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CRUISE NEWS RIVER CRUISING
Anaked German couple in
bed was not the kind of
view I was expecting on
a Danube river cruise. Arriving
in a small village, my ship had
moored parallel to their ship,
bringing our floor-to-ceiling
windows within perving
distance. I quickly closed my
curtains but the shocking sight
could not be unseen.
With a lack of docking space
for the increasing number of
vessels, this style of “double-
parking” is becoming more
common in Europe, Egypt and
Asia. Rafting, as it ’s known, can
be four or five ships deep at peak
times on popular itineraries.
Not only can it spoil your
view, it means passengers have
to walk through all the lined-up
ships to embark and disembark.
Mind you, this is a great way
to have a sticky-beak at other
companies’ decor, although
not much fun if you discover
you’re on the worst, most
There’s also a question of
security. Sometimes, when staff
are distracted, it can be too easy
for anyone to wander in off the
street. I was once standing in the
lobby around midnight when
a boozy group of men entered.
Instead of continuing on to their
ship (if they were passengers at
all), they waltzed into our lounge
and cheekily ordered drinks
at the free bar. It took a good
minute for someone to ask them
to leave. Luckily, they obeyed
without any drama.
The more pressing concern is
the potential for overcrowding,
with almost 40 additional vessels
launched on rivers this year
but little extra infrastructure.
However, river cruise companies
insist congestion is not an issue.
So how do we avoid it
becoming a problem? The
solution is twofold: mix up
itineraries to stagger stops at
busy ports, and develop facilities
at more riverside towns. River
cruise lines are working on
the former, but it ’s up to the
municipalities to decide on
the latter, which means they
need convincing that cruising
will benefit the local economy
without disrupting the residents.
Part of the challenge is
finding berthing spaces in
desirable places. A major appeal
of river cruising is waking up
within walking distance of a city
centre, so ships cannot be pushed
too far down the water ways
where there are no attractions,
cycle paths or tour guides.
In the meantime, travellers
Words Louise Goldsbury
can choose cruises off the beaten
track, especially in Europe.
France’s Rhône and Saône rivers,
Portugal’s Douro and Italy’s
Po are relatively clear runs. But
you have no alternative in some
destinations, such as the Nile,
where close to 300 ships operate
between Luxor and Aswan.
Booking smaller ships also
helps. On the Mekong or the
Amazon, a 16-cabin vessel can
tie up almost anywhere. And your
group won’t over whelm a tiny
village when you descend upon it.
For now, rafting is no reason
to avoid a river cruise, and it ’s in
everyone’s interests to future-
proof against a logjam situation.
Hopefully, we will soon see
more improvements – and fewer
The practice of river ships rafting up –
sometimes four or five deep – at popular
destinations has its problems.
‘Passengers have to walk through all the
lined-up ships to embark and disembark.’
Inspire raft up
She made your day
Now make hers
READERS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2014
Cruise crews work hard to make your
holiday extra special. Now, you can show
how much you appreciate their work.
Cruise Passenger’s Readers’ Choice
Awards are the most respected in the
Australian cruise industry, because the
votes come from you – our readers.
As the only independent awards,
they are carefully monitored by every
cruise line – from those that run
the biggest ships to the operators
of river craft and boutique vessels.
So please cast your vote for your
favourite ships and lines. Then, to be
in the running to win an iPad Mini
worth $449, tell us in 25 words or less
why you chose your winner in the Best
Cruise Line Overall category.
SEE PAGE 78
Photo courtesy of Evergreen Tours
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