Where can you take a river cruise? Almost anywhere you would want to go! There are river cruise options on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.
Some of these river cruises are in more familiar tourist destinations, and some may surprise you. There are trips that incorporate adventure, culture, wine or history. But no matter where in the world you go, a river cruise will give you a way to explore a destination from an intimate point of view!
Here are the places in the world where you can take a river cruise:
There are so many river cruise options in Europe, so choosing a first cruise can be daunting. The Rhine or Danube Rivers are great choices, because they will take you through 4 or more countries and give you a mix of bustling international cities and smaller towns. The lesser-known Moselle River, which is a tributary of the Rhine, is also worth exploring. The Moselle wanders through one of the most beautiful valleys in Northern Europe between the French Alps and the Rhine Gorge, and a trip down this waterway can be combined with the Rhine or the Danube into one longer journey. When the Rhine and Danube are combined, they create a trip that can extend from Amsterdam all the way to the Black Sea.
If you are looking to explore another part of Europe via a river cruise, the three rivers above are far from your only options. A voyage on the Seine River in France will take you from Paris to the Normandy Coast, while floating the Rhone and Saône Rivers will let you experience the Provence and Burgundy regions. Finally, wine lovers will enjoy exploring the extraordinary wines of the Bordeaux region on a cruise of that part of France.
Portugal can also be experienced on a river cruise down the Douro, which starts in Porto then takes you through the Douro River Valley into Spain. Perhaps surprisingly, Italy is another country that can be enjoyed via river with a trip down the Po, which goes from Venice to Bologna. Finally, Russia is an amazing destination for river cruises, where trips can be found on the Volga, Svir, and Neva Rivers through Russia’s heartland.
There are currently two exceptional journeys that you can make on the rivers of Asia – exploring Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong River or exploring China on the Yangtze River. Both of these itineraries combine land and cruise activities, which allows you to combine the tourist highlights of these countries – including Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Beijing, and the Great Wall in China – with the more intimate and personal point of view you have while exploring by river. On these trips you will have the opportunity to expand your horizons and encounter new cultures and people.
River cruising was pioneered on the continent of Africa, because the first modern river cruises were on the historic Nile River. A river cruise on the Nile allows you to explore the monuments of one of the most ancient civilizations on earth, and to connect with the current cultures of Cairo and the Nile River valley. A cruise on the Nile River can easily be extended with a tour of Israel, Jordan or Dubai.
You can also combine a river cruise and a safari in southern Africa! The Zambezi Queen sails on the Chobe River in Northern Botswana, and there are numerous itineraries to choose from that combine that cruise with visits to Victoria Falls, Capetown and Tanzania.
There are numerous ways to explore the rivers of the United States. The most popular journeys are on the Mississippi and it’s tributaries – you can explore that vital river with cruises that focus on food, music or history! You can also follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark and travel to the rivers of the Pacific Northwest. On the Columbia and Snake Rivers between Oregon and Washington, you can combine adventure with wonderful food and wine!
Finally, you can travel to South America and take a river cruise on the mighty Amazon River. Most Amazonian River cruises explore the upper Amazon in Peru. On these beautiful small ships you will encounter amazing wildlife and beautiful scenery as you explore the longest river in the world.
I hope that you learned something new about all the different ways there are to sail on the rivers of the world! Where do you want to explore? Reach out to me and I will help you plan the perfect journey!
Kira Gartner is the owner of Blue Sky Destinations, a boutique travel agency specializing in river cruises, luxury expedition cruises and customized European vacations. For years she has helped curious travelers plan vacations that allow them to unwind, reconnect, and immerse themselves fully in a destination. Reach out to her for a free consultation - and let her start designing your dream vacation!