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The World's 10 Best Rivers for Cruising
A river cruise is frequently the easiest and most enjoyable way to explore the cities and towns that lie along inland waterways. Passengers sail aboard small, well-appointed ships and dine on gourmet food, and daily sightseeing excursions capture the highlights of each port city.
Moore Travel offers the widest variety of itineraries along every major river in the world, plus every discount, deal and special promotion available. Below are brief summaries of the top 10 rivers - in no particular order.
Rhine River -- View vineyards and castles from the deck of your ship on the Rhine, among the most popular European river cruising destinations. Many itineraries visit Basel, Switzerland's second largest city, which has a museum displaying works by Picasso, Dali and Mondrian. At the heart of Germany's Rhine wine region lies Rudesheim, where terraced rows of vines climb the banks. In Cologne, Germany, you'll visit the spectacular, 13th-century Gothic cathedral with twin spires. German and French cultures meet in Strasbourg in France's Alsace region; the district known as La Petite France is a nice place for exploration on foot.
Danube River -- Flowing from Germany's Black Forest to the Black Sea, the Danube offers a chance to explore Old World cities like Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. In the Austrian town of Melk, most visitors head to the 900-year-old Benedictine Abbey that overlooks the town, while in Germany's Regensburg, your guide is likely to point out the well-preserved medieval architecture and the old Roman gate. During a visit to Passau, Germany, you may hear a concert on the 17,774-pipe organ in St. Stephan's Cathedral.
Volga River -- Russia's most famous cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, can be visited on these vacations. The immense Red Square and onion-domed St. Basil's Cathedral are featured on sightseeing tours of Moscow, while the Peter and Paul Fortress and stunning Hermitage Museum are the don't-miss sights of St. Petersburg. Your riverboat will likely call at Yaroslavl, one of Russia's oldest cities, and Uglich, best known for the blue-domed church built on the spot where Prince Dmitri, son of Ivan the Terrible, was murdered in 1591.
Seine River -- These trips typically start in Paris, where sightseeing allows for photo ops at the Eiffel Tower, the Arch of Triumph, Notre Dame and the Champs-Elysees. Elsewhere on a Seine River route, highlights include Monet's home and beautiful gardens at Giverny; Chateau Gaillard, Richard the Lionheart's stronghold in Les Andelys; and Le Havre, where passengers typically set out for D-Day landing sites along the beaches of Normandy.
Saone and Rhone rivers -- River cruises in southern France usually combine these two rivers in a single itinerary. During the Saone portion of the sailing, the ship meanders through the Burgundy region, where you'll learn about the local wine industry and sample vintages in towns like Beaune. The Rhone River runs south through the Provence region to the Mediterranean coast. Among stops are Lyon, best known as France's gastronomic capital; Arles, one of Van Gogh's favorite places; and Avignon, a walled city with a 14th-century papal palace.
Yangtze River -- Yangtze River cruises often are part of longer tours in China that also incorporate hotel stays. You'll travel between Beijing and Shanghai and see some of the country's most popular sights, like a well-preserved section of the Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Warriors of Xian. Highlights of the Yangtze sailing include the 18th-century Shibaozhai Temple, a 12-story red pagoda that clings to the side of a cliff, and the magnificent peaks and waterfalls of the Three Gorges. Passengers disembark to visit the Three Gorges Dam, a jaw-dropping sight that spans nearly a mile and a half and stands 600 feet tall.
Mississippi River -- These sailings explore one of America's true historic treasures: a 2,320-mile waterway that flows through 10 states, from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Itineraries stop at cities that flourished on the river and its tributaries, like St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans. Civil War battlefields, restored plantation homes and picturesque towns perched on bluffs also are featured. The origins of blues and jazz can be traced to this region, and it's celebrated in literature, too, most memorably by Mark Twain, who grew up in the port town of Hannibal, MO, and once worked as a riverboat pilot.
Amazon River -- There are two ways to explore this South American river: aboard an expedition ship that has a shallow draft and can travel the Lower Amazon in Brazil or the Upper Amazon tributaries in Peru, or on an oceangoing cruise ship that enters the mouth of the river on the Atlantic Ocean and navigates the Lower Amazon as far as Manaus. See the flora and fauna of this verdant basin, like orchids, giant lilies and forests carpeted in ferns, and caimans, rare frogs, monkeys, sloths and toucans. Often there are opportunities to learn about the traditions of the region's communities and purchase locally made crafts.
Mekong River -- Busy cities, rural villages, temples and floating markets are part of Mekong River trips through Cambodia and Vietnam. In Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, sightseeing excursions take in the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. In Ho Chi Minh City, you'll visit sites linked to the Vietnam War, like the War Remnants Museum and the underground tunnels used as hideouts by the Viet Cong. Angkor Wat is a top attraction; the large complex of ornate stone structures dates to the early 12th century.
Nile River -- Cruises along the Nile provide a terrific way to delve into the vast history of Egypt. Ancient sights are prominently featured, like the Pyramids of Giza, the 60-foot statues of Ramses II at the Abu Simbel temple and the Valley of the Kings, where the pharaohs rest, including young king Tutankhamun. Guests will see the objects excavated from his tomb at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Tours of the Aswan High Dam and a sunset cruise in a traditional sailboat, called a felucca, also are part of Nile River itineraries.