Overview

Across the globe unabashed luxury has discovered a new, riverine niche. The recent renaissance in river cruising has tapped into the psyche of a new generation of travellers who don’t want to compromise on style. They seek an opulent self-contained haven of conviviality and exploration. On board these gleaming vessels menus reflect an epicurean élan, service is attentive and personable, while supremely comfortable accommodation with a guaranteed view of the river are all part life’s rich tapestry when cruising along waterways that offer a relaxed rendezvous with majestic cities, noble towns and bucolic villages.

Ocean cruises take you to countries, but river cruises take you through them; land is always in sight and the scenery is at eye level. Days are filled with specially created land tours led by expert guides to cultural masterpieces, plus there’s a variety of biking excursions taking a path less travelled for glimpses of local life. After a day filled with show-stopping scenery, there’s the chance to meet new friends in the comfy lounge before retiring for a blissful night’s sleep caressed by the gentle sound of the lapping river.

Why River

For the ultimate in effortless Europe there’s a miscellany of contrasting cruises. It’s possible to voyage from the North Sea coast to the Danube Delta; witness the romanticism of the castles of the Rhine; or savour close encounters with quixotic French rivers such as the Seine; Rhone; Dordogne. Beyond the blue horizon the mystical Mekong; Ayeyarwady; Nile; Ganges; Yangtze; and Mississippi beckon to be explored as never before.

Conveying around 150 guests, river ships have three accommodation decks plus an expansive sundeck. One restaurant serves all meals and most luxury vessels have an intimate speciality dining option serving a wine-paired dégustation menu where each dish is an exquisite work of art.

Many itineraries visit several countries in just a few days, attracting culture vultures who want to experience the heart and soul of a country. Luxury river cruise lines offer a range of themed cruises for those who want to discover the finer things in life, including wine connoisseur trips and private music recitals in stately venues. Seasonal cruises to fairytale Christmas markets in snow-dusted medieval towns are brim-full of festive cheer. There truly is a waterborne voyage to suit everyone.

Luxury River Cruises

For some, the idea of river cruises is filled with intrigue, romance and adventure. For others, it might be that you do not feel river cruises will be right for you. Whatever camp you reside in, at Panache Cruises we are absolutely confident that there are luxury river cruises to suit everyone, it’s just a case of finding them. Fortunately, river cruises are what we are experts in. Our team of Connoisseurs have sailed the waterways of the world extensively and know the intricacies of all of the luxury cruise lines. They know the advantages of seeing the world from river cruises and will be able to guide you to the one which is perfect for you.

The reason we are so confident luxury river cruises can suit anyone is simply because there are so many different types of holiday to be created from one. Whether you have an interest in the arts, fines wines, striking architecture, exotic lands, ancient civilisations, wildlife or even sporting pursuits, we will be able to curate the perfect experience just for you. We will be on hand every step of the way from your very first enquiry, to well after you return home from any of the river cruises of the world and we will look after every element of your trip.

Rhine

Our specialty is personalising and tailoring luxury river cruises based on the personal requirements of our guests so if you want something a little extra, it will be no trouble at all for us to include it for you.

River cruises are still not a widely understood holiday type within the UK market and at Panache Cruises we aim to change that by informing and educating guests. You will find a whole world of wonder awaits you from the banks of the rivers you will sail and you will see more than you ever thought possible. From port tasting in Portugal, to the gastronomic pleasures of Italy. The soaring Eiffel Tower to the architectural marvel of the Pyramids. The paddy fields and temples of the Far East to the largest waterfalls in the world, Victoria Falls. River cruises will truly transport you to the centre of the destinations on your list as you traverse the very heart of the countries visited.

So read on and be excited and delighted by all the opportunities that await you from luxury river cruises. When you interest is sufficiently piqued, get in touch with one of our expert Connoisseurs who will be able to craft the holiday of a lifetime to create lasting memories just for you.

River Main
Budapest

Why choose luxury river cruises?

One of the key benefits of river cruises is that you really get to the heart of the destinations on your itinerary list. Rather than just skimming the coast of a country as you would on an ocean cruise, you will be cutting through the centre of the places so you get to see more. More of the people, more of the culture, more of the scenery, more of the history, more of (quite literally) everything. The much smaller ships for river cruises will sail right to the very heart of the towns, usually meaning that you can walk directly into it from the ship. But better yet, the majority of the luxury river cruises include a full programme of excursions so that you will get to experience more.

These excursions have all been carefully curated by a team of experts who know what all the main highlights of the port towns are to ensure you see exactly what you should. They will be split into categories too, with various options available everywhere you stop on all river cruises. This means you can make the right choices based on your needs.

For example, if you are particularly active, you will find experienced guides will take you on hikes up to local summits, educating you along the way about the neighbouring villages, sights and any other point of interest there might be. If you prefer to be a little less energetic, you can opt for a guided bicycle tour. There are usually bikes on the river cruises’ ships that you can borrow yourself or you can choose to go with a guide to enjoy a ride along the banks of rivers, through countryside and into the centre of towns and see much more than you could by foot.

If you’re a real foodie, why not take one of the tasting tours where you can sample local delicacies and learn how they are made and where they originate from? Equally, if you enjoy a tipple or two, there are excursions which take you to the local vineyards or even breweries so you can try the local offerings which some towns centre around. Or visit the local castles and museums to get a better understanding of how the areas have evolved. Luxury river cruises are one of the most immersive ways to see the world and you really can do it in your own way.

