I have thoroughly enjoyed Ocean Cruising over the last decade, I love taking your luxury hotel around the world with you, I love sea days on the balcony gazing out across the waves. I love visiting ports getting a taster of the Country I am so briefly visiting. A taster, to then decide if I wish to return and explore further. Ocean cruising is, of course, dependent on the country having a coast. If only there was a way to combine cruising with exploring the depths of a country… cue… River Cruising!
In my 20s and early 30s I have always thought River Cruising was more for the older person and it always seemed so much more expensive . Having eyed up River cruises for a few years since my parents raved about a Seine Cruise. Now I’m getting older and longing for luxury holidays rather than a cheap getaway, it seemed a sensible time to investigate River Cruising further. Jumping from an Ocean ship to a River boat seems like a natural progression and addition to the annual holiday plans! Having visited the coast of many countries, there is always a desire to explore that little bit further. I feel taking a River cruise, immerses you into the heart of the country, to have a feel what it is really like. To experience inland towns and cities, admire landmarks and regions not accessible by large Ocean ships. I could of course travel by land to these places, though why would I want to do that when I could cruise? The whole back packing travelling thing never appealed to me, mainly because I am incapable of travelling lightly and I am a lazy packer, the thought of packing and unpacking every day seems like such a waste of exploration time. There are fair more exciting things to do in life, like explore different cities, cultures, foods, drinks! Before Covid, we had pondered about a River Cruise on the Danude this Summer, fingers crossed for next Summer! These are the five Rivers I would love to take a cruise along over the next few years! They are in no particular order!
1. The Volga.
The Volga is Europe’s longest River at 2293 miles long. (Remember that for any pub quizs!) It flows through Central Russia and into the Caspian Sea. Specifically I would love to cruise between St Petersburg and Moscow. I have visited St Petersburg twice on a Baltic Sea cruise and Russia fascinates me. I’d love to be able to explore more, but am a little daunted as to doing this on land, so a River cruise is ideal! The cruise between these two fabulous cities takes around 2 weeks (including City Stays) visiting a multitude of fascinating places along the way. Visit a vodka museum in Mandrogy, marvel at the Preobranzhenskaya church in Kizhi, or take a walking tour in Ulglicj and enjoy afternoon tea with a Russian family. Most river cruises I’ve looked at also seem to give spare time in both Moscow and St Petersburg, free time to explore the breathtaking tourist attractions of both.
2. The Danube.
The Danube is Europe’s second longest River. It flows through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and the Ukraine. In just one River, multiple capital cities can be sailed through, the route has long been an important trade route and so many of Europes wonderful sights can be admired along the way. A popular cruise along the Danube takes in the section of River between Germany and Budapest. This section takes in the enchanting town of Dürnstein with its Castle, the fabulous City of Vienna and the capitvating ancient towns of Buda and Pest. The section of cruising the Danube that really catches my eye is the the section between Hungary to Bulgaria. This less well travelled route looks fascinating! Sail through Croatia, then onto Serbia’s capital Belgrade, scenic cruising through the Iron Gates then onwards to Bulgaria. I can not wait to go on this voyage one day!
3. The Yangtze.
The Yangtze River is Asia’s longest river at 3900 miles long. It is also the longest river to flow entirely in one country, China. Now, I can almost hear you, yes, currently China is probably not high on a list of places to visit, but it is a vast, beautiful country and my attitude is, we are not really on this world for long. I therefore aim to experience as many places as possible in my time, granted my Yangtze experience may not be for a few years! I have only visited Hong Kong and Macau, so would love to experience the Yangtze and embrace the opportunity to add extra visits to Beijing and Shanghai. Embarking in the now infamous Wuhan, visiting the engineering marvel, the three Gorges Dam, then cruising the most scenic stretch of the Yangzke through the Three Gorges. The fascination of the Chinese culture being so different to the British culture lures be in to visit!
4. The Rhône.
The Rhône flows for 505 miles from the Swiss Alps to the Mediterranean Sea, it flows past areas steeped in history. I would like to take a cruise from Lyon to Avignon. I see promises that this cruise is a serene sail through ancient villages, rustic settlements and acres of wine producing vineyards. Who doesn’t like the sound of all that. A slow, relaxed time to recharge the batteries, lazing one ones balcony admiring the view, sounds like heaven!
5. The Mississippi.
The Mississippi flows 2320 miles through the United States of America. Until recently I was naive to the fact that the Mississippi River flowed from Minnesota all the way down to Louisiana Into the Gulf of Mexico. It passes through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. The fact a Mississippi River cruise takes in so many different parts of America really entices me. I’ve only ever been to America for a work conference and a Hospital site visit, which took in Kansas City and Birmingham Albama, not really common places to travel in America. One day I would like to do the stereotypical NYC, Boston, LA, Las Vegas, Florida etc if I can peel myself from a ship for long enough… The ability to explore and sail through many of the states in one trip with the ability to take my luxury hotel with me is very exciting. Surrounding History and culture would change so much through the trip. Scenic sailing to relax and watch the world go by. Historical places related to the American Civil War and Civil rights movements, not to mention the ability to experience the fantastic genres of music and the different types of culinary delights connected to the areas we’d sail through.
Hopefully it’ll be safe to travel soon. Possibly River Cruising might be able to start prior to Ocean Cruising. I have faith in all the wonderful cruising companies that they will ensure everything is safe. As much as I love Ocean cruising, I am intrigued to check out the obvious differences between both Ocean and River cruising and to discover other more subtle differences whilst aboard.There are three main differences I am mostly looking forward to. Firstly I hope sitting on a River boat balcony I may experience more varied wildlife along the River. Ocean cruising is great for spotting the odd dolphin, Whale, flying fish or bird, but you’re not often that close to the wildlife on an Ocean Ship balcony. I once did a canal boat cruise and the vast array of ducks, geese, swans really made me happy. I’ve only ever seen a kingfisher fly from the front of a Canal boat. I feel any downtime on the balcony whilst River cruising will hopefully be rewarded with plenty of beautiful fauna and flora passing by!Secondly I do think I would thoroughly enjoy the peaceful evenings I am told happen aboard a River boat. I do love a high energy, flashy, fabulous show, but I also enjoy peace, watching the world go by whilst sipping a cool drink and listening to a bit of live piano music or something similar. I do love the hustle and bustle of a Cruise Ship evening, however I am certain I will enjoy a peaceful, quiet river boat evening just as much, if not more!Finally as I get older, I find myself going to bed earlier on holidays and emerging far earlier in the morning to savour the whole day exploring a new destination. I have never been a natural early bird, but on a ship, I am often awake, bright eyed and bushy tailed, especially if there is a chance of capturing a perfect Sunrise shot!Now I need to chose the perfect River company to cruise with! Do you have any recommendations?Thank you!