River cruises are operated all around the world – along Europe’s great waterways, between the great cities of Russia, on the Yangtze River in China, along the Nile in Egypt and the Ayerarwady in Myanmar.
Whichever river clients choose, there will be plenty of time to get off and explore, either alone or on excursions.
This year Peter Deilmann guests have been able to go on themed cruises – dedicating time to their interests, be it golf, gardens or classical music.
Managing director Stuart Perl said: “Having the opportunity to indulge in a favourite hobby on board can turn what is already an enjoyable experience into a truly special holiday.
“Feedback from this year’s Classical Music Cruises has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re delighted to extend the choice of themed cruises for 2008.”
Music on the Danube
Destination: Austria and Hungary.
This is the river that inspired Strauss’s waltz, The Blue Danube. Mozart fans will be happy too, as the cruise passes through Vienna, where the Salzburg-born composer lived and worked in the 1780s. The city has also been home to Schubert, Beethoven and Haydn.
These days, the Vienna Mozart Orchestra plays concerts in some of the city’s grandest venues, including the State Opera House, throughout the summer. The Vienna Boys’ Choir performs every Sunday at the Hofburg Palace.
Popular cruising itineraries also take in Budapest; Melk, famous for its Baroque abbey; and Linz and Krems for wine-tasting tours.
Sample product: Viking River Cruises has an eight-day Romantic Danube holiday from Budapest to Nuremberg from £1,475 per person including flights, transfers and seven guided tours in March and November.
- Related article:Central Europe on the Danube
Gardens on the Seine
A Seine cruise to or from Paris gives passengers the chance to visit two of Europe’s most famous gardens: Versailles and Giverny.
The gardens of Versailles are a masterpiece of formal design, with marble-paved courtyards, an orangery, a canal, lakes and gold fountains that come to life in music and firework displays.
Giverny is the riverside village that was home to Claude Monet and the lily pond immortalised in his paintings.
Between garden stops, clients can also take in the sights of Paris, spend time in Honfleur, and visit Rouen, where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.
Sample product:Peter Deilmann has a seven-night themed gardening cruise from Paris to Rouen on May 31 2008 from £1,149 per person, cruise-only, including escorted visits to Monet’s garden and onboard talks by professional gardeners.
Christmas markets on the Rhine
Come December, Christmas markets are the main attraction in Europe. They are big events, where clients can forget the winter cold by browsing brightly-coloured stalls selling all sorts of goodies – and have a few glasses of glühwein, of course.
Germany claims to have started the Christmas market tradition as long as 600 years ago. Christmas markets are now all over the country in November and December.
Cologne alone has four big markets, Koblenz’s has 100 stalls and Heidelberg’s covers five squares.
Rhine cruises may also pass through Cologne, with the country’s largest cathedral; Rüdesheim, which dates back to Roman times and is famous for the Drosselgasse, a long avenue of shops and wine bars; and Koblenz, which is located where the Rhine and Moselle rivers merge and dates back 2,000 years.
Sample product: Travelscope has a four-day German Christmas markets cruise from Koblenz, visiting the markets at Rüdesheim and Cologne, from £119 per person including return coach and ferry travel from the UK in November and December.
History on Russia’s waterways
This is the easy way to see Russia’s two greatest cities without having to master the language or struggle with the local cuisine.
Cruises start in Moscow, with time to take in the Kremlin, Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral; or St Petersburg, where clients can visit the Hermitage, Catherine’s Palace and Peter the Great’s summer palace at Petrodvorets.
Cruisers can then sail through the waterways and huge lakes that link the two cities – the Moscow Canal, the Volga, the Volga-Baltic Waterway and the Svir River.
Top stops include Yaroslavl, where clients can visit the Church of Elijah the Prophet; and Uglich, where Ivan the Terrible’s son Dimitry was murdered (the Church of St Dimitry-on-the-Blood was built where his body was found).
Sample product: Grand River Cruises has a 13-day cruise from Moscow to St Petersburg, with two days spent in both cites, from £2,095 per person full-board in May 2008, including flights and UK and overseas transfers.
Yangtze River cruise
The Yangtze cruise attracts both regular cruisers looking for new destinations and non-cruise travellers who are keen to see China but scared off by the language barrier.
A cruise on the Yangtze can be combined with Shanghai and Beijing, where clients can see the Forbidden City and Great Wall; Xian, for the Terracotta Warriors; and Chongquig.
There are Yangtze river cruises of up to nine nights, but most operators offer a three-night cruise through the dramatic Three Gorges, with excursions to see the much prettier Lesser Three Gorges and the Three Gorges Dam.
Sample product: Cosmos Tourama has a 15-day China and Yangtze River cruise from £1,839 per person in March 2008, including international and internal flights, transfers and an English-speaking guide.
- Related article:China: the perfect 14-day tour