Emerald Cruises
Passau

When you are back on board your river cruises’ ship, you will find that the local experiences do not end there either. The operators offering river cruises work hard to give you a true flavour of wherever you are visiting and they do this in several ways. You can enjoy lectures about the places you will be seeing, to inform you about the region, the culture and the history meaning river cruises are informative too. Your entertainment programme as night might also include performances by local groups so you will see traditional costumes and enjoy dance, singing and music as part of all river cruise. You might even be able to enjoy an evening excursion after dinner to see a performance ashore or indulge in some other sort of interactive trip – most river cruises offer them.

The main restaurant on board will also get involved in the locality and many evenings will see you having the option of a local dish that has been carefully prepared by the chefs in a sympathetic way to give you an authentic taste of the port you have been at that day. And with many drinks included in the luxury river cruises experience, you will also find this local dish is complimented by a wine pairing, chosen by expert sommeliers to bring the flavours alive.

The luxury river cruises experience is truly set apart by the service you will receive throughout the duration of your holiday. You will enjoy a six-star service as your every whim is catered too. Fine dining will be served at every meal and you will often have the chance to dine at the chef’s table, to enjoy a wine-paired dégustation menu where every exquisite course will be a work of art. The crew on board will be there to ensure every part of all luxury river cruises goes exactly as you prefer and there will be dedicated people to speak to about each element.

There is likely to be a team who will help to organise all your preferred shore excursions, a director specialising in river cruises who can take care of personal requests and answer your questions about the regions you are visiting. There will be a reception team to provide you with your needs in suite and also a fitness manager who will help to ensure you leave feeling better than when you arrived! The service staff in the bars and restaurants will also be available to provide you with all the delicious food and drinks you can manage too! River cruises can be as luxurious as you desire.

It goes without saying that the ships offering river cruises will be stunning too, but as they need to navigate into small port town harbours, they are not very big, carrying approximately 150 guests as a general rule.

Belgrade
Durnstein

This means you are in intimate surroundings with like-minded fellow travellers to share your experiences of river cruises with and make new friends along the way. There is often open seating in the ship’s main restaurant, so you can choose to dine when and with whom you desire. You will not find quite as many facilities on board a ship offering river cruises as you would on one of the large ocean cruise ships but given the focus on the destinations and seeing those, you are unlikely to find this lacking. There will often be fitness suite for you to take some care of yourself and even spa and beauty facilities. The sun deck isn’t just for reclining and to watch the world sail by either, there is sometimes a walking track and you might also find there are some guided fitness classes to take part in – weather permitting of course!

You’ll have a guaranteed view of the river from your suite and just as with any cruise, you can opt for a grander affair with more living space than in a standard cabin. You’ll find an excellent range of amenities available in all of them, from luxury bath products to an advanced entertainment system to dressing gowns and slippers. River cruises might need smaller ships, but there is no compromise on quality.

Which cruise lines offer luxury river cruises?

At Panache Cruises, we are passionate about creating luxury and adventurous holidays so we choose to partner with only a select number of cruise lines across our different cruise types. River cruises are no different and we have chosen the best operators offering river cruises which we are confident match our luxury cruising proposition.

As experts, we have first-hand experience of river cruises on these ships so when you talk to us, you will get first real-world knowledge and experience to help guide you into making the right choice for luxury river cruises. As trusted partners of these cruise lines, we are also privy to exclusive river cruises offers and always have access to the best prices and promotions so you know that when you book with us, you are getting fantastic river cruises at incredible prices.

Find out more about our river cruises partners below…

Bordeaux
Budapest
Budapest, Hungary
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Avalon Waterways
Avalon Waterways
Scenic River Cruise
Scenic
Ama Waterways

Ama Waterways

Trusted experts, Berlitz, have rated AmaWaterways ships as some of the best for river cruises in Europe. Sailing the waterways of the world since 2002, AmaWaterways is a family-owned and operated organisation whose history far precedes their inception this century. The team behind the brand is highly experienced in the travel world, having been involved in all types of river cruises initiatives for decades. It is this dedication to river cruises that has enabled them to create the ground breaking and one-of-a-kind type cruise ships they offer, such as AmaMagna.

To experience true luxury, at Panache Cruises, we recommend that if you prefer European river cruises with AmaWaterways, you should stick with this ship in particular as it is truly exceptional and offers the standard of luxury we know our guests will appreciate. The also have a range of sailings throughout the Far East which will delight you with every port along the routes you sail. The river cruises offered by AmaMagna will astound you.

Ama Waterways

Innovation is at the heart of AmaWaterways which is why in 2019, AmaMagna was recognised as one of the World’s Greatest Places by TIME magazine. At double the width of the standard European luxury river cruises ships, it has plenty more space for guests to enjoy enhanced facilities and more personal space than ever before.

It has more than 50% luxury suite accommodations in addition to a stylish on board cinema, a well-equipped Zen Wellness Studio and no less than four dining venues which are all unique in their own way. In addition to that, she has been built with an innovative 10-engine configuration which is designed that way in order to result in a reduction in overall fuel consumption by as much as 20%.

You will be able to relax with a soothing massage, recline with a cocktail on the Sun Deck, take a dip in the pool with a swim up bar, enjoy wellness and fitness activities with a professionally trained host, keep in touch with loved ones thanks to included WiFi and watch a Hollywood blockbuster from the comfort of your suite. With more included tours and more active ways to discover, you will be able to experience the world in greater detail than ever before.

Avalon Waterways

With award-winning ships to choose from, Avalon Waterways offers a truly personalised service to lead the way in indulgent river cruise travel. The attentive crew will be on hand to assist you with whatever it is you need and itineraries have been carefully put together to ensure you get the most out of the places you visit on their river cruises. And there is the added bonus of your peace of mind in knowing that Avalon do all this in the most environmentally conscious way possible – these are river cruises with a heart.

