River cruises visit more destinations in more countries than ocean cruises, and offer a more intimate experience.
Gain a deeper appreciation for the countries you visit from their major waterways and watch local life pass the windows of your private cabin. River cruises stop at major and minor ports, offering a combination of world-famous sights and lesser-known experiences off the beaten path. Cruise lines operate on all of the world's major rivers; travel in style along Russia's Volga, China's Yangtze and the American Mississippi. Or pass through multiple countries on a single trip on a cosmopolitan European river cruise.
Europe's rich history and diverse natural beauty can be explored at a leisurely pace with a cruise along its picturesque rivers and canals. Most of Europe's great cities developed along the banks of these rivers, and their historic trading ports now service cruise ships carrying passengers from all over the world. The ports provide easy access to world-famous attractions, museums and shopping districts without the hassle of transport connections. Choose from a wide range of river cruises covering all of Europe's popular destinations, whether it’s a 7-day tour of France's wine regions or an international voyage from Amsterdam to Budapest. If you are interested in a European river cruise, contact one of our Cruising Specialists today on 1300 769 228 or email us using the form below.
Asia is a rapidly growing region for river cruises, as more international travellers seek exotic experiences and a laid-back alternative to city breaks. The world's largest continent, Asia offers considerable variety, from the great rivers of China and India to the tropical waterways that are the lifeblood of many parts of Southeast Asia. Take a cruise on the Yangtze, Ganges, Mekong and other significant rivers and lakes to see iconic sights at a relaxed pace. Enjoy a schedule of activities that match your interests, from visiting serene mountain temples and shopping at floating markets to sampling the best local cuisine.
Explore the ancient wonders of Egypt with a cruise down the Nile, the world's longest river and the lifeblood of the region. The Nile flows through the entire length of Egypt and is the gateway to diverse sights and experiences, including hieroglyph-covered tombs and temples, bustling markets, and Red Sea Coast beaches and diving. Most Nile river cruises last 1 to 2 weeks and operate between Aswan and Luxor, with extensions to Cairo, Alexandria, the Pyramids of Giza and other popular destinations. Varied itineraries are available, from boutique vessels with luxury facilities to traditional feluccas carried by the wind and current.
River cruises in South America offer a wide variety of experiences showcasing the natural beauty and diversity of the continent, from the glacial landscapes of Argentina to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon Basin is home to more than one third of the world's animal species, and a cruise along this mighty river offers plenty of opportunities to spot colourful macaws, monkeys and pink and grey river dolphins in their natural habitat. If you prefer to stay closer to civilisation, take a cruise of the waterways of the Orinoco Delta or combine your river cruise with a sailing trip around Cape Horn.
North America's mighty rivers and lakes are among its greatest natural wonders, and river cruises offer a more personal way to experience the many sides of the USA and Canada than isolated city breaks. From the glacial landscapes of Alaska and the Canadian Rockies to the subtropical swamps of Florida, river cruises cover the major sights, the quaint river towns and the scenic landscapes in-between. Explore the heartland of the United States with a Mississippi cruise aboard a traditional paddle steamer, travel to New York on a Hudson River cruise or cross the border to Canada on a tour of the Great Lakes.
- Popularity - while river cruises have always been popular in Europe, they have seen resurgence in recent years as more cruise lines expand their fleets and add more destinations to their itineraries all over the world.
- Sights - these cruises are best suited to people who are interested in learning about their destinations and seeing more of a country beyond its capital city and resorts. River cruises travel the length and breadth of continents, stopping at ports of all sizes to offer easy access to local natural and man-made marvels – from the pyramids of Egypt to the romantic sights of the Rhine and Seine.
- Facilities - river cruises offer comparable on-board facilities to ocean cruises, but on a smaller scale. You can find cruise options to match your budget and needs, from child-friendly cruise lines to upscale options boasting luxury suites, spas and casinos.
- Personal Service - river cruise vessels carry fewer passengers than larger ocean cruises, usually less than 200, and this creates a more intimate environment and personalised service where your cruise staff will know your name and your favourite drink. You could also find it easier to make friends with your fellow passengers without feeling overwhelmed by the crowds.
Who goes there?
Cruise ships depart from major river ports all over the world. Scandinavian-based Viking Cruises, Uniworld, APT Cruising and Avalon Waterways specialise in European cruises, with additional routes in North America, Egypt and Asia.
Scenic Tours operates in Australia, New Zealand and other international destinations, and there are also smaller cruise lines dedicated to local areas, such as Asia's Pandaw River Cruises.
Some cruise lines cater for certain demographics. Tauck offers child-friendly cruise activities and facilities ideal for families, while Travelmarvel offers a budget-friendly alternative to sister-cruise line, APT.
Best time to go?
Prime cruise seasons vary in different parts of the world. High season for European and North American cruises is usually between April and October, while warmer countries in Asia and Africa can be suitable for cruises all year round. River cruises in these regions tend to be less affected by monsoon seasons than ocean cruises, though some routes may vary during the dry season.
- Europe - European river cruises offer the opportunity to visit a multitude of countries along a single route; the Danube winds through 9 countries and 4 capital cities and the Rhine flows from the Swiss Alps through Austria, Germany, France and the Netherlands.
- Africa - a Nile river cruise is the most scenic and relaxing way to see Africa, from the desert landscapes of Egypt and Sudan to the fertile plains of Kenya and Tanzania. There are many programmes available for cruising the world's longest river, whether you dream of seeing the Pyramids of Giza or taking an African safari adventure.
- North America - the USA and Canada are two of the world's largest countries, and travelling by sea or air only offers a taste of their diverse landscapes and experiences. See more of the continent on a journey down the Columbia River from the Rocky Mountains, or cross 10 states on a Mississippi cruise.
- Asia - Asia's rivers pass through key tourist destinations while offering the chance to observe local life and culture. Experience China on a cruise of the Yangtze, the longest river in Asia, or take an international cruise along the Mekong to see the sights of Tibet, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.