BY SUSAN WALKER
River cruising is the fastest growing segment of the travel industry.
Why has this mode of transportation become so popular? People are demanding to see something different than the port cities that they have already experienced. What better way of seeing the heart of Europe or the exotic landscape of Asia than from a river cruise.
Along with this explosion of popularity of river cruising has come the growth of river cruise companies all vying for the same spot along the rivers.
All river cruise companies offer the same thing.
Free shore excursions, beer and wine included with lunch and dinner, free headsets, a choice of dining options, onboard enrichment activities to name a few.
Some of the companies will offer free bikes onboard – all of your drinks and gratuities and a variety of excursions depending on your interests.
They all have river view staterooms and on the main deck some will have full balconies – French balconies and of course they will all offer the ultimate suites onboard.
Your river cruise travel professional will be able to help you weed through all of the options and quickly find the line and stateroom that is right for you.
The options of where you cruise down the river have also expanded.
Always the number one favorite is the 15-day Amsterdam to Budapest or Budapest to Amsterdam down the Rhine and Danube.
If you require less time to spend in Europe then no problem – taking the Budapest to Passau or Regensburg depending on who you book with is a favorite for everyone.
This cruise will have you stopping and visiting more churches, cathedrals and sailing down the Wacchu Valley. Of course for all of our retired clients the ultimate 24 days from Amsterdam to the Black Sea will mean you won’t have to go back as you will experience these areas all at once.
We also can’t forget about Russia – experience a couple of days in St. Petersburg to Moscow and discover the passion and grandeur of Russian history, art and culture.
Once you’ve completed the Europe waterways you can then take your focus to Asia and China.
I hosted a group to China a few years ago and this is still one of my favorite trips of all time.
Being able to finally see the Terra Cotta Warriors and to experience the Great Wall of China are experiences I will never forget. Not to mention spending it with some incredible people and seeing their reaction to finally having their bucket list marked off was an added bonus.
Southeast Asia from the fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia and Mekong River is a destination that should be experienced sooner before it becomes too commercialized.
The Myanmar and the Alluring Irrawaddy is also gaining momentum and all of our feedback is that this trip is nothing but spectacular.
If this wasn’t enough you can also experience Africa and see the wild animals up close and personal, and of course India’s Golden Triangle and the Sacred Gange.
Your destination will depend on which river cruise company your river cruise travel professional will recommend.
Some of the lines have their own ships at destinations while others book space and so there could be several companies vying for the same spot.
I’ve been fortunate enough to experience two river cruises thus far.
The first was with Uniworld from Budapest to Passau and with had an extension into Munich for a couple of days. As I have already mentioned I hosted a group to China with Viking River Cruises.
My next river cruise adventure will be the Christmas markets in November of 2017.
For someone that loves the magical time of Christmas, there is no better place to experience this than on the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Basel. Care to join us in this group? Give us a call and we give you all the details so you can join our group and experience the magic of Christmas in Europe.
Susan Walker is a travel agent and the owner of Expedia Cruiseshipcenters in Red Deer.