When you take river cruises with Avalon, you will be in the epitome of relaxed luxury with small and beautiful ships offering an unpretentious yet refined atmosphere. The staterooms on board have more space than many other river cruises ships too, with as much as 30% extra space. You are likely to also be able to create your very own open-air balcony thanks to floor to ceiling windows which fully open. This will give you the sense that you are part of the passing scenery, almost able to reach out and touch the castles and nature that you are sailing past.

Avalon

Whilst you are on luxury river cruises with Avalon, you will find that you can enjoy a lecture from a guest speaker or perhaps enjoy a performance from a local musician. You’ll meet new friends in the lounge and can spend time in your stateroom either watching the world pass by from your balcony or indulging in one of the films on the entertainment system.

Your river cruises might even include an evening of on board wine, beer or regional delicacy tasting so look out for those opportunities to get a real taste of the places you are seeing.

Smaller ships suitable for river cruises mean getting even closer to the heart of the towns on the list, so Avalon can dock in the most historic and iconic of towns and cities. That way, you can set foot off the ship and find yourself right in the thick of where you want to be, with all the sights right on your doorstep. You will of course be offered a full programme of included excursions to complement their river cruises but should you wish to explore yourself, the crew will help you are might as possible.

Avalon

Emerald Cruises

As experts in the river cruises world, Emerald Cruises have been sailing guests in comfort and luxury on their stylish Star-Ships for many years.

Their focus on EmeraldVALUE is a promise to deliver exceptional service and value so you enjoy every element of luxury river cruises with them.

You will be treated to exquisite cuisine on board, with menus curated by chefs to properly reflect the destinations of your itinerary by using fresh local ingredients and even adding in a few local specialties. Wines and beers as well as soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner and you’ll find tea, coffee and bottled water throughout the river cruises ships too.

Emerald Cruises
Emerald Cruises

Emerald Cruises will get you to the heart of your destinations more closely and sail you around the wonders of Europe and Southeast Asia, giving you an immersive experience. They will show you the hidden gems and offer different programmes of activity such as EmeraldPLUS and EmeraldACTIVE experiences so that you will have a holiday that gives you more.

An on board Activity Manager will help to keep you fit and well and your excursions can be as active or sedentary as you choose. There is even a loyalty programme to engage in so the more you river cruises you sail on, the better the rewards!

Luxury river cruises with Emerald Cruises will be like a home away from home with a welcoming environment as your background to seeing the wonders of your chosen itinerary.

Scenic Cruises

River cruises with Scenic will offer you a whole different type of experience, with extreme luxury and all-inclusive amenities at all times. Not only that, the service you receive whilst on board any of their river cruises will be so rewarding, your every need will be met within an instant.

The all-inclusive nature of Scenic luxury river cruises means that you will not have to spend a penny whilst on board whatsoever. This offers an extra peace of mind so you know that all you need to worry about is which excursion you are going to take. These are, of course, included too and you’ll have a wide range to choose from in order to get the most out of the river cruises itinerary you sail on. Your excursions will be carefully curated to be fully immersive and to take you on experiences you might not otherwise have. So when you’re sailing with Scenic, ensure you make the most of the Scenic Freechoice and Scenic Enrich experiences in every port of the river cruises they offer.

Scenic
Scenic

On board your ship, you’ll find up to five different dining experiences so you will have plenty of choice. The chef will carefully define the menu and will also bring a local flavour in with produce and regional specialties of the places you’ll be visiting as part of your cruise. You’ll be able to enjoy fine wines, beers and top shelf spirits too, all complimentary and you will be spoilt for choice each and every day regardless of which of the river cruises you choose.

All the suites are well-appointed, and include butler service to ensure you want for nothing at any point in your river cruises holiday. You’ll also be able to fully recharge your batteries every night with a snooze in your Scenic Slumber Bed to give you the best night’s sleep of your life!

Luxury river cruises with Scenic is an unparalleled experience and one you should enjoy sooner rather than later.

Uniworld

Stepping onto a Uniworld ship is like stepping into one of the finest boutique hotels in the world. Every single one is unique and exquisitely appointed, setting it apart from the other fleets on the waterways of the world making their river cruises different. They are all designed as luxury works of art that should be as individual as the guests and the itineraries they sail. With destination-inspired décor throughout, you’ll find you are more immersed in your river cruises experience than ever before and no two suites are the same to give that additional edge.

Whilst on your stunning river cruises, you will experience a supremely personal service from the attentive crew on board as Uniworld put service at the heart of everything they do. No request will be too much trouble for the team and every detail is taken care of to ensure your river cruise is just as you would expect it to be from a luxury holiday.

Uniworld

The all-inclusive river cruises experience on offer is also an absolutely unmatched level of service with luxurious amenities included that will only be found on a Uniworld cruise.

You’ll enjoy unlimited premium spirits and wines, 5-star farm to table cuisine and a programme of cleverly designed excursions to ensure you see the destinations to their best. After all, the destination is one of the key reasons for choosing your river cruises itinerary!

On board fitness and wellness centres are available and will allow you to take part in some self-care too, as well as bicycles and Nordic walking sticks for time spent ashore. Entertainment, enrichment, WiFi and gratuities are all included too.

You really don’t need to worry at all when you’re on river cruises with Uniworld as everything is taken care of and all included.

