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Abercrombie & Kent ( the luxury travel and tours company feature a terrific variety of cruise options, notably Adventure-style to South-East Asia, the Amazon, Antarctica, Australasia and the South Pacific, the Galapagos Islands and Alaska. All tours are fully escorted and impeccably organised, with the addition of an excellent river and canal cruise programme in Europe, on The Nile, where they have their own fleet of luxury river-boats, and the Yangtze in China. More info: 0845 618 2200 (in the UK) or 1800 554 7016 (in the US).

AMA Waterways ( this deluxe line features the rivers of Europe and Russia, with a huge choice from Portugal and Spain to classic Rhine and Danube voyages. Their 12 vessels are all modern, well-fitted and with real touches of luxury, and the cuisine and service are among the best. European cruises feature some of the newest boats while their 12-day Russian Waterways voyage from Moscow to St Petersburg is a real highlight. More info: call (in the US) 1800 626 0126.

American Cruise Lines ( a boutique small-ship operator, ACL features a wealth of river and coastal voyages throughout the US, including an all-new Mississippi River option in 2012 on Queen of the Mississippi, a classic riverboat built in sumptuous style. Their other five ships of differing vintages sail along the north-east coast and waterways (including the Hudson River and New England), the south-east (including the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay), the Columbia and Snake Rivers in Washington and Oregon in the Pacific north-west, and Alaska. Onboard style is relaxed and informal, with good quality local cuisine, over-sized staterooms and excellent lecture programmes. The new Queen of the Mississippi should add true river-going luxury to the mix. More info: in the US, call 1800 460 4518.

Aqua Expeditions ( this specialist river operation on the Upper Amazon in Peru features two superbly comfortable riverboats operating 7-day round-trips out of Iquitos. Taking just 24 guests at a time, it offers a wonderful and personal close-up deep into the heart of the rainforest, opening up a whole new world of rarely-seen scenery (like the amazing Pacaya Samiria Reserve) and native cultures. Expert guides, great food, friendly service and a unique cruise environment complete the picture for those who like to get off the beaten cruise track yet still enjoy a relaxed, casual five-star style. More info: in the UK, call the Adventure Cruise Collection of the Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677.

Avalon Cruises ( this UK river-cruise line features a high-quality fleet of 9 superbly spacious riverboats – the majority less than 5 years old – on the Danube, Rhine, Rhone, Main, Seine and Moselle. European voyages also come with a series of themed cruises, notably Jazz (Vienna), Classical Music (Salzburg), Wine (Paris) and Flowers (Amsterdam), plus Christmas voyages to the great festive markets in Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. They also feature river voyages in Egypt and China, as well as a charter operation to the Galapagos Islands on the MV Santa Cruz. More info: call 0800 668 1802.

European Waterways ( own and operate barges on European rivers and canals through seven countries, including Britain and Ireland. Most carry from 6-15 people and are ideal for a family or house party holiday. Most of the 21 vessels are first class or superior first class rated. They operate in 16 different regions throughout Scotland, Ireland, France, Holland, Belgium and Germany, plus the Venetian Lagoon in Italy. More info: call 01784 482 439 or (in the US) 1800 394 8630.

Great American Steamboat Co (www. brand new in 2012, this American riverboat line has bought and refurbished the classic 430-passenger American Queen, the largest steamboat ever built, for year-round voyages on the mighty Mississippi River. Launched in 1995, the Queen will be refitted to reflect her traditional river ancestry, with all the style of the American Victorian era. Fine dining – including complimentary wine and beer with dinner – traditional showboat- style entertainment and daily lectures on river folklore all promise an above-average river-cruise experiences on one of the most famous waterways in the world. More info: call (in the US) 1888 749 5280.

