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10 of our best-selling river cruise itineraries, listed below in no particular order.
On these vacations, you'll glide along scenic and historic waterways on an intimate and comfortable vessel, enjoying river-view staterooms, superb dining and personalized service. Daily excursions ashore and onboard entertainment and enrichment activities also are generally included in the upfront rate.
Rhine Getaway, 8 days with Viking River Cruises -- On a route between Amsterdam and Basel, you'll visit 700-year-old Marksburg Castle, the Alsatian city of Strasbourg and Rudesheim's Drosselgasse, a cobblestone lane lined by taverns, shops and restaurants.
Charms of the South, 9 days with American Queen Voyages -- Travelers cruise the lower Mississippi River on a modern-day paddle wheeler, learning about Vicksburg's role in the Civil War and visiting 19th-century mansions in Natchez.
Burgundy & Provence, 8 days with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises -- A cruise of France's Saone and Rhone rivers reveals Roman ruins, a 14th-century papal palace and the culinary treasures of Lyon.
Melodies of the Danube, 8 days with AmaWaterways -- This trip starts in Budapest, where you'll take in the views from the Fisherman's Bastion. See St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna and enjoy a hike up to Bratislava Castle in Slovakia.
Paris to Normandy, 8 days with Avalon Waterways -- Tailor this French cruise to your interests: In Vernon, tour Monet's Giverny or 18th-century Chateau de Bizy, and while in Caudebec, choose a trip to D-Day landing beaches or a "Taste of Normandy" culinary excursion.
Secrets of the Douro, 8 days with Emerald Cruises -- Sail Portugal's Douro River in a region known for its port wine production. Enjoy dinner at a local wine estate and also cross into Spain to visit Salamanca, a lively university city.
Columbia & Snake Rivers, 8 days with American Cruise Lines -- Discover the Pacific Northwest's rugged beauty, particularly along the Columbia River Gorge, and visit Mount St. Helens and sites associated with explorers Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery.
Gems of the Danube, 8 days with Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours -- Guests can choose from a variety of included excursions on this itinerary. In Vienna, tour opulent Schonbrunn Palace or journey to the city's acclaimed wine region. In Nuremberg, visit World War II sites or sample beer in the city's underground cellars.
Grand European Tour, 15 days with Viking River Cruises -- See the sights along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers on a panoramic sailing between Amsterdam and Budapest. Guided tours reveal the history and culture of Vienna, Regensburg, Cologne and more.
Romantic Rhine, 8 days with Avalon Waterways -- Classic highlights of this itinerary include the picturesque Rhine Gorge, Heidelberg Castle and Strasbourg's pedestrian-friendly old quarter. You'll also visit whimsical spots like a museum devoted to mechanical musical instruments.
Top Resorts in Punta Cana
The best-selling resorts in the Dominican Republic. Each one is all-inclusive, which means the upfront price includes accommodations, meals, alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, entertainment, activities and nonmotorized water sports.
The Dominican Republic is one of the most affordable resort destinations in the Caribbean. Snorkelers and divers explore coral reefs and shipwrecks, fishing enthusiasts compete for marlin and sailfish and golfers are drawn to courses designed by legends of the game.
But most come to the Dominican Republic simply to enjoy its broad, sandy stretches. For that, many vacationers check into the resorts of Punta Cana, such as the five top sellers listed below.
Dreams Punta Cana (4.5 stars) -- This resort boasts one of the largest free-form pools in the Dominican Republic. Lodging options include swimout suites with direct access to the pool and connecting rooms for groups needing more space. The Explorer's Club provides activities for kids ages 3 to 12, while the Core Zone for teens offers a dedicated lounge.
Barcelo Bavaro Palace (5 stars) -- Head to the beach for swimming or kayaking; the calm water is protected by a coral reef. This resort offers 11 restaurants, a water park, a mini-golf course, an 18-hole course designed by P.B. Dye and an escape room. The kids club organizes supervised activities for children, and older kids can gravitate to their own nightclub for dancing and DJ music.
Ocean El Faro (5 stars) -- This Spanish colonial-style property features 10 restaurants, 13 bars, four swimming pools, a lazy river, a family area with a water park, beach activities, a bowling alley and the Daisy Club for kids ages 4 to 12. A no-kids section called El Beso is home to two swimming pools, a Jacuzzi and an exclusive restaurant among other amenities.
