Perfect river cruises: Tip toe through the Tulips

River cruises are becoming increasing popular. Not only can you experience a traditional and natural way of transport, but you are able to get a real flavour of the country you are passing through. One place in particular which must be seen by river cruise ship is Amsterdam. There are various options for Amsterdam river cruises, but a particularly enchanting one is the Tulip Time cruise from Avalon Waterways. This cruise takes you through Holland and Belgium where travellers can enjoy Keukenhof’s beautiful spring flowers. Holland and Belgium are spectacular in the spring and there is nothing better than cruising through locations such as Ghent, Antwerp and Veere which are full of wonderful cathedrals, ports and, of course, tulips. Here are some highlights:

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is one of the world’s most visited cities. With so much to see, including the graceful grachten lined with stately homes which date back to the city’s golden age, Amsterdam is truly worth the visit. Take a trip to Voldendam, which is a unique harbour where fishermen’s houses are built upon high poles above the water. The wildlife around the harbour is fascinating, with so many different kinds of birds, fish and water-dwelling creatures. Close by to Voldendam is Edam, famous for its cheese. If you are travelling in the spring/summer then be sure to check out the cheese markets which are no less than a sensory overload for cheese lovers.

Antwerp

Belgium’s second largest city, Antwerp, is a must visit on all river cruises. Antwerp is full of naval history, as it used to be one of the world’s most prolific seaports. Especially stunning in the spring, the city’s architectural foundations are worth a look. The city hall is notably spectacular as well as the famous Church of Our Lady which pulls in queues of visitors everyday – so get there early.

Ghent

One of the best aspects about Ghent is the restored medieval centre. Completely renovated, the city is a tribute to medieval architecture and style. A must-see for all architecture lovers is St Baaf’s Cathedral which combines stunning architecture with beautiful grounds and a real sense of history. Art lovers must visit the Museum voor Schone Kunsten (fine arts) and the Museum voor Actuele Kunst (contemporary art) where many famous Flemish masters are showcased.

River Cruises Around the World

The river is said to be the lifeblood of civilizations. It is not surprising then why many historical sites, quaint towns and picturesque landscapes can be found along the riverbanks. Unlike the more popular ocean cruises, river cruises are leisurely and considered to be more romantic. Rather than the theme-park inspired entertainment, river cruising provides travelers with the opportunity to appreciate the culture, history and heritage of old.

There are now close to a thousand river cruises available all over the world. The great rivers around the globe offer cruisers with a montage of scenic vistas and impressive ancient structures and landmarks. It's not so much a choice between cruise providers rather than a choice between breath-taking river routes.

For European river cruises, the Danube and the Rhine are the perfect choices. Stretching from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, the Danube allows cruisers to have a glimpse of the heartland of central Europe. It flows through 1,800 miles along the riverbanks of Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania. The Rhine, on the other hand, features a 900 mile of river cruising highway through medieval castles and rustic towns of Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland.

The Nile River is another must-visit river route. Follow the rich brown surge of the river Nile and treat yourself to a mind-blowing vision of ancient genius. Marvel at the grand temples of Luxor and Karnak; wonder at the mystery of Tutankhamunís tomb at the Valley of the Kings; and explore the ruins of Nefertitiís tomb in the Valley of the Queens. If you have ve had enough of these ancient treasures, proceed to the High Dam at Aswan for a spectacle of modern technology while you enjoy the bobbing of traditional felluca sailboats along the way.

Yangtze River Cruise

Asia should not be absent from the list. The Yangtze River will bring you from the countryside of China to the majesty of the Three Gorges Dam. There is also the Mekong River which will allow you to catch glimpses of the rich cultures of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Burma. See for yourself how the locals conduct their everyday commerce through the mighty river of Mekong. Smiling children splashing about and swimming with elephants and buffalo are not uncommon sights along the riverbanks. Ancient temples and orange-robed monks are also a sight to see while you move along rice paddies and floating villages of these South East Asian countries.

For the US bound cruiser, there is the Hudson River and St. Lawrence Seaway that will take you from the exciting waters of New York to the lovely waterways of Canada. Along the way, you will pass by the Erie Canal and the Boldt Castle in Alexandria Bay. Cruise in the months of September and October to experience the breathtaking colors of autumn. There is also the majestic Mississippi where you embark on a historic steamboat and be transported back in time as you travel along vistas of cotton fields and colonial mansions from New Orleans to Memphis.

Yangtze River Cruises


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Did You Know?.

CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) 62 cruise line members represent more than 90 percent of global cruise capacity, with 482,000 berths on CLIA Member ships. With more than 22 million people cruising worldwide each year, the cruise industry will invest $25 billion to launch 55 new ships between 2015 and 2020. In 2015, the industry will introduce six new oceangoing cruise ships and 16 new river cruise ships.

Top 2014 Cruise Trends (CLIA)

Rebound in luxury cruising (luxury category ships, onboard upgrades) based on an improving economy and increased consumer confidence

Multigenerational and celebration travel increase for all passenger source markets with larger sized family as well as social/ affinity groups traveling together

Continued development and availability of technology to facilitate and lower the cost of onboard communications as well as to provide more efficient passenger servicing

Expectation of first-time passenger growth driven by the 95 million Millennial generation based on population size and positive experiences cruising with their parents

Cruise lines offering more all-inclusive options and packaging in accommodations, services and amenities for increased ease in booking and ship enjoyment

Cruises increasingly attracting consumers seeking active vacations with extreme excursions, longer stays in ports for sightseeing and high-energy onboard facilities

Seeing the world in comfort and ease, especially exotic locations, will continue to drive new itinerary creation and cruise ship deployment

Hot destinations for 2014 according to CLIA cruise line members include: Trans Pacific, World Cruises, U.S. Rivers, South America, Antarctic, Middle East, Canada/New England, Africa and Exotic Rivers