Guide and Reviews on Best River Cruises and Anything That Relates to Them
Best River Cruises

A Most Unique Experience with American Queen

Quite simply, there is nothing quite like a voyage with the American Queen Steamboat Company on the world’s largest, most opulent authentic steam-powered paddlewheel riverboat. You will be transported not just through America, but also through time.

American Queen US river cruise

The wake of a paddlewheel steamboat is a series of gentle undulating swells, each reflecting a turn of the bright red paddlewheel. But even as we sail through the same waters as Mark Twain, we see how quickly the river erases our unique paddlewheel footprints on the surface. Soon, it is the same broad, mighty river behind us as it is in front of us. Our wake is simply a ripple in time, but for the brief moment that we are here, we are part of something so much larger than ourselves.

That overwhelming sense of the rich history of steamboats and the river is reflected in the authenticity of the American Queen’s antebellum décor, the family recipes of famed Southern chef Regina Charboneau, and the familiar smiles of our all-American crew.

Even if you’ve never before sailed aboard the American Queen, stepping on board feels like coming home. She is warm, inviting and comforting. But her purpose is not just to take you away on vacation; it’s also to bring you closer together. It is a wondrous thing to see the community that is formed during each voyage of the American Queen.

When you choose to share your vacation with us, you are among like-minded peers and friendships naturally follow. I recently watched at lunch as two couples bonded over their grandchildren who, it turns out, attended the same college. Overhearing the conversation as he was serving the table, the waiter revealed that he had graduated from the same institution.

There were smiles and shared stories, the guests leaving the table not with a polite thank you to their waiter, but with a hug that expressed everything our company, our steamboat and an American river voyage is about.

As you travel with the American Queen Steamboat Company, the rhythm of the past melds seamlessly with the rhythm of today in places like the rocking chairs on the American Queen’s Front Porch of America and the mahogany comfort of her Mark Twain Gallery. It echoes in the calliope music that drifts across the water and is seen in our guests’ contented smiles. The river has its own rhythm, and I invite you to join us as we take the time to listen.

American Queen Steamboat Highlights

Cruising the Rhone with Swan

Enjoy an ever-changing panorama unfold along the banks, from the vineyards of Burgundy, to the serene landscapes of Van Gogh, the wild nature of the Camargue and the papal city of Avignon. Embark A-Rosa Stella in the gastronomic city of Lyon, a city you will have the pleasure of exploring at the end of your cruise, and enjoy dinner on board as you cruise overnight to Chalon-sur-Saone. In the morning you have the choice of visiting Beaune with its fine Hotel Dieu, passing the wine towns of Burgundy en route, or perhaps a supplementary tour to visit the exquisite 17th century Chateau Cormatin.

Lyon, France river view

This afternoon relax on board as Stella slips past the verdant Maconais river banks to Tournus. Enjoy a late afternoon stroll through the delightful Burgundian riverside town once an important monastic centre, before Stella continues on her way to Macon where she spends the night.

The following morning visit the ruins of the Benedictine Abbey at Cluny, founded in 910 AD. The abbey – the largestchurch in Europe until the building of St Peter’s in Rome six centuries later – became the most famous and powerful abbey in Christendom with over a thousand daughter abbeys throughout Europe. Remain in Macon, with its 6th century cathedral and half-timbered houses, or enjoy a supplementary visit to a winery of the Maconais and – of course – sample some wines! This afternoon relax on the Sun Deck admiring the landscape of vineyards, orchards, terracotta tiled farmhouses and Romanesque churches before enjoying dinner on board as Stella winds her way through Lyon and southwards, overnight, to Viviers.

Disembark the following afternoon to enjoy a scenic drive through the southern Ardeche region, viewing the dramatic Karst gorge and, on our June cruise, enjoy the fragrant scenery of lavender fields in bloom. Alternatively you might decide to discover for yourself the narrow, cobbled streets of the old town of Viviers.

The next morning Stella berths in Arles – once an important city in the Roman Empire, and located at the southernmost point of our river journey. On a walking tour, discover the city’s links with Van Gogh or enjoy a scenic drive through the Camargue in the Rhone delta, known for its salt marshes and lagoons, its bulls, wild horses and rich birdlife.

A short cruise upriver will bring you to Avignon in the early evening for an overnight stay. With its well preserved medieval walls, Avignon became the seat of the Roman Catholic Church in the 14th century when the papacy temporarily abandoned Italy. This morning enjoy a walking tour to visit the vast, fortified Palais des Papes, developed from a bishop’s palace into a fortified religious centre, before setting sail this afternoon for Lyon.

