River Cruising: Do You Get Your Money's Worth?

Wachau Valley Castle River Cruise
Jess Moss, AOL

One of the biggest draws of river cruising is that you pay a lump sum and your entire vacation is handed to you on a silver platter (or a black neoprene travel folder in Viking's case).

Included in the package are your hotel, which travels with you (unpacking only once, score!); all meals, some of which are three courses or more; ground transportation (again, the traveling hotel); and local tours and information. Perks can include air conditioning (rare in parts of Europe that can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit in summer) and a full-service staff to keep you informed and oriented despite any local language and cultural barriers.

The ease of travel is enough to justify a river cruise's price tag for many. Others, myself included, who are used to coordinating every element of a trip, may wonder whether the cost is worth it. If you DIY, how much money would you save?