Hard Rock Hotel Punta Cana (5 stars) -- Creative amenities at this beach retreat reflect the company's rock 'n' roll spirit. "The Sound of Your Stay" provides Fender guitars with in-room video lessons, DJ equipment and free playlists, while the "Music Lab Experience" helps you form your own band or mix tracks.
Hotel Riu Republica (4.5 stars) -- This no-kids resort offers eight pools with swim-up bars, the Splash Water World park and complimentary windsurfing and snorkeling. There are evening shows, a nightclub and several restaurants, including Italian, Asian and steakhouse options. Some suites have a Jacuzzi on the terrace.
12 new all-inclusive beach resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean
Live Aqua Beach Resort Punta Cana (5 stars), Dominican Republic -- This no-kids resort offers a sophisticated and modern setting. Head to the Feel Harmony Spa for therapeutic specialty treatments, join a spin class at the fitness center or go for a dip at one of the hotel's seven pools. Opened February 2021.
Nickelodeon Hotels & Resorts Riviera Maya (5 stars), Playa del Carmen, Mexico -- The highlight of Nickelodeon's first resort in Mexico is Aqua Nick, a six-acre water park featuring a lazy river, a faster-paced adventure river and over 20 water slides. Guests will also enjoy "gourmet inclusive" experiences at six restaurants and three bars. Opened July 2021.
Hotel Xcaret Arte (5 stars), Playa del Carmen, Mexico -- Featuring 900 suites, seven restaurants and multiple pools, this kids-free retreat pays tribute to great Mexican artists. Guests are encouraged to explore and engage in Mexican culture through activities like a weaving workshop, dance classes and cooking lessons. The resort offers the "All-Fun Inclusive" experience, where the upfront price includes unlimited access to the seven nature parks of Grupo Xcaret. Opened July 2021.
Dreams Bahia Mita Surf and Secrets Bahia Mita Surf (5 stars), Puerto Vallarta, Mexico -- These sister resorts are set on the beaches of Banderas Bay and surrounded by the Sierra Madre mountains. Family-friendly Dreams offers five swimming pools, water slides and theme parties. Secrets is a no-kids haven, pampering guests with 24-hour room service, pool and beach wait service and elegant all-suite accommodations. It features an infinity pool overlooking the ocean and a luxury cenote-inspired spa. Opened August 2021.
Hilton Vallarta Riviera (5 stars), Mexico -- All of the accommodations at this 444-room, no-kids hotel feature walk-in rainfall showers and private balconies or terraces overlooking the Pacific coast. Relax at one of two infinity pools, grab a drink at a cocktail bar or enjoy the oceanfront Eforea Spa. The resort also boasts 26,000 square feet of event space. Opened August 2021.
Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun (5 stars), Mexico -- Nestled between the Caribbean Sea and a lagoon, this property offers nine pools, an oceanfront water park and a two-story spa. Participate in a wine tasting, dance to live music and indulge in delicious meals and drinks at the 17 restaurants and bars on site. Opened September 2021.
Hilton Cancun (5 stars), Mexico -- 12 restaurants, three bars, two infinity pools and a kids' pool area and water park are highlights of this hotel. Sip a cool beverage poolside, take a yoga class or indulge in sweet treats at the Ice Cream and Churros Shop. Scheduled to open November 2021.
Breathless Cancun Soul (5 stars), Mexico -- Two rooftop infinity pools, swim-up bars and a variety of trendy dining venues amid a kids-free setting are top draws of this property. Enjoy high-energy events and themed parties hosted by live DJs, take in a tequila tasting or participate in water sports like windsurfing and sailing. Scheduled to open December 2021.
Zoetry Casa del Mar Los Cabos (5 stars), Mexico -- This intimate boutique hotel has just 60 rooms, all boasting ocean views and private terraces. Guests can sign up for a complimentary wellness or fitness consultation, enjoy a rejuvenating spa treatment, join a yoga session or take a culinary class. Scheduled to open December 2021.
Secrets Impression Moxche Playa Del Carmen (5 stars), Mexico -- This no-kids retreat offers activities like snorkeling, archery, tennis and dance and cocktail-making classes. Enjoy 24-hour concierge and room service, seven heated pools and three man-made cenotes; Preferred Club guests have exclusive access to a rooftop pool. Scheduled to open February 2022.
