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Inspire Magazine - River Cruising: A Panoramic Perspective through the Countryside

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Inspire Magazine - River Cruising: A Panoramic Perspective through the Countryside

story by: Inspire Magazine

The desire to see more of a country’s heartland doesn’t necessarily mean foregoing the lavish hotel-style accommodation, the impeccable service or the exquisite dining that cruise-lovers have become accustomed to. As they blissfully meander from port to port, river cruise passengers get treated to astounding angles of beautiful waterside cities and non-stop landscape views. You’d be loath to go below deck in case you miss anything.

Some countries, particularly in Europe, are tailor-made for river cruising. Imagine the unforgettable sights available cruising along the Rhine, Danube, Seine, Moselle, Elbe, Po and Douro Rivers. However, river cruising isn’t limited to Europe; in the USA, the Mississippi River and its connecting tributaries are experiencing a renaissance with the launch of American Queen Steamboat Company’s refurbished American Queen. Russia’s Volga is another popular option, particularly voyages between Moscow and St Petersburg.

Compared to their ocean-going counterparts, river cruise ships are more akin to floating hotels. They are built long, sleek and low-slung to be able to squeeze under bridges and through narrow canal locks as opposed to battling the elements on the seven seas. Typically the ships carry between 100 to 200 passengers and the onboard experience is more laid back than seagoing voyages. The newer river cruise ships are incorporating more contemporary features, such as spacious two-room suites, cabins with full balconies, WiFi, alternative eateries, gyms, spas, swimming pools and museumworthy art collections.

There is also a shift in focus when comparing ocean and river cruises. On a river cruise, more intense emphasis is placed on the destinations visited. Unlike an ocean cruise, where it can take a day or two to reach your next destination, river cruises visit a new port, or even two, every day. While itineraries may include major cities as cornerstones, the experience will usually focus on smaller towns and villages. River cruises often include shore excursions, typically guided walking tours, in the overall cruise fare.

All-Inclusive Luxury Experiences on Scenic ‘Space Ships’
Scenic strives to offer you unforgettable experiences and all-inclusive luxury onboard one of the newest and most consistent fleets on European rivers. It doesn’t call its vessels ‘Space Ships’ for nothing – all ships have undergone an extensive rebuild in 2012 and all offer out-of-this-world cruising experiences. The Scenic ‘Space-Ships’ have infotainment TV system-equipped luxury staterooms, many with private outdoor balconies or exclusive Scenic ‘Sun Lounges’. Enjoy fine dining experiences with a choice of venues, complimentary beverages from regional wines and boutique beers to cocktails and barista coffee, with tipping and gratuities included. Still not convinced? How about the butler service that is included for all guests!

A Scenic river cruise offers exclusive village cultural experiences and a range of sightseeing choices so you can choose how you want to enjoy key destinations, whether it is at an active or a relaxed pace. You even have access to complimentary electronicallyassisted bicycles and Scenic tailor-made GPS guided tour systems. Scenic Enrich experiences are exclusive arrangements at amazing venues, such as a private evening concert in Vienna. However, with all of Scenic’s onboard offerings, you may need to be pried away from the ship with a crowbar.

Innovative Experiences on Avalon Waterways
A young fleet of river ships ensures every Avalon cruise employs the most modern technologies, inspired designs and highly desirable features and services. The one-of-a-kind Panorama Suites are 30% larger than the industry standard and provide a balcony experience without compromising space in the suite.

Not only inventive in their ship features and onboard services, Avalon is innovative with its itineraries and off-board offerings. Special interest cruises are available, such as art and impressionist cruises, culinary cruises, music cruises, a beer tasting cruise and many more. Excursions feature a choice of sightseeing pace -‘traditional’ for the great on-shore sightseeing Avalon has always been known for; ‘leisurely’, which takes it slow but takes it all in and ‘essential’ if you want to see only the most important sights plus have time for shopping or exploring on your own.

Ships feature a state of the art fitness centre and a choice of dining venues. Avalon Waterways have all inclusive pricing from the cruise fare, meals, sightseeing and entertainment, to sparkling wines with breakfast, regional beers and wines at every onboard dinner and unlimited specialty coffees.