Having enjoyed a night cruising upstream spend an afternoon in Lyon, your final port of call, discovering its Roman heritage, its long association with silk and its reputation as a centre of gastronomy. A walk through Vieux Lyon will introduce you to its narrow streets lined with over 300 medieval and Rennaisance houses, St Jean Cathedral, and the city’s unique narrow passageways known as ‘traboules’. Or you might choose a supplementary full day that includes a visit to Les Halles – the Lyonnaise market halls – learning more about Lyon’s reputation as a centre of gastronomy and sampling some of the region’s specialities. A wonderful conclusion to your Rhone river cruise.

Rhone River Cruise Program Highlights

Cruising the Danube with Swan

Embark Bella in the historic German city of Passau and spend the night on board cruising to Melk, a spiritual centre for more than 1,000 years, since Margrave Leopold I made Melk castle his residence in the 10th century. In the 11th century the castle was given to Benedictine monks who transformed it from a castle into a fortified abbey. Visit the abbey, including the Marble Hall, the magnificent Library and the Imperial Room before enjoying a relaxing afternoon on board Bella as she glides downstream, passing from Austria into Slovakia and then Hungary.

Esztergom, Hungary river cruise view

The following morning Bella berths in Esztergom, the first capital of Hungary and the birthplace of King Stephen, crowned in the city as the first king of Hungary. Enjoy a walking tour, including a visit to the Basilica, this morning before sailing downstream along the scenic Danube Bend this afternoon. Enjoy the unfolding landscape of tiny villages dominated by Baroque spires and the craggy silhouettes of once great castles before Bella’s early evening arrival in Budapest, where illuminated castles, bridges and other city monuments create a memorable cityscape.

Following a night in Budapest, enjoy a full day exploring this striking city. A city tour explores Buda and Pest, two separate cities that were physically joined when the Chain Bridge was built across the Danube in 1849 (becoming Budapest in 1873). View St Matthias Church and visit the Fisherman’s Bastion, from where there are wonderful views over the Danube to Pest, dominated by its fine parliament building and Heroes Square.

Journey out to Gödöllö, the second largest Baroque chateau in the world and, from 1867-1916, the favourite summer residence of Joseph Franz I and Queen Elizabeth (known as ‘Sissi’), or take a supplementary full-day excursion into the Puszta, the hinterland of Hungary, where you can explore the countryside in horse and carriage and enjoy a horse riding display by the Csiko, Hungarian horsemen.

Following a relaxing morning on the river arrive in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia,once one of the most important cities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Explore the city on foot, viewing the cathedral, the Kapitulsgasse, the seminary and visit the Primatial Palace, built in the late 18th century. In a city known for its music, enjoy an exclusive evening concert ashore before setting sail for Vienna later tonight.

Bella arrives in Vienna to enjoy a full day and evening exploring one of the great capitals of Europe. Enjoy a city sightseeing drive along the Ringstrasse – initiated by Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1857 – taking in panoramic views of the city from the gardens of Belvedere Castle, and explore on foot the pedestrian centre or visit Schönbrunn Palace, built to rival Versailles.

Your last full day on board and a morning in Dürnstein. The ruins of a fortified castle, said to have once been the prison of King Richard the Lionheart, dominates the little town with its well preserved medieval and Baroque buildings. Enjoy a walking tour and then relax on board this afternoon, enjoying the views as Bella cruises through the Wachau Valley, renowned for its vine clad slopes, churches and castles en route to Passau.

Review of Budapest to Prague Danube River Cruise

Discover the Douro with Viking River Cruises

Breathtaking views of unspoiled countryside. Terraced vineyards blanketing the landscape. Meandering waters encountering storied towns with graceful bridges and dotted with UNESCO Sites. Traditional rabelo sailing boats transporting their casks of port wine. And, the warm smiles of friendly people eager to share their homeland with visitors.

Rabelo sailing boats on Douro river

A WINE LIKE NO OTHER

With a micro climate that is optimal for cultivation, the Douro River Valley produces a vintage exclusive to its region. Picturesque quintas – vineyards clinging to the river’s steep, sloped banks – produce a variety of grapes that blend to form the perfect port wine. Named after the seaport city of Porto, port is a Portuguese fortified wine aged in barrels in a cellar (“cave”). Traditionally transported in boats called barcos
rabelos, port is typically sweet and served as a dessert wine.

A TILE’S TALE

Everywhere you look – from churches and palaces to train stations and park benches – Portugal is decorated with azulejos. Tin-glazed ceramic tiles, the azulejos are used on floors, walls and ceilings as a decorative element as well as a functional one. Originated from Moorish traditions, the tiles showcased geometric patterns. In the late 17th century, Delft influenced a change to the blue – and white portrayal of scenes from Portuguese history and culture.

