River cruising provides many benefits: the convenience of taking your “floating hotel” with you through the heart of America or Europe; tying up in quaint villages and storied towns as well as great cities, always close to the historic attractions; the value of many included features in the fares; and simply relaxing on deck as cityscapes and pastoral countryside float lazily by. And there is the convenience and simplicity of unpacking and packing just once as you enjoy the comfort of your cabin for the duration of the voyage.
During the past couple of decades river cruising has attracted many North Americans to explore the rivers of Europe. River cruise ships now are larger—as the rivers will allow—and with more space and features that cater to sophisticated travelers who want to see Europe and other global destinations in a more intimate and relaxed way. River ships have evolved into more luxurious vessels, the cruises offered tend to be more inclusive, the cuisine more expansive, destinations varied and the river cruise experience more personal and enriching than a typical voyage on a large cruise ship.
Here in North America, 2012 welcomed the return of Mississippi River paddleboat cruises with the return of the American Queen under the banner of the newly-formed American Queen Steamboat Co. And in the Pacific Northwest, you can explore the Columbia and Snake Rivers aboard the sternwheeler Queen of the West operated by American Cruise Line.
Barge cruising combines the appeal of a small complement of passengers with the attributes associated with calm-water cruising. It is almost like being a guest on someone’s private boat. Drifting languidly down a canal or river in France the atmosphere becomes so relaxed one can easily imagine the epochs of history that passed along the pastoral banks. There is much to see and do: walk or bike ahead of the barge through scenic countryside and ancient towns, and enjoy escorted private tours of historic chateaux, wine cellars and other sites. Back on board, an excellent meal awaits accompanied by wonderful local French wines and cheeses. Such are the pleasures of a barge holiday.
River cruising is a great way to get off the tourist path and visit scenic and historic areas not accessible on the average tour or traditional cruise. And the relaxed, informal atmosphere that is characteristic of this mode of travel appeals to most age groups. The pages posted here give a sampling of what is available and are some proven favorites of TravLtips members.
Contact our reservation department for more details and suggestions on these exciting and unusual cruises at 800-872-8584 or firstname.lastname@example.org.