InnerSea Discoveries ( the small-scale, adventuring arm of American Safari Cruises, they label themselves the “un-cruise” experience, with three ships carrying from just 60-76 passengers. Sailing purely around Alaskan coastal waters where the big ships don’t go, they have been refurbished with interior spaces to complement the wilderness outside and main lounges that evoke the feeling of a National Park lodge or neighbourhood pub, plus underwater bow cameras, hot tubs, saunas, fitness equipments; and a kayak launch platform for their many water-borne activities. Other facilities are high- quality cuisines derived from local sources and top-class lecture and activity programmes. More info: call (in the US) 1877 901 1009.

Noble Caledonia ( this British-based tour operator features various excursions by land, sea and river cruise, with a huge variety of chartered expedition-style vessels, from ice-hardened adventurers (Expedition) to small boutique ships (Island Sky and Harmony). They feature some of the most adventurous programmes to far-flung corners of the world – including both ice-caps – as well as luxury cruise-tours. More info: 020 7752 0000.

North Star ( an Australian operator, they specialise in high-quality adventure cruises for the discerning traveller along the magnificent Kimberley coast, across to Darwin, Sydney and the South Pacific. The 36-passenger True North operates with a luxurious touch, featuring fine dining (from freshly-caught barramundi to exquisite lamb) and personal service while offering true adventuring style, with its own onboard naturalist, expedition boats and even a helicopter. More info: call (in Australia) 61 8 91921 829.

Pandaw Cruises ( sail the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia, the Irrawaddy in Myanmar or into the heart of Borneo with this specialist south-east Asia river-cruise operator. With five new, genuinely luxurious ships – all replica colonial steamers – taking from 48-66 guests, they offer excellent accommodations, first-class service and fine dining while traveling some of the most exotic waters in the world. The adventure aspect of their voyages is guaranteed, too, with local guides to provide first-hand insights at every stop along the way. More info: in the UK, call the Cruise Line Ltd on 0800 008 6677; in the US, call 1800 798 4223.

Scenic Tours ( European river cruising in style (plus tours of Australia and New Zealand) is the guarantee of this Australian operator, based in Vancouver. Their fleet of 5 new ships are 20 per cent more spacious than the norm and feature private balcony suites and an all-new interior design with larger public rooms, including an open-air teak deck adjoining the observation lounge. Operating along the Rhine, Moselle and Danube, plus a Black Sea explorer voyage, inclusive of gratuities and shore excursions. Their land tours Down Under include an amazing range of landscapes and cities, from the Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock to ‘Crocodile Dundee’ territory and a Grand New Zealand Rail Tour. More info: call (in the US) 1866 689 8611.

Tauck ( arguably some of the finest European river- cruise options are offered by this American operator, who also specialise in deluxe escorted tours worldwide. Voyages on the Rhine, Moselle, Danube, Rhone and Saone all feature the latest and most refined boats, impeccable service, top-class cuisine and superb escorted excursions – including exclusive events and tours for Tauck guests only – with the benefit of extra-large cabins and special meals ashore to provide a true taste of the regions travelled. Everything is included, from gratuities to wine with dinner. More info: call (in the US) 1800 788 7885.

Uniworld ( and a hugely expansive river-cruise programme is their stock in trade, featuring much of Europe, China, the Nile and the Black Sea in great style. With 10 high-quality riverboats on the Danube, Rhine, Main, Moselle, Rhine, Saone, and Douro (Portugal and Spain); another 3 in China; 3 on the Nile in Egypt; and an all-new operation to Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong River, this is a luxury all-inclusive option, with all shore excursions and complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks at dinner, plus sumptuously-furnished staterooms. More info: call 0845 678 8558 or, in the US, 818 382 7820.

Viking River Cruises ( this joint tour operator/ river cruise operation is very much the biggest in Europe, with a large fleet, most of which are superior first-class rated. They feature a huge programme across Europe and even to Russia and China. They operate on: Rhine, Main, Danube, Mosel, Elbe, Seine, Rhone, Saone, Dnieper (Russia and Ukraine) and Yangtze (China), plus a new 15-day Mekong River voyage through Vietnam and Cambodia. Christmas cruises are another speciality, along with itineraries rich in culture and history. More info: call 020 8780 7998.

Winter 2011-12 WORLD OF CRUISING 97

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