The beauty of a river cruise isn’t just the ever-changing views or the luxury boutique-style accommodation. It isn’t only that you venture straight to the heart of town, making it easier to explore everything your destination has to offer and to make the most of every second you have there. It isn’t even that you’ll see a combination of towns, countryside and cities, all without having to unpack more than once. The beauty of a river cruise is all of these things and that is why more people than ever are choosing to explore the world’s waterways.
Where you choose to go depends on what you want to see. Infatuated by the arts? Sail along the Seine as it flows through the heart of Paris. Obsessed with architecture? A river cruise along the Rhine offers a combination of storybook scenery and historic towns. Food lovers can sample the finer things in life along the Duoro and adventurers can experience cultures a million miles away from our own in China, Vietnam and Cambodia, and Myanmar.
When it comes to planning a river cruise, choosing the right river is more important than you might think. Check out our choosing a river guide for more on the world’s most popular rivers and what each one has to offer. One of river cruising’s most appealing attributes is that you’ll often see as much scenery between ports as you will in each destination and your choice of itinerary should depend on what you want to see along the way. For example, a cruise through Holland during tulip season will be filled with beautiful blooms and scenic cities whilst you’re ashore, but generally flat embankments mean that you’ll see little in the way of rolling hills, dramatic gorges or palatial castles when sailing between ports. Oenophiles will relish the endless Portuguese vineyards that blanket the Douro’s riverbanks, whilst those keen to experience cultures and cuisine far removed from our own will thrive on Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River.
European river cruises are usually a week long, with more exotic Asian itineraries spanning longer periods. Unlike traditional ocean cruising, a river cruise sees you spend less time on the water and more time exploring ashore, so you can expect a packed sightseeing schedule that sometimes takes in several ports in a single day.