5 Exotic River Cruises

Many people begin their obsession with travel with a cruise, and then it builds from there.  They take another cruise, and then seek land tours to really immerse in the destination.  Many then discover river cruising.  I am a big fan of river cruising, because it is here where you most encounter great numbers of smaller villages, with cultural and visual history still in tact.  River cruising is much more than the rivers in Europe or the Yangtze in China.  The following are five of my favorite less-discovered, yet phenomenal places for river cruising.

Egypt: You will feel like a pharaoh as you cruise down one of the world’s most famous rivers aboard the Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau with Zoom Vacations, perhaps the most elegant boat on the Nile.  The luxurious river cruise is enhanced with stops at historically and culturally rich landmarks sprinkled along Egypt’s Nile banks.  Ancient temples and magnificent mosques celebrate spiritual devotion through soaring architecture and intricate designs.  After spending four nights as Egyptian royalty, the ancient Pharaoh Ramesses’s sixty-year reign doesn’t seem so ludicrous after all.

Myanmar: In addition to 1,200 miles of uninterrupted coastline, a vast network of lakes and river systems trickle through Myanmar’s fertile plains and mountain chains.  Admire the temples, palaces, monasteries, and villages along the Irrawaddy River on a four-day cruise upon the Sanctuary Ananda.  While journeying through lush jungles and across the majestic Irrawaddy, guests enjoy exquisite meals and cooking classes.  Daily excursions include sunrise meditations, a balloon ride over Bagan, and opportunities to visit traditional Burmese villages. 

Kerala: Kerala is an Indian state on the Malabar Coast – the subcontinent’s south-western shoreline. Parallel to the Arabian Sea coast are Kerala’s backwaters, a network of picturesque canals, rivers, and lakes dotted with small fishing villages.  Houseboats modeled after the region’s traditional kettuvallams can be spotted meandering through the winding channels year-round.  A river cruise through Kerala is the picture of vacation. Houseboat staff prepare three scrumptious meals a day, often featuring fresh local seafood.  Fruit platters, coconuts, and drinks are served between meals as you admire India’s tropical south.   

PeruOften overshadowed by the famous Machu Picchu, Peru is full of hidden treasures.  Cruising along the great Amazon River allows travelers to explore the depths of the Amazon Rainforest, which occupies more than half of Peru’s landscape.  As home to more than one third of the world’s animal species, exhilarating wildlife encounters may include monkeys, sloths, river dolphins, otters, and jaguars.  A variety of river cruise providers means that travelers can tailor their voyage to be as luxurious or adventurous as they please.

Vietnam: Vietnam is one of six countries the Mekong River spans. Cross country river cruises between Vietnam and Cambodia are popular among tourists seeking a unique, luxurious journey through southeast Asia.  Visiting local villages and interacting with locals allows travelers to immerse themselves in the rich, yet diverse cultures of Vietnam and Cambodia. Lazily pass the days marveling at the stunning landscape along the Mekong and dining on delectable Asian fusion dishes.  Vietnam can also be explored on the Ha Long Bay river cruise, a luxurious overnight excursion incorporated into Zoom’s Vietnam and Cambodia itinerary.  Breath-taking caves and mouth-watering dishes included.