Uniworld

Rivers of the World

There are some incredibly impressive waterways in the world for you to explore on luxury river cruises, perhaps more than you realised! The selection below is where the operators of river cruises we partner with here at Panache Cruises sail to. Take a look and when you feel inspired, get in touch with one of our expert Connoisseurs who will guide you to the river cruises which are perfect for you.

Danube
Danube
Seine
Seine
Mekong
Mekong
Douro

The Douro

The Douro river is one of the most popular of all the world’s waterways and if you wish to take a luxury river cruise along it, you need to book as soon as you possibly can! The smaller size of the ships sailing these waterways means there are fewer suites and staterooms available so they sell out incredibly quickly.

Whilst it spans 500 miles, a cruise will not take you the full length of it, instead you’ll head from the Spanish-Portuguese border through Portugal to Porto. For port lovers, this river cruise is an absolute must as you will be able to taste many of the different types available throughout the duration of your cruise. Stopping in Regua, the main town where all the wine produced passes through, you’ll get the opportunity to take part in wine-tasting. You can compare what you taste here to those you try in Qunita da Avessada with its winery right in the heart of the Douro wine region.



If you also want some historic and cultural influence, you can have this in droves too. Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo will give you an insight into the Spanish Inquisition. Take a historical excursion in Vega de Terron and explore the museums, churches and art of Porto.

. If you want a little more, you can often extend your trip in Salamanca which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the perfect place to enjoy some Flamenco dancing. Or perhaps add on a trip to the capital of Portugal, Lisbon and see the contrasts between modern culture and the history which pervades it.

A luxury river cruise on the Douro will allow you to see parts of Portugal and Spain you wouldn’t normally visit and enjoy it all with a lovely climate and flavoured by the tastes of fine, local wines.

Porto
Paris

The Seine

The river Seine is one of France’s most well-known and iconic river, spanning 486 miles. It rises near Dijon in the east of France and close to the Swiss Alps, flowing north westerly to Paris and beyond to Normandy where it culminates in Le Havre, France’s largest shipping port and ultimately the English Channel itself. Travelling this river will afford you some stunning sights, and it even traverses the very heart of the romance capital of the world itself, so you’ll be treated to a look at the Eiffel Tower amongst other famous landmarks.

You will typically sail from either Paris to Rouen or Honfleur on the Normandy coast or complete the itinerary in the opposite direction, and this itinerary will really showcase to you the beauty of northern France and all it has to offer. A former route for trade and transport as far back as the Celts in the Iron Age, this river today still has those who wish to use it which is why Le Havre remains France’s largest port.

A cruise along the river Seine will take you through ancient history and artistic landmarks. From visiting the stunning Palace of Versailles to seeing where impressionism itself was born in Giverny and even Monet’s farmhouse and gardens which were his inspiration.

Glide past picture book chateaux and take the opportunity to walk the Normandy D-Day Landing Beaches where the allied forces pursued their quest. You can even visit the Landing Museum at Arromanches to learn more.

Tour Richard the Lionheart’s castle, and uncover the beauty of the capital of Normandy, Rouen and even see where Joan of Arc was martyred. Medieval castles, pretty villages, cider orchards and forests are only complemented by a stay in Paris where you can see all the iconic sights beyond the Tower.

The Champs Elysees, Notre Dame cathedral, Sacre-Coeur and the Arc de Triomphe – they are all as fabulous in real life as on the pictures.

Rouen
Lyon

The Saone

A river in its own right, the Saone is actually a key tributary to the Rhone and cuts through a particularly beautiful part of France with ports also in Switzerland. It is 294 miles long and reaches the Rhone in Lyon, after having swept its way through eastern France.

On your journey through France, you’ll be able to see a different side to French life, with quaint villages, and wine country in abundance, some of which have vineyards with UNESCO World Heritage status. In Burgundy, you will see castles a-plenty (Castle of Nobles, Castle of Sully, Carmatin Castle and Berze-le-Chatel), villages in the heart of the winelands and even medieval abbeys. You may also get the chance to visit the capital of Burgundy in Beaune and you can experience a wine-based excursion to see the process and how the industry has shaped local culture. There is a national park to explore but the real draw here for many is the exquisite wine and cheese produced in this area so we would highly recommend you try as much as you possibly can!

Saone

In charming Chalon-sur-Saone, (literally meaning Chalon on Saone), this riverbank delight will allow you to take an educational trip to learn more about the wines of the region and even explore some caves. This is part of the Cote Chalonnaise wine region. Another town sur-Saone to enjoy on your luxury river cruise is Villefranche-sur-Saone. France is filled with ‘Villefranche’s but this one sits north of Lyon in the Beaujolais wine region and is its capital. Travel at the right time and you might even be able to take part in the local Beaujolais Nouveau Day when the first wine of the season is to be enjoyed. You can also visit the castle at Chateau de Montmelas and the Church of Notre Dame de Marais.

When you reach Lyon, you’ll find an exceptional city that is well-known for its gastronomic excellence. This is a sophisticated place and is France’s third largest city which includes many World Heritage features such as Roman ruins, a 19th century Presqu’ile quarter and a renaissance old town too.

Saone is perfect for a luxury cruise and will suit all manner of travellers from wine-lovers to history buffs, those who love scenic surroundings and foodies too.

The Dordogne & Bordeaux Region

If France is a destination you hold in high regard or simply wish to see more of, a cruise down the Dordogne will sail you through the stunning scenery of the south-central and southwest regions. It often plays a part in a wider river cruise holiday that will cover the Bordeaux region on the Garonne and Gironde rivers as there is so much to see in this area.

Dordogne

The Dordogne river itself spans 300 miles and surrounding areas were designated Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2012. A river cruise in this beautiful part of France will afford you an enriching experience which will include cultural and historic gems, picturesque backdrops and more than a little wine-tasting!

