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Mississippi, you’ ll visit the port towns of New
Orleans and Memphis, and see historical
relics from the American Civil War era. APT
launched itineraries in 2014 on Queen of the
Mississippi, an elegant paddlewheeler that
blends old classic style with contemporary
comforts. Viking River Cruises will also be
taking bookings from 2015.
For music fans, American Cruise Lines is
launching its new paddlewheeler American
Eagle in 2015 for a series of jazz- and
gourmet-themed sailings; it ’s also rolling
out a new 22-day marathon itinerary that
traverses the entire length of the mighty river
between New Orleans and St Paul, way up
north in Minnesota.
Another hot destination is the Columbia
River, which winds its way through the
volcano and bear country of the US
northwest. Again, you’ ll sail aboard a replica
steamer and learn about the history of this
great river while passing through starkly
beautiful country. American Cruise Lines
operates a seven-night wine cruise, with
guided stops at the region’s top vineyards and
ample opportunity for tastings. American
Queen Steamboat Company and Un-Cruise
Adventures operate there, too, and run all
kinds of themed voyages from Big Band
Swing to period re-enactment.
Small Ship Cruises tackles the
Mackenzie River in northern Canada,
between Yellowknife and Inuvik,
an old fur trade route. Excursions
include canoeing, fishing, wildlife
watching and visits to historic
indigenous communities. Ceremonies
are held at the crossing of the Arctic Circle.
In South America, the Amazon is
increasingly attractive to eco-travellers. Most
river cruises sail from Iquitos in Peru, visiting
locations that might otherwise be inaccessible,
along narrow creeks and wetlands to see
the incredible flora and fauna of the jungle.
Expect comfortable cabins, good food and
expert guides. Amazon Clipper Cruises,
Amazon Explorer, APT, Aqua Expeditions
and Chimu Adventures all offer itineraries.
This year, Avalon Water ways launched a
three-night Amazon cruise on board the Aria,
part of an 11-day Peruvian adventure that also
takes in Cusco and Machu Picchu.
And so to the Asian continent, the big cruise
frontier of the moment, where companies are
clamouring to launch new ships.
One to watch might be northeast India’s
Brahmaputra River, currently only serviced
by Assam-Bengal Navigation, and the
Kerala waterways where only Oberoi has
boutique cruising for the moment. But the
Ganges River is certainly the hot river of the
world right now. The beauty of cruising the
Ganges is that travelling by pot-holed road
of holiday particular to Europe –
and the Rhine and Danube rivers
still form the bread-and-butter business
of river cruise companies. But in recent
years, an exciting shift in focus has seen
dozens of river ships launched far beyond
the riverbanks of Europe, with passengers
looking to ever more exotic horizons for
their cruise experience. Why this hasn’t
happened before is a mystery – river
cruising in less developed countries provides
reliability and comfort in places where
getting about can be a challenge.
Land safaris are not the only way to have
thrilling encounters with African wildlife.
Travelling by river takes you up close
to animals as they come to the shore to
bathe and drink. It’s also an introduction
to the species that live exclusively in the
wetlands, and a chance to meet the fishing
communities who live along the riverbanks.
Gambia River cruises are run by small-scale
operation Variety Cruises. Starting at Dakar
in Senegal, it skirts the Atlantic coast before
heading upriver to take in national parks and
nature reserves, as well as local culture.
Cruising on the Chobe River in Botswana
is more well established and itineraries often
run for three or four nights as part of longer
packages. The highlights here are sunsets –
when herds of elephants, impalas and other
wildlife come to the riverbanks for photo
opportunities – and the dazzling star-gazing
that follows when the sun goes down. The
14-suite cruiser Zambezi Queen can be
booked through Abercrombie & Kent
The Nile River has seen a fall in fortunes
recently. Many cruise companies have
suspended operations while Egypt’s political
unrest continues. But others still go, sailing
into the land of the ancient pharaohs,
pyramids, temples and tombs, as well as the
coral reefs in Sinai. These are luxury vessels,
with exemplary accommodation, quality
dining and onboard Egyptologists as guides.
Presidential Nile Cruises, Abercrombie &
Kent and Sonesta all have varied packages.
For history buffs with a hankering to ride the
old steamboats of the Deep South, there’s
a chance to do just that, albeit in a modern,
luxurious kind of way. Cruising on the
RIVER REVIEW NEW RIVER DESTINATIONS
NEW RIVER DESTINATIONS RIVER REVIEW
Clockwise from left:
The Nile River; hot-air
landscape near Bagan,
Europe has long been the heartland of river cruising, but all that is changing
as adventurous travellers set off to explore great waterways elsewhere.
Brian Johnston explores where today’s new ships are heading.
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