Want to explore the world’s rivers? Here are four cruises that are well worth the effort.
By Ismaël Houdassine
Milan, Venice, and the treasures of northern Italy
From Torcello to Polesella on the Adriatic coast, this trip includes 10 romantic days in northern Italy with time in the fabled cities of Milan and Venice. After stops in Burano, Mazzorbo, Chioggia, and Porto Vero, visit no fewer than four heritage sites and make a mandatory stop in Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet. uniworld.com
A trip down the Mekong
Partly in Vietnam, partly in Cambodia, this eight-day voyage on the legendary Mekong River features mangroves, canals, and rice paddies along the way. On the agenda: navigating close to Cai Be’s lively floating markets, an introduction to Vietnam’s French history, and a cultural odyssey in bustling Phnom Penh. scenic.rivercruise.com
An African river safari
The luxurious Zambezi Queen traverses the Chobe River from Namibia to Botswana and beyond. On this dream cruise, you’ll observe the wildlife directly from your cabin’s balcony as you make your way to an animal paradise at Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. zqcollection.com
The length of the Mississippi
Journeying from St. Paul, Minn., to St. Louis, Miss., the paddle steamer The Big Muddy gives you the chance to discover unexpectedly spectacular scenery in the heart of the U.S. plains. This eight-day trip allows you to immerse yourself in the old-time atmosphere of Mark Twain’s novels along this majestic river dotted with small port cities. americancruiselines.com
A Few Travel Tips
A river cruise involves a bit of advance planning. Here are some essentials.
Take your time. Since these trips unfold slowly, stopovers aren’t a mad dash. The focus is on exploring and taking it easy.
Travel light. The cabin size on river cruisers is smaller than that on cruise ships—pack accordingly. When you get to your cabin, go ahead and put your clothes in the cupboards—after all, you’ll be staying for a few days. A few must-haves: besides the indispensable sunglasses, caps, and hats, bring binoculars so you can admire the scenery in detail.
Be prepared. Although freshwater trips don’t tend to cause seasickness, passengers can encounter swarms of mosquitoes, so be sure to bring along some insect repellent.