Luxury River Cruises Across the World
Experience the magic of sailing along the most captivating rivers on our planet, where luxury unfolds at every turn. Whether you yearn to explore the enchanting riverbanks of Europe, discover the exotic wonders of the Mekong, or immerse yourself in the historical marvels along the Nile, we have the perfect itinerary to ignite your imagination. Taking you deep into the heart of each region, a river cruise allows you to explore the world from a whole new perspective. You’ll find yourself effortlessly venturing through stunning countryside and locales and immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of each destination. From the historic shores of the Danube in Europe to the exotic nature of the Amazon, this style of travel is a holiday experience that should not be missed!
River cruising is the fastest-growing sector of the industry, with the launch of new ships happening every year. This means more choices than ever for the discerning cruiser than ever. With our expertise and guidance, we’ll help you effortlessly navigate through the vast selection, ensuring that you find the ideal route that ticks all your boxes. So sit back, relax, and let us make your holiday planning process a breeze.
The Ultimate Luxury Travel Experience
A Video from Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
Popular River Cruise Lines
There are a number of premium and luxury cruise lines that offer the perfect blend of refined onboard experiences with exciting routes along some of the world’s most memorable rivers. To help you pick the best one for you, we’ve compiled a list of the most popular cruise lines – and what sets them apart – to help you narrow down your choices.
River Cruising Destinations for 2024 and Beyond
⚓ Popular European River Cruises
Immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty and incredible cultures steeped in history when you book a European river cruise. Journey through iconic rivers and encounter extraordinary wonders, all while enjoying premier accommodation on any number of award-winning vessels. With a grand selection of operators sailing across the region, sailing along Europe’s waterways has never been more exciting. Whether you choose to explore the Danube, Rhine, or Rhône, these cruise lines guarantee an unforgettable way to discover Europe’s finest destinations.
With an abundance of castles, the Rhine River offers a magnificent blend of centuries-old history, vibrant culture, and awe-inspiring scenery. Adding to its appeal, the lesser-known Moselle River winds through northeast France and Luxembourg, eventually joining forces with the Rhine at the picturesque city of Koblenz. Additionally, the Main River gracefully merges with the Rhine, having flowed from eastern Germany. Embark on a delightful journey along the Main and you will eventually find yourself in the remarkable Main-Danube Canal. Here, vessels effortlessly navigate their way into the iconic “Blue Danube,” creating a gateway to Hungary and beyond.
The Danube river, the very source of inspiration for Johann Strauss’ renowned waltz, is a true gem. Flowing all the way from Germany’s Black Forest to Romania’s Black Sea, it graciously winds its way through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, and Bulgaria. If you have a passion for food and wine, then look no further than a Rhone/Saone itinerary. Sailing through the picturesque regions of Provence and Burgundy, known as the gastronomic heartland of France, you will be treated to a culinary experience like no other. Imagine gliding along the beautiful 800 km Rhone river, starting from the majestic Swiss Alps and winding through the enchanting landscapes of southern France before reaching the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The Saone is the chief tributary of the Rhone and the two converge at Lyon, where the Saone becomes the Rhone.
Explore northern France along the picturesque Seine, discovering the enchanting city of Paris, the beauty of Monet’s garden in Giverny, and poignant wartime cemeteries and Normandy landing beaches. Flowing north through Paris into Normandy, the Seine gracefully empties into the English Channel at Le Havre. And of course, a cruise along the Douro River in Portugal is a dream come true. Starting its journey in Spain, this majestic river winds its way through rugged and captivating green landscapes before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean in Porto, where most of these itineraries commence or conclude with an overnighter. Most sailings cover the 200+ km from Porto to Vega de Terron, located on the border with Spain. Beyond this point, it becomes impassable for river vessels, making this journey even more exclusive.
⚓ Asia River Cruises
With Asia’s rich history and magnificent tapestry of sights, sounds, and flavors, exploring this exotic land by river is an experience like no other. Prepare to embark on a journey of discovery as you’re taken into the heart of this vast continent, where hidden treasures and cultural wonders await. As you navigate the rivers of this vast continent, three iconic regions stand out – the majestic Yangtze in China, the magnificent Mekong that meanders through Vietnam and Cambodia, and the enchanting Irrawaddy in Myanmar. These destinations have captured the hearts of adventurers around the world, and for good reason.
Spanning from the Tibetan Plateau to the vast expanses of China, the magnificent Yangtze merges into the East China Sea near Shanghai. Intertwining cultural immersion, natural wonders, and exquisite engineering marvels, a Yangtze cruise unveils the best of China. The mighty Mekong also begins in the Tibetan Plateau, flowing for 4,345 km until it reaches the South China Sea near Vietnam’s vibrant Ho Chi Minh City. This voyage will take you through mesmerising landscapes, allowing you to witness astonishing views of wildlife, picturesque rice paddies, and enchanting floating villages. The Irrawaddy was once restricted for tourists due to oppressive military rule in Burma (Myanmar). However, in recent years, tourism has flourished, offering a plethora of options along this magnificent waterway. Often referred to as the “Road to Mandalay,” the Irrawaddy runs from north to south, eventually pouring into the Indian Ocean. Along this route, it connects several of Myanmar’s renowned tourism destinations, such as the awe-inspiring stupa-filled landscapes of Bagan and the former royal capital, Mandalay.
