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Make the most of your river cruise

Vacationers often want to make the very most of their escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In addition to seeing the sights and sounds their chosen destination has to offer, men and women on vacation also want to pencil in some time for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

Perhaps no vacation option offers that balance better than river cruising. Unlike ocean cruising, river cruising emphasizes the destination, allowing guests to reach more cities and attractions than they could access via ocean cruising or bus tours. And in between locales, cruisers can still kick their feet up and enjoy majestic views so they don't miss out on any of that coveted R&R.

That ability to offer the best of both worlds is one reason river cruises continue to grow in popularity. The fastest-growing segment of the cruising industry, river cruising has increased at double digit rates for the past several years, tripling the growth rate of ocean cruising over that time. First-time river cruisers can make their experience even more memorable by employing a few tricks of the trade.

* Compare all-inclusive offerings. Before booking a river cruise, shop around and compare each company's all-inclusive offerings. Though logic might suggest every "all-inclusive" offer is the same, that might not always be the case. All-inclusive pricing typically features accommodations and all onboard meals, but some companies sweeten their all-inclusive packages with extras. Viking River Cruises, for example, offers daily guided shore excursions and culturally relevant multi-media talks in their all-inclusive package. Compare all-inclusive offerings to find the best fit for you.

* Book early. Booking early has its benefits with most vacation options, and river cruising is no exception. Some cruise lines offer great deals for passengers who book early, and these deals might include airfare incentives that can drastically reduce the cost of international airfare.

* Remember the essentials. Once your trip is booked, don't forget to pack the essentials, including all relevant travel documents. International travelers will need their airline tickets and passports, and it's also a good idea to notify your bank and credit card company that you will be traveling overseas. This ensures you will be able to use your ATM card and credit card at will without raising a red flag with your bank and credit card company back home. In addition, pack any medication you're currently taking and, though seasickness or nausea is highly unlikely when traveling on a river, any additional over-the-counter medications that might help you counter any unforeseen bouts of indigestion or headache.

* Be a traveler for all seasons. Some river cruises will take travelers to a host of cities and quaint locales. Viking River Cruises passengers frequently awake in an exciting new destination each day, enjoying new scenery and vistas that can change drastically from day to day. These destinations don't always offer the same weather, so remember this when packing and pack clothes that can handle whatever weather you might encounter.

River cruising continues to grow in popularity as travelers increasingly look to vacations that combine the allure of international travel with the rest and relaxation of a scenic river trip. More information on river cruising is available at