Exploring the world from its storied waterways

Passengers can take in the beauty of European cities as their ship cruises by.
Passengers can take in the beauty of European cities as their ship cruises by.

By Linda L. Loewen

Gazing at the moving waters of the river, I sometimes wonder what life was like when people started settling along the banks of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers. If a river could talk, what story would it tell us? Throughout history, rivers have been the fundamental foundation upon which most communities have been built, a necessity to sustain life and provide a method of transport. As times have changed so too has the life of the river. Today, we can glimpse pieces of this past through the floor to ceiling windows of luxury river vessels gliding down the waterways of the world.

Changing panorama

You can see Europe’s life and culture while cruising down the legendary Rhine, Danube, Main and Seine rivers. One moment you will glimpse the majesty of a centuries-old castle, while further along, vineyards display rows of ripening fruit which will soon produce one of your favorite wines. Around the bend, behold the beauty of a mountain towering before you on a perfect summer day. When it is time to explore a magical city centre, the ship docks within walking distance of numerous attractions – castles, museums and historical churches await to intrigue you.

River cruises are offered in some exotic locations, too. The magnificent onion domes of towering cathedrals provide the perfect photo op on a Volga River cruise between Moscow and St. Petersburg. This summer the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra is including the Viking “Waterways of the Czars” river cruise in its “Explore the World with the WSO” program.

A trip to China would not be complete without a cruise down the Yangtze River. In Vietnam, you can explore the remarkable Southeast Asia region cruising on the waters of the Mekong River. African wildlife and birds are the highlight of a luxury African River safari on the Chobe River.

As river cruising continues to grow in popularity, an ever increasing number of vessels are slipping into the river waters around the globe. This year more than a dozen ships will be launched, with Viking River Cruises alone christening a staggering 10 new vessels.

With new ships come new locations as well. New river cruises are being offered in Europe as well as other parts of the world. Portugal’s Douro River cruise provides an opportunity to visit the wine-making region from Porto, with sampling as one of the highlights. The new Po River cruise in Italy begins with a visit to the romantic city of Venice.

Each has a story

Seeing the world from the historic waterways is an amazing way to feel the heart and soul of a land and its people as well as maximize your opportunity to learn about their historical cultures. Every river shares its own personal story as you move from one region to the next. Considering the stories they might tell, which river would you choose as a storyteller?

Linda Loewen is leisure travel manager with Uniglobe Geo Travel in Winnipeg.

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