Yangtze, Danube, Mekong, Rhine, Irrawaddy, Mississippi, Nile, Amazon, Volga. What’s the common denominator? The answer, quite simply, is that these are just some of the destinations for a river cruise. This mode of travel, one that has taken the industry by storm in the past 10 years, continues to evolve and expand. Exciting new itineraries and rivers join the familiar stalwarts every year.
River cruises are culturally enriching and lend themselves to immersive experiences. Small ships and included excursions in most ports allow travelers a close-up and personal interaction with their destinations, as well as the opportunity to become friends with other travelers with whom they share the journey.
The La Crosse area is fortunate to have river cruise specialists at Travel Leaders/Goli’s Avenues of Travel who have experienced several of these destinations firsthand with various cruise lines and can provide helpful advice for your adventures.
As Gwynne Chafer says, “Picture a farmer leading his buffalo into the river for daily cleansing, Buddhist temples in the distance surrounded by palm trees, and sunsets so vibrant, you think the sky is on fire. This is a cruise on the Mekong River, between Vietnam and Cambodia.”
Danette Jacob’s river cruise on the Mekong was very historical, including excursions to crawl through Viet Cong tunnels, visit the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, and explore Angkor Wat. “We sailed past small villages, and children ran to see the ship as we slowly passed by. Every day we sampled something new, including snake wine!”
Samantha Zielke initially thought river cruises weren’t for her, suspecting she might suffer from boredom along the way. However, she found her experience anything but boring as she sailed from Nuremberg to Budapest visiting sites from World War II and the Hitler trial, experiencing cities as they prepared for Christmas markets, visiting the location where Mozart was born, and, on an optional tour to Salzburg, reliving “The Sound of Music.”
Sherry Westby elaborates, “People vacation for many reasons; if you’re looking for serenity and scenery with just enough history and local culture to be educational, you should consider a river cruise. It allows you to unpack just once, then settle in as each destination comes to you. With no need to navigate from place to place, you’ll find a sense of adventure and a sense of home, all in one vacation.”
Diane Nickelatti and Lori King agree, adding that the ships are intimate and often dock in the heart of towns in smaller villages, which makes a stroll through the city center easy. Land is always in sight and rivers are usually very calm, which translates into smooth sailing.
Jo Ann Buening finds different age groups and types of travelers are now joining the river cruise movement, including more honeymooners, as well as couples celebrating 10-year and 15-year anniversaries. Several of her clients are repeaters, having completed their fourth, fifth and even sixth river cruise. As she sums it up, “River cruising is ‘what’s happening.’ Try it and you will like it!”
2404 State Road, La Crosse
Ph: (608) 784-9820