Once solely the preserve of the wealthy, cruising has become one of the most popular types of vacation for British holidaymakers. This is partly due to cruise companies developing their ships to cater to a wider demographic, and also thanks to TV shows such as ‘The Love Boat’ in the 70’s and more recently Jane McDonald’s fantastic cruise ship documentaries on Channel 5. As air travel has become more affordable, so has meeting cruise ships at exotic destinations, making them really popular for those who don’t want to face lengthy sea crossings. Also, there are certain parts of the world that can only easily be reached by waterway – the Nile delta and the Norwegian Fjords, to name just two. This is why luxury river cruises are the preferred choice among many holidaymakers. It’s easy to see why – smooth waters; a smaller, more intimate atmosphere on board; frequent ports of call and close proximity to attractions all mean that even those without the best sea legs can enjoy this type of cruise.
When it comes to choosing your cruise, there are a number of factors you’ll need to consider. When can you travel? How far are you prepared to travel to meet your cruise? What are you looking to get out of your cruise and – most people’s main concern – the budget. In order to help you decide, we’ve picked the top five river cruises from around the world, to help guide your decision:
Take a luxury trip along the River Nile
Where else in the world can you travel back in time to mystical, Pharaonic times and witness the splendour and majesty of tombs and temples, many of which were constructed some 4,500 years ago? You can relax in the grandeur of world class cabins, witnessing ancient marvels such as the Valley of the Kings, the temples of Abu Simbel and the Pyramids of Giza as you follow the river’s current from Aswan to Cairo. This Nile cruise is steeped in history, and you can indulge your inner Agatha Christie as you journey between ports of call. Only a 5-hour flight from the UK, and with cruises ranging from 1-2 weeks in duration, this is the most accessible river cruise you’ll find. All of this and guaranteed sunshine, no matter this makes the number 1 spot!
Journey along the Rhine
If you’re looking for something a bit closer to home, then a river cruise along the Rhine could be just the thing for you. Don’t worry that the scenery will all be the same though. As you drift along from Switzerland and into western Germany, you can take in a wide variety of sights. This includes vineyards, fairy-tale castles, baroque palaces and medieval villages; and as you’re on a river cruise, it’s easy to stop off and take in tourist attractions such as Strasbourg Cathedral. The only drawback with this cruise is that the Rhine is one of the busiest waterways in Europe, so you can’t always be guaranteed a good view as you progress between stops. However, if you’re looking for a short break then it could be the ideal choice for you.
Discover the Norwegian Fjords
The sheer majesty of the surrounding mountains and deep blue waters of the fjords make for an amazing cruising experience. This type of cruise isn’t for sun lovers – unless you’re prepared to book during the peak summer season. It is however definitely one for those looking for adventure, or for nature lovers, who can see unique and rare species at play. From whale watching to snowmobiling, sightseeing in Bergen and visits to remote fishing villages, this cruise offers something for thrill seekers and those looking to relax alike. Oh – and that’s without mentioning the possibility of taking in the Northern Lights!
Drift along the Venice of the East, in Kerala
This river cruise is definitely a long-haul destination, with the majority of flights connecting through Mumbai and taking 10-12 hours to complete. This is a peaceful cruise, one where you’ll weave through mangrove forests and palm tree-lined waterways, and drifting through a lush network of rivers, lakes, lagoons and rivers. The boats you’ll cruise on aren’t your usual cruise ships either, you can expect to travel on a rice barge or intimate house boat. Flora and fauna abound on a cruise along the backwaters of Kerala. One of the most popular areas to visit is the tranquil village of Kumarakom, located on a cluster of islands on Kerala’s largest lake, Vembanad Lake. If you’re tempted to visit Kerala, make sure you avoid monsoon season, which takes place June to October.
Take a cruise along The Mekong
A river cruise along the Mekong offers travellers and tourists the opportunity to take in an authentic flavour of South East Asia. The river runs through six countries, so what you’ll see will depend on your specific itinerary, but you could witness a wide range of vistas – from rainforests, jungles and floating markets to rice paddies, traditional stilt villages, bustling cities and historic temples. This is definitely a cruise for those interested in culture, as there are many attractions you can visit along the way – from the sobering remnants of the Vietnam War and tragic legacy of the Khmer Rouge, to the soaring resplendence of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Another long haul destination, you’ll need to plan at least 2 weeks on board, so this is one for those with a long holiday allowance!
We hope that’s helped give you a taste of what’s on offer around the world. If you’re looking for a holiday that offers something for everyone, then why not look at one of our Nile ‘cruise and stay’ packages? This vacation combines the best of both worlds – fun and relaxation in a 5 star resort, followed by a sublime luxury Nile river cruise, where you can take in the marvels of ancient Egypt. There’s a reason this river cruise is one of the most popular in the world, so why not get in touch with us and find out more.