CULTURE & H ISTORY ABOUND IN LISBON

Nicknamed the “City of Seven Hills,” Lisbon is Portugal’s capital and one of the world’s oldest cities. Rich in architecture – Romanesque, Gothic, baroque and the region’s iconic Manueline style – the city is also home to a number of historic and cultural monuments. Experience local culture as you stroll the streets of the Bairro Alto, a shopping and entertainment district in the heart of the old city. A must-see is the Belem Tower; originally built as a fortified lighthouse, it is the famous place from which many Portuguese explorers began their voyages. Nearby, tour the Jeronimos Monastery; this massive complex has become a monument to Vasco da Gama’s successful voyage to India. Together, these two buildings comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

PICTURESQUE & PRODUCTIVE

A rolling landscape of terraced vineyards blanket the countryside. The perfectly planted grapes cling to the steep slopes along the river’s fertile banks. And villages, chapels and winding roads make their mark among the lush foliage. The Douro River Valley is not just picturesque; it is also productive, renowned as an exclusive source of port wine and one of the most scenic UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

THE GOLDEN CITY OF SALAMANCA

An ancient, university town, Salamanca, in western Spain, is nicknamed the “Golden City” because of the rich glow of sunlight off its sandstone buildings. The old city is a living museum that has been identified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include the Old Cathedral, the New Cathedral, Monterrey Palace and a number of historic convents and churches. While there, visit Plaza Mayor (Main Square), built in the traditional Spanish baroque style and lined with restaurants and shops.

EXPLORE THE MUSIC SCENE

When traveling in Portugal and Spain, you will encounter a number of musical genres that are distinct to the region. The vibrant and colorful form of gypsy music and dance known as flamenco blossomed from 18th-century Andalusian music and dance styles. Its energetic, passionate and staccato style comes from a trio of cante (singing), toque (guitar), dance and palmas (handclaps). On the other end of the spectrum is fado, a music genre that can be traced back to the 1820s in Portugal. A form of the blues, fado singers are often accompanied by a 12-string Portuguese guitar, a string quartet or even a full orchestra.

Terraced vineyards from the Douro river cruise

Magnificent Mekong – Viking River Cruise review

Both are stunningly beautiful, both are home to the Mekong River, yet Vietnam and Cambodia are culturally two distinctive countries. In Cambodia, discover ancient Khmer architecture, lush riverside landscapes and the elegant French colonial capital of Phnom Penh. In Vietnam, the colourful floating markets of the Mekong Delta, gracious Hanoi and dynamic Ho Chi Minh await you. Let Viking show you these and many more treasures on this epic journey.

Ha Long bay view

DAY 1 HANOI

From Hanoi airport, Viking takes you to your hotel where you can settle in for a two night stay and enjoy time to explore Vietnam’s thousand-year-old capital, with its Belle-Epoque villas, tree-lined avenues and grand public buildings set around beautiful parks and lakes. Or visit the city’s old quarter with its narrow streets and traditional pagodas.

DAY 2 HANOI

After breakfast, set off on a tour of Vietnam’s thousand year old city. Explore One Pillar Pagoda, widely regarded as one of Vietnam’s most iconic temples. See the vast Ho Chi Minh memorial, dedicated to Vietnam’s 20thcentury Communist leader, and tour the notorious ‘Hanoi Hilton’, where POWs were imprisoned in the Vietnam War. Discover the country’s multicultural heritage at Vietnam’s Museum of Ethnology. In the evening, enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.

Included excursion: city tour.
Included meals: breakfast, dinner.

DAY 3 HANOI AND SIEM REAP

On a tour of this lovely city, visit the Temple of Literature – with its serene courtyards and graceful gateways, it’s an excellent example of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Enjoy some free time before taking a short flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia. Check in to your hotel for a three night stay, and enjoy dinner accompanied by a traditional Apsara dance show.

Included meals: breakfast, dinner.

DAY 4 ANGKOR WAT AND SIEM REAP

Visit the great temple complex of Angkor Wat, one of the largest and most important archaeological sites in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Angkor Wat was built for King Suryavarman II in the 12th century and boasts intricate bas-relief stone carvings, with wonderful views of the countryside. Explore Angkor Thom, with its popular Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper Kings, as well as the mysterious Bayon Temple, with its giant, smiling stone carved faces.

Included excursion: Angkor Wat excursion.
Included meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 5 SIEM REAP

Among the ruins of the mighty Khmer Empire, Phnom Kulen National Park is considered a sacred place of pilgrimage. Your visit takes you to the 10th-century Hindu temple of Banteay Srei, dedicated to the deity Shiva and adorned with magnificent carvings. Then journey to Ta Prohm, a popular temple that is largely intact, with jungle overgrowing much of its ruins. An afternoon visit to a vocational centre that trains apprentices in the traditional crafts of stone sculpture, woodcarving and painting is followed by a guided tour through the workshops of the Artisans of Angkor, and a visit to the open air markets of Siem Reap. Enjoy dinner
at a local restaurant.

