6 Best River Cruises for 2019
For the Wine Devotee: Enticing Douro
July 6, 2019
Drink in Portugal’s charming culture aboard 102-passenger AmaDouro, where both the friendly local crew and Portuguese wine and cuisine excel. On this eight-day roundtrip Porto sail, fine wines flow, at lunch, cocktail hour, and dinner. Splash in the sundeck pool, hop on a treadmill, exhale deeply during a hot stone massage. Douro river views, of steeply terraced bankside vineyards and lush green hills, entrance. After dark, eclectic local performers, like soulful Fado musicians, make evenings magical.
Ashore, expect pinch-yourself moments at notable cellars, with private tours and a vinho verde tasting at a centuries-old monastery. And what’s more authentic than sipping Port in Porto, its birthplace? Non-grape inspired excursions, like to Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site built of golden sandstone, mesmerize. Rates start at $3,799; amawaterways.com.
For the Luxury Lover: Magnificent Christmas Markets
Germany, Austria, Hungary
December 15, 2019
Fall for a fairytale cruise, all castles, cobblestone, and Christmas markets, on a seven-day Crystal Mahler Danube voyage, from Passau, Germany to Budapest. Shop until you drop, snowshoe through a Bavarian forest, devour every crumb of a Michelin-star restaurant dinner. A private art viewing and classical music concert, (with ballet and opera performances, too) at Vienna’s gilded Belvedere palace, is the sail showstopper.
Live lavishly onboard the 106-passenger Mahler; luxuriate in a king-bed balcony suite featuring silken Egyptian cotton linens, plush ETRO robes, and a Nespresso coffee machine. Pampering butlers even unpack your suitcase. Work off fabulous farm-to-table dining and stylish wine dinners in the fitness center, or the indoor resistance pool. Rates start at $3,970; crystalcruises.com.
For the History Fiend: Northwest Pioneers Cruise
This swoon-worthy new riverboat channels a sleek modern European ship, rather than the old school paddlewheel typical to American waters. The airy 184-passenger American Song offers only oversized staterooms and suites, all with private balconies. Practice putts on a sundeck, chill out in six lounges, break a sweat in the exercise room, dine on divine dishes spotlighting the Pacific Northwest.
This 11-day cruise (plus one-night pre-cruise hotel) on the Columbia and Snake Rivers between Portland, Oregon, and Clarkston, Washington, explores Lewis and Clark’s incomparable legacy. Charismatic historians lead riveting tours; visit Nez Perce National Historic Park (the eponymous tribe saved the explorers’ team from starvation) and view a rare complete baby woolly mammoth skeleton. Keep cameras handy, as wildlife looms everywhere, from a jet boat tour of America’s deepest canyon to cruising the spectacular Columbia River Gorge. Rates start at $6,135; americancruiselines.com.
For the Foodie: Venice and the Gems of Northern Italy
July 14, 2919
Let the fork be your guide on this eight-day roundtrip Venice voyage cruising the River Po. Harvest mussels with local fishermen in Chioggia, then steam your bounty in prosecco for lunch. In Bologna, flour-up in a pasta workshop before feasting on a top toque’s Bolognese classics. Touring medieval cities and a 12th century Gothic cathedral are Insta-perfect, but sipping golden wine, made from rare grapes once reserved for royalty, at an exquisite Venetian lagoon-edge estate? Unforgettable.
Onboard the 130-passenger Murano glass-accented River Countess, menus showcase superb regional food and wine. Staterooms and suites embrace a boutique European hotel vibe; handcrafted Savoir Beds of England, marble baths with L’Occitane en Provence or Hèrmes toiletries, soft sheets, and the fluffiest towels. Rates start at $3,899; uniworld.com.
For the Adventurer: Upper Amazon
October 26, 2019
Thank sloths, piranhas, and monkeys for the goosebumps on this 10-day Upper Amazon expedition. You and 27 other plucky passengers overnight in Lima, fly to Iquitos, and drive to Nauta, Peru, where the Delfin II and a seasoned expedition team, await. Adrenalin rushes, on jungle treks, aboard skiffs exploring black-water lakes, and searching for carnivorous caimans and fishing bats after dark, unfold hourly.
Creature comforts loom large on Delphin II; envision air-conditioned suites with organic soaps, pitch-perfect Peruvian cuisine, convivial bar, spa, and exercise room. When not admiring the indigenous wood furnishings and artsy handicrafts, head to the open-air lounge to ogle the postcard-perfect river and rainforest views. Rates start at $7,290; expeditions.com
For the Romantic: Rendezvous on the Seine
September 6, 2019
Little sparks romance more than a 10-day roundtrip Paris voyage, starring picturesque coastal Normandy and two overnights in the City of Light. This Seine cruise ignites sensory pleasures; imagine, the Louvre after-hours (Mona Lisa, without crowds), visiting Versailles, VIP early-entry into Monet’s Giverny home and gardens, and an evening extravaganza in an enchanting château.
Spacious Sapphire, sailing with only 98 passengers, rather than the usual 160 on similar-size boats, ensures intimate nooks à deux. Unwind in the Jacuzzi or with a massage, dine casually or fancy on the freshest food. Most cabins feature floor-to-ceiling windows, many provide two French balconies. Lather up with on-trend Molton Brown toiletries. Rates start at $5,290; tauck.com.
Three More Fab 2019 Coastal Cruises
With new ships, routes and excursions, West Coast cruises are trending big. These three make our hearts beat the fastest.
- Safari Endeavor’s eight-day roundtrip Juneau September 1 sail morphs wellness with Alaskan wonder. Who’s in for beachside sun salutations, deck-top meditation under the stars, and kayaking among seals? Rates start at $4,795; uncruise.com.
- Farmers’ markets, fine dining, cooking classes, truck eats – this new 10-day September 24 Star Legend culinary cruise delivers foodie fireworks from Vancouver to San Diego. Rates start at $2,799; windstarcruises.com.
- Binge on Baja bliss beginning December 1 onboard new National Geographic Venture. On a 13-day sail from Los Angeles to La Paz, Mexico, hike sand dunes, sip Ensenada wine, and Instagram marine wildlife and shorebirds galore. Rates start at $9,390; expeditions.com.