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Best River Cruises In The World

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Whilst ocean cruising has long been a huge and booming industry, river cruising is now kipping at its heels.

It is hard to imagine a more picturesque and relaxing way of seeing the world than cruising down a beautiful river, champagne in hand, and simply watching the world go by. Yet river cruising also has the added benefit of making daily stops in cities that are not located by the sea, opening up a new world of exploration for cruise lovers.

Generally more budget friendly than open-sea cruises, virtually every navigable river on earth has the potential to be cruised and explored. So to help you decide on the perfect river cruising experience, we have written a list of what we believe are the best river cruises in the world. Enjoy!

The Nile


Sailing between Aswan and Luxor in Egypt, the Nile river cruise is possibly the most famous river cruise on earth. Its high standards have been the benchmark for many other cruise operations across the world. Flowing for 4258 miles, the Nile is the worlds longest river. It’s deep waters and narrow banks make it the perfect cruising river. Sit back and relax as you sail through thick jungle that gently gives way to arid desert. Ancient Egyptian ruins can be seen from the river, and make the perfect stopping points to explore the countries great history.

The Rhine


Without doubt Europe’s most famous river, the Rhine boasts a whole host of river cruising opportunities. The full 820 mile cruise is a true delight and sails through a number of countries including the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France. As you sail down the tranquil river you’ll come across storybook villages, epic castles and traditional markets of cheese, meats and chocolates. The food on-board is famously delicious and you’ll be treated to some of Europe’s finest cuisines.

The Amazon


Without doubt the most magnificent river on our planet, the Amazon provides a truly unique cruising experience that few ever witness. You’ll travel through dense jungle that is home to some of the world’s most deadly and fascinating creatures. You’ll explore areas that few have ever seen and visit regions that are still unexplored to this day. Makes sure to look out for mud-licks where macaws and other wildlife gather in great numbers. You’ll stop at remote villages and take photos of river dolphins and crocodiles!

The Murray


Although less known than many other river, the Murray is actually third longest navigable river in the world after the Nile and the Amazon. Stretching over 1,700 miles across three states in Australia, the Murray River cruise offers travellers a unique way to explore the country. Kangaroos and brightly coloured parrots can be seen as you make your way along the native aboriginal homelands. The paddlewheeler Murray Princess evokes a bygone era feel as you sail against a backdrop towering limestone cliffs, red gum forests, picturesque gorges and expansive farmland.

The Mekong


Flowing along the border of Cambodia and Vietnam, the Mekong is one of the worlds most well known rivers. Travellers have the opportunity to explore fabulous cities such as Ho Chi Minh as they make their way down towards the legendary Angkor Wat. The temples lie in the forest and evoke feelings of long lost empires and, dare we say it, Tomb Raider! If you’re feeling super adventurous you can take a cruise further up the river into the Golden Triangle Region – famous for producing opium. You’ll stop at traditional fishing villages, explore dense jungle regions and visit fabulous floating markets.

Snake and Columbia



Located in the Pacific Northwest of America, the Snake and Columbia river cruise is a scenic steamboat cruise that retraces the legendary route of Lewis and Clark. You sail from lush alpine forest into arid desert as you explore the history behind the two explorers and their chosen route. You’ll get daily lectures from experts and witness both the Columbia River Gorge and the icy Multnomah Falls – the second highest waterfall in America. If you decide, you can also take a jet boat ride deep into the Hells Canyon where you can look for ancient Native American pictographs.

The Yangtze


This spectacular cruise travels through the incredibly beautiful Three Gorges region on its route to Shanghai. The landscape is one of wild beauty with rugged mountains and deep gorges that have largely been left to thrive. the cruise also offers the chance to learn about and explore the history of the Yangtze civilisation. Daily trips are made to ancient temples and of course you’ll be able to visit the legendary Three Gorges Dam.

With so many incredible journeys on offer, there really is no reason not to take a river cruise. Even people who suffer from motion sickness should be fine as the rivers are generally dead still. A river cruise is truly one of the most memorable and relaxing ways to explore a region or country in style.

About the author

Mae has travelled to over 40 countries and lived in 8. Born in St. Petersburg, Mae grew up in Lithuania and has spent most of her adult life in the UK. She has been blogging for over 8 years and is the lead editor on Travel Belles.

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