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Is River Cruising for You?

23rd August 2018

Over the years river cruising has become an increasingly popular way to see the world, in a relaxed setting. This is evident in the fact that more than 150 river cruise itineraries have been launched in the last 5 years alone. But what is it all about? Read on to find out if river cruising is for you.



A Quick Overview of River Cruising


River cruise ships are much smaller than ocean cruise ships, which is often what attracts people to travel onboard. In many cases the smaller size means guests are more personally catered for, and truly receive that flawless service that you might not get on a ship of over 3,000 passengers. River cruise ships general accommodate between 100-200 people; creating a perfect, intimate experience.

The size of the vessel also creates a completely different kind of cruise holiday where destinations are concerned. The ships traverse the world’s rivers, which often pass through integral inland cities, such as Paris, Budapest, and Cairo. On a river cruise you will usually visit a new port each day, and possibly more than one a day sometimes. This means you might visit an incredible four or five countries in just one week, which is very uncommon on ocean cruises. Because of this, guests can experience a multitude of events, festivals and celebrations in just one cruise, such as Christmas markets, New Years celebrations and LGBT Pride parades.



What’s Life Onboard Like on a River Cruise?


With fewer people onboard, river cruise ships are generally comfortable and intimate, but with plenty of space for everyone. Usually, you’ll find a restaurant, one or two lounges, and a deck on top with loungers, a bar, and sometimes a pool.

Generally all meals onboard are included, complete with complimentary drinks such as wine, beer, and soft drinks at dinner times. Along with those drinks, you’ll often have unlimited coffee, tea, and bottled water. During meal times there is open seating, so you are able to sit where you like each night. Tables are usually arranged to sit between six and ten guests, so you’ll be able to mingle with and get to know fellow cruisers more easily.



The dress code onboard is laid back, with no formal requirement. However, it is suggested that you bring at least one smart outfit, to wear at events like the Captain’s reception and gala dinners. You should also bring comfortable shoes and clothing due to the extensive menu of excursions, which range from castle hikes and bike rides to walking tours and wine tastings.

Entertainment on river cruises varies depending on the vessel and destination. Most river cruise lines prioritise the destination rather than onboard entertainment, as the itineraries are so port-intensive. This doesn’t mean there is nothing happening onboard however. You’ll often find a pianist playing during cocktail hour and after dinner, and many lines invite local entertainers onboard to provide a culture show of some sort.


What Are Excursions Like with River Cruising?


Excursions are a huge part of river cruising, so much so that generally all of them are included in the overall cost of the cruise. This is great because often excursions can tally up to a significant sum on an ocean cruise. This is one of the main attractions of this type of holiday to many frequent river cruisers.



The excursions themselves are designed to highlight the local culture and history of the port you’re stopping in. So if you are someone who enjoys getting out and about and discovering new things, know that river cruising creates captivating, unforgettable memories with truly insightful opportunities. You could visit a local orphanage in Southeast Asia, go to a cookery demonstration in Africa, or see some important World War II sites on a European river cruise, to name just a few.


Why should Ocean Cruisers try a River Cruise?


Many fans of ocean cruising will find themselves thinking about a river cruise at one time or another, so here’s why we think you should take the plunge and give river cruising a try.


  • The inclusions in your fare. All your food, free-flowing wine and beer at dinner, and all your excursions are completely taken care of.
  • The size of the ship. Whilst some ocean cruisers love the city-like feel of a liner that can take over 5,000 passengers, we promise you will enjoy the personal service and intimate surroundings of a river ship.
  • There are almost no days without a port stop. You’ll never find yourself bored on the ship with nothing to do, as river cruise ships do most of their travelling at night. This is also particularly appealing to those who are susceptible to seasickness, and would benefit from extended time onshore.
  • The number of destinations. Just about every day you can get out and about and discover somewhere new. With some excursions starting as early as 7am, no time at all is wasted.

    Would a river cruise float your boat? There are countless top-class river cruise lines sailing Europe, Asia and beyond, including Emerald Waterways, Saga River Cruises, AmaWaterways, and more,so you'll find countless itineraries to choose from. For sailings tailored around a specific country, try Discover Egypt and Pandaw River Cruises, both offering excellent knowledge and guidance throughout their journeys.

