River cruising has undergone a dramatic increase in popularity amongst Australian cruise fans in recent years. Around 30.000 of us will take a river cruise this year.
Europe is the most popular river cruising destination with dozens of new ships and exciting itineraries to match. Travellers tired of the rush and bustle of coach packages or DIY tours are flocking to the luxury and laid back lifestyle of the river.
Of course, there are numerous river cruises available in all corners of the world from Africa to the rivers of the Americas and even our own Murray River.
River cruising typically offers modern accommodation, expert guides and excellent cuisine. You will often cruise in a cosmopolitan atmosphere with several nationalities represented.
A day on the river typically features going ashore once or twice for sightseeing adventures. This allows you to see places that would take you weeks to traverse on land. Some places are accessible only by the river.
The most popular cruise areas are:
The Danube, Rhine and Rhone the most popular, but you can also cruise on many other rivers including the Main, Saone and Moselle. Scandinavia, Russia and Portugal are also becoming popular. And, of course, traditional canal barges are available in Britain and Europe. The ships are typically long and thin to fit through the looks. This allows all cabins to have a view.
Cruise ships still service the Mississippi-Missouri system through America’s heartland. To the west, cruises are available up the Columbia out of Portland. The St Lawrence Seaway in Canada is another interesting river cruise opportunity.
Cruising along the Nile is right out of an Agatha Christie novel. The river is the perfect way to enjoy all the highlights of perhaps the most fascinating historical area on earth. The Congo and Niger also offer cruises for the more adventurous.
Large ships enter the lower reaches of the world’s mightiest river, but its upstream where most of the small ship cruising is done. Here you will be close to the jungle and get to visit traditional villages. The wildlife can be spectacular. You can combine a cruise with a visit to the Andes, Bolivia, Peru and Machu Pichu.
China and south east Asia are developing river cruise markets. The Irrawaddy in Myanmar (Burma) is a popular cruise spot. Also developing well is India.
Much of Australia was pioneered via the river trade, both inland and coastal. Sadly virtually all the great old ships and ports have disappeared. However, at Echuca you can see more paddle steamers than anywhere else in the world. And Murray Princess, cruising out of Mannum in South Australia, is one of the great river experiences of the world. If you have the time, take a seven night cruise. you’ll love it!
Coral Princess Cruise's New Guinea itinerary includes a river voyage up the legendary Sepik to villages seldom visited by tourists.
Major river cruising operators include: