The 10 Best River Cruises You Must Take
The 10 Best River Cruises You Must Take
With all the rivers in the world, how do you know which river cruise is the best for you?
We show you the difference between the Rhine and Rhone, along with 8 other Rivers, plus we reveal what you can expect to see along the way.
Seine River: Where: France
Great For: Romantic couples, art lovers, and Francophiles
Route: A cruise on the Seine focuses heavily on sightseeing in and around Paris. Typical weeklong Seine cruises include a day or two in Paris before traveling northwest toward Honfleur and the English Channel. Stops include Giverny, home of the artist Claude Monet, and Rouen, known as the “City of 100 Spires,” for its many churches and cathedrals. From Rouen, visit the beaches of Normandy to see D-Day memorial sites.
Canals of France: Where: Throughout France
Great For: Families and small groups who appreciate the architecture, history, food, and wine of France. A barge cruise is also perfect for independent-minded travelers who don’t like traveling with the pack and who can appreciate the extremely slow pace. You also have the option of walking or biking alongside the canals.
Route: There are thousands of miles of canals in France, originally built as waterways for the transport of goods. Today, these canals are a great way to explore the countryside of France at a leisurely pace. The most popular canals are in the Champagne region, the Upper Loire, Burgundy, and Alsace-Lorraine, where you’ll pass through medieval villages, see historic châteaux — and taste lots of local wines.
Rhine River: Where: Germany, Netherlands, France and Switzerland
Great For: First-time river cruisers. Since the Rhine flows through four countries, you’ll get an overview before striking out on more obscure river routes.
Route: Rhine cruises that sail between Holland and Switzerland cover a lot of cultural ground in one to two weeks, from a stop in Cologne, Germany to see the famous cathedral there to tasting Riesling wines in Rudesheim. Explore historic Heidelberg with its 14th-century university and much photographed red-brick bridge spanning the Neckar River. A highlight of Strasbourg, France, is its picturesque Gothic cathedral.
Danube River: Where: Germany, Austria, Hungary, and more
Great For: First-time river cruisers. Like the Rhine, the Danube flows through many countries.
Route: The Danube is Europe’s most popular river for cruising. It flows through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and other countries for almost 2,000 miles. Highlights include easy access to Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava, the Austrian Lake District, medieval towns, and Baroque monasteries. There are dozens of Danube river cruise combinations — cruise the Danube round-trip from Passau, Germany; ask a Travel Team Agent at 1-800-788-0829 for more information.
Main River: Where: Germany
Great For: Wine and beer connoisseurs as well as World War II buffs and anyone who wants the highlights of Germany.
Route: The three connecting rivers of the Rhine, Main, and Danube offer travelers a thorough tour of Germany and Austria, with highlights including excursions to Heidelberg and Nuremburg, with its fascinating WWII history and also home to one of the world’s largest Christmas markets.
Mekong River: Where: Cambodia & Vietnam
Great For: Adventure seekers and fairly fit travelers who can climb in and out of basic local panga boats for daily excursions along the Mekong’s tributaries and to rural shore points.
Route: Popular 7-night itineraries run between Siem Reap, Cambodia, and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The route is mostly rural, except for stops Cambodia’s capital. Boats typically anchor in the river and ferry passengers ashore via local pangas. Or the river boats nudge their bows into the muddy river side and throw out a gang plank leading to the shore. Excursions include visits to floating fish markets, temples, royal residences, villages with thatched huts, an orphanage, and a French Gothic church.
Nile River: Where: Egypt
Great For: Experienced travelers and those who appreciate history and antiquities.
Route: Most Nile cruises are less than a week long and sail round-trip out of Cairo, a convenient airline hub and a jumping-off point for land-based touring, which is often included in the cruise tour package. The Nile River is the gateway to the country’s 5,000 years of history.
Volga River: Where: Russia
Great For: History buffs and art lovers
Route: Many itineraries are about two weeks long and sail between Moscow and St. Petersburg, where the Hermitage museum resides. From Moscow’s Kremlin and Red Square to Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, the Volga takes passengers through Russia’s history-filled urban centers as well as the pastoral landscapes dominated by forests, lakes, and rustic summer houses.
Yangtze River – Where: China
Great For: History buffs, seniors, and anyone with the time to combine a cruise with a land-based tour of China.
Route: Many of China’s great cities lie along the nearly 4,000-mile-long waterway, including Shanghai, Yangzhou, Nanjing, Chongging, and Yichang, gateway to the Three Gorges. Itineraries range from three to six nights and most sail between Chongging and Shanghai or between Chongging and Yichang. The Three Gorges area — an 80-mile stretch of gorgeous scenery as well as the Three Gorges Dam — is the highlight of many itineraries. The centuries-old pagodas along the river banks are a close second.
Rhone River – Where: France
Great For: Wine lovers, honeymooners, and history buffs.
Route: Spending a week exploring the bottom half of France, most ships sail between Chalon-sur-Saône in the central part of the country and Arles in the south near the sea. This route includes everything from the Roman ruins in Arles to historic Avignon. Stroll around the 2,000-year-old city of Lyon and taste your way through the vineyards of Burgundy.
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