Some of the top attractions of river cruises around the world
Mississippi River cruises glide through America's heartland, stopping in dynamic cities and picturesque river towns. Guided sightseeing can include landmarks such as Oak Alley, a beautifully restored mansion known for its canopy of 300-year-old oak trees, and the French Quarter, New Orleans' oldest and most famous neighborhood.
Columbia River cruises reveal the rugged beauty of America's Pacific Northwest. Excursions might include a hike among the towering cascades of Multnomah Falls, a trip to volcanic Mount St. Helens or a look at the workings of the Bonneville Dam, a National Historic Site.
Danube River cruises sail into Old World cities like Budapest, which is divided by the river, and Vienna, where sightseeing excursions take in St. Stephen's Cathedral, the opera house and the avenue known as the Ringstrasse. The Danube converges with the Ilz and the Inn rivers in the German city of Passau. Perched on a river bluff, 900-year-old Melk Abbey in Austria is another highlight.
Rhine River cruises navigate the Rhine Gorge, a scenic stretch of the river dotted with castles and vineyards. Among them are Castle Marksburg, above the town of Braubach near Koblenz, and Castle Katz in St. Goarshausen. Many itineraries stop in Strasbourg in France's Alsace region, where the attractive Petite France district is a favorite spot for a stroll.
You can visit festive outdoor Christmas markets in towns along the Danube and Rhine on departures in late November and December. Sausages sizzle on grills, carolers sing and vendors' booths are decorated with evergreen garlands and white lights.
Seine River voyages start with sightseeing in Paris and travel west to visit Giverny (former home of artist Claude Monet), D-Day landing sites in Normandy and the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.
Saone River cruises meander through France's Burgundy region, where passengers can learn about the region's wine industry in Chalon-sur-Saone and see the Hospices of Beaune, a 15th-century hospital complex famous for its intricately detailed, colorful roofs. In Tournus, passengers spend time at St. Philibert Abbey, a Romanesque church.
The Rhone River runs through France's Provence region to the Mediterranean coast; Rhone cruises usually are combined with Saone sailings. Ships call at the walled city of Avignon for visits to a 14th-century papal palace and at Lyon to see its Roman remains and Old Town.
Douro River trips sail through the grape-growing regions of Portugal. Itineraries typically spend time in the city of Porto, a longtime center for the port wine trade, and at the Baroque-style Mateus Palace and gardens in Vila Real.
In spring, the tulip fields of Holland brim with colorful blooms. View them on a "tulip time" river cruise, which includes a visit to Keukenhof Gardens, where 7 million bulbs are planted annually. These sailings take place in March and April and also sail to ports in Belgium.
Nile River cruises are incorporated into longer land tours that nearly always include excursions to the Sphinx and the Pyramids at Giza. On your cruise, you'll encounter some of Egypt's most famous antiquities, such as the massive Luxor Temple, built more than 3,000 years ago.
Mekong River cruises travel through Cambodia and Vietnam. Attractions include Tonle Sap Lake, known for its rich birdlife and fishing villages, and the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh. Many departures also incorporate Angkor Wat, a 12th-century complex of ornate stone structures.
FBI Toxicology Tests Find US Tourists Deaths in Dominican Republic Consistent With Natural Causes
The results of toxicology tests performed on tourists who died in the Dominican Republic in separate incidents this year are “consistent with natural causes,” according to media reports in the US and the Dominican Republic.
The FBI, which opened an investigation into the deaths this summer after Dominican authorities concluded the incidents were due to natural causes, delivered its report to Dominican authorities and the victims’ families as early as September, according to reports from Fox News and the Dominican Today website.
“The results of additional extensive toxicological tests conducted to date have been consistent with the findings of local authorities (Dominican Republic),” reads a statement from the Office of Consular Affairs of the State Department as reported by Fox News. “Our condolences are with the families during this difficult time.”
The Fox report adds the FBI “handed over that information to the families of the people who died and Dominican Authorities on September 16.”
The Dominican Republic attorney general's office postponed a scheduled September 30 news conference on the findings, saying the office had received “incomplete” results from the FBI. Dominican Ministry of Tourism personnel did not respond immediately to TravelPulse.com’s request for comment.
In the wake of the tourist deaths and resulting questions regarding traveler safety and security in the Dominican Republic, travel agency groups and resort operators have sought to reassure consumers about the country’s safety.
The country lost 100,000 visitors between January and September of this year compared to 2018, blaming the decline on sensational media reports of the “unrelated” deaths.
