River cruising is a rising star on the international cruise scene, with many small ships booked out well in advance as travelers discover there is nothing quite so satisfying as messing about in boats.
As river cruises capture a large share of the traditional ocean cruising market, companies are adding new itineraries at a rapid rate of knots.
The joy of river cruising is its gentle style of travel, unpacking once, and doing as little or as much as you want. Rough seas are unlikely, so seasickness is never a problem, and there are many new places to explore daily while getting a really good workout.
Top river cruises: The major route on the river scene is the two week European cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest with chocolate-box scenery along the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers. Fairytale castles, classic European cities in Germany and Austria, and medieval villages that seem frozen in time are all part of this visual adventure.
For those with limited time, shorter cruises drift along rivers in France and Portugal, with most sailings from April to September, while traditional Christmas market cruises run for a month or so from mid-November.
Russia’s Volga River takes in the gilded palaces and grand museums of St Petersburg and Moscow, as well as remote villages amid birch forests that give a real insight into a turbulent Soviet past.
Making a comeback: The River Nile for pyramids and sphinx, as well as ancient temples and tombs. Temples are also in focus on Asian cruises, including mysterious Myanmar where gold spired pagodas are sighted along the Irrawaddy River.
In the US: Paddle steamers on the Mississippi River are a classic way to see the Deep South, for jazz, Dixie tunes, grand plantations, and vibrant New Orleans.