Blaye Fortress and Lansac Windmill will be just some of the sights you will see as you take a scenic tour of the Route de la Corniche Fleurie. When in Bordeaux, you’ll be tantalised by wine tastings, famer’s markets and tours of quaint villages.

Throughout the duration of your luxury river cruise in the Bordeaux region, you will see impressive archaeological feats, be humbled by the challenges of battles from bygone times and be astounded by natural beauty of local scenery. You’ll also be able to experience an authentic French lifestyle experience so you get a true taste of how they really live. It will be an enjoyable gastronomic and wine-loving experience enriched by the cultural pleasures en route as you sail in luxury across the waterways of this beautiful part of France.

The Moselle

Rising in the Vosges mountains, the Moselle flows for 340 miles through north-eastern France, Luxembourg, and western Germany. It is one of the Rhine tributaries and joins it in Koblenz, a popular port on a luxury river cruise on both the Rhine and Moselle.

A cruise along the Moselle will be a more intimate affair than on some of the other major rivers of Europe as it is considerably smaller, just perfect for those seeking something a little away from the well-trodden paths of others. If discovery is on your agenda, you will have it in droves when you take a luxury river cruise along the Moselle, visiting multiple ports and even countries along the way!

Admire the beautiful scenery of hills covered by vineyards and lush forestry and visit the towns of Trier, Bernkastel and Koblenz. Moselle is a popular wine region and Trier is right in the very heart of it.

Trier
Koblenz

Whilst wine has been produced in the Moselle since before the Romans occupied it, it has now become the home of Riesling and it is the perfect destination for true wine lovers. Wine festivals, vineyards, wine villages – you’ll see the very best of what the local vintners have to offer at every opportunity.

In terms of sights to see, there us the Black Gate (built in 180 AD) in Trier, often thought of a Germany’s oldest city. Take a tour of the delightful medieval streets in Bernkastel with brightly coloured buildings and a traditional marketplace.

Then enjoy the fortresses and castles of Koblenz, where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet and exceed the expectations of tourists with its enchanting scenery.

The Rhone

Provence is perhaps one of the most photographed parts of France thanks to its absolute beauty of breath-taking scenery. Lavender fields will delight your senses with their pretty colours and delicious perfume. Exquisite food will tantalise your palate in the local cafes in the pretty villages along the river. Historical cities and rich cultural heritage also away you in this part of France. So it’s no wonder really that the Rhone is one of the most popular options for a luxury river cruise.

It flows for 500 miles from its source, high up in Switzerland, and passes across south western France before coming to an end on the coast of the Mediterranean. But that isn’t before it splits into two smaller waterways known as the Great Rhone and the Little Rhone, in the city of Arles. The city of Arles itself is a highly sought-after port on the Rhone itineraries thanks to its perfect location and balmy climate.

Avignon

It sits near the French Riviera, close to the Mediterranean Sea and whilst enjoying the warmer weather, you can explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site it is, thanks to the rich Roman history of the local landmarks. Take a trip to Les Alyscamps, a Roman mausoleum, or visit Les Arenes, a Roman arena which will still seat up to 20,000 spectators for certain events.

Pay a visit to the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, and again you’re visiting a UNESCO World Heritage site. Indulge in delicious local fare which includes Quiche Lorraine, and a variety of fish-based meals. Avignon is a true hub of culture and history so absorb it all by wandering its charming streets.

The third largest city in France, Lyon, is also a sight to see on a Rhone river cruise, and again is rich in history. But not only that, it is also a gastronomic centre, hailed the world over. Catch the funicular railways to Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière or take a tour around the Cathedral Saint Jean Baptiste. The Rhone is a beautiful French waterway that provides a passage to culture, history, scenery and gastronomy, all of which you can enjoy from a luxury river cruise.

Provence

The Rhine

A Rhine river cruise will lead you through several countries including Switzerland, Germany and The Netherlands, so you really get to see more of Europe in one holiday. It forms part of a system of rivers which also includes the Main and Moselle and together they will take you on an enchanting journey through picturesque villages which look straight out of a storybook, will wind you through vineyards and will show you impressive Gothic architecture in the cities you visit.

The Rhine is one of the major rivers of Europe and measures an impressive 760 miles. It starts in Switzerland and flows in a generally northern direction towards Germany passing through the Rhinelands. It then continues onwards to the Netherlands before finally coming to an end by emptying into the North Sea. It passes through large cities including Cologne, Dusseldorf, Rotterdam, Strasbourg and Basel.

Switzerland
Basel

Your luxury Rhine river cruise will take you right through the heart of Middle Europe, where its shores overflow with historic treasures and pulsing cities. You’ll be able to taste the wines of the region with a delicious Riesling and explore Rüdesheim’s impressive vineyards. See the windmills of Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage site and experience Amsterdam like a local by weaving your way around the network of canals and gabled houses by bicycle.

Take your own special inspiration from magical Heidelberg and maybe pay a visit to the Technik Museum. See the balance between French and German in cultural Alsace. In the Middle Rhine Gorge, you’ll explore mythical Lorelei Rock. Become a wanderer without a purpose in the natural beauty of the Black Forest. Count the castles as you enjoy some scenic sailing and see the cities of Basel, Cologne and more besides.

The Main

The longest tributary of the Rhine, the Main forms where the White and Red Mains converge near Kulmbach. It then flows westwards through central Germany – the highlands and the Lower Nain lowlands – before joining the Rhine.

