River cruising is quite simply one of the most sublime and relaxing ways to travel. After all, no other mode of transport allows you to journey through the heart of the countries you visit while only having to unpack once. While ocean cruising boasts a similar advantage, you are generally limited to exploring areas within a few hours of the coast. Those who wish to explore further inland or visit landlocked countries will find river cruising the perfect alternative, or add-on to an ocean voyage.
But that is not where the advantages of river cruising end. Those seeking a more boutique experience will enjoy the smaller size of river cruise ships, where guests number in the hundreds (or less) rather than the thousands. Fewer guests not only means you benefit from more space, but also translates to impeccable service and a higher standard of dining.
Best of all, river cruising can be enjoyed around the globe. While Europe may be the first place that springs to mind, it is just the beginning of the amazing array of itineraries on offer. You might find yourself floating peacefully though South East Asia along the Mekong, delving into US history on the mighty Mississippi, wildlife spotting on the Amazon or gazing at temples and pyramids from the Nile, to name just a few.
Each river has its own character and charm, and the same is true of the river cruise companies that carry you along them. Each boasts its own unique style and ambience. For those who enjoy time outdoors, Viking river ships offer sprawling sun decks and al fresco dining spaces that are sure to enhance your onboard experience, as well as included shore excursions in every port.
If your tastes lean to the more luxurious, Uniworld offers a wide range of river cruise itineraries that take you through Europe on-board one-of-a-kind award-winning ships with lavishly designed interiors. Expect delicious farm-to-table cuisine, butler service in every suite and an array of signature touches. Meanwhile Crystal River Cruises offers the height of luxury having brought its trademark style to the rivers of Europe with 24-hour butler service and Michelin-inspired dining.
However, today’s river cruises are so much more than just a floating boutique hotel. Guests are demanding more from their shore excursions and river cruise lines are stepping up their offering to meet this need. Scenic not only offers immersive cultural experiences, it has also partnered with National Geographic to offer deeper insights on select sailings. Avalon Waterways offers specially themed cruises tailored to specific interests and Active & Discovery cruises that offer a range of more or and hands-on shore excursions. And perennial favourite, APT, brings its Freedom of Choice touring to river cruising, allowing guests to tailor their time ashore to suit their passions.
No longer the sole preserve of older travellers, river cruises are increasingly appealing to younger generations too. Carefully crafted multi-generation itineraries encourage extended families to travel and enjoy quality time together. Tauck, for example, offers exclusive shore experiences catering to all ages.
No matter which river or cruise line you choose, you are assured a memorable and relaxing holiday on one of the world’s great waterways.