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From iol.com.za -

Hello, sailors! River cruising may not have the glamorous image of travelling by ocean liner, but it does have several advantages. First, of course, there is always something to look at - not the case on many seafaring ships.

Recently, in Amsterdam, a boat named easyCruiseTwo set off on her maiden voyage. Following on from the success of his easyCruiseOne, serving the French and Italian Riviera and the Caribbean, Stelios Haji-Ioannou is now running river cruises in Holland and Belgium.

Is it another floating tangerine? Sort of. In the hope of living up to its motto, "luxe for less", easyCruise is dropping the neon orange for what it hopes is a more sophisticated livery.

On its refurbished riverboat, the company has replaced its trademark orange hull and large-lettered web-site address with a grey hull, orange beading and a new logo. On board, the furnishings, and even the menus, also mark a shift upmarket from those of the original easyCruise ship.

As for the itinerary, easyCruiseTwo follows a weekly route through Holland and Belgium, from Amsterdam to Antwerp via Rotterdam and Brussels.

Dropping anchor by lunchtime each day, passengers should be able to spend plenty of time ashore.

And, as with easyCruiseOne, they will also be able to hop on and off the cruise whenever they like, subject to a minimum two-night stay.

As with easyJet, prices vary dramatically according to demand; in August you could pay as much as £352 (R4 538) per person for a week easy-Cruise; for the lowest rates, aim for later in the season, which runs until November, when a two-night trip could cost under R180 per person.

Europe's most popular rivers for cruising are its two biggest rivers: the Rhine and the Danube. Both provide the opportunity for sailing past historic cities, medieval towns, pretty European villages, romantic castles and forests. Bear in mind that most cruises operate only between March and October.

Trips on the Danube include a 13-day holiday with Great Rail Journeys which features a week on the river.

You travel to Germany by rail and visit Cologne and Nuremberg before boarding the vessel in the German town of Passau. The cruise visits Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. Prices start at over R25 000 per person, including rail travel, a full-board seven-night cruise, five nights' half-board hotel accommodation, and excursions.

On the Rhine, a four-day taster cruise with Moswin Moswin sails from Basle to Cologne, calling at Strasbourg, Speyer and Konigswinter en route. Prices start at R7 413, including return BA flights from Heathrow, transfers and all meals.

Other popular river-cruising destinations in Europe include the Elbe in the Czech Republic, the Seine and Rhône in France, the Douro in Portugal and the Po in Italy.

The luxurious one-week Elbe trips run by Peter Deilmann , for instance, run between Potsdam and Prague via Magdenberg, Wittenberg, Meissen, Dresden and Melnick. Prices start at just over R14 000 for departures from October 14, including flights from Heathrow to Berlin, and back from Prague to Heathrow on British Airways, transfers and all meals.

For other European river cruises, try Travelscope ; Noble Caledonia; or a specialist agent such as Cruise Direct; Cruise Finders; or The Leading Cruise Agents.

Most cruise operators schedule in plenty of time for messing about off the river. Destination Portugal, for example, runs eight-night round-trip cruises along the Douro, and there are opportunities to visit Porto; Peso da Regua, centre of the port-producing region; an 11th-century monastery; and the wine estates of Vila Real and Pinhao.

There's also an excursion across the Spanish border to visit the historic city of Salamanca. Prices start at over R10 000 per person, including accommodation, most meals and transport.

In Italy, Archers Direct offers five-night trips to Venice and the Po that include excursions to the basilica of St Anthony in Padua, the medieval towns of Mantua and Verona, the fishing port of Chioggia, and Venice itself, with plenty of free time for exploring. Prices start at R7 542, including flights from Heathrow to Venice on BMI, all meals and transfers but not all excursions.

Western Russia's biggest river, the Volga, is ideal for a cruise. Page and Moy, for example, has an 11-night Russian River trip. You can travel along the "Waterway of the Tsars" from Moscow to St Petersburg, with time for sightseeing in both cities. Most of the journey involves sailing past birch forests and farmland.

Specific sights along the way include the Church of St Dmitri-on-the-Blood, in Uglich, built on the site where Ivan the Terrible's son Dmitri was killed; the city of Yaroslavl; the 14th-century Kirillo-Belozersky monastery; and the river Svir, known locally as the "Blue Road", and one of the most scenic rivers in the region. Prices start at R22 000, including flights between Heathrow and Moscow on British Airways, transfers, all meals and some excursions.

