Old Man River: 3 iconic river cruises
There is no doubt that Australians love cruising! While demand for cruising holidays has grown internationally at around 8% over the last decade, the growth in the Australia cruise industry peaks at 17%. “Once we would see about 10 ships come into Melbourne’s port every summer,” said Beleura Village Travel Expo coordinator, Julie Griffiths from National Network Travel and Cruise.
“Now we see around 80 ships each year!”
While ocean cruising is popular, many prefer the gentle pace and ever changing scenery of river cruises. European river cruising has been available for some time, but a long haul flight - is a long haul!
3 iconic river cruises closer to home
The Mekong River
The Mekong is the main artery of South East Asia, carving a lifeline into the heart of Cambodia and through southern Vietnam. Floating villages, quaint towns and colourful markets line the tributaries of this mighty river, and rice paddies stretch endlessly to the horizon.
Many companies cruise the Lower Mekong River from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap. On route, you can visit remote villages and markets, and enjoy a small group excursion by rickshaw, water boat or ox cart. For many the highlight of this itinerary is Cambodia's iconic temples of Angkor Wat and Ta Phrom. Cruise specialist APT also offer extensions to the Upper Mekong into Laos and Thailand, where you can visit the famous Kuang Si Falls. With so much natural beauty, culture and history on offer, you’ll fall in love with the Mekong and want to return again and again.
The Mighty Ganges
Rising in the Himalayas and emptying into the Bay of Bengal, the Ganges drains a quarter of the territory of India, and its basin supports hundreds of millions of people. It has been the cradle of successive civilizations from the 3rd century BCE, to the present day.
The holiest spot on the sacred Ganges—the city of Varanasi—is considered the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth. India is also credited for creating the world’s first university, chess, yoga, martial arts, and the study of algebra and calculus. Cruise through a land that is unimaginably exotic, of dizzying contrasts, where the ghosts of India’s colonial past linger amidst modern day cityscapes, and rickshaw wallahs converse on cell phones.
There are a number of reputable operators offering cruises on the Ganges. You may feel more alive and connected here than anywhere else on earth, and quite possibly come away forever changed.
The Murray River
The Murray River is Australia’s longest and most iconic river. It is the third longest navigable river in the world after the Amazon and the Nile, and although it has been the subject of environmental concern, it is still a natural wonder. There’s no better way to see the Murray and the dramatic Australian outback, its unique flora and fauna, and the rich legacy of old riverside ports and indigenous culture close up than to drift along under the power of a paddle wheeler. For example, the Murray Princess is a majestic paddle wheeler which caters for up to 120 passengers with private cabins and staterooms, bathroom ensuite facilities, spa and sauna, gym, bar, dining and a two storey lounge area where guests can view the huge paddle wheel turning. The cabins are large and comfortable, the pace is leisurely and there are many activities ashore. It is equally possible to sit in the lounge and watch the paddles slowly turning or wander around the decks trying to spot the many pelicans and black swans that glide and soar past the boat.
And as you look up to the star studded Southern sky at night, you’ll know that there really is no place like home!
Article: from Retirement Communities Australia's quarterly Evolve magazine - Winter 2015 edition. Image: courtesy of Shutterstock.com