July 23, 2024


Allure of the Seas / Google Photo
Allure of the Seas / Google Photo


Guest Article on Cruise Photography by John Caulfield


Cruise Photography Tips ….. Ocean Going or River Boat?

The Long And Short Of It

My wife and I love to travel and we are hooked on cruising.  The last intelligent thing I have to do on a packaged cruise is remember  where I parked my car at the airport.  Once I have written that information down and safely tucked it away in my billfold, everything else can be the as close to adult daycare as you want it to be.

One of the decisions you do have to make when picking out a cruise is “Ocean Going” or “Riverboat Cruise”.  We have been on both and the intent of this blog is to give a few pros and cons of each mode;


Ocean Going Cruise Liner

Dockside in New Zealand /  J Caulfield
  • Big majestic ships  allow you to enjoy the immensity of the ocean.  If you  are lucky enough to get a clear moonlit night on a calm sea, it is the sort of thing that you will remember a long time.  It is hard to capture the serenity of those moments with your camera.  That is a good thing. It’s the essence of “being there” versus reading about it.


  • Lots to eat, shows to go to, gambling, choice pools to swim in, new people to meet, shore excursions galore.
  • A room with a balcony, will allow you to set up your tripod and do photo shoots right from that vantage point as the ship transverses  scenic vistas.
  • “Queue” is a term you will soon learn – to hate.  If it is a big ship, and you sign up for ship sponsored shore excursions you will have to line up (queue) to get off the ship on onto the shore excursion transportation.  I don’t like “burning daylight” in the Princess Lounge waiting for my tour group to be called.

    A Day at Sea / J Caulfield


  • Get in shape before the cruise.  If you plan to be an active photographer,  you will need to be on port, starboard, or top deck to get the best  vantage points.  Plus you need to anticipate where the ship will be so you can get to those spots in a timely basis.  There will  be hundreds of other camera toting folks vying  for some of those same spots.  It can be a jungle out there.


River Boat Cruising:

J Caulfield
  • Obviously, no ocean views. Don’t look for dolphins swimming along side. You are on a river that may be 4 – 100 feet deep.  We were on a Viking river boat cruise up the Danube that started in Budapest and ended in Nuremburg, Germany.



  • French balcony – another new term for me – interpretation  – a sliding glass door with no outside deck.  These boats are long and narrow so they can get them trough locks along the river.

    A Lock on the Danube / J Caulfield


  • Good news, when the boat docks at a port, you can be off the boat in  5 minutes.  Queues are almost nonexistent.  You don’t take a tender boat  to get to shore.


  • Easier to get around onboard.  You can be anywhere on the boat in minutes and you normally don’t have to fight for a photo vantage point.  You may, in fact, be the only one onboard with a 70-200.  You will be known as the  “ship photographer” – be sure to give out your card and let them buy images  from your website – you could make millions!

    Hop on hop off – no queue / J Caulfield


  • Limited restaurant menu, no glitzy shows, casinos, tuxedoed dress up diners, wooden horse races,  selection of swimming pools or 24 hour soft serve ice cream.



So which is best?  Hmm….long pause….  Answer, it all depends.  Where do you want to go?  Alaska is not big on river boat cursing.  Nor is the Canada New England shore line. But if you want to explore the interiors of Europe then the Rhine and Danube are “river boat ready”.  The important thing is to choose a mode and commit to it, study the journey, engage the fellow travelers, don’t allow yourself to complain but celebrate the fact that you are seeing new country and creating a lifetime of memories.

John Caulfield, Photographer


My thanks to John for his guest article.  John is a great guy and a wonderful photographer. Here is his brief bio:

John Caulfield Biography

John Caulfield – Photographer

I am a freelance photographer concentrating on event and portrait  photography.  My images have appeared in newspapers, magazines, travel brochures, advertising brochures, promotional books, billboards and on TV.   My educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from St. Louis University and a MBA from the University of Kansas.  I augmented my photography skills by taking Fundamental Photography, Photoshop, and Digital Photography courses at Johnson County Community College.

I am a long time board member  of Digital Dimensions and Beyond, a local Kansas City photography club.

I retired in August 2011 from  Cleaves-Bessmer-Marietti, Inc., a Kansas Citybased manufacturer’s representative with 33 employees selling electrical products in a 5 state area.  I spent 35 years with CBM, Inc and was President/CEO for 10 years.

In addition to photography I enjoy time with my wife Laura, 3 daughters, a son-in-law, 2 grandchildren, ham radio, computers, church activities and golf.

John can be reached at jcaulfield@kc.rr.com


Keep on Cruisin’ …………………. And Enjoy The Adventure!


Thanks again, John.  And if anyone else has an interest in doing a guest article ……. let me know!