Do you enjoy visiting cities? Do you like immersing yourself in history and other cultures? Do you enjoy discovering stunning scenery? Do you prefer to be active on holiday? If the answer is “yes”, then you are most definitely a ‘River Cruiser’ at heart! I was really excited to experience my first luxury river cruise recently; I absolutely love ocean cruising and the fact that you can see multiple destinations on one trip and not have to worry about how you are going to get from A to B. I was delighted to find that luxury river cruising is no exception.
I was fortunate enough to experience a wonderful French river cruise along the Seine earlier this year and it’s definitely an experience I would be keen to repeat in the future. What strikes you first, upon embarkation, is the size of the ship. It appeared from the outside much smaller than I expected, but once inside, you realise that, while compact in size, it is perfectly formed. The lounge area at the front of the ship is the social beating heart and where you will spend a considerable amount of time each day. Meet here for a light breakfast or enjoy the complimentary tea and coffee throughout the day. You can also usually take in a light lunch or even Afternoon Tea before enjoying pre-dinner drinks and after dinner entertainment – eating definitely features heavily on a luxury river cruise!
Staterooms and suites are arranged over three levels and I would say that when travelling on a river cruise, a balcony is a must have. What could be better than sitting in the comfort of your suite, relaxing and watching the beautiful riverside scenery go by? The suites are cosy and comfortable, with ample space for two people and every amenity you could possibly need.
The other great space on a river cruise ship is the Sky Deck. Sit here and watch the world go by as you cruise along the river of your choice; some have hot tubs and some even have small pools, but it’s the ever-changing scenery that makes this one of my favourite places on the ship to sit and while away time en route to the next stop on the itinerary.
Luxury river cruising tries to evoke a flavour of the destinations you visit, and this is reflected in the on-board menus. Feast on local specialities and wines before enjoying low-key evening entertainment, which also has a certain local charm and flair, be this an ‘Oompah’ band on the Rhine or a classic French singer on the Seine. The entertainment is always enjoyable and the perfect end to the day.
Where river cruising really comes into its own is the on-shore excursions, most of which are included within the price of the journey. Each evening, you will be informed of the options available for the next day, with the key highlights pointed out to you. You are then free to choose to do as much or a little as you would like and it’s great only having to decide the evening before, as you can be much more flexible than if you have to book everything months in advance. Tours are also split into ability, so if you prefer something set at a more sedate pace, then your needs can definitely be catered to and, likewise, if you want to be more active, that can be arranged, too. Many of the river cruise ships even have a set of bikes on board, so you can take one and explore on your own or join a guided tour to explore.
Gone are the days of having to huddle around a guide brandishing an umbrella held aloft, this is touring of the 21st century and everyone is provided with their own earpiece and mobile unit, so you can hear your tour guide clearly and have room to wander and explore everything a little closer, which makes it a much more enjoyable experience! The tour guides are fabulous and so knowledgeable about the destinations visited, they make it fun and interactive and it’s truly a great way to learn all you need to know about the very unique and special places you will visit.
Each luxury river cruise also provides an opportunity to experience something totally unique and exclusive, be this an evening of fine dining in a private chateaux, or access to a privately owned castle not normally open for the public to visit. These events are so special and the experiences so once-in-a-lifetime, it will definitely be something you will talk about for years to come and certainly not something you should miss if at all possible.
So, where will your luxury river cruise journey take you? Along the scenic Seine, romantic Rhine, or the delightful Danube in Europe? Or do you crave more exotic shores further afield, including mysterious Burma (Myanmar) on the beguiling Irrawady River, Asia’s thrilling Mekong River or the game-rich Chobe River in Botswana. Whether closer to home or further afield, one thing’s for certain – you will return with a wealth of knowledge and many tales to tell your friends. Your hardest decision will definitely be where to go first.
If you wish to find out more information about luxury river cruises with Elegant Resorts, or would like us to help you plan a journey, please feel free to call us on 01244 897 200 or view the Luxury River Cruise section on our website, which features detailed information about each of the Luxury River Cruise companies we currently work with.