Mention the idea of a river cruise and people will think of popular rivers on which to cruise, rivers such as the Rhine, Rhone, Danube, Hudson, Columbia, and Mississippi, but make a river cruise more interesting by choosing a lesser-known itinerary. We have several beautiful river cruise itineraries we’ve added to our must-cruise list.
This river in the West Balkans begins in the mountains of Slovenia and empties into the Danube River in Belgrade. It represents one of the most ecologically and culturally interesting rivers in Europe, but it’s not as well-known to us. A cruise itinerary on the Sava River runs along the border of Croatia and Bosnia beginning in Sisak Croatia (near Zagreb) and has stops in both Bosnia and Serbia before it enters the better-known Danube River and continues on to Belgrade and Budapest. CroisEurope offers a Sava River cruise that rivals any popular river cruise.
River cruises have become popular in Myanmar (Burma) but most of them are focused on the Irrawaddy River. There is a more scenic option, though, the Chindwin River which runs north toward India. The majority of the river lies within mountain ranges and forests; and, there is a 2,500 square mile section of the river that the government of Burma has designated as a sanctuary for the endangered tiger within the Hukawng Valley. While the river cruises won’t go through the sanctuary, they do offer access to rice paddies, foothills, shrines, village life, and gold-domed pagodas. Luxury River Expeditions seems to be the expert in the Chindwin River cruise itinerary.
West Africa may not be the first place you think of when you think river cruise, but a cruise on the Senegal River will change that idea. The river runs from the colonial town of St. Louis on the Atlantic Ocean and moves inward toward the Sahara Desert. The cities the Senegal River cruise visits are a surprising mix of African culture and French colonial architecture and forts. You’ll likely visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary, along the way as well. While there are a few operators that offer a Senegal River cruise itinerary, we’d opt for Expedition Cruise Specialists.
Guadalquivir and Guadiana Rivers
The Guadalquivir River is fully in Spain and they share the Guadiana River with Portugal. A cruise down one of these two rivers may be considered one of Europe’s more unusual voyages, but one of the most interesting. Traversing the Andalusia, these rivers don’t intersect, but passengers aboard a river cruise here may visit Cadiz, Seville, Granada, and Cordoba, and see some of the greatest beauty in Spain. There is only one cruise line that offers an itinerary through the Guadalquivir and Guadiana Rivers, CroisiEurope. This expert river cruise company is definitely the one to showcase these beautiful tributaries.
An offshoot of the popular Mississippi River, the Red River is contained in Louisiana and runs from New Orleans up to Shreveport – as do the river cruise itineraries on this river. One cruise line covers this region very well, French America Line. They formed in 2016 and have quickly become a leader in river cruises with this off-the-beaten-path itinerary being one of their strongest. The time to go is during the holidays as one of your stops will be Natchitoches which is filled with historic French-influenced architecture and most notably, a famous celebration each Christmas which features more than 100 displays along the riverbank containing more than 300,000 lights! Known for their Red River Holiday cruise in the Deep South, French America Line will see some cruises with this itinerary sell out as early as May, so inquire right away!
Have we inspired you to set sail on a river cruise with a lesser-known itinerary? There are options year-round making river cruising an excellent vacation option. So which one will you choose?
If you’re not ready for one of these lesser-known river itineraries, you may want to read our article, charter destinations for a luxury seafaring adventure.