Take a trip back in time along the Dnieper River in Ukraine, or an intimate charter along the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. There are a lot of choices to suit your tastes, budget and interests when it comes to river cruising. And, there are still some summer deals to be found with a little online research.
Seniors are the top market for these cruises, with families and groups gaining interest. Imagine cruising down the Mississippi River on a historic paddleboat, sailing alongside one of Alaska’s glaciers, or meandering along the Hudson River. Unlike the huge ocean-going liners, the river cruises use smaller ships that carry up to 150 passengers. This makes for shorter lines, more intimate lectures and tours, and shore excursions. They also have access to smaller ports for that small-town experience that so many enjoy.
A few of the best U.S. river cruises (according to travel channel) are Historic Antebellum South offered by American Cruise Line, Southeast Alaska offered by Fantasy Cruises, and Columbia/Snake River offered by American Cruise Line.
Historic South and Golden Isles: Civil War buffs will enjoy a seven-night cruise along the Intercoastal Waterway with stops at such places as Beaufort, SC, Savannah, GA, Jekyll Island, GA and Jacksonville, FL. View wildlife refuges and remote islands as you sail between ports. History, legend, grace and beauty are four words to describe this cruise.
Southbound Alaska: From Sitka to Petersburg, AK, this small-ship cruise offers views and access to wilderness areas for close-up views of humpback whales in Chatham Strait, bears, moose, seals as well as two days exploring glaciers and ice fields.
Columbia and Snake Rivers: Picture yourself on a historic, 120 passenger paddleboat, traveling along the legendary rivers that helped shape the West with stops in places including Portland, OR, Rainer, WA, and Clarkston, WA. This ship sails through Hells Canyon on the Snake River and offers views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens along with plenty of Lewis and Clark history.
If your travels take you abroad, you may want to check out the “Footsteps of the Cossacks” river cruise. It is one of many overseas options. This takes you on a voyage through Ukraine and cities such as Odessa, Yalta and Kiev. The sights and sounds along the Dnieper River as well as the cuisine of modern day Ukraine are likely to be etched in your memory forever.
As for me, I am drawn to the relaxed atmosphere and casual attitude of the river cruise over the ocean liners. I much prefer the smaller ships with fewer passengers and the smaller ports. Yes, I am one of those seniors who dreams of meandering down a waterway, sipping sweet iced tea and learning about the history of the area. I can just see myself dressed in period costume, walking the decks of a paddleboat, listening to ragtime music and listening to the water lapping at the ship’s sides.