⚓ South America River Cruises
Discover South America’s rivers, from the majestic Amazon to the captivating Putumayo. Renowned as one of the world’s most extraordinary waterways, the Amazon stands tall as the principal river of South America. Stretching an astounding 3,700 km from its mouth in Belem to Iquitos, Peru, the Amazon unveils remarkable port cities such as Iquitos, Manaus, Macapá, and Santarém in Brazil. And let’s not forget the chief port of Belém, nestled on the Pará River.
The ultimate highlight of embarking on a South American river cruise is undoubtedly the legendary Amazon rainforest, enchanting visitors with its astounding wildlife, lush tropical flora, traditional village life, and one-of-a-kind cultural encounters.
⚓ North America River Cruises
A river cruise in North America generally allows travellers to experience one of two prominent regions – the Mississippi in the central United States and the Columbia & Snake Rivers that span the western states of Oregon and Washington.
The majestic Mississippi, known for its connection to Mark Twain’s beloved novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, stretches over 4,000 km meandering through ten different states. When exploring the Mississippi, passengers can choose between two primary sections: the Upper Mississippi and the Lower Mississippi. Each region presents a distinct combination of ports and historical sites, allowing for an immersive and enriching experience. A plethora of themed sailings are also available, catering to different interests such as Dixieland Jazz, the documentaries of Ken Burns, and the impactful Civil War.
The Columbia and Snake Rivers offer a contrasting yet equally captivating experience. Most journeys begin in Portland, Oregon, renowned for its vibrant beer culture, and then navigate through abundant rainforests before transitioning to the dry, prairie-like valleys of eastern Washington and Oregon.
⚓ Africa River Cruises
Be transported through time as you traverse the lifeline of Egyptian civilization on a Nile voyage that reveals incredible sights, including ancient temples, sacred tombs, and charming towns. Spanning an impressive 6,700 kilometers, the Nile stands as the longest river in the world, gracefully flowing north from Lake Victoria through Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt. Along its majestic path, you’ll witness the breathtaking diversity of rainforests, mountains, savannahs, swamps, and desert landscapes, culminating in the fertile Nile Delta before gracefully draining into the shimmering Mediterranean Sea. Be transported through time as you traverse the lifeline of Egyptian civilisation on a Nile river cruise that reveals incredible sights, including ancient temples, sacred tombs, and friendly local villages.
River Cruising Seasons
The main Europe cruise season generally runs from March until September/October, with limited journeys available during Christmas and New Year. The Russian season is shorter, spanning from April to October. In Asia, the season varies based on the area you are exploring across this vast continent. Yangtze sailings are primarily scheduled from April to October, offering the most pleasant temperatures during spring and fall (April-May; September-October). On the other hand, Mekong River routes are available all year round, with winter (November-February) providing cooler temperatures and clear skies. The prime sailing season on the Irrawaddy is from September to April. Myanmar’s dry season, which falls between November and February, offers the most comfortable temperatures. Be mindful of the rainy seasons in each of these regions.
Itineraries along the Amazon typically operate from October to February. The Equator runs through Ecuador and northern Brazil so much of the South American continent is tropical. The dry season is from October to June which is why peak cruise season is during this period. You can find North American river cruises from March to December, but sail dates and seasons will vary, depending on the particular waterway you’d like to sail. In Egypt, Nile River cruises operate year-round, but the best time, weather-wise, is from October to April, during the winter months in Egypt. The weather is cooler and more pleasant during this time, making it easier to explore the outdoor sites and attractions.
What to Expect on a River Cruise
While river cruises do share some similarities with ocean voyages, there are also a number of differences between the two types of cruising. If you’re a first-time river cruiser, here are a few tips as to what you can expect during your journey.
⚓ River ships are much smaller than ocean vessels, particularly in Europe, where they are restricted in width and length to if into locks and sail beneath low bridges, as well as in Asia where they have to navigate shallow waters
⚓ Typically, you will visit a new port each day, sometimes even more than one. Itineraries are port-intensive and offer a busy program of culture-rich shore excursions. An actual full day onboard is uncommon, which is why you won’t find the same song-and-dance, razzle-dazzle entertainment on a river vessel as you do on an ocean ship
⚓ All your meals are included, with typically one main restaurant and one specialty venue.
⚓ The onboard experience is usually more laid-back than it is on ocean cruises, with no formal dress codes. On the odd occasion, such as the Captain’s reception and gala dinner, some may opt for smarter outfits, but it isn’t necessary
⚓ Accessibility can be a challenge on river cruise ships. They’re typically not suited to wheelchair users or passengers with severe mobility issues. You may have elevators between some – but not all – floors and some vessels may have adapted cabins, but gangways can be steep, and sometimes ships are moored side-by-side, necessitating walking across one or more to disembark.