Sweden's best cruise is actually on a canal: the Gota Canal provides the spine of a journey by steamer through a network of locks, canals and lakes, and on to Stockholm's archipelago. Prices with Scan Tours start at over R11 000 for a six-day trip, including flights from Heathrow on SAS, two nights' hotel accommodation with breakfast, and three nights on the boat with all meals.

Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, Frontier Travel arranges all manner of cruises along the St Lawrence river in Canada, from clipper trips to journeys on replica steamboats. Typical five-night packages on a refurbished Georgian clipper follow a circular route from Kingston, Ontario, via the wineries and historic villages of Prince Edward County, the St Lawrence Seaway, the capital, Ottawa, and the "1 000 Islands" archipelago. All-inclusive cruise prices start at over R12 000, but without flights.

The company Bridge & Wickers offers unusual river cruises in Australia, including a four-night trip along the Murray river, near Adelaide, on the small but comfy Odyssey (it sleeps up to eight). The itinerary includes wildlife-rich landscapes and historic sights.

Time is also scheduled in for campfires and night tours on the riverbank. The trip costs from R7 877, including all meals and on-shore tours but not international flights. The second is a short, two-night luxury World Heritage Wilderness Cruise up the Gordon river in Tasmania. This costs over R11 000, again without flights.

A paddle-steamer cruise on the Mississippi is both traditional and slow. Paddle-steamers first plied America's second-longest river in 1811, and they have been a symbol of the region ever since. To experience "steamboatin'" for yourself, the North America Travel Service runs trips from several major cities along its length, including New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville and Chattanooga.

One of the three boats used is the refurbished Delta Queen, designated a National Historic Landmark. Three-night trips start at R6 000 including meals and entertainment, but not international flights or transfers.

Voyages Jules Verne runs lots of interesting river journeys, such as a 10-night Beijing and Yangtze trip, which takes in the capital's highlights, the Great Wall, Ming Tombs and Terracotta Warriors, and a three-night cruise on the Yangtze. Other options include an 11-night cruise on Thailand's Kwai Noi river, and an 18-night one on the Mekong in Laos and Cambodia.

In India, Travel Renaissance arranges glamorous six-night cruises, as part of longer tours, through Kerala, travelling on a customised traditional houseboat. Prices start at over R33 000 for the whole tour, including flights from the UK via Dubai on Emirates and most meals and excursions.

The more adventurous should consider an expedition cruise with Coromandel on the Brahmaputra in Assam which was one of India's busiest waterways.

Companies offering trips in the Amazon basin include Journey Latin America, which runs an excellent eight-night cruise along the Rio *****. One of the quietest rivers in the region, it passes through virtually untouched rainforest.

Transport is in the MV Tucano, which sleeps just 18 and features wood-lined cabins and private bathrooms. However, this trip is more about adventure than sipping sundowners: there are regular pit stops for two-hour jungle treks. Prices start at just over R23 000
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Rushie

PS] - River Teign ferry....only £1.30 single....more in my price range...!!
 

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I think Deilmann's only cruise ship, Deutschland is quite a vessel. She has a lavish interior, but small staterooms. She is reminicent of the classic interior design of the 1910's and 1920's, with an edwardian architectural edge. Nevertheless, she is a great small sized ship.
 

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I took a river cruise from Vienna to Amsterdam,the river boats carried a 140 passengers,the food was excellent and the accommodation was excellent. Cruised three rivers,went through 90 locks,checked out many Wineries and Breweries every day.
John.
 

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My wife and I did a Rhine cruise in the mid-80s. We sailed from Basel to Amsterdam with K-D Rheinschiffahrt - can't recall the name of the ship but we enjoyed it immensely.

Hunter Davies, the author, was on board at the time. He wrote about the trip in a later book and managed to make everyone look like idiots, the tw*t!
 

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He is the type that makes one trip and he is an expert,met a few like that. Our cruise company for the Rivers of Europe was Vantage,and the other I deal with is Grand Circle, both owners are brothers competing for the same passengers.But my favorite large cruise ship company is Holland American, going to Italy and Spain next month and have booked one for NZ and OZ in Feb 2008.
John.
 
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