River Cruises: Get Your Theme On

28 October 2016
Read Time: 3.1 mins

River cruising provides a wonderful and gentle way to cruise to get up much closer with far greater access to some of the world's most beautiful and exotic locations, and this year APT and Travelmarvel of the APT Group unveiled a range of special event river cruises. These itineraries included a broad range of themes such as the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, cycling and wine tours, and a foodie itinerary in France that was co-ordinated in conjunction with the Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine.

Smiling people celebrate Christmas in Europe. European Christmases are a great experience for Antipodeans. Picture: Getty Images

We have selected just one themed river cruise from APT and Travelmarvel to give you an idea of what is available but rest assured there are many more, including special-interest cruises like botanical excursions that take passengers through the most incredible public and private gardens in Europe, the USA, Canada and Asia. Or why not learn all there is to know about some of the incredible wine districts in Europe or cruise along exotic rivers such as the Amazon and Yangtze – these can all be experienced in the understated luxury and style of the APT and Travelmarvel ships.

One of their most popular themed river cruises – and a very special option if you have ever wanted to do a family white Christmas – is APT’s Winter Wonderland Journeys range. These special cruising itineraries take you and your loved ones to the enchanting sights, unique activities and irresistible flavours of Christmas time in Canada or Europe.

A giant Christmas tree lights up a market square in Salzburg, Austria. O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree a la Salzburg. Picture: Getty Images

On most of the APT European tours, passengers will also be able to combine itineraries, such as a new Douro/Bordeaux river cruise combo and a 28-day Grand European land tour with the 14-night Magnificent Europe cruise – this a great way to see a whole lot of Europe.

This year also saw the debut of AmaStella and AmaViola, 158-passenger vessels with twin balcony cabins; seven dining experiences, including the Chef's Table Restaurant; unlimited fine wine, spirits and beer; a heated pool with swim-up bar; massage and beauty salon; fitness studio; and free in-room WiFi.

Latvia's Riga cathedral blazes with Christmas lights. Riga Cathedral, ablaze with Christmas lights. Picture: Getty Images

Alongside these incredible ships, new shore excursions now include a visit to the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, the Bonn Botanic Gardens, the Fragrance Museum in Cologne, a horse show from Maygar cowboys; and Schlagkamp Winery and Wine Museum in the Moselle Valley.

More APT and Travelmarvel inspiration:

7 Reasons  to See Europe With Travelmarvel

Rhine By River Cruise: AN APT Europe Experience

On the other side of the Atlantic, and on another APT Winter Wonderland Journey be sure to experience the beauty of Canada at Christmas time with beautiful snow-covered peaks, smooth frozen lakes and stunning light shows. World-class alpine resorts embrace the season, offering a host of invigorating outdoor activities that will fill your Christmas in Canada with plenty of joyful memories.

Elk along an icy roadway in Canada. Elk will be sharing your roadway. Picture: Getty Images

As a part of the APT group, Travelmarvel are very proud of their river cruises, which provide truly immersive cultural experiences. The Vietnam and Cambodia itineraries take cruisers to the remote villages along the banks of the Mekong River and many of its tiny tributaries. Untouched by tourism and inaccessible by most other means of transport, the ‘real’ Vietnam and Cambodia is within reach.

A woman sells fruit and vegetables from a boat along the Mekong. Floating markets on the marvellous Mekong. Picture: Getty Images

Or discover the treasures of Indochina on an adventure through Vietnam and Cambodia’s heartland. Passengers are able to see the beautiful rice paddies and ethnic tribes of Sapa, stay on a junk in Ha Long Bay and cruise along the exotic Mekong River. So why not travel colonial-style on board the RV La Marguerite and watch passing villages and kids hallooing from bridges, as local rice barges and boats float by.

Along the Mekong, you will be entertained onboard with fruit-carving and dance performances, while your fellow passengers are sure to provide plenty of friendly banter over meals. Make sure to savour the fantastic cuisine aboard – great care has been taken by the ship’s chefs to create fresh local dishes such as Cambodian curries, soup, noodles and green-mango salad, as well as Western dishes like English breakfasts and grilled salmon and steaks.

Ports along the Mekong offer an insight into everyday Vietnamese life. At Cai Be, cruisers will see floating markets, and at Tan Chau, see the local silk-weaving enterprises.

The itinerary also includes a stop at Angkor Ban, with its venerable wooden farmhouses, and multi-coloured Wat Hanchey, a lovely temple complex high on a hilltop above the Mekong, providing a new angle on the river. Also on the cruise itinerary is a visit to the picturesque Sisowath Quay and the Royal Palace, and the Central Market has an Aladdin's Cave selection of jewellery and clothes.

Ta Prohm temple at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Just as Lara Croft left it. Picture: Getty Images

The cruise finishes with a trip to Angkor Wat, a vast temple complex. Bayon Temple is decorated with smiling Buddha carvings, and Ta Prohm, made famous by Angelina Jolie in the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, is a fabulous tangle of fallen-down walls from which giant fig trees sprout – and it’s sure to be the highlight of a cruise that has so many great moments.

Add to the joys of your river cruise with a theme – it’s sure to enhance your journey along the world’s most inspiring waterways.

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Tara Young

The experience of travel changes a person. I see my job as highlighting what amazing travel opportunities there are to broaden your knowledge of that great big world beyond your doorstep and what you may learn about yourself on the way.