Jan 27, 2015 10:47PM
● By Dia
Four river cruises exploring ancient cultures and traditions
Make plans to take your significant other on a romantic vacation to explore ancient cultures while sailing in a luxurious river cruise ship on the other side of the world. But we aren’t talking about the Danube. Let your sweetie know your next romantic getaway will involve cruising down the river Indiana Jones style—sans the Ark’s wrath.
A growing trend for the upcoming year involves traveling to exotic locales nowhere near an airport—or travelable road for that matter—and a far cry from anything that even resembles a hostel. The cruise industry found a way to combine the convenience of river transportation to these hard to access ports of call with the luxury of a hotel.
Embarkation for these types of cruises can’t take place around the North American coast. You’ll have to fly to the cities closest to the river and area you’ll be exploring. Add this to the cost of the cruise, and you’ll easily find yourself spending thousands of dollars. However, most of the river cruises, like their oceanic cousins, are all inclusive. Despite the higher costs of a bucket list trip such as this, food, shore excursions and sometimes even flights taken during the trip are included—just not the ones that get you home. We’re sure your significant other will enjoy the exotic river locations, and ancient history while sipping wine from a cozy observation deck by a warm fire.
Amazon River, South America
With a trip itinerary named “From the Inca Empire to the Peruvian Amazon” you know you are in for myriad of history and culture crammed into an 11-day adventure for which you just signed up. Avalon Waterways offers a combination trip involving air travel, hotel stays and a river cruise. You’ll start out in Lima, Peru, fly to Cusco and visit the Temple of Sacsayhuaman—which is nothing compared to the next day when you’ll be visiting Machu Picchu. Sharing the sights of the Inca Empire with your sweetie is a once in a lifetime opportunity. After returning to Lima, you will board a flight to Iquitos, your cruise embarkation point. On day eight, your Peruvian Amazon cruise will begin.
The 147-foot-long river cruise ship, Aria, can accommodate a maximum of 32 cruise ship guests in 16 oversized suites that feature floor to ceiling panoramic windows. Snuggle up in your cozy room and take in the scenery of the Amazon jungles without the buzz of Amazon-size mosquitoes.
While on board, complimentary coffee, tea, soft drinks, and local beer and wine service is available throughout the day at the bar. You’ll also dine on award-winning Peruvian cuisine and enjoy complimentary regional wines at meals. During your time on shore, you will be exposed to cooking and dining experiences unique to the region— and you’ll even have an opportunity to dine with local families at their homes. AvalonWaterways.com
Yangzi River, China
Sanctuary Retreats lets you choose from a three to nine day cruise down the world’s third longest river, the Yangzi River in China. At 3,900 miles, the river flows from Tibet to Shanghai and cuts through the mountains of the Yangzi river basin, which is home to 500 million people—10 percent of the world’s population! Along your shorter cruises you’ll have the opportunity to visit villages, see the work of local artisans and ride in longboats (sampans). On the longest of the cruise itineraries you’ll visit Shanghai, Beijing and Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
Your cruise ship, the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer carries 124 passengers and has a crew to passenger ratio of 1:1 on the river. Onboard facilities include 24-hour room service, fitness facilities, and the luxurious Huang Ding Spa. Although there is an observation deck, why not enjoy the beautiful landscape along the river while sitting on your private balcony of one of the cabin suites?
Dining on the Yangzi Explorer involves ordering from a-lacarte menus featuring Chinese and continental cuisine prepared by internationally trained chefs. As it seems to be a trend with international river cruises, all meals are served with complimentary house wines, local beers and other refreshments. The chefs are also available to prepare foods for special dietary needs. SanctuaryRetreats.com
Ayeyarwady, Myanmar (Burma)
On this nine-day, eight-night cruise aboard the Belmond Orcaella you’ll discover the “Jewels of the Ayeyarwady” in Myanmar (Burma) in southeast Asia. Itineraries can be personalized to fit anyone’s style of exploration and sightseeing. Expert guides from Belmond can take you to places such as villages, monasteries or temples of Bagan. Highlights of this trip include a visit to Danuphyu and the memorial of the revered leader General Maha Bandula, and a chance to see the Shwesandaw Pagoda and 10-story Sitting Buddha in Pyay.
While on ship, your accommodations include either cabins or suites, with one of the main differences being bed size: the cabins have twin and double, suites have queen and king. Aside from wanting a bigger bed—which who doesn’t—suites offer butler server and complimentary spa treatment. If you’d rather take your wellness activities outside, the observation deck is the perfect place for practicing yoga or tai-chi poolside. Fitness and relaxation are great ways to connect with your travel companion during any vacation.
Buffet breakfast and lunch are available on board, and a table d'hote (multi-course meals with only a few choices) dinner menu is given with both eastern and western choices. Once again, complimentary soft drinks, mineral water, local beer and local and international wine are served with lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea is a regional tradition travelers are welcome to enjoy. Belmond.com
Travel as Pharaohs and Queens down the Nile on a charter river cruise. Sanctuary Retreats offers you that opportunity on their Zein Nile Chateau, a bespoke dahabiya (traditional Egyptian sailing boat). This is an opportunity to plan your own itinerary, a la carte, amongst arguably the most ancient of cultures. The Zein accommodates a maximum of 12 guest, and is the smallest of the Sanctuary fleet. This allows the ship to dock in more places, which means more sightseeing options for you. Travel from either Luxor to Aswan or Aswan to Luxor with stops in historic sites such as El Kab and Selsela to visit ancient tombs and villages.
When you aren’t traipsing through archeological dig sites and getting sand in your sandals, you’ll want to relax on the upper sun deck under an umbrella sipping a cocktail. If the heat of the desert climate is too much for you, take refuge in your cabin or suite. Each one has a river view and is decorated with Egyptian history and culture in mind. All meals are served onboard as well as afternoon tea. SanctuaryRetreats.com