    For those who have previously cruised on ocean-ships, many cruise lines have brought their fantastic service to the river, such as Thomson-Marella. With TUI River Cruises sailing the waterways of Europe, you will enjoy your favourite cruise line on a smaller, more intimate scale.

    If you're still undecided you can also find out more about first-hand river cruise experiences, with this customer review onboard Emerald Waterways, or get in touch with our expert team for more advice!

    Cruising for Wine Lovers

    7th February 2018

    Cruising and wine are two interests that make a perfect pairing. Not only can most cruise lines transport you to notable wine districts all over the world, but many also bring wine tastings, presentations, and experiences onboard as well. If you consider yourself something of a connoisseur, or even just enjoy a simple glass every now and then but would like to learn more, there are a number of destinations and types of cruises that could be right for you.

    European Cruises

    When it comes to European wines there are an incredible number of places worth exploring. Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and Portugal are generally the most popular, but just about every country produces their own blend – not forgetting the UK. Try a punchy local Rioja in southern Spain on a Mediterranean cruise, or a classic Riesling on the Rhine on a German river cruise; wine lovers will not be disappointed in Europe– especially with most cruise lines offering various wine-themed excursions.



    Celebrity Cruises

    This popular cruise line has partnered up with Channel 5’s The Wine Show, to bring guests some extra special wine-related experiences. Presenters Joe Fattorini and Amelia Singer have put together a series of recommended excursions – including vineyard tours and tastings across Europe. They will also often appear onboard to host talks and tastings on the ship. Celebrity Cruises also boast an enviable collection of rare wines at sea, and an expert team of sommeliers.


    Australasia Cruises

    Although Australian wine came pretty late into the game considering the history of wine in other regions, its popularity has seen a dramatic rise in recent years. In fact it is now the fourth biggest exporter of wine in the world. There are wine regions all over the vast country, including around Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne. In the Adelaide Hills alone there are around 50 different wineries, and you’ll find cruise excursions taking you to tastings in several of these, with a delicious gourmet lunch included too.



    Cunard: Queen Mary 2

    Cunard offer a unique cruising opportunity onboard QM2, in that guests can earn themselves a Level 1 or 2 Award in Wines; a recognised qualification in the wine industry. These are gained by spending time learning about oenology with the help of sommeliers, and renowned global winemakers who are brought onboard. You can expect tutored wine tastings, production workshops, fine wine seminars, and more. Port lovers will be especially delighted with the impressive array of 46 vintage ports in the Carinthia Lounge.

    California Cruises

    Around 90% of North American wine is produced in the sunny state of California – another popular cruise destination. A number of round-the-world, America, and even Caribbean cruises include stops in California, and ports like San Francisco are a great place to spend a few extra days on a cruise and stay holiday. Visit the glorious wine regions of Sonoma and Napa Valley for some brilliant wine experiences, either on an excursion or individually. Horse-riding here is a very special and memorable way to explore the vineyards.



    APT River Cruises

    For those who seek a cruise spent truly immersed in oenology, APT River Cruises’ Wine Series is a fabulous option. The line has collaborated with the winemakers of Australia’s First Families of Wine, in order to provide some wonderful wine-themed experiences on their selection of Wine Series cruises. Wine ambassadors will be onboard to host each river cruise, on which they will give talks about traditional wine-making in Europe, and of course wine tastings and meals with paired wines. These cruises take place in the wine regions of Europe, and include visits to various vineyards.

    South Africa Cruises

    A cruise in Africa is a fantastic and exhilarating opportunity to experience some of the most wonderful and unique aspects of our world. As well as new scenery, food, and of course culture, if your cruise includes a stop in South Africa, you’re in for a treat where wine is concerned as well. With 17th century European settlers came wine-making, and so viticulture here is in fact older than you might expect. Many cruise lines offer some brilliant wine-themed excursions, including tastings, tours of famous wine estates, and of course the chance to buy some exquisite bottles.