Port towns on the itinerary include Frankfurt, Wurzburg, Mainz and Bamberg where you will find the historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Perfectly preserved with Gothic and Romanesque landmarks galore, you will be charmed by this city and all it has to offer.

The Gutenberg Museum is a key site to visit as well as Mainz Cathedral. When you pass through Bavaria, you may well stop at Wurzburg which sits between Frankfurt and Nuremberg. It needed rebuilding thanks to the devastation it encountered in the Second World War but has been sympathetically done so it boasts some impressive architecture. Don’t miss the Wurzburg Residence, one of Europe’s grandest baroque buildings.

Frankfurt

The Elbe

Perhaps Germany’s ‘second best’ well-known river, the Elbe is almost equally as impressive at approximately 700 miles in length. Named by the Romans, it originates in Krkonoše Mountains of north-western Bohemia of the Czech Republic and traverses the heart of Europe to its final emptying port in Cuxhaven into the North Sea, 60 miles north of Hamburg.

If you take a luxury river cruise on the Elbe, you will find yourself winding through dramatic scenery and breath-taking vistas which will be enjoyed perfectly from the sun deck of your ship. You can marvel at impressive sandstone rock formations, uncover Saxony beauty and revere statuesque Gothic castles along your route.

With an overnight stay in Berlin or Prague often the case on your luxury Elbe river cruise, you will be able to absorb the atmosphere of some of the most cutting-edge cities in Europe. The capital of Germany allows you to have a range of different experiences, from immersing yourself in the triumph and tragedies of World War II, but you can also find a bier keller to sample some local brew.

Berlin

Contemporary architecture, the Berlin Wall Memorial and the Brandenburg Gate are all waiting for you to visit. Whilst in Prague, another capital city, and also known as the City of a Hundred Spires, you can wander the streets spotting colourful baroque buildings, see plenty of Gothic churches and watch the time pass at the foot of the medieval Astronomical Clock and the hourly show it puts on. Take a wander over the ancient Charles Bridge (built in 1402!) and see the statues of Catholic saints which line it.

Purchase some world-famous porcelain in Meissen and see the beautifully cultivated gardens of Worlitz. In Wittenberg you’ll be walking with giants as this is the place which saw the starting point of Martin Luther’s reformation. Dresden, Litomerice and Hamburg are all port towns on the river Elbe too, each with its own cultural interest and historic beauty to explore.

If you’re looking for a river which is slightly less well sailed, the Elbe will be perfect for you as it is less commercialised and less popular than the Rhine. This means your experience will be unique and exclusive whenever you choose to sail on it. It will perfect for your memories and to ensure you get a different experience than one you might have had previously on different river cruises.

Prague
Budapest

The Danube

No less than four capital cities grace the banks of the river Danube – Vienna, Budapest, Bratislava and Belgrade. Each one of them is unique in its personal charm with architecture, history, art, culture and more to entice you. A medieval monastery will overwhelm you with reverence whereas fairy-tale castles will bring your childhood imagination to life. UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the Wachau Valley will take your breath away with their natural beauty and the Iron Gate gorge which sits between Serbia and Romania will exhilarate you as you sail through.

The Danube is one of the longest rivers in Europe at over 1,700 miles and takes you through the heart of the Austro-Hungarian empire. You’ll see evidence of this wherever you turn; in the music, the food and the architecture.

Vienna

As there are so many options available for your Danube river cruise, you will be able to pick from port towns including Passau, Melk and Munich which are, of course, all in addition to the capital cities it passes through. One of the huge attractions of a luxury river cruise in this region though is a trip through the Danube Delta Biosphere which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. This is 2,200 square miles of rivers, canals and marshes and Europe’s highest concentration of bird colonies. It is impressively the third largest biodiversity in the world, third only to the Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands.

Another UNESCO World Heritage site can be found in Vienna, whose baroque architecture and Hapsburg family heritage have created some of the most beautiful buildings. Buda and Pest can be explored on your Danube river cruise too, as two sides of the same city – Hungary’s capital allows this river to flow straight through it! Explore the Medieval Castle Hill part of Buda and the more cosmopolitan side of Pest. Parliament Building, the Hungarian State Opera House and Chain Bridge are all certainly worth a visit.

Moselle Valley
Moselle Valley
Vietnam
Mekong, Vietnam
Rhone
Rhone, France
Chobe National Park
Chobe National Park
Amsterdam

Dutch Waterways

The land of the windmills and Belgium await you on river cruises down the Dutch Waterways. They branch off from the river Rhine when it arrives in Holland, forming this network of wonder that can sail you around some stunning sights.

There are iconic experiences to be had on a luxury river cruise in this area, and these will include the beautiful windmills Holland is famous for. If you time your cruise right, you will also find you see the tulip fields in bloom, where these pretty flowers will extend as far as the eye can see in a magical display of blooms. Picturesque villages will be stop off points for you and the landscapes you pass will be fertile and rich.

Four main ports will most likely pepper your itinerary; Antwerp, Keukenhof, Kinderdijk and Amsterdam. Antwerp is most famous for its diamond trade reputation and is one of the world’s leading ports. Sitting in Belgium, it is a key part of an itinerary so you can explore its history and landmarks such as Cathedral of Our Lady and St Paul’s Church.

The flower garden that is Keukenhof is the most common reason people tend to take a river cruise on the Dutch Waterways and it isn’t hard to see why when the tulips are in bloom. It really is worth ensuring you travel at this key time so you don’t miss out on the spectacle.

The windmills Holland is also famous for will be on display in Kinderdijk, and you’ll get a true insight into the Dutch way of living in this traditional town. You can take a guided tour of a working windmill and even head down the Lek and Noord rivers which form part of the waterways – a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site.

