Life along the world’s great rivers moves a bit more slowly. The advent of air travel meant that journeys that once took days, weeks or even months could now be completed in mere hours. Not so on a river, and that’s the way we like it. A river cruise lets you kick back and enjoy several destinations while only having to unpack once. The world glides by at a leisurely pace, and you can tailor each day to your own tastes with visits to towns along the way. Here are four of our favorite river cruises.
Europe’s second-longest river touches ten nations on its way from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, so your travel experience here depends on which part of the river you decide to see. Our Danube River Cruise focuses on the stretch of river between Prague and Budapest, but this cruise actually begins in Nuremberg on the Regnitz River, one of the Danube’s many tributaries. Cruising on this section of the Danube allows travelers to visit both national capitals—such as Vienna and Bratislava—as well as the sleepy river towns of Kelheim, Passau and Melk.
The Volga-Baltic Waterway
Our Russian River Cruise actually features four rivers…and two canals, and three lakes and a manmade reservoir. The course our river ship takes follows Russia’s historic yearning for the sea, beginning in St. Petersburg. Peter the Great built St. Petersburg in an uninhabited swamp with the intention of creating a “window on the west,” a place where Russia could trade easily with Europe and where a feudal country could take its first steps into modernity. But the heart of Russia was and still is the Volga River, and connecting the Volga to the Baltic Sea through Peter’s new port would require incredible engineering feats. On this river cruise, you’ll see how man and nature continue to interact, and how the country’s waterways helped inspire some of Russia’s greatest architecture.
From space, the Nile looks like the slenderest ribbon of green in a sea of yellow sand. And from the banks of the river, it doesn’t look much different: along some stretches of the river, just beyond the lush grasses and palm trees sustained by the Nile’s waters, you can see the towering dunes of the Sahara. The world’s longest river is the exception to the rule in the world’s largest desert, but it’s also home to one of the oldest civilizations on the planet. On our Egypt & the Nile Tour, a river cruise from Luxor to Cairo shows you the wonders of Egypt, from the temples of the King Tut’s tomb to Gamal Nasser’s Aswan High Dam.
All rivers change course over time, but the Yangtze has changed course more than others. Since 2008, the mighty Yangtze has been dammed by the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric plant, and the construction of the dam irrevocably altered the physical and cultural landscape along the river. But even 35 million cubic yards of concrete can’t change the scenic beauty of the Yangtze, where sheer limestone cliffs seem to shoot straight into the sky. As you cruise from Yichang to Chongqing on Imperial China & the Yangtze River, you’ll experience the natural beauty of one of the world’s oldest and most important waterways.
Have you ever taken a river cruise? What was your favorite part of the experience? Leave a comment and let us know!