    Please remember to drink responsibily when enjoying wine or other alcoholic beverages.

    An insider's guide to the River Nile

    18th August 2015

    It is arguably the most famous river in the world and often regarded as a great natural wonder. The River Nile should be on the top of anyone's bucket list.

    Acting as a lifeblood for northeastern Africa, the Nile is the longest river on planet earth stretching over 4,200 miles. Starting at the Mediterranean Sea near to Egypt and passing through nations such as Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Eritrea before ending in Tanzania, the river provides both a historic and spiritual adventure.

    With a river cruise you can discover the beauty of the Nile as it guides you around Egypt. These trips will allow you to visit the likes of Luxor, Aswan, Kom Ombo and Edfu but, more importantly, give you the experience of sailing on the Nile.

    So what is there to know about this magnificent waterway? Read on for our insider guide.




    The Nile is often regarded as one of the key reasons why Egypt became such a unique civilisation. Without this huge expanse of water the country may not have been able to develop into this extraordinary landscape. Egypt relies heavily on agricultural wealth, which makes the Nile an integral part of its day-to-day life.

    Tracing its history back to pre-historic times, it wasn't until 3100 BC that the Nile Valley and Delta had merged into a single entity allowing Egyptian life to blossom and creating the first recognisable nation state. As the population grew, it became hugely important to harness the resources of the Nile but there needed to be provisions made to prevent flooding.

    This was because the Nile flooded, or was inundated, with regularity during the First Intermediate Period (c. 2125-1975 BC). While the floodplain was very fertile and benefited when the river burst its banks, a major inundation could destroy crops, spread disease and create many other hazards. The people of the region have been using artificial water-lifting devices to combat this issue since 1500 BC, right up to the modern day.

    Myths and beliefs


    One of the most special aspects of the Nile is the spiritual attachment associated by the Egyptian people. It is a river which is the subject of myths and tales, the most prominent being that of the god Osiris. Usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead, Osiris, as legend has it, was betrayed and murdered by his brother-god Set.

    Fuelled by jealousy, Set lured Osiris to lay down in an sarcophagus pretending it was a gift, but slammed the lid down and threw him into the Nile. Osiris' wife, Isis, went in search of the god to provide a proper burial and was only able to retrieve him after being told of his whereabouts by a group of children.

    Thanks to this story, there is a long-standing ancient Egyptian belief that children possess the gift of divination, as they allowed her to find the god. Osiris' journey into the Nile has been referenced as making the river a life giver for the inhabitants on its banks.

    Myths such as these made the Nile a beacon for locals as it was considered a major part of the lives of the gods. The Nile was also thought to be a representation of the Milky Way on earth and was believed the sun god Ra drove his ship across it. The sheer amount of myths and tales which are attributed to the river highlight why it is such a spiritual place for Egyptians.

    What to see on a Nile cruise


    Nile River, Africa

    It may seem a little difficult to experience 2,000 years of history in a week-long river cruise of the Nile, but there are some must-see sights along the way that will make your trip a once-in-a-lifetime experience. With a day or two to spare in Luxor, why not organise a sunrise balloon trip?

    Float serenely overhead as a city wakes from its slumber. You'll be able to gaze upon numerous temples from the skies and then explore the Valley of the Kings on foot, once you've landed of course. Try and beat the tourist traps and visit Edfu's Temples of Horus after 6pm. This will ensure you get the place to yourself as you explore a memorial to the falcon god.

    Many cruises will stop off at the southern city of Aswan, home to the temples of Philae and Elephantine Island. Kick back with a delicious cocktail as you watch the sun go down bringing your time in the city to an end and heading back to the Nile.

    A cruise along the Nile is something that you won't be forgetting in a hurry and one you will be telling your friends about for months on end.

    There are numerous options to look into when planning your Nile expedition, though one of the most popular and easiest ways of cruising this magnificent river is by river cruise. Discover Egypt are leading experts in designing the perfect voyage that ensures you get the most out of the journey, thanks to knowledgable Egyptologists and years of experience. Browse our Nile cruise deals and start looking forward to the holiday of a lifetime!

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