Amsterdam is one of the most well-known cities of Europe and with good reason. The welcoming ambience, network of canals and beautiful, quaint little streets are all perfect for aimlessly wandering around. If you would like to learn a little history too, you can visit the house of Anne Frank and stop off at the Van Gogh museum too. Be charmed by luxury river cruises along the Dutch Waterways and you’ll have memories imprinted on your mind for life.

Antwerp
Kiev

The Dnieper

If you want to travel somewhere off the beaten track, the Ukraine is one such destination you can explore. And there are few better ways to see a country than on a luxury river cruise. It spans an unimaginable 1,420 miles and is the fourth longest river in Europe.

The Ukraine is home to 680 miles of the Dnieper, with its origins starting northwest of Moscow in the heart of Russia. It then passes through Belarus and the Ukraine before emptying its huge volume into the Black Sea. It has always been of economic importance to Ukraine and is now famed for its dams and hydroelectric stations.

Historically known as the Amber Route thanks to its links with the Orient back since the Vikings invaded throughout the 8th to 11th centuries, it still offers a huge amount of history for you to explore. Your cruise is likely to include the Ukrainian cities of Kiev and Odessa, with many cruises starting in the capital itself.

Kiev is a hotbed of contrasts, where historic monuments and architecture meet scientific developments. You can explore Eastern Orthodox Christianity at the World Heritage site Pechersk Lavra. This amazing complex of churches such as Saint Sophia’s cathedral, bell towers and subterranean caves will astound you. See the statue which commemorates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War and wander the sweeping Hryshko National Botanical Gardens which are managed by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The Aviation State Museum and One Street Museum are also worth a visit. The latter has been cleverly designed to appropriately capture the atmosphere of the world-famous street, Andriyivskyy Descent, at the turn of the century.

Odessa is one of the most well-known cities in Ukraine and has welcoming tourist hotspots such as Deribasovskaya Street, which can be the start of your exploration. Many of the main attractions are all within easy reach so you can easily pay a visit to the Odessa State Academical Opera and Ballet Theatre and its architectural excellence. And don’t miss out on the Potemkin Steps, famous thanks to the film Battleship Potemkin.

This river is filled with ancient treasures and exciting culture and explores a country not often visited so is perfect for those looking for something a little different. See it all with various river cruises in the area.

Minsk

The Volga & Russian Waterways

Take a fresh adventure across the waterways of Russia with luxury river cruises here and you’ll find a different type of experience awaits you. Distinctly not European and filled with places that really do live up to their stereotypes, you can revel in scenery and opulence alike.

Moscow

Over half of the key cities in Russia sit along the Volga basin and as such, this river forms almost the backbone of the country. It is the longest river in Europe, spanning a whopping 2,300 miles from its source to the northwest of Moscow and through the west of Russia before culminating in the Caspian Sea. Across the breadth of the Volga, you will see much of the heart of Russia and all it has to offer with incredible river cruises here.

Russia is a destination filled with mystery and holds a special place of intrigue in many traveller’s hearts which is why it holds such appeal. A river cruise along the Volga is an easy way to see much more of this vast and impressive country and will allow you to see a very authentic side. From the potato and beetroot fields to Moscow, the Moscow Canal and stunning St Petersburg.

The historic capital of Russia is home to places such as Red Square with St Basil’s Cathedral and the Lenin Mausoleum. See the Kremlin and perhaps take in the Bolshoi Theatre. The Winter Palace in St Petersburg is home to over three million works of art from the likes of Michelangelo and Rembrandt and you can also see many building with World Heritage status.

The Po

One of Europe’s lesser-known rivers, but arguably in one of the more attractive regions, the Po will sail you from its source Pian del Re in the north, all the way across 400 miles to the Venice Lagoon. Luxury river cruises on the Po is a stylish and romantic way to see the sights of northern Italy all in one easy and indulgent holiday.

Italy is famous for its scenery, atmosphere, wine and food and you will enjoy these in abundance on a Po river cruise. You’ll visit cities such as Venice, Verona and Turin and be captivated by them all. In Turin, you’ll find the Italian Royal Family and all the majesty that accompanies is. With museums, palaces and piazzas to explore, you’ll need to take some much-needed time to recharge your batteries in a local restaurant to enjoy the fabulous cuisine.

Verona
Venice

The fictional home for Rome and Juliet, Verona will enchant you with the romance which pervades its streets filled with Roman heritage. Visit Juliet’s house, where the iconic love scene was allegedly set, or see the Arena, a fabulous Roman amphitheatre. Pick up souvenirs in the boutiques and try the refreshing and delicious gelato when you need a break. Then of course you should try some of the local wines in Carega.

In Venice, you can tick off a bucket list activity by taking a gondola ride along the meandering network of canals or if you prefer, take to the city by foot. Everywhere you turn you will find treasures including local dishes in the restaurants, Saint Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace.

Italy is world famous for its beauty, culture, food, wine and art and there is no better way to see more in one trip than on luxury river cruises here.

The Nile

A Nile river cruise is one of those bucket-list essentials that adorns the lists of so many thanks to its iconic and romantic appeal. As the longest river in the world, its reputation precedes itself and you won’t be disappointed when you opt to take a luxury river cruise along it.

