River cruising is sweeping the world for all the right reasons.
Cast off your old assumptions and take note of the benefits of floating down the most exquisite waterways and coastlines of the world, with luxury and privacy if you want it, or with energy and vibrancy if you prefer. In my book, there is no better way to fall in love with Europe than by river cruising.
You’ll fall in love with more than just Europe when you choose to cruise, especially if you’re the type of traveller who likes to immerse yourself in your new surroundings.
For a start, you can erase all the wasted time of traditional travel in airports, train stations, taxis, shuttles, and staring at a map instead of look around at your beautiful surroundings.
River cruising allows you to be in the moment of travelling more that ever before. It is more than just getting from A to B, it transforms your entire travel experience by putting the focus back on your experiences and allowing you to feel the journey.
What’s your reason for leaving home? Did you need a well-deserved break from the kids? A hard-earned retirement holiday? A girl’s gathering? A mate’s break? A romantic escape? A family reunion? Perhaps it’s a solo soul-seeking journey. Whatever it is, you’ve chosen your destination for a reason and you don’t want to miss a moment of it, right? So, let me put it this way… would you prefer to spend a large chunk of your valuable time away from the office staring at airport monitors and feeling the weight of your carry-on bag pulling at your shoulder? Or, would you prefer to be sitting on the rooftop deck of your intimate cruise ship, the sun on your face, a glass of chilled champagne in hand, staring at the historic chateaux that drift past one after another, the golden afternoon light bringing them to life and the fields of yellow and lavender splayed out before you? It’s not a trick question. That’s the difference. And that’s why everyone’s getting in on it.
Leave your bags unpacked in your balcony suite while you head ashore each day to explore the towns, villages and countryside. You’ll be armed with loads of local knowledge as you head out and about, taking as much time as you like to do your own solo exploration, crossing paths occasionally with your new comrades from the ship to wave or say “Bonjour!” or perhaps to join a group adventure that is exclusive to your ship. Sunset cocktails at an exclusive castle? A private performance by a local choir? A cooking school with a local chef of the region? You choose. I’m sure you’ll agree there’s going to be no wrong answer!
You wake to the gentle sensation of movement, the sound of water flowing and the soft light of a European dawn outside your curtains. Rolling green meadows and church steeples in the distance. Breakfast is being served and another day of beauty and flavours, colours and memories await. While you were sleeping you’ve been carried from one historic town to another, down a majestic waterway and you haven’t missed a wink in the journey. Grab a bicycle, a bottle of water and your camera, you’re as free as a bird to enjoy this experience and to fall in love with your destination.
But apart from all these incredible benefits that river cruising can offer, the most valuable you’ll discover will be the sense of liberation. It’s the freedom to sit and close your eyes and not have to be anywhere except exactly where you are right there and then. To hold hands with your loved one and walk silently down a cobble stone laneway, feeling the history and the beauty of the day. The way you taste your meal, slowly, savouring the traditional recipes and the way the award winning wines dance on your tongue. You forget to check your phone. You forget what day it is. You even stop taking photos, choosing to look with your own eyes and let it sink into your memories instead. This is the reason you’ve left home… to fall in love again; with the person you’ve known for a lifetime; with a destination you’ve never seen before; and most importantly, with your own sense of being alive.
To be honest, there is one down side to river cruising. It’s highly addictive! You’ve had a taste of the South of France. Now you want to experience the Duoro River in Portugal and learn the stories of the old port barrels that used to be floated downstream. Next you’ll want to taste the Turkish delights to be found along the red riverbanks of their west coast. But then there’s the Italian, Croatian and Balkan journey that calls to you! And the Mediterranean cruise that you’ve dreamt of all your life!
Well, if you’re like me, there’s only one way to recover from your post holiday blues, and that’s to begin planning your next one. So, let your heart set sail, close your eyes, feel that sun on your face again, and dream big. Don’t waste a moment of your journey and know what’s possible on your trip of a lifetime. You’ll never look back!