Rivers shape our Landscapes and cultures. Are they now the shape of Tourism?
Over in Australia, European river cruising was exceptionally popular with travelling natives. I’d put such popularity down to a great way for explorers from one large continent to navigate another large continent in their once in a lifetime trip to Europe, a convenient way to travel between countries. Considering it an alternative form of transportation, a few less flights after a rather long one and a great way to take in the sights in a limited timeframe.
We Europeans have spent decades flying over for crazy busy city break a few times a year because we are so close, we don’t need to cruise by 10 countries in 10 days.
Then I emigrated back home. With a 10 year gap in booking holidays for the people of the U.K., I was surprised and intrigued to see the rising popularity of river cruising over here and then I learned the real nature of their attraction.
When I think back to those city breaks and the chaotic cramming in and ticking off of tourist must dos within the city boundaries, or a long day trip to investigate beyond, I can see the allure of cruising down Europe’s great waterways.
As adventurers, our precious time is saved by avoiding those mid-trip airport transfers and departure lounges and no matter where you have travelled from or how long you have away, I think you’ll agree, we all want to make the most of every second. Right?
But, you know, it’s not just Europe. River cruising opportunities exist throughout Russia, Egypt, Vietnam, China and India, USA – to name but a few. The flow of our rivers shapes the breathtaking landscape we go to visit and forms the borders between nations we fly between. The river shapes cultures and dictates people’s way of life. The world over local people’s relationship with the river is different and it’s these differences that drive our passion for travel.
The Ganges has a spiritual connection in Indian Culture. The Chao Phraya Is a source of commerce in Thailand’s floating markets. The Volga is a source of power with a history in Russian folklore. The Yangtze was a force so dangerous in China that the 3 gorges dam was built to control it. The Waitomo is a source for adrenaline thrill In New Zealand and back in Australia, the Murray is a source of debate over water storage and irrigation in the driest continent.
Imagine yourself floating along, almost unnoticed by the locals, step ashore and mingle, immerse yourself in the culture of each town and country.
For me, River cruising offers a calm, meandering introduction to areas as yet not over-developed for tourists and unlike their larger cousins, river cruise boats can navigate places inaccessible by cruise-ships, they are, if you like, your boutique independent river hotel to your floating resort.
These smaller vessels offer a more intimate and less ostentatious experience. Catering for smaller groups makes sourcing local produce and wines for on-board meals a breeze and serving up local entertainers further delves into the local cultures along the way. Rivers have always provided us with transportation, a water supply, agriculture and recreation with varying degrees of importance to the cultures of the world. Now, the River is crucial in sustaining local communities through tourism.
For seasoned travellers like you and I, river cruising offers a new way to explore different cultures and opens up new destinations and experiences. I’d even go as far as to say, it offers a new view of places you may have visited before. With a bucket list as long as mine, I don’t often say that.