9 Of The World’s Most Relaxing River Cruises

1. A far-flung retreat in Burma

Can there be anything more spectacular than a candlelit dinner under the stars after watching the sun set over Bagan’s thousands of temples? Hop on Sanctuary Retreats’ eight-night Irrawaddy cruise from Mandalay to Yangon to experience the serenity and beauty for yourself.

This cruise has it all – giant Buddhas, golden pagodas, bustling markets, serene vistas and a chance to sail on one of the swankiest vessels on the Irrawaddy. The Sanctuary Ananda has all-balcony suites and 44 crew to pamper just 42 passengers.

From £2,945 per person including flights (sanctuaryretreats.com)

2. Yoga and hiking on the Douro

Start the day the yoga way on a one-week Secrets of the Douro river cruise in Northern Portugal with Emerald Waterways. Lessons on the sun deck will ensure you are fighting fit for a packed programme of guided walks around the UNESCO-listed cities of Porto (where the cruise starts and ends) and Salamanca in Spain, as well as canoeing trips and hiking tours through the vineyards that line the Douro valley.

Cruising through the Douro (Alamy)

If it all sounds too active, kick back and enjoy the views while imbibing a glass or two of the region’s famous fortified wine.

From £1,495 per person including flights (emeraldwaterways.co.uk)

More like this: 5 fabulous celebrity-led cruises you won’t want to miss in 2018 

3. Holland’s colourful tulips with Charlie Dimmock

The tulip gardens of Holland and Belgium are stunning in springtime – and who better to guide you around them than Charlie Dimmock, one of Britain’s best-loved gardeners? On our 7-day Holland in Bloom trip in partnership with The River Cruise Line, you’ll visit the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse (where more than seven million bulbs are planted each year across 80 acres), as well as the National Botanic Garden of Belgium and the annual Floralia Flower Show.

Cruising on board the lovely 4* MS Serenity ship, you’ll also have time to explore Amsterdam and Antwerp, as well as hear talks from Charlie Dimmock – and meet her in person on guided tours of the gardens.

From £929 per person including flights – or alternative transport by coach or rail. (womanandhome.tripsmiths.com)

4. Art and adventure on the Seine, France

Ever wondered why Impressionist painters were so-named? Or why Van Gogh cut off his ear? All is revealed on Avalon Waterways’ eight-day art-themed Paris to Normandy cruise on the Seine, departing the French capital on July 28 2018.

Monet’s lily pond (Alamy)

There will be tours to Giverny to see Monet’s famous lily pond, and to Honfleur where the Impressionists loved to paint. In Auvers-sur-Oise, guides will show you where Van Gogh lived, painted and died. You can even see some of his drawings on a trip to the Louvre on your final day back in Paris.

From £2,285 per person including flights. (0800 668 1843; avaloncruises.co.uk)

5. Dancing on the Danube

Get ready to two-step with the stars on Scenic’s exclusive Dance Down the Danube river cruise, departing in July 2018. This holiday – which was designed exclusively for Woman & Home readers – promises to be full of wonder as you sail from Budapest to Nuremberg, and enjoy an unforgettable evening of Mozart, Strauss and Strictly ballroom with dance professionals Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace in the opulent surrounds of the Vienna Arsenal.

Vienna (Alamy)

You’ll also get the chance to perk up your Paso Doble as Vincent and Flavia host a dance masterclass.

From £2,540 per person including flights. (0800 0238 227; womanandhome.tripsmiths.com


6. Wonderful wines in Bordeaux

Learn to tell your Semillon from your Sauvignon on AmaWaterways’ eight-night grape escape along three rivers with Paris-based wine expert Preston Mohr. Departing November 16 2017, this Taste of Bordeaux cruise takes you through the heart of France’s Southwestern wine-growing regions and includes on-board talks and tastings, and a chance to sip and savour top wines at world-famous vineyards in the Medoc, Sauternes and St Emilion ashore.

Bordeaux vineyard (Alamy)

For a cultural aside, discover Bordeaux’s monumental architecture on a city walk and go underground in St Emilion to see the UNESCO-listed cathedral hidden beneath the town.

From £1,678 per person excluding flights. (0800 320 2335; amawaterways.co.uk)

7. In the footsteps of Elvis, USA

Strap on your blue suede shoes because the American Queen Steamboat Company is paying homage to the kings of rock ‘n’ roll and the blues on a music-themed cruise along the Mississippi on American Queen, the most opulent paddlewheel to sail the Big Muddy.

The American Queen Steamboat (Alamy)

The nine-night voyage starts in Memphis, home of Elvis’s Graceland Mansion, and Sun Studios, where the King cut his first record. It then segues into the blues with a trip to the legendary Club Ebony in Indianola where BB King played, and ends with all that jazz in New Orleans.

From $1,899 per person (americanqueensteamboatcompany.com)

8. Bargain Hunting along the Rhône

Bring home a holiday souvenir with a difference on our new Antiques Adventure with Tim Wonnacott! The former star of Bargain Hunt will help you find treasure in the famous flea markets of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, and share his expert tips during an exclusive Q&A session on board.

This is the ultimate holiday for people with an interest in antiques – and Tim will even host a Bargain Hunt-style competition to see who can spot the best buy! Whether you’re a complete beginner or an experienced antiques spotter, you’ll find plenty of surprises (and hopefuly bargains) on this 8-day trip.

From £1,995 per person including flights (womanandhome.tripsmiths.com)

9. A foodie feast in Vietnam & Cambodia

A feast for the eyes and tastebuds awaits as chef Luke Nguyen, a regular guest on MasterChef Australia, adds a touch of celebrity to a 15-day Vietnam and Cambodia Highlights cruise on the Mekong River from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap with APT.

The Mekong River (Alamy)

Trips ashore include everything from the UNESCO-listed temples of Angkor Wat and tuk-tuk sightseeing in Phnom Penh to a rickshaw ride in Tan Chau. Back on board, Chef Nguyen will be cooking up a treat one evening and hosting talks about Vietnamese culture and cuisine.

From £5,090 per person including flights (0800 012 6683)

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