In normal times, we generally see Brits booking river cruises as a self-contained holiday, particularly in Europe; a quick hop across the Channel by plane or train for a week-long cruise, without the need to add on pre- or post-cruise hotel stays. Even with more exotic rivers such as the Mekong, there is a well-established template which most people tend to follow.
After a year of Covid confinement, however, we're seeing an increase in demand for longer holidays that tick off more of those bucket list experiences in a single trip. Here at Mundy we're always looking for novel ways to extend and enhance your cruise holiday, and we particularly love the idea of combining a river cruise with time to explore one of the world's great lakes. Here are just a few ideas for a fantastic river and lake break:
1. The Rhine & Lake Como
Combine a magical AmaWaterways Rhine cruise with beautiful Lake Como on this journey into the mountainous heart of Europe. Your trip begins with the canals and museums of Amsterdam, before a week-long river voyage through Germany, France and Switzerland. Highlights include Cologne's imposing cathedral, the majestic Rhine Gorge and the charming streets of Strasbourg. Finally, spend a leisurely three days on the shores of stunning Lake Como, the perfect end to your scenic jaunt through Central Europe.
2. The Po & Lake Bled
Wind your way through the Alps on board the luxurious Golden Eagle Danube Express train, with four days to take in the highlights of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria and Slovenia, including Innsbruck's atmospheric old streets and pretty Lake Bled. Then set out from Venice on Uniworld's S.S. La Venezia for a cruise on the Po river and the Venetian Lagoon, with plenty of time in Venice and excursion options including foodie favourite Bologna, medieval Padua and colourful Burano.
3. The Amazon & Lake Titicaca
For a more off-the-beaten-track experience, travel into the heart of the Peruvian Amazon with Aqua Expeditions. Look out for wildlife including giant otters, pink river dolphins, monkeys and macaws as you explore the vast Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. Then fly to Arequipa and board the Belmond Andean Explorer train, which takes you high into the mountains to mystical Lake Titicaca, where the indigenous Uros people live on floating islands made of reeds. Finally you'll reach Cuzco, ancient capital of the Incas, with the option to extend your trip and visit spectacular Machu Picchu.
4. The Mississippi & The Great Lakes
In 2022 there are two fantastic new opportunities from the ever-expanding Viking juggernaut. First, explore the Great Lakes of North America on new expedition ship Viking Octantis, cruising between Thunder Bay and Milwaukee. Hike in boreal forests, learn about the history of the First Nations, visit charming lakeside towns and keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles. Then fly from Chicago to St Louis, Missouri and join the Viking Mississippi for a cruise down the northern stretch of America's most famous river.
5. The Ayeyarwady & Inle Lake
A cruise along the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) on one of Pandaw's charming river vessels is a fantastic way to see Myanmar (Burma), taking in highlights including Mandalay, Yangon and the temples of Bagan. You'll also witness day-to-day life along the river, meeting the friendly people who make this country such a delight in spite of its troubles. After your cruise, fly to Heho for a two-night stay on the picturesque Inle Lake. Surrounded by villages built on stilts to cope with the ebb and flow of the waters, this is a wonderful place to relax and explore at a gentle pace by boat or bicycle.