One of the most impressive places on a Nile river cruise is the city of Cairo – this is Africa’s largest city so has a wealth of attractions to behold. The Nile flows straight through it so you can have a stunning view of its riverbanks. This impressive city is not only the largest in Africa but is one of the largest in the world, and has a rich cultural blend from the ancient to the contemporary. See mummies from thousands of years ago in the Museum of Egypt or head to Giza where you will be dwarfed by the size and enormity of construction of the Pyramids. Get up close and personal with the Sphinx and perhaps take a ride on a camel. Seeing Cairo is one of the key reasons for taking Nile river cruises.

Alexandria
Egypt

However, the other places on the itinerary are equally as noteworthy with Luxor and Aswan topping the list. Luxor is the home to many fascinating landmarks such as the Valley of the Kings, the final resting place of many pharaohs of ancient Egypt. There are also temples, the Colossi of Memnon and the Museum of Mummification to educate you. Aswan is the most southerly point of a Nile cruise and again has ancient architecture to delight you. From the Unfished Obelisk, to the Tombs of the Nobles, it’s a great way to end a Nile river cruise.

There are few ways to see such ancient history than with Egyptian river cruises and sailing part of the Nile will dazzle you with sights you might have only seen in pictures before.

The Chobe & Zambezi

One of Africa’s somewhat lesser known rivers, this is certainly worth a voyage for different reasons than the Nile. A Chobe and Zambezi river cruise will amaze you with the natural beauty on its banks from national parks to wildlife and diverse cultures.

South Africa

In Cape Town, you will sit under the shadow of the stunning Table Mountain and can take a stroll around one of the multiple national parks in the area. African décor, art galleries and high-quality restaurants all await you on your arrival to Cape Town and you will be astounded by the rich multicultural blend of the city.

Johannesburg is still one of South Africa’s most up and coming cities and has some incredibly trendy parts. Be humbled by the Apartheid Museum and perhaps travel to the UNESCO World Heritage site which is the Cradle of Humankind with its fossils found 3.5 million years ago!

By far and away the star of a Chobe and Zambezi river cruise however, is the Victoria Falls. The largest in the world, they will absolutely blow you away. Another UNESCO site, you will be deafened by the ‘smoke that thunders’ from the Devil’s Pool. Other natural wonders include the ability to see the Big 5 as you step slightly away from the river and head to Kruger National Park. There are few sights which will stay with you as much as seeing these majestic animals roam their natural habitat and you can see it all with river cruises in this region.

Myanmar
Yangon, Myanmar
Nuremberg
Nuremberg, Germany
Emerald Cruises
Emerald Cruises
Loire Valley
Loire Valley, France

The Irrawaddy

Myanmar, previously known as Burma, is a country which for a long time was off limits. Now you can explore it to its fullest with a stunning luxury river cruise along its waterway, the Irrawaddy. Today, it is still an important feature for survival of the local cultures and if you sail along it, you will find fishing boats, ferries, bamboo rafts and more, filled with those working to build their livelihoods.

Explore your spiritual side in Bagan, where you’ll find a wealth of temples and religious sites – over 10,000 to be exact and many dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. See the newness of Mandalay which was only created in 1857 and take a look at the Royal Palace and the Dee Doke Waterfall. See the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, the centre of Myanmar’s economic activity but you will have to take a little trip from your cruise as it is doesn’t sit quite on the banks of the Irrawaddy. Rich in religious heritage, there is also plenty of natural beauty thanks to gardens and parks which are dotted throughout.

Irrawaddy

The Mekong

Take a Far Eastern adventure along the stunning Mekong river and see how the residents along the banks have lived for thousands of years. Starting in China, it heads through Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before emptying into the South China Sea, you’ll be able to see the locals in their stilt houses, perhaps swimming or even fishing.

This river was an important escape passage in the Vietnam war and it is still useful today as it irrigates the paddy fields which provide the livelihoods for so many. You’ll be exposed to more authentic lifestyles than you thought possible on this extensive journey through the Far East.

Places you can visit along the way include Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site as it is the world’s largest single religious monument. You can visit the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh and the contemporary culture it has.

Vietnam
Cambodia

Of course, it is also stuffed full of historic treasures too, such the Royal Palace and no trip to the Far East is complete without seeing a pagoda or two so pay a visit to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Silver Pagoda.

Another capital city, Hanoi, is a place to visit and perfect for more history such as where the American POWs were held in the Hanoi Hilton, or indulge in some retail therapy if you so desire. Ho Chi Minh City tells more of the story of the Vietnam War with the Cu Chi Tunnels and you will find bustling markets and delicious local cuisine.

You’ll see a real mix of cultures, lands, scenery and history with luxury river cruises along the Mekong and have enriching experiences at every turn.

The Yangtze

The exotic lands of China are the some of the most diverse and fascinating on earth and when you see the different cities, scenery and culture, it is not hard to see why. Seeing this vast country in one holiday is a tall order, but it is made all the more easy with a luxury river cruise down the Yangtze.

Shanghai

This is the longest river in Asia and makes it way from the Tibetan Plateau all the way to the East China Sea and on its path are incredible sights for you to behold. Cities en route include Shanghai and Beijing, with Shanghai sitting at the mouth of the river itself.

With a contemporary edge, the skyline of this city is offset by the rich history which will still find in many parts. Take a guided tour and you’ll uncover little-known gems and tick off places such as Shanghai Happy Valley, Shanghai City Beach and the Jinjiang Amusement Park if you’re after something a bit different.

In Beijing you’ll be caught up in the hustle and bustle and be wow-ed by ancient landmarks including the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. You could also take a walk along the Great Wall of China. Haggle in a market or eat like the natives with some delicious cuisine in a local restaurant.

China is a vast and wondrous country and you really might struggle to see enough in a traditional land-based holiday. So explore it from the waters instead with one of the luxury river cruises available.

River Itineraries