Image: A boat sails on the Yangtze River
David Gray  /  Reuters file
A boat sails at sunset through an area on the Yangtze River known as the Three Gorges in Heibei Province near the town of Badong in the south-west part of China. Sailing the great rivers of the world is a must-have experience for refined cruise takers, of an entirely different caliber than the run-of-the-mill voyages to the usual sun-drenched destinations.
updated 1/15/2008 11:19:14 AM ET 2008-01-15T16:19:14

Book by: ASAP
Travel by: Various through 2008

The deal
Sailing the great rivers of the world is a must-have experience for refined cruise takers, of an entirely different caliber than the run-of-the-mill voyages to the usual sun-drenched destinations. We found a trio of unique, intimate, deluxe small-ship sailings along the rivers of Europe, China and the Pacific Northwest. Rates for these exceptional journeys start at $2,599.

Cruise the Rhine & the Moselle
Imagine sailing along scenic rivers of five European countries — Switzerland, Germany, Luxembourg, France and the Netherlands — en route taking in ancient castles, medieval villages, spectacular nature, delicate chocolates and full-bodied Rieslings. The 12-night cruise along the Rhine and the Moselle from Amsterdam to Basel provides this experience with top-rated Uniworld. Highlights include lodging in an outside stateroom on the deluxe River Queen; classical European cuisine with complimentary wine; onboard lectures; shore excursions; and all transfers (except airfare). Scheduled to run between May and October, sailings regularly start at $3,289. But book by January 31 and you can save $500 per couple!

See China from the Yangtze
For a more exotic river sail, we recommend the 12-day China odyssey by Viking River Cruises. Dubbed the Imperial Jewels of China, this cruise tour covers sojourns in cosmopolitan Shanghai, bustling Beijing and ancient Xian, with hotel accommodation and tours, as well as a five-night sailing on the Yangtze River aboard five-star Viking Century Sky. You’ll visit famous landmarks — the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Xian’s terra cotta warriors — as well as hidden gems like the beautiful Three Gorges and Lesser Gorges. You’ll also enjoy cultural highlights like a Chinese acrobatic performance, Peking Opera and a Tang Dynasty dinner show. Departures start in March and rates at $2,699.

Sail the rivers of the Pacific Northwest
We’d also suggest scenic small-ship cruising on the home rivers. In fact, a seven-night sailing along the rivers of the Pacific Northwest with USA River Cruises is highly recommended. On these roundtrip circuits from Portland, Oregon, you can take in the scale of the mountains, the strength of the rivers and the blue expanse of the skies above. The itinerary covers two states — Oregon and Washington — and ports of call include Klickatat Dock, Pendleton, Clarkston, Port of Rainer, and Astoria. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of the region, travel through deep canyons and hopefully spot elk, bighorn sheep and 7000-year-old Indian petroglyphs. Cruising starts in March and rates go upward of $2,599.

The dollars
The rates above are listed per person, based on double occupancy. For specific inclusions on each cruise, see details listed above.

The catch
Airfare is additional.

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