Top River Cruises Experiences

Wine tasting along the Rhine River

Cruising down the Nile River through the sites of ancient Egypt

Exploring Normandy’s WWII history on the Seine River

Experiencing Vietnam’s culture on the Mekong River

Taking an Amazon River cruise, encountering old ruins and unbelievable wildlife

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Top River Cruises Attractions

Nile River

Danube River

Mississippi River

Mekong River

Amazon River

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Must See River Cruises Attractions

1. Danube River

Danube River cruise through Europe

The godfather of European rivers - the legendary Danube River is truly a marvelous way to travel via river cruise. Flowing through 10 countries, there are several routes and itineraries you can choose from - though it is one of the best river cruise destinations for when you have at least two weeks. The countryside changes constantly and you’ll have the opportunity to learn about several different cultures and histories. For first time travelers to Europe, or first time river cruisers, the Danube is highly recommended.

2. Wildlife Viewing

River otters on Columbia River Cruise

River cruises offer the opportunity to observe wildlife along the banks and in the water, from a unique vantage point. River life, such as pink dolphins in the Amazon, the elusive Irrawaddy River dolphin, and river otters along the Columbia River in the United States are always a joy to spot. In Europe, you may glimpse forest dwellers like deer. If you have a chance to go on a nature hike in Europe keep your eyes peeled for foxes, red squirrels, and some unique birds to add to your life list.

3. Art and History lectures

Take yourself back to school (but without the stress of homework!) aboard a river cruise when you attend on board lectures. These are often available during sailing to the next port, helping you prepare for the next port, as well as providing unique and in depth context to the surrounding lands gliding by. Most common on European river cruises, lectures are a fun perk to enjoy - led by local experts, historians, and scholars.

4. The Adventurous Amazon

Amazon river cruise adventure

Unlike European river cruises, where the focus is on luxury, fine dining, and quaint villages, when you travel on the Amazon, the river cruise experiences is about adventure, wildlife, and nature.

Both on the water and in the rainforest you’ll encounter incredible species, and learn about the Amazon’s unique biodiversity from local guides and wildlife experts.

On some Amazon river cruises you may also have the opportunity to meet local tribes and learn about their way of life - much unchanged over hundreds of years.

5. Wine Tasting on a European River Cruise

Europe wine tasting river cruise

River cruises in Europe are known to serve excellent food and wine aboard. There are many wonderful wine regions throughout Europe, and some cruises offer on board tastings or excursions to wineries.

Wine activities should be available year round - with harvest time occuring in the late summer to late fall - a very exciting time to visit! Consider the Rhone or the Douro rivers for close proximity to vineyards. The Danube will also travel through some lesser known wine regions. For wine enthusiasts, this is an opportunity that should not be missed!

6. Sample Port Along the Douro River

Douro River Winetasting

As mentioned, the Douro River is a great choice for wine lovers, especially if you’re interested in port tasting! The Douro travels through the Porto region of Portugal, and given it’s namesake, there’s hardly a better place in the world to sample port wine.

7. The Ancient Nile

Nile River Cruise

For history lovers, nothing could beat a trip down the ancient Nile River. Pass by centuries old structures, archaeological sites, temples, and the picturesque dunes of the Valley of the Kings - conjuring up mysterious stories and tales of ancient Egypt.

Nile River cruises are not typically luxurious, but they are comfortable, and will make several stops along the way where you can disembark to explore the sites. They will usually offer optional guided tours for an additional fee. This is well worth doing, as they are often led by Egyptologists eager to share some special insights into Egypts fascinating past!

8. Three Gorges, Yangtze River

Sailing the Yangtze river on a cruise

Cruising the Yangtze River through China, one of the top highlights you’ll encounter is the Three Gorges. This stunning stretch of the Yangtze River looks as though it has jumped off the pages of an ancient Chinese landscape drawings. You will sail through 120 miles of picturesque scenery, and get an in depth look at the complexities of Three Gorges dam - some cruises offer a tour of this impressive site.

River Cruises Tour Reviews - Summary
98% Recommend

4.8 out of 5
Excellent 91 Great 21 Average 0 Disappointing 0 Terrible 2
4.8 Guide
4.8 Activities
4.8 Lodging
4.8 Transportation
4.8 Meals



Great but exhausting tour November 2016


China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong

We hit the road running, flight from LA to Shanghai...our guide Mark was waiting for us and we set off for the hotel. Mark Ma spent the entire time with us. For most of us that have travelled a lot, we all felt he was one of the best ever. He was patient, intelligent, knowledeable, and informative. There were 26 in our group of varying ages and abilities. At the end of the day, we saw so much and were ready for bed at night. There is so much to see, but the crowds of people for us proved very tiring. China proved to be a remarkable country, we were all blown away how they have advanced mainly since Tienamen and then of course where they are going from here. The cities were all new and amazing, and very, very clean. We were hard pressed to find any litter anywhere. All of the major attractions were amazing....The Terra Cotta Warriors were almost beyond one should miss seeing this piece of history. At every place we went, Mark and smarTours had arranged for a tour guide for us for that area....they were able to give us great insight to that days activities from a local perspective.For your information, we saw tours from much more expensive tour companies all along the way...they were seeing most of the same sights, staying at many of the same sure to realize the value of this trip Read more

Operator SmarTours



Danube River Cruise with Dracular's castle November 2016


Danube Discovery Cruise

We thought the trip was excellent. The river boat was good and the people on the boat were VERY gracious. I loved the size of the river boat. Our TD, Dusan J, was excellent. Would have loved for him to stay with us the whole trip. He left after the cruise and we had another one for mountain portion of the trip. He was OK but I can't remember his name. He was very knowledgeable about the area. It would be better if you kept same one for all of the trip. I will take another river cruise with smarTours. Read more

Operator SmarTours



17 day China Tour September 2016


China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong

My second smarTour trip was simply amazing. The value for money incredible, Harry our tour director just perfect and China mind blowing. I just can't say enough about this amazing experience, except to say "just do it". You won't have any regrets. Read more

Operator SmarTours



Awesome China August 2016


China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong

SHANGHAI Hotel: Excellent. Shanghai Tours: Excellent. BEIJING Hotel: Excellent. Beijing Tours: Excellent

Operator SmarTours



China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong August 2016


China & Yangtze River Cruise with Hong Kong

Overall the tour was great. Harry was quite knowledgeable and a great tour leader who assisted with every needs. He saw that as Vegetarians we were accorded enough choices for our diet. Individual guides in the cities were also quite knowledgeable and provided a wealth of information. Read more

Operator SmarTours

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