Thursday, 22 January 2009

River Cruises Vs. Ocean Cruises by Anthony Nicholas


Ok, say you’re older now, and your idea of ‘messing about on the river’ has graduated from sticking frogs in your sister’s satchel to the idea of playing Huckleberry Finn on one of the great rivers of the world, rolling through a raft of different countries at a civilised speed, with a hefty dollop of adventure and wonder for company. Fine, come on down.

So, where to then? As it happens, the world is yours to choose from. Not so much on a plate as just around the next river bend. Imagine watching the glorious confection of old world spires and cobbled squares of Prague emerging from the midst of the steel grey Danube, or sassy, sophisticated Paris on the Seine, blinking herself awake as the sun hauls itself slowly into the sky. Tres bien, oui?

Meander along the ancient, magnificent Nile and see the greatest theme park on earth, as the matchless treasures of Egypt unfurl each day like a series of staggering drum rolls. Karnak. Esna. Aswan… Feluccas on the river at sunset, palm trees on the river banks. A journey back through five thousand spellbinding years.

Take a slow boat to China with a meandering passage up the mighty Yangtze, or drink wine on the Rhine as cathedral cities like Cologne come and go. Often as not, overnight stops enable you to really get into the heart and soul of a place. Board, unpack once, settle in and, wherever your sense of wonder takes you, well- just go with the flow. Easy, really.

But if the big old ocean’s more your thing, there’s more choice than you can shake a really big stick at. Dress up or down, formal with all the glamour or free and easy, there’s a style and ship for you wherever you want to go. Ride a carousel in the Caribbean on the biggest cruise ship the world has ever seen. Wave goodbye to winter on a festive swing round the island paradise they call Hawaii.

See the dreamy spires and cobbled squares of old Europe in the Baltic, and experience just how ‘wonderful’ Copenhagen really is.

More? Meander round the sunny, alluring Med, and indulge your inner Onassis in the playgrounds of the French and Italian Riviera, then top up with a healthy dose of platinum chip excitement in Rome, Florence or even Pisa. Play at Zorba in the Greek islands, and feel more like Zeus as you take in the awesome panorama from atop Santorini’s spectacular heights.

Get far out in the Far East, or saunter into Sydney’s incredible harbour for a spot of life down under. Or indulge your inner Jack and Rose on a black tie and ball gown breeze across the Atlantic to New York. Oh, and Bermuda is just, well, blissful really.

So, it’s wherever whenever. Unpack once and watch the world roll out between all the feasting and partying. Champagne at sunset, casinos at midnight or just curling up with a good book or good friend. Both even. Or neither. Your ship’s come in- all that’s missing is you.


You can read more of Anthony Nicholas's work in the UK's premier cruising magazine, World Of Cruising.