April 15, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO, CA. April 15, 2010/ Bon Voyage / — Rivers are said to be the lifeblood of civilizations. It is not surprising, then, that many historical sites, quaint towns and picturesque landscapes can be found along the riverbanks. Unlike the more popular ocean cruises, river cruises are leisurely and considered to be more romantic. Rather than the theme-park inspired entertainment, river cruising provides travelers with the opportunity to appreciate the history and heritage of the different cultures they are visiting.
There are now close to a thousand river cruises available all over the world. The great rivers around the globe offer cruisers with a montage of scenic vistas and impressive ancient structures and landmarks. It’s not so much a choice between cruise providers: rather, it is a choice between breath-taking river routes.
Cruising the Danube
For European river cruises, the Danube and the Rhine are the perfect choices. Stretching from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, the Danube allows cruisers to have a glimpse of the heartland of central Europe. It flows through 1,800 miles along the riverbanks of Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania. The Rhine, on the other hand, features a 900 mile of river cruising highway through medieval castles and rustic towns of Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland.
The Nile River is another must-visit river route. Follow the rich brown surge of the river Nile and treat yourself to a mind-blowing vision of ancient genius. Marvel at the grand temples of Luxor and Karnak; wonder at the mystery of Tutankhamun’s tomb at the Valley of the Kings; and explore the ruins of Nefertiti’s tomb in the Valley of the Queens. If you’ve had enough of these ancient treasures, proceed to the High Dam at Aswan for a spectacle of modern technology while you enjoy the bobbing of traditional felluca sailboats along the way.
Asia shouldn’t be absent from the list. The Yangtze River will bring you from the countryside of China to the majesty of the Three Gorges Dam. There is also the Mekong River which will allow you to catch glimpses of the rich cultures of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Burma.
Swimming with elephants
See for yourself how the locals conduct their everyday commerce through the mighty river of Mekong. Smiling children splashing about and swimming with elephants and buffalos are not uncommon sights along the riverbanks. Ancient temples and orange-robed monks are also a sight to see while you move along rice paddies and floating villages of these South East Asian countries.
For the US bound cruiser, there’s the Hudson and St. Lawrence Seaway that’ll take you from the exciting waters of New York to the lovely waterways of Canada. Along the way, you’ll pass by the Erie Canal and the Boldt Castle in Alexandria Bay. Cruise in the months of September and October to experience the breathtaking colors of autumn. There’s also the majestic Mississippi: you can you embark on a historic steamboat and be transported back in time as you travel along vistas of cotton fields and colonial mansions from New Orleans to Memphis.
So start thinking beyond ocean cruises. You won’t be sorry.
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Channels: The Calgary Beacon, April 16, 2010