In conjunction with the Apple Leisure Group, travAllianceMedia has established www.travFACTS.org, a website designed to analyze and correct erroneous media reports that could be damaging to tourist destinations worldwide.
New All Inclusive Resorts in 2019
All but one of these properties are all-inclusive, which means the upfront rate includes lodging, meals, beverages and activities.
Royalton Suites Cancun Resort & Spa, Mexico -- Features of this 5-star, all-inclusive getaway include a rooftop pool and lounge, a spa and activities for kids like dance classes, sports and trivia competitions. Among restaurants is Agave, which combines Mesoamerican cooking with Old World Spanish recipes. Opened January 2019.
Nobu Hotel Los Cabos, Mexico -- Japanese minimalism meets Los Cabos' laid-back vibe at this 5-star traditional hotel (it is not all-inclusive). You'll find clean lines, custom-made furniture, teak and stone throughout this casually elegant resort. Dine at beachfront Nobu and Malibu Farm, a farm-to-table eatery showcasing healthy fare. Opened April 2019.
ATELIER Playa Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico -- This 5-star, all-inclusive resort for guests ages 16 and up sports a look that's both contemporary and warm, from the marble and wood accents of the suites to the palm-lined, 14,639-square-foot pool with sea views. Its signature restaurant is Maria Dolores, specializing in fresh Mexican cuisine using seasonal ingredients. Opened May 2019.
Royalton Antigua, St. John's -- Unwind at this 5-star, all-inclusive property overlooking the turquoise waters of Deep Bay. Go kayaking, play tennis or join a match of beach volleyball, and indulge in a variety of restaurants, from buffets to a chef's table to a sports pub. Rooms feature Royalton's signature DreamBeds. Opened May 2019.
Now Emerald Cancun, Mexico -- This 5-star resort offers an all-inclusive getaway in Cancun's hotel zone, and it's only 8 miles from the airport. It boasts eight restaurants, eight bars, a spa and clubs for young children and older kids. Preferred Club Junior Suites come with private pools as well as extra perks like an exclusive lounge. Opening late June 2019.
Hard Rock Hotel Los Cabos, Mexico -- The latest 5-star all-inclusive from this rock 'n' roll brand features the Rock Spa, with music-centric "Rhythm and Motion" treatments, and the complimentary Sound of Your Stay program, which provides amenities like Fender guitar loans with headphones and in-room video lessons and free downloadable playlists. Opening July 2019.
Palmaia Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico -- Set where the jungle meets the beach, this 5-star, all-inclusive retreat preserves the surrounding environment and offers oceanfront suites and personalized service. Three restaurants serve Mexican, Mediterranean and Asian fare, and guests can enjoy infinity pools, a beach bar and alfresco spa treatments. Opening September 2019.
Sunscape Akumal Beach Resort & Spa, Tulum, Mexico -- About 25 minutes north of Tulum's seaside Mayan ruins, this 4-star all-inclusive offers eight dining venues, eight bars and the complimentary use of water toys like Hobie Cats and kayaks. The Explorer's Club provides activities for kids ages 3 to 12, while golfers enjoy complimentary green fees at the Riviera Maya Golf Club. Opening October 2019.
Paradisus Playa Mujeres, Cancun, Mexico -- This 5-star resort offers an all-inclusive vacation with seven specialty restaurants, six bars and day-to-night entertainment. A spa, two fitness centers and the Kids Zone round out the on-site amenities. The no-kids Royal Service and Family Concierge sections offer upgraded amenities. Opening November 2019.
Now Natura Riviera Cancun, Mexico -- This 5-star all-inclusive on a white-sand beach encompasses a lazy river, waterfalls and a grotto bar; the spa is designed to resemble the region's cenotes, natural freshwater sinkholes. A Rollglider aerial ride is in the plans for this resort, along with four pools and diverse dining that ranges from an ice cream parlor and buffets to French and Pan-Asian restaurants. Opening December 2019.
Sparkling aquamarine seas lap sugar-white sands along the south and west coasts of this Southern Caribbean island, providing a distinct contrast to the semiarid, desert-like terrain of the interior and the north.
Aruba has bounced among Spanish, Dutch and English rule, and today it is a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Tall, multicolored Dutch colonial homes with wooden doors make for a picturesque sight in Oranjestad, the capital city.
At each of the following five resorts, the upfront rate includes accommodations, meals, drinks and activities. Whichever one you choose, you're likely to hear a friendly "bon bini!" when you arrive. This means "welcome" in Papiamento, the native language.
