Luxury River Cruises
There are many amazing River Cruise experiences in Europe, South America and the Far East; we have chosen to showcase Aqua Expeditions on the Peruvian Amazon, the Zambezi Queen in Botswana and Orient-Express's Road to Mandalay in Burma.
Aqua Expeditions is the first adventure company to introduce five-star luxury cruises on the Peruvian Amazon. The 24-passenger M/V Aqua launched in 2008 and due to high demand M/V Aria (capacity of 32) launched this year. Each generously sized cabin comes with king-size bed, sitting areas and floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows, that provide an incredible viewing experience. The service is superb, the food gourmet with a Peruvian flair and the wine list the very best South America has to offer - but it’s the access into the world’s last great wilderness that makes it truly ultimate. Three- four- and seven-night cruises leave from Iquitos and sail through the Pacaya Samiria National Park, which is the size of Belgium, and a place where you can see squirrel monkeys, pink dolphins, Caimans and a rich bird life. Fish for piranhas, enjoy night river trips and visit the riberenos (riverside villages cut off from modern life) and smell of air in a world without pollution, because this is one of the last pristine places on earth, and fear not: Aqua Expeditions is as green as they come. Listed by Condé Nast Traveler US as a ‘World Saver’ (using travel to improve the planet) whether in education, poverty, wildlife, preservation and health, Aqua is on the ‘doing it all’ list!
Botswana’s Chobe National Park is renowned for its rich wildlife and fantastic game viewing and the Zambezi Queen’s route along the Chobe River takes you to the heart of the action, in relaxed luxury. This sophisticated vessel, combining elegance with a homely houseboat feel, is your passport to a very different safari experience. On your two or three night itinerary you’ll combine water safaris with more traditional land-based 4x4 game drives to ensure that your experience contains the very best of both worlds. Smaller boats for the water safaris allow game viewing in amazingly close proximity, bird lovers in particular will revel in the opportunities this type of safari allows, and keen fishermen are sure to fancy a little tiger and bream fishing in season. Your private suite, all crisp linens and cool white decor, complete with balcony, offers a personal window on the world of the Chobe River and the cruise becomes an ever-changing game-viewing experience in its own right. The life-giving river waters draw all types of wildlife and what could be more special than to dine at dusk on the top deck of the Zambezi Queen with unobstructed 270 degree views of animals clustering on the shores? Away from the mighty river there is choice aplenty, so as well as 4x4 game viewing there’s the opportunity to discover a little about the local culture with a village tour and you can gain a unique perspective on the area by choosing a helicopter flight for a little aerial insight (additional cost).
The Road to Mandalay
Embodying the signature style and luxury inherent in Orient-Express properties throughout the world, The Road to Mandalay offers luxury river cruising to a fascinating and unique backdrop that is sure to delight as you wend your way through Burma, Myanmar as it’s known historically, over 3, 4, 7 or 11 nights. The five en suite cabin types range from Single Cabin through to the Governor’s Suite depending upon your preference but each shares characteristics of quality, comfort and attention to detail. Modern amenities such as satellite television complement the traditional styling and sense of luxury inherent in fine fabrics and beautifully crafted fittings. Orient-Express has a culinary reputation second to none and The Road to Mandalay shares this trait. Buffet-style lunch, for example, is themed to showcase regional Asian cuisine such as Burman and Shan, and more well-established Thai, Indonesian, Chinese and Indian delicacies, alongside European favourites. Á la carte evening dining is a delight, enhanced by specially chosen European and Australian wines, and pre-dinner drinks or a final nightcap can be taken in style in the delightful piano bar. If you feel that such gourmet riches will tempt you to indulge a little too much, fear not, the onboard wellness centre incorporates a fitness room and relaxation in more gentle fashion can be found by way of aromatherapy massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. Rudyard Kipling dubbed Burma “Quite unlike any land you know about” and The Road to Mandalay’s gentle voyages on the Irrawaddy River reveal natural beauty and man-made splendour in equal measure. Two undoubted highlights are the royal city of Mandalay and the ancient capital of Bagan but throughout this magical country there is magnificent temple architecture, a distinct and fascinating cultural heritage and an all-pervading sense of spirituality.
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