A river cruise presents an interesting alternative to the standard summer holiday. Even if you decided to move away from the package deal some years ago, and have enjoyed putting holidays together yourself and renting villas, there is nothing quite like breaking free of the static mould of accommodation by embarking on one of the river cruises provided by operators like Avalon Cruises.
One of the most striking advantages of river cruises is the fact that you can experience a different place practically every new day, while keeping the same accommodation and only having to unpack your suitcase once. River cruises tend to sail by day, affording some unique sightseeing opportunities. Naturally, the scenery will constantly change, and can be enjoyed from the deck of the boat at your leisure. The additional benefit of the vantage point, the river, allows you to see many features that you simply cannot experience any other way.
Rivers have been vital for transport, food and water for thousands of years, and so whole civilisations have naturally developed around the focus of major waterways. Much of the physical legacy of thousands of years of human endeavour can thus be seen clustered around the banks of the rivers that you can explore through river cruises.
From ancient archaeological remains, to largely intact fortifications built by the Roman Empire, on to medieval castles and forts, each new bend in the river can bring fresh photo opportunities. The importance of rivers remains largely undiminished in modern times, and so you also have the opportunity to visit the fishing villages, market towns and vineyards that still rely on the lifeblood of the river for survival and prosperity.
The fact that rivers are still so important for real life trade and commerce means that river cruises also tend to reveal a less tourist driven snapshot of the different societies that exist along the riverbank. This is in contrast the often false and airbrushed version of cultures that you'll encounter in traditional tourist developments in popular holiday areas.
Guided tours can help you make the most of your time on shore, presenting local points of interest as well as providing recommendations for the best places to sample the local food and drink. Given the relatively small number of passengers to be expected on standard river cruises – when compared to the thousands often on an ocean cruise ship – you will also be able to escape from the crowd with ease if you wish, and go off exploring on your own.