Leisurely Europe on Lüftner Cruises
Lüftner Cruises is a family business with more than 30 years experience offering generous Austrian hospitality. Many of the spacious cabins and suites onboard feature either panoramic windows or French balconies so you can take full advantage of the scenery. Gourmet meals with regional wines are served with dinner and shipboard entertainment includes regional folklore shows, musicians and dancing. And why not indulge your mind body and soul with the ship’s fitness studio, hair salon and massage treatment facilities.

Europe can be a very busy place for modern tourists, but Lüftner prides itself on giving you the opportunity to wind down and enjoy Europe as it was intended. Bask in its beautiful waterways and at a leisurely pace set by the river itself.

On shore, you’re assured of memorable experiences thanks to the varied shore excursion programme. There’s a wide range of options and land tours offer cable-free audio system ensuring you don’t miss local guide’s commentary.

As well as generous hospitality, Lüftner also strives for sustainable protection of the environment; its fleet has earned the ‘Green Globe’ seal of approval, so their way of travelling protects the environment as they take you on an exploration of Europe’s cultural heritage.

Boutique Luxury with Uniworld
Uniworld prides itself in offering unparalleled and intuitive service on its 5-star luxury boutique river ships. These intimate floating sanctuaries exude an inspiring design and, with an average passenger capacity of only 135, you won’t be encumbered by crowds as you enjoy the onboard fitness centre, library and boutique.

Relax in elegantly appointed and award winning staterooms and admire the view from the balcony or French balcony that comes with suites and most category one cabins.

There is a choice of dining venues onboard, offering sumptuous meals paired with fine wines for lunch and dinner. Plus, enjoy enriching demonstrations and lectures reflecting the history and culture of each destination.

Unique excursions are also available, with a choice of active or gentle programmes. Stateof- the-art Quietvox audio headsets are provided for commentary on the land tours as well as complimentary bikes and Nordic walking sticks for venturing out to the countryside.

Included in the price of a Uniworld cruise is all accommodation, onboard meals and unlimited beverages onboard including fine wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks, specialty coffee & tea and bottle water. WiFi is also available onboard.

A Royal Experience with the American Queen Steamboat Company
Aptly described as a perfectly American experience, there’s surely no better way to discover America’s rich heartland than a luxurious steamboat cruise down the Mississippi. The American Queen is the largest riverboat in the world and the only authentic overnight paddlewheel steamboat in America.

By day, engage in the rich heritage of the region with daily lectures by the onboard historian. At night enjoy swing dancing and professional showboat-style entertainment, and then retire to lavish, spacious accommodation, from inside cabins to elegantly furnished suites with a veranda. Single travellers are also catered to with inside and outside cabin options.

Dining includes the acclaimed cuisine of famed America chef Regina Charboneau, partnered with complimentary wine and beer at dinner, and the dress code is elegant casual attire, with no formal wear required.

Along the way, complimentary shore excursions to fascinating rivers and towns provide an in-depth immersion into the history, culture and cuisine of America’s heartland. The American Queen Steamboat Company also operates a number of intriguing theme cruises such as Mardi Gras, Southern Culture, Gardens of the River and Fall Foliage.

CroisiEurope: Setting the Benchmark for River Cruising
An early pioneer, CroisiEurope, has gone on to become an institution on rivers around the world, in particular Europe, where it has been setting the benchmark. CroisiEurope is the longest established river company in Europe and now offers a diverse choice of river cruise itineraries on no less than 15 different rivers, ranging from 4 to 15 days in duration. As a French owned and operated family company, it has superb French cuisine and the best in French wines at lunch and dinner. As it approaches its 40th year on European rivers, passengers who choose CroisiEurope can rest assured they have selected an industry leader in river cruising.

The vessels are designed to offer optimal space and lighting and, depending on your deck, your cabin will either have floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors opening to a French balcony or very large windows. Onboard entertainment includes a panoramic lounge and piano bar with a dance floor, and many cruises include a destination-inspired cultural or folk evening. CroisiEurope prices include accommodation, all meals, complimentary beverages, prepaid English sightseeing package, entertainment, port taxes and government fees.

Feeling inspired? Get in touch with your local HOT holiday specialist to find out more. Call 0800 838 747, visit come instore!

> Click here for all Inspire Cruise articles.

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