic destination by licensed, English-speaking local guides.

Make friends fast.

While staterooms and common areas like restaurants can be spacious, your journey is intimate and more personal, thanks to a limited passenger count. AMA ships, for one, host a maximum of 164 guests. Without the overwhelming crowds, guests have a better chance to enjoy pure rest, relaxation, and genuine friend- and memory-making.

Bonus: Easy-on / easy-off

Embarking, disembarking, re-embarking—all are easy to do at port with river cruises, plus, expect to be greeted with a sparkling beverage.

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