This is sponsored content for Avalon Waterways.
Going on a cruise along the world’s rivers in warmer climates to escape the cold of the winter used to be a rite of passage among many holidaymakers. Thing is, the great rivers of Europe, Asia and beyond offer all kinds of incredible experiences in all kinds of weather.
Cruises aren’t just about sunbathing and tropical rivers while family and work colleagues freeze back home. With a little imagination and the expertise of an operator, we’ve found the best destinations to visit in every season.
Europe comes alive during the spring months. Pick an established path or trail like the Danube River and on every stop you can paddle, pedal or traipse through the dozens of picturesque towns along the way.
The Rhine River is one of Europe’s most storied travelling routes, passing historical cities and fairytale vistas alike. Start in Amsterdam and make your way along the Rhine Gorge, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Breisach and more, and you’ll find yourself captivated by the arresting architecture of the museums, castles, cathedrals along the way. It will tempt you to visit and see more of the unique and unusual places most other travellers miss out on.
And of course, you’ll also enjoy all the on board activities like entertainment, spa sessions and culinary evenings. It’ll be the perfect holiday, one that’s about relaxation as much as exploration.
Asia enjoys the same warm weather we do, so for many it’s the perfect time to take in as much of it as your schedule allows. A great way to start is to cruise the unparalleled Mekong River. Rising in Tibet, it winds its way through mainland southeast Asia and reaches the sea on the southernmost tip of Thailand.
That gives you the perfect opportunity to enjoy every port of call like Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh City and all the colour, vibrancy and activity of the local cultures, legendary Asian street food, festivals of light, music and dance and the warmth of the people.
Another alternative is to head South where Antarctica enjoys the clearest weather of the year, giving cruise passengers breathtaking views of the snowy peaks, glaciers and icebergs. Late summer is also the best time for whale watching in the area.
It’s just past harvest season in Western Europe, so that means the vineyards of France and Italy come to life, with many river cruise providers offering in-depth wine tasting tours. Regions like Provence and Tuscany are lush and with the weather just starting to turn there’s a refreshing crispness in the air – you’ll love it as much as the grapes do.
If your horticultural interests extend further, Belgium and The Netherlands are blooming with the region’s famous tulips. Only certain cruise operators offer trips along the rivers that line the tulip fields at the right time of year. Avalon Waterways is one company that has the requisite expertise to find the perfect short window amid a longer European trip.
Autumn also offers more favourable weather, so you’ll enjoy warm days filled with exploration of towns and villages, markets and boutiques and fresh evenings in cosy locales to soak it all up.
Christmas in Europe is an experience everyone should enjoy once. Cathedrals, town squares and civic buildings dating back centuries come to life with light, colour and decorations, and there’s a thriving Christmas market scene in almost every town along Europe’s famous rivers. Get all your Christmas shopping done in style and then curl up with a special someone under a blanket, enjoying mulled wine and the welcoming lights of another town draped in winter shades and colours.
Make 2019 the year you indulge in timeless experiences and let Avalon Waterways bring you the world less seen. 2019 river cruise itineraries covering Europe, Asia and South America are available now. PLUS: Book before 19 Feb 2019 to save $4600 per couple.