Spectacular riverboat journeys from around the world
There is something romantic about a river – whether it’s the tree canopy of the Amazon, bearing birds and reptiles, bending low to kiss the water, or the never-ending hard current of the Mississippi, moving boats and men and ink from the pens of Twain and Faulkner.
Travelers have been drawn to them for thousands of years, and while looking at a river from its banks is lovely, to live on the currents for a week or more is the journey of a lifetime.
Here are seven of the world’s best riverboat journeys
The Irrawaddy, aboard The Road to Mandalay
Rudyard Kipling penned the poem “Mandalay” without ever actually going to Mandalay. You can go now, however, thanks to the ease in tension and rise in tourism for Myanmar. The most iconic way to visit this tropical country of temples is to cruise the Irrawaddy River with The Orient Express. The Road to Mandalay is an 82-passenger ship, built in 1964. The world-renowned vessel has a feel of timeless luxury – from afternoon tea service on the piano deck to the elegantly appointed cabins with stunning, hand-cut jade tilework.
The Orient Express offers multiple adventure packages for Myanmar and allows for additional port stops. Rise early to wander the markets of villages like Shwe Kyet Yet, take in the breathtaking history of Bagan’s sprawling temple complexes and dine on traditional, Shan cuisine. The sunsets off the deck silhouette ancient pagodas, and while you are guaranteed a great gin and tonic, if you are lucky you might also catch a glimpse of the rare Ayeyarwaddy dolphins splashing along the stern.
Price: Starting at $2,520 for three nights
The Mississippi River, aboard the American Queen Steamboat
Playwrights, musicians, artists and authors have had a love affair for generations with the grand old Mississippi. She’s as American as apple pie (with a side of baseball), and the best way to travel her curves is aboard an authentic steamboat. The American Queen is the top operator out of the mere handful that exist, and with new ownership, this ship came out of a four-year retirement in 2012.
The company offers cruises on the river’s upper portion, visiting towns like St. Louis and St. Paul, but our pick is their Lower Mississippi route, which sends you from the barbecue joints of Memphis down to the sin and revelry of New Orleans. You hit historic ports of call in between like Helena, Ark., for shopping along their charming Cherry Street and Natchez, Miss., where you can dine on fried catfish and work on your Southern drawl while touring antebellum mansions.