Enchanting castles overlook the Danube River along the Wachau Valley, Austria
Posted: 29 April 2016
“A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself.”
― Laura Gilpin
Flowing across borders and delving into the beating heart of our world’s most fascinating array of cultures, the rivers of Europe, Asia and beyond form a network of pathways, beckoning intrepid travellers with an enticing wealth of discoveries. Transcending cross-country boundaries, these rivers offer a trove of enriching adventures, boldly sweeping across continents through dramatic valleys, and burrowing into seductive alcoves of rarely visited corners of the globe, carving out routes seemingly made for exploring.
It is the philosophy of indulging your curiosities that makes the concept of luxury river cruises so wonderful. Unlike ocean cruising, where days are spent at sea barely scratching the surface of the shore, a river cruise endeavours to take a step further, offering an exhilarating immersion into the intriguing character of every port and harbour passed through. With land always in sight, and intimately sized vessels ensuring the spellbinding scenery is always tantalisingly within reach, daily stops along your journey guarantee every morning will be met with an excited anticipation for the possibilities waiting beyond the river banks.
Meticulously designed ships are essential to the river cruise experience; their smaller size is crucial in their ability to reach tucked away harbours, waterside hamlets and undisturbed villages. Nevertheless, these vessels do not quiver when it comes to style and luxury. The geniously designed ‘Space-Ships’, offered by Scenic, feature beautifully elegant suites, each boasting a personal butler service, while the revolutionary Suite Ships of Avalon Waterways offer sliding, wall-to-wall panoramic windows, transforming the lounge area into a breezy open-air living space.
As for dining, if not out sampling local delicacies and savouring world-renowned wines at some of the most famous vineyards along your route, AmaWaterways and APT Luxury Cruises offer award-winning cuisine, and are the only river cruise lines to be inducted into the prestigious Confrérie de la Chaîne Rôtisseurs gastronomic society. Furthermore, with sun deck swimming pools, spa rooms, fitness gyms and hair salons, these ships allow plenty of opportunity for indulgence; Crystal River Cruises aim to exceed expectations, offering the same six-star service it is renowned for on its outstanding ocean cruises.
Wherever you chose to venture, a river cruise will grant you a front row seat to every breathtaking vista. The Rhine, Moselle and the sprawling Danube crack the interior of central Europe, where, from Amsterdam down to the Black Sea, fairytale castles and storybook Bavarian scenes are brought to life, before the waters reach the stunning capital cities of Vienna, Budapest and Bucharest, and dive into the Balkans. In France, a world of truffle-hunting, wine-tasting and refined cuisine await along the Rhone, Saône and Bordeaux region, while history and art make for a fascinating journey from Paris to Normandy along the Seine. For a wonderfully intimate cruise through the beautiful Burgundy region, Belmond boasts a charming fleet of luxury barges, which, if you so wish, are available for private charter. In Portugal, the sun-baked Douro is a Mediterranean gem, rich in finely crafted port and seductively authentic quintas.
In Asia, a thriving melange of ancient vestiges, mystical spirituality and chaotic capital cities awaits. Through Cambodia and Vietnam, the Mekong is immersed in colourful cultures encrusted by staggering temples, while the once secretive waters of the Irrawaddy offer a glimpse into the inspiring treasures of Myanmar, from magnificently gilded pagodas to humbling stupas. In China, the twists and turns of Yangtze River reveal beautiful views of the stunning Three Gorges valley, while the Lower Ganges reveals the evocative contrasts of India, from poignant religious rituals to hectic cities and regal palaces.
Beyond Europe and Asia, the rest of the world offers a diverse selection of fascinating adventures. The mighty River Volga opens the gateway to the opulent cities and historic kremlins of Russia, while the placid River Chobe is a perfect spot from which to watch the majestic wildlife of Botswana congregate along the shores. For the adventurous, Aqua Expeditions cruises through the Peruvian Amazon stretch through swathes of thriving jungle, where realms of tropical wilderness are ripe for exploring.
Whichever destination inspires you, to plan your journey of wonders and learn more about luxury river cruises in Europe, Asia and beyond, please call our expert Travel Consultants on 01244 897 200.