Unforgettable River Cruises to Book for 2024 & Beyond

These unforgettable river cruises will take you on a journey to Peru, Portugal, Egypt and more …

River cruises provide a unique travel experience that combines the grandeur of an ocean voyage with the attention to detail of a boutique hotel. They are ideal for both history buffs and nature lovers, offering an excellent opportunity to explore stunning destinations worldwide. History enthusiasts can visit ancient sites and landmarks, while those who love the outdoors can witness breathtaking landscapes up close.

If you’re looking for a vacation that can provide adventure, relaxation, or cultural enrichment, a river cruise might be the perfect option. The H4C team has compiled a list of the top five river cruises you can book for 2024 or beyond. These voyages offer luxurious accommodations, top-notch amenities, and carefully planned itineraries that can help you create unforgettable memories.

Aria Amazon - river cruises
Aria Amazon – courtesy of Aqua Expeditions and The Unique Travel Collection

The Amazon – Peru

We couldn’t talk about river cruises without mentioning the Amazon. The largest river in the world (in terms of volume), this mind-boggling wonder snakes its way through the dense jungles of Colombia, Peru and Brazil.

Jaguars lazing on tree trunks by the water’s edge, technicolour macaws and toucans soaring above, docile sloths sleeping in the rainforest canopy – they’re all things to look out for on Aqua Expeditions’ Aria Amazon cruise. Traversing the Amazon’s Peru stretch, the cruise encompasses piranha fishing expeditions and guided jungle walks, plus canoe and kayak trips along the pure waters of the smaller Yanayacu and Pucate Rivers. Other stops include Nauta, remote Amazonian villages and the Amazonian Manatee Rescue Center, where you’ll see the incredible Amazonian manatees. One more amazing thing about this 2018 cruise? One of your guides and cabin mates will be world-class filmmaker, explorer and environmentalist, Jean-Michel Cousteau.  

Related: A travel guide to exploring Peru – especially for couples!

Uniworld's River Beatrice boat - river cruises
Uniworld’s River Beatrice boat – courtesy of Uniworld

The Danube – Hungary to the Czech Republic

Europe and river cruises just seem to go together, so it’s no surprise that there’s a huge range of different cruising options. With fascinating culture and scenery, Europe’s Danube stretches across Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany.

Uniworld’s Delightful Danube & Prague river cruise takes in a part of the western stretch, from Hungary to Germany. Including stops at Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Germany’s Bavarian villages, the cruise showcases Europe’s enchanting past and exciting present. You’ll enjoy traditional Hungarian hospitality on a horse farm in Budapest, see the works of Gustav Klimt at Vienna’s Belvedere Museum, and go behind the scenes at a BMW factory. Departing from Budapest, the Delightful Danube & Prague cruise includes a flight from the final port of Nuremberg to nearby Prague.  

Related: The most romantic things to do in Prague

The American Queen Steamboat Company - river cruises
The American Queen Steamboat Company – courtesy of The American Queen Steamboat Company and Lou Hammond Group

The Mississippi – USA

Definitely one for the bucket-list, cruising along the lower Mississippi from Memphis to New Orleans is a dream trip for any history buff or music lover. Here lie all the showstoppers of America’s Deep South – Elvis’s Graceland, Nottoway Plantation Resort (the largest existing antebellum mansion), civil war battlefields and the colourful streets of New Orleans. You’ll see all this and more on the American Queen Steamboat Company’s Jewels of the Lower Mississippi cruise.

The luxe American Queen is the largest steamboat ever built – and it’s an absolute gem. The enchanting vessel take in sights such as the birthplace of B.B. King as it navigates the sleepy waters of America’s second-longest river and passes landscapes virtually unchanged since the days of the French fur traders. This is the perfect cruise for history buffs and nature lovers alike. 

Related: The very best things for couples to do in New Orleans

The Douro Valley - river cruises
The Douro Valley – courtesy of Scenic and Emerald Waterways

The Douro – Portugal to Spain

If seeing quaint villages, picture-perfect valleys, historic architecture and vineyards sounds like your kind of holiday, a river cruise along the Douro is a must. Flowing from northern-central Spain across Portugal to the North Atlantic Ocean, the river is famous for the cities and villages it passes, each with amazing culinary offerings. Porto, at the mouth of the Douro, is a favourite for sampling port wine (only fortified wine from the Douro Valley and northern Portugal can technically be called port).

Leaving from and returning to the culture-rich Porto, Emerald Waterways’ Secrets of the Douro cruise includes stops at some of Spain and Portugal’s most spectacular destinations. In Pinhão, you’ll sample some of the world’s best port and visit the time-forgotten baroque village of Lamego. Soaking up the Spanish culture in a walking tour in Salamanca is topped off with tapas, while Pochinho’s Côa Museum will have you marvelling at its pre- historic stone carvings. 

The Nile - river cruises
Egypt’s most famous icons

The Nile – Egypt

We’re not sure if there’s ever been a river with so much history or mystery surrounding it. One of the world’s longest rivers, the Nile crosses a total of 11 countries in northern Africa. Let its waters take you through one of its most spellbinding countries, Egypt, on a Luxor to Aswan river cruise with the Luxury Cruise Company (in partnership with Sonesta’s Nile cruises).

Departing from the ancient city of Luxor (where the ‘City of the Thousand Gates’ once stood), the cruise takes you to some of the most spectacular sites and monuments left from the time of pharaohs and their kingdoms. Be mystified by the Karnak, Edfu and Kom Ombo temples on your Nile adventure, as well as the renowned Valley of the Kings, (the final resting place of Tutankhamun and the numerous sons of Ramses II). One of the most memorable sights on this journey, however, is the golden sunset disappearing over the horizon as you cruise by. 

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