Hotel Riu Palace Antillas -- This 5-star retreat on the pristine sands of Palm Beach is our only all-inclusive resort in Aruba to offer a no-kids setting resort-wide. It has a gym, spa and water sports like windsurfing, snorkeling and kayaking. The buffet restaurant features cooking stations and themed evenings. There are four specialty restaurants and around-the-clock room service; for an additional fee, the staff can arrange a romantic dinner on the beach.
Hotel Riu Palace Aruba -- This property is next to the Hotel Riu Palace Antillas, and it welcomes guests of all ages. Among its draws are two pools, a swim-up bar, five restaurants, several bars and lounges and an ice cream parlor. Guests at the 5-star resort can enjoy live music in the theater, indulge in a massage at the spa or try stand-up paddleboarding on the waves. Some suites have whirlpools on the balcony.
Renaissance Aruba Resort -- A stay at this 5-star retreat puts you within walking distance of Oranjestad's lively center. A complimentary water taxi delivers guests to the hotel's private, 40-acre island, which has no-kids and family beaches, private cabanas and food and drink venues. The resort itself also is divided between no-kids and family-friendly sections. Guests will find several restaurants, pools, a spa and an adjacent shopping mall.
Barcelo Aruba -- Vacationers will find six restaurants, a lagoon-style pool and lighted tennis courts at this 4-star Palm Beach hotel. Join a game of water polo or a session of aqua aerobics, make use of the available snorkeling equipment or kayaks or join a scuba or kitesurfing class. Inviting thatched-roof palapas and loungers line the palm-studded, white-sand beach.
Holiday Inn Resort Aruba -- This 4-star resort is divided among three activity zones to match your vacation mood: Peace & Harmony for those who want to renew body and mind through yoga or Pilates, Action & Play for fun family time and pursuits like pool volleyball and aqua aerobics, and Chill & Mingle for socializing and poolside relaxation. Other amenities at this Palm Beach getaway include complimentary bicycle rentals, tennis and a fitness center.
The Perfect Beach vacation
Customers often for destination suggestions when looking for the perfect beach vacation. This will help you narrow down the choices and find that ideal spot.
Travelers on a tight budget will generally find that the cheaper options are relatively close, in the Dominican Republic and Mexico -- both the Pacific Coast and the Yucatan Peninsula.
For the broadest selection of all-inclusive resorts, where the upfront resort price covers accommodations, meals, beverages and activities, check out the options in Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Mexico. All-inclusive properties are plentiful and varied in these destinations.
Snorkelers and divers will find clear waters and colorful sea life throughout the Caribbean, but there are a few places that stand out. Cozumel has been a favorite diving destination since marine explorer Jacques Cousteau shot a documentary there in 1961; it boasts miles of protected coral reefs and more than 250 species of tropical fish. Grand Cayman, Turks and Caicos and Bonaire are other good choices for snorkeling and diving enthusiasts.
Costa Rica is a top ecotourism destination, abundant with rainforests, waterfalls, sparkling beaches and extraordinary wildlife. Nature lovers also can explore the scenic hiking trails and white-sand beaches of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands -- a national park covers two-thirds of the island. The forest preserves in St. Lucia, lush with giant ferns and wild orchids, are perfect for hiking and bird-watching.
For golfers, challenging courses in beautiful settings are abundant in nearly all of the tropical destinations we offer , but you'll find some of the best courses in Bermuda and Hawaii.
Fans of deep-sea fishing should browse our resorts in the Florida Keys and along Mexico's Pacific Coast --Mazatlan, Manzanillo and Los Cabos all are sportfishing meccas.
Hawaii is a top pick for whale-watching (December through May is peak season), as is Los Cabos (from December through March).
May through September is turtle-nesting season along the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, where some resorts operate conservation programs that allow guests to help return hatchlings to the sea. Scuba divers and snorkelers can spot swimming sea turtles along the Kona Coast of Hawaii's Big Island.
If you want to really get away from it all, some tropical retreats are truly off the beaten path. Nevis, St. Kittsand St. Vincent & the Grenadines all offer an exclusive experience. There is an extra cost for the seclusion these spots offer and the additional flight time to get there. There are fewer flights, and you'll likely have to make at least one connection to get to these destinations from the mainland U.S. or Canada.
Finally, if duty-free shopping is a priority, look at Nassau in the Bahamas or Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas.