Such is the case when embarking on a river cruise. Along the way you’ll dock at the very center of quaint villages and cosmopolitan cities, allowing you to step off the boat and into history. Within moments you find yourself fully immersed in your new destination, surrounded by street vendors selling fresh pastries, locals sipping coffee in outdoor cafés and decorations filling the city square.
With fewer guests, spacious staterooms and elegant accommodations, your cruise isn’t just luxurious; it’s personal. In addition, more is included. From gratuities to shore excursions and wine, beer and more, you have less daily costs to consider. Here are some additional reasons a river cruise should be in your holiday plans.
SEE THE SIGHTS ON YOUR OWN
The choice is yours! Dive in and explore the destination and culture, using your ship as a home base to jump on and off as needed. Most river cruise companies include free guided tours at each port that allow you to visit the city’s highlights before venturing off on your own. These tours often include a headset, so you can roam away from the group to take that perfect selfie without missing any information from your local guide.
FEAST ON GOURMET MEALS MADE WITH LOCAL INGREDIENTS
Then it’s back on the ship for an elegant dinner inspired by the region you are sailing through. Because while you were on shore, touring yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the ship’s chef and her team also disembarked to visit local markets and small farms, procuring fresh, local ingredients that will dictate the night’s gourmet cuisine.
LET THE AWE-INSPIRING AMBIENCE CONSUME YOU
You’ll enjoy breathtaking scenery from just about everywhere on the ship, where panoramic views can be found in the restaurant, on the sundeck or from the privacy of your stateroom. Just imagine sipping a dry riesling in your room with the floor-to-ceiling window open to welcome the cool breeze coming off the Mosel River, and if you listen closely, you’ll be able to hear the laughter of schoolchildren playing soccer on the banks next to an 18th-century Gothic church.
CRUISE ON EUROPE’S WONDROUS WATERWAYS
Of course, the view changes depending on which waterway you travel upon. You could cruise the romantic Seine from the famed Left Bank in Paris to the historic beaches of Normandy, or sail from Amsterdam’s celebrated canals to the Christmas markets of Germany and Austria on the Rhine. Choose the Danube, and you’ll pass through the striking beauty of Austria’s Wachau Valley on your way to Vienna, Budapest, Munich or Prague.
ESCAPE ON A RUSSIAN RIVER EXCURSION
Russia’s rivers also hold a treasure-trove of beguiling wonders. On the Volga River from St. Petersburg to Moscow, you’ll see Catherine Palace, Peter and Paul Fortress and St. Isaac’s Cathedral in St. Petersburg, and the Museum of Cosmonautics, Red Square and the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Sail down the Neva and Svir Rivers to find unique villages like Mandrogy, where you can visit the Vodka Museum and shop for handmade Russian crafts, or stop in Kizhi, where you can see a collection of Russian wooden houses, windmills and churches at the fairytale-like Open-Air Museum of Architecture, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
ENCOUNTER ASIA’S ANCIENT CULTURES
A journey in Asia will reward you with exotic landscapes and ancient temples. Sailing down the Yangtze, Mekong or Irrawaddy Rivers, you’ll have a front-row seat to the jewels of China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. This is where you can walk amid Bagan’s majestic Sein Nyet Sister Temples, stand in awe of Myanmar’s gold-plated Shwedagon Pagoda, have your breath taken away by China’s impressive Three Gorges, and experience the grandeur of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple with your own eyes.