European river cruising has arguably never been hotter – yet there’s an entire world of diverse river cruising experiences to be had. Today, we look at a few options that you may not have realized even exist.
Barging through France
Barging is a completely different experience than “traditional” river cruising (see our detailed explanation between the two: How River Cruises & Barge Cruises Differ.) What barging provides is a stunning way to explore, say, France’s famed Burgundy or Champagne region, or perhaps take a journey along the Upper Loire, with its picturesque river banks and elegant chateaus.
Barging isn’t for the shy or the introverted, however: With capacities that rarely exceed 12 guests, being outgoing and friendly can go a long way on a barging adventure. Still, the only way to get a more immersive experience along some of France’s most picturesque canals would be to skipper your own boat, which is also possible through rentals with companies such as Le Boat.
French Country Waterways offers barging trips through France’s Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace-Lorraine and Upper Loire regions. Click here to read Ralph Grizzle’s experiences aboard Horizon II.
Sailing through Scotland
Yes, it’s true – you can barge through Scotland. European Waterways offers sailings through Scotland’s Great Glen from Inverness to Fort William. Aboard the 8-passenger Scottish Highlander, guests can fully immerse themselves with a gorgeous landscape, and traditional Scottish fare like salmon, venison, game and seafood, not to mention some of the region’s marvelous Scotch whiskies. Don’t worry about working it all off — the ship is equipped with one bicycle for each guest, allowing exploration of the country’s famous glens and lochs on your own, if you choose.
Australia’s Murray River
Australia’s Murray River runs nearly 1,500 miles, weaving its way through the states of New South Wales and Victoria before finally emptying into the ocean at Lake Alexandrina. Despite its shallow depth and fluctuating salinity levels, enough of the river is navigable to offer a river cruise, operated aboard Captain Cook’s PS Murray Princess.
Carrying 120 guests, the PS Murray Princess is a sternwheeler that features 60 cabins and staterooms along with two spas, two saunas, two bars and lounges, and a single-seating dining room that places emphasis on regional specialties.
River Cruising the Amazon
The Amazon River has been the subject of countless novels, movies and songs. It has garnered worldwide appeal for its 4,000-mile length and massive drainage basin, but it is equally notable for its mysterious nature, with countless animals, birds, insects, flora and fauna that call this region home.
Aqua Expeditions offers 3, 4 and 7-night river cruises along the Amazon River, aboard its M/V Aqua and M/V Aria. Both feature uncommon design elements that makes these ships unusually attractive and highlights the diverse nature and styles of river cruising that are available to travelers. With just 32 guests aboard the MV Aria and only 24 guests on the MV Aqua, the onboard experience is an excellent cross between river cruising and barging.
Of course, there’s far more in river cruising out there, from Europe to Russia to Africa and Asia and yes, nearly everything in between. In most cases, these operators have been doing this for years — it’s only now that river cruising is gaining in both popularity and recognition that mainstream travelers have started to seek out these experiences.