Going coastal: the ideal mix of river and ocean cruise

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Coastal cruises have the intimacy of river cruise without the restrictions


For those thinking of making the switch between river and ocean cruise, there is a good mid-way point. Coastal cruises are an often overlooked but important part of the industry. A type of small-ship cruise that provides the intimacy and scenery of river cruise, but with freedom of ocean cruise, the vessels hug a country’s coastline, providing a gentle sailing with many stops.

The most popular itineraries you’re likely come across sail the Dalmatian coast, taking in Croatia and, sometimes, Montenegro. A typical round-trip from Dubrovnik will call at Split, Hvar, Korcula and Sibenik over eight days, such as on CroisiEurope’s MS La Belle de l’Adriatique, which holds 198 passengers.

Without the restrictions of locks and bridges, these vessels can be wider and taller than their river-going counterparts, but are far smaller than the majority of ocean-going ships. Often, they also usually provide a good small-ship budget option, costing far less than some of the ultra-luxury yacht-like ships on the market, and may be appealing to those who want to travel by ship but don’t feel that comfortable sailing off into the big wide ocean, where things can get a little rocky, or for those who want to explore a country in depth.

Hurtigruten’s coastal cruise around the Norwegian fjords, which is has been running since the 1890s, is perhaps the most famous, but customers can look towards Corsica, French Polynesia and even the Great Barrier Reef.   

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