River cruising is experiencing a real boom at the moment, with a record number of UK travellers choosing this kind of holiday in 2017. More than 200,000 Brits are thought to have sailed the world’s rivers last year, as many start to realise the ease and relaxation involved in a trip that will take you to multiple cities (and often countries) without you having to unpack more than once.
So, if you’re yet to try a river cruise, perhaps it’s time to start considering one. Here are some of our favourite experiences on waterways across the world.
Europe is the most popular river cruise region (at least for us Brits) and, with so many different choices, it’s easy to see why. Various different ships from numerous cruise lines offer unique itineraries along rivers such as the Danube, Seine, Moselle and Rhone, giving you the chance to see beautiful chateaux, sample delicious food and stop in historic towns that you would otherwise never have discovered.
But whilst the Douro and Volga both received the most significant growth in 2017, it is the Rhine that we’ve chosen here. In particular, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed section known as the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Along this stunning stretch of water, fairytale castles cling to high clifftops, vineyard after vineyard glides past your window and romantic destinations like Bingen and Rüdesheim beckon you to explore their charming streets.
Whilst Africa cannot offer the quantity of river cruises that Europe boasts, those that are available are certainly not lacking in quality. One of the most popular trips is through the Chobe National Park along its eponymous river, giving you the chance to see elephants, giraffes and buffalos up close. The trip is typically combined with a land stay that takes you to the edge of Victoria Falls, another unforgettable highlight.
However, it is Nile River cruises that are growing in popularity within the African region. Sailing on board luxurious vessels from Luxor to Aswan, you will climb ashore to explore some of the impressive temples and tombs that line the banks of this famous waterway. From the Valley of the Kings to the Temples of Karnak, you will gaze in awe at incredible structures and learn the secrets of one of the most intriguing ancient civilisations.
There’s no doubt that the Amazon is one of the world’s bucket list destinations and travelling by river cruise is one of the best ways to see it. Not only do you get to see the magnificent nature and wildlife up close and meet some amazing people that thrive in these remote areas, you will be led by qualified experts who will enhance your experience.
Highlights will include tours of the rainforest at night and during the day; a visit to the ‘Meeting of Waters’, where the contrasting colours of the Rio Negro and Amazon rivers refuse to mix; and the chance to visit a manatee rescue centre. There is also the option to add a range of once-in-a-lifetime land experiences to your holiday – like walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu or seeing Peru’s Nazca Lines. The comfort levels may not be the same as other river cruises but this is a chance to get off the beaten track and experience a real adventure.
Australian river cruises may not be the most popular but, if you want to see what life is like outside of the cities, there are few better ways than on a river cruise. The Murray River is the country’s longest, flowing from Kosciuszko National Park into the Southern Ocean close to Adelaide – the city from which most departures set sail.
A typical river cruise will include chances to see native wildlife, visit important aboriginal sites and sample some of the local wine. The latter is done during a stop in the famous Barossa Valley – something that is sure to be memorable for any foodies.
Asian river cruises are rather different to those operated in Europe. The banks of the rivers are more likely to be lined with gilded pagodas and vast rice paddies instead of dramatic castles and sweeping vineyards. Even the ships look different, whilst still offering a fantastic level of comfort and service.
A journey through Vietnam and Cambodia along the Mekong may have become the staple river cruise for anyone visiting this part of the world for the first time, but a sailing through India can provide a more unique and fruitful experience. The Brahmaputra flows through the state of Assam, in the north, and gives you the chance to really get to know the amazing people in this country. As well as venturing ashore to see traditional industries in action, you will be welcomed into people’s homes and treated to dance and musical performances.
A Brahmaputra River cruise usually also includes a safari in the Kaziranga National Park, where you will hopefully catch a glimpse of the elusive Bengal tiger.
A Mississippi River cruise through the heart of America presents the chance to experience the nostalgic days when this style of travel was at its peak. Sailing aboard an authentic paddle steamer, you can choose an itinerary on either the northern or southern part of the river, all while immersing yourself in the fascinating culture of cities like Memphis, New Orleans and St. Louis.
As well as jazz fans, these river cruises will appeal to food lovers (think American soul food) and anyone with an interest in American history. Stops in Vicksburg and Greenville will take you to Civil War sites, and you will able to visit the historic Nottaway and Oak Alley Plantation on the stretch between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. On the upper part of the river, the focus is more on the beautiful scenery and wildlife.
If you are considering booking a river cruise, our knowledgeable team can help you decide which option would be best for you. Call us on 0800 021 3237, contact us via the website or drop into our branches in Ipswich and Woodbridge for more information.
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