Included excursions: Banteay Srei and Ta Prohm Temple excursion.
Included meals: breakfast, dinner.

DAY 6 KAMPONG THOM & KAMPONG CHAM

After checking out of your hotel, a drive through the Cambodian countryside takes you to your ship, in Kampong Cham, via the provincial capital of Kampong Thom, a city with a rich archaeological heritage and more than 200 temples. Settle in to your stateroom and meet the ship’s crew over a welcome cocktail.

Included meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 7 KAMPONG CHAM

Visit the hilltop temple of Wat Hanchey that dates back to the 8th century, with stunning views of the Mekong River. After lunch, visit the Twin Holy Mountains of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srey with their many temples and pagodas. Continue to the ecotourism village of Choeungkok, supported by the French-Cambodian Amica organisation.

Included excursion: excursion to Wat Hanchey and Twin Holy Mountains.
Included meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 8 PHNOM PENH

After breakfast, walk straight off your ship and onto a cycle for a tour of Phnom Penh. Visit the magnificent Royal Palace built in the 19th century by the French, but inspired by ancient Khmer architecture. Explore the city’s mazes of small alleys and bustling markets. After lunch, enjoy the rest of the afternoon to further explore Phnom Penh. Or join an optional excursion to the sobering memorial of the Cambodian genocide, take time to reflect at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. The evening brings a folkloric dance performed by Cambodian children, a testament to the spirit of the Cambodian people.

Included excursion: cycle tour featuring Royal Palace.
Included meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 9 PHNOM PENH

This morning, enjoy a city tour of Phnom Penh with a visit to the National Museum of Cambodia, which houses treasures of Khmer art and craftsmanship and other artefacts that predate the mighty empire. Continue to visit Wat Phom, which is the tallest religious structure in this old city. Then, take time to explore the ‘Russian Market’ in this busy riverside port town. Return to Phnom Penh and your ship for lunch. This afternoon is yours to spend at leisure to discover Phom Penh city, go shopping or relax on board your ship.

Included excursion: Phnom Penh City Tour.
Included meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 10 MEKONG RIVER

Sail the Mekong towards the Vietnamese border, and glide alongside picturesque rice fields. Arrive in the busy riverside port of Chau Ðoc in the evening.

Included meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 11 CHAU DOC AND CU LAO GIEN

Your morning begins with a tour of Chau Doc, the biggest trading town along the Vietnam/Cambodia border. Explore the various markets and afterwards, take a small boat ride to a nearby Cham tribal village where you can observe village life and visit a catfish farm. In the afternoon, visit Cu Lao Gien Island to see the monastery of St. Paul of Chartres. The evening brings an on board screening of the film, L’Amant in preparation for tomorrow’s visit.

Included excursions: Chau Doc and Lao Island excursions.
Included meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 12 SA DEC AND CAI BE

In Sa Dec, see the house of Mr. Huynh Thuy Le, the protagonist in Maguerite Duras’s autobiographical novel, L’Amant. Enjoy a sampan boat ride along the canals and backwaters of the Mekong Delta. Visit the colourful floating markets of Cai Be, where you can see local workers producing a variety of goods in the small riverside factories. In the evening you can watch an on board screening of the film, The Quiet American, based on Graham Greene’s novel set in 1952 Saigon.

Included excursions: sampan boat excursion and floating market visit.
Included meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

DAY 13 MY THO AND HO CHI MINH CITY

After breakfast we take you from your ship in My Tho to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. Enjoy a tour of the Reunifi cation Palace. See the Gothic Central Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. Check in to your hotel for a two night stay, and spend the rest of the day exploring the city. Enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.

Included meals: breakfast, dinner.

DAY 14 HO CHI MINH CITY

A city tour takes you to the historic centre, and a stroll along the Dong Khoi Street, the main shopping boulevard and heart of old colonial Saigon. See the grand City Hall, old Opera House, the markets of Chinatown and visit a Lacquer Factory. In the afternoon a visit to the War Remnants Museum provides a stark picture of the Vietnam War. The rest of your afternoon is free to further explore the city, or enjoy some
last-minute shopping before the evening’s final dinner at a local restaurant.

Included excursion: city tour.
Included meals: breakfast, dinner.

DAY 15 HO CHI MINH CITY

After breakfast, Viking takes you to Ho Chi Minh City airport.

Included meal: breakfast.

Magnificent Mekong River Cruise on Google Maps

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