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Sailing the Rivers of the World

Updated: Feb 28

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Most people are aware that river cruises sail to Europe. Before leaving to go on my first one, I told people I was going to sail on a river cruise, and many people asked, “Are you going on the Danube?” Although the Danube is a popular river to sail on, it’s only one of nearly 20 rivers you can experience on a river cruise. You might be surprised to know that river cruises sail to 28 different countries!


Africa river cruises


Africa’s river cruise ships are smaller, so you have a chance to get up close and personal on your river cruise safari. African river cruises sail on the Chobe river. Included in an African Safari and Wildlife river cruise are a visit to Victoria Falls (one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World) and the Chobe National Park, where you can see elephants, giraffes, leopards, zebras, and buffaloes along the edge of the river.


You have options to sail to Cape Town, South Africa and see penguins at Boulders Beach, visit Nelson Mandela’s house and neighborhood, visit a national park in Tanzania, take a safari vehicle ride through the private game reserve in Kruger National Park in South Africa, or see the Great Migration of Wildebeest in the Serengeti. And those are just the excursions in the places you’ll visit—that doesn’t even describe the comfort you’ll sail in and the delicious food you’ll be eating along the way. You also can extend your trip and add a 4-night land package to Rwanda to meet the gorillas at Volcanoes National Park. Can you believe all of the amazing experiences that an African river cruise provides?


Asia river cruises


Asian river cruises sail on the Mekong River and include Vietnam and Cambodia. On the Mekong River, you immerse yourself into the culture and heritage as you visit rural villages, historic pagodas and colorful markets. The river cruises include excursions such as visiting Silk Village and a local elementary school, attending a Buddhist Blessing Ceremony, riding in a tuk tuk, seeing the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, and visiting craftsmen’s workshops and local markets, where you witness skilled artisans who create exquisite handicrafts and delicacies.  You can spend time at Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap, and do a pre- or post-cruise land extension in Bangkok. So many amazing sights and experiences!


Egypt river cruises


Egyptian river cruises, of course, sail on the Nile! Explore ancient wonders, such as the beguiling Temple of Luxor and the mystifying Valley of the Kings and Queens. Come face-to-face with the last survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Great Sphinx, and the three Pyramids of Giza. Take a private tour of the tomb of Queen Nefertari and have a private lunch at the Abdeen Presidential Palace. Uncover the many mysteries and secrets that have shaped Egypt’s past and continue to influence the future of this remarkable land. Visit Cairo, the Pyramids of Ancient Memphis, Luxor, and take a felucca ride around Elehantine Island. These are just a few of the experiences you’ll have while cruising on the Nile.


South America river cruises


The Magdalena River in Colombia is currently the only South American river which offers river cruises, but plans are in the works for the Amazon as well. On the Magdalena, you can dance to the beat of a variety of Latin American musical styles including cumbia and vallenato, and revel in exciting performances at a colorful Carnaval experience in Barranquilla. Listen for the calls of distinctive birds and wildlife not found anywhere else on the planet. Walk down the streets of Palenque, the first free city in Colombia. Delight in the colorful neighborhood of Getsemaní in Cartagena, drinking in the vivid colors and culture displayed so artfully on the walls of homes, cafes and family-owned shops. Go on a stilt-house village tour in Nueva Venecia. The South America river cruise experience helps you discover how Spanish and pre-colonial cultures combine to bring us the music, minds, and culture that exist in the country today.


North America river cruises


You might be thinking, “I know about North America river cruises—they’re those paddlewheel boats on the Mississippi River.” Mississippi River cruises are probably the most popular and well-known of the American cruises. There’s Mark Twain, New Orleans, Memphis to Nashville, (known as the Music Cities cruise), St. Louis, and St. Paul, Minnesota, to name a few of the stops along the Mississippi.


Pacific Northwest cruises sail on the Columbia and the Snake River (think: Lewis & Clark, the Columbia River Gorge, national parks, Mt. St. Helens). Alaska cruises sail to Denali

National Park and the Kenai Fjords National Park, and along the Inside Passage, seeing the glaciers and towns along the way.


New England cruises sail along the coast and harbors of Maine; to Boston and Cape Cod; Providence, Rhode Island; along the Hudson River (including fall foliage), and to New York City.


And last but not least, the southeast U.S. destinations. Sail along the Intercoastal Highway from Charleston to Jacksonville; the Chesapeake Bay from Washington D.C. to Annapolis, Norfolk, Mountain Vernon, and Williamsburg; the St. Johns River in Florida, exploring St. Augustine and other cities; and the Gulf Coast and Florida Keys cruise.


Eastern Europe river cruises


Now to Europe! Europe has so many amazing rivers that I’ve divided it into Eastern and Western countries. The eastern European countries with river cruises are: Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Serbia. Some of the many experiences you can have are: See Celtic fortifications, medieval towns and grand cities, along with the natural beauty of pastoral landscapes and the Danube’s famed Iron Gates. Nature lovers will relish the opportunity to bike through Belgrade’s sprawling Kalemegdan Park. See rock-hewn churches, go on a pastry and yogurt tasting tour, and hike to castles and cathedrals. Be treated to the flavors, sights, sounds and cultures of this diverse area of the world.


Western Europe river cruises


The western European countries that you can visit on river cruises include Switzerland, France, Spain, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Netherlands and Portugal. Sail and walk through thousands of years of history in medieval towns brought to life. Enjoy vineyard-clad hills, the Black Forest, Amsterdam’s colorful canals, the majestic Swiss Alps, the beauty and delicious food of France: from castles and palaces to vineyards and bakery tours. Take a front-row seat on an enchanting journey that takes you through castles, cities, and villages.


Wrapping up


Two of my favorite things about river cruises are: first, you get to see and do everything and go all of the places with just one time unpacking, and second, that you sail through the middle of countries as you explore the rivers, so that you get to see the little villages and towns along the way, with the local traditions, sites, and foods. No matter whether you’re sailing down the Nile or the Mississippi, the Mekong or the Rhine River, you’re sure to have an amazing experience. Let me know if I can help you plan a river cruise or another awesome vacation!


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