If you think river cruises are boring and all the same, it’s time to think again!It is true that one of the things many people enjoy about river cruises is their consistency. The water is a constant, there tends to be a fixed daily routine partly determined by the flow of the river and its traffic and waterside attractions and amenities often share certain familiar characteristics.But there is more to modern river cruising than just the same old thing every time. A boat allows you to get into places which may be completely inaccessible by car or even on foot. They also offer you a unique ground level vantage point on areas which are often of significant interest, given the role rivers typically play in development of an area.We’ve heard so much about interesting river cruises we decided to pull together an introduction to five river cruises unlike any others.
Take the Thames into London
The River Thames is one of the world’s most famous, and its sights are unlike any other.Starting out in rural England, you’ll see rustic landscapes of village pubs, cricket greens and waterside Tudor houses. Often when looking around it is hard to place at which point in the past few centuries you are, with the exception of contemporary boats on the river. You’ll sail by Eton College where the sons of the elite are schooled wearing tailcoats, and Henley on Thames whose royal regatta on the river is steeped in tradition.But the joy of the Thames is its contrasts. It also takes in views which are entirely of the moment, from the futuristic Thames Barrier to the Millennium Dome – now a branded music venue – both of which have featured in James Bond films.Another familiar site from the quintessentially British Bond films is the Gothic Houses of Parliament, directly past whose river frontage you navigate your boat.
China has many famous rivers but none is so well known as the Yangtze.Winding its way across thousands of miles, this powerful river has shaped and reshaped not only the land around it also the political and historical conception of China. These days the most stunning sight on such a cruise is the stunning Three Gorges Dam. This giant series of dams is an engineering feat on an incredible scale and spending a day seeing it and touring the site and museum is a good way to spend time.But for centuries before the dam came the Yangtze was already a popular cruise destination, as its course takes you through the heartland of China, past high mountains, through incredible gorges on either side, alongside frequently flooded fertile agricultural land and crowded cities such as Chongqing, whose steep hills and limited land make it densely populated and atmospheric.
Into the Amazon
Like the online store named after it for this reason, the Amazon has everything you can imagine!The lush tropical rainforest is world renowned as the home to a vast variety of animals, exotic birds, trees, flora and fauna. At its heart and the reason for its lushness is its namesake river.The Amazon is vast and powerful, often isolated and hard to reach. That makes a cruise along part of its length unique, even though it is not for the faint hearted. Flying in by helicopter, you can board a small, reinforced cruise boat which is built using principles Amazonian natives have honed over thousands of years to ensure their craft are sturdy and nimble in the fast flowing brown river where unseen dangers lurk.
In French Wine Country
If wine is your thing then Bordeaux is a magical place to visit – and what better way than by boat?Cruising along the rivers of wine country, whether in Bordeaux or some other regions in central France, a number of husband and wife teams offer one week cruises on boats designed to carry just six or eight passengers. Either one of the couple or another onboard chef will prepare three meals a day of gastronomic quality, using local ingredients. Of course lunch and dinner will be accompanied by a carefully curated range of fine local wines. During the day the boat will move slowly through rural France, with stops at vineyards and sometimes also local food producers.
Up Close with the Animals
India is already an exotic destination – and it can be even more exotic from the river.A cruise along the holy Brahmaputra River offers upclose views of river animals including water buffalo and water loving rhinoceroses. Elephants and tigers can also sometimes be spotted.As well as the animals, you can see the Himalayas and local temples. The Indian spiritual theme continues on board the luxury cruisers, with daily yoga classes against the backdrop of the passing river.Cruising along a river might sound like something your grandparents would do, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. In fact, river cruises are some of the most interesting holidays available today. That is especially true when you take a cruise to a special destination and have a unique experience. We’ve given you some inspiration with five of our favourites: which would you choose?