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17 Luxurious River Cruises Around the World

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream this is not… unless said boat is a hand-crafted, luxury, vessel with bespoke details beyond your wildest dreams. Then ok. Row on. Much like the rise of slow-living, river cruises embody curated travel of the meandering kind. Where the journey itself is as memorable and meaningful as the destinations where you dock. We’re bringing you a curated list of the 20 most luxurious, intimate river cruises exploring canals and waterways of the world in new, innovative ways. Cruises complete with adventures in “space-ships,” six-star amenities and the chance to set your senses (and your Instagram feed) on fire.

Reporter: Katie Bush | Cruise: Steam Ship Sudan
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Steam Ship Sudan

Nile, Egypt
Millennials have come to expect modern amenities and cutting edge curation when it comes to bespoke boutique experiences, but wouldn’t you forfeit all of that if you could take trip to an elusive other era, and take a turn-of-the-century luxury voyage down the Nile on a ship which housed Agatha Christie? Crafted in the Belle Epoque style, book the Agatha Christie suite – it was on board this historic vessel in 1933, when Christie, accompanying her husband on an archaeological mission, found the insipration for her classic, Death on the Nile. It also offers panoramic views of the Nile and opportunities to fly over Luxor in a hot-air balloon.
Photo:Aman Resorts
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Amandiralearn more

For the ultimate Indonesian odyssey, charter the 170 foot sailing vessel, Amandira, for the most opulent dinner party on the open water. Round up your bests and say ‘bon voyage’ as you charter an Aman Hotel on the open water, with views of UNESCO protected islands. Stay in a king-sized suite with 270 degree views, above deck. Bonus: take your private vessel to Amanwana – a wilderness hideaway with 20 stand-alone tents in a secluded cove overlooking the Flores sea with a jungle backdrop. BOOM.
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Aqua Mekong

Vietnam & Cambodia
Literally a floating, five-star luxury hotel on the water, the 62.4 meter (205 feet) Aqua Mekong was designed by Saigon-based architects at Noor Design to embody the aesthetic of a sophisticated hotel. With a maximum of 40 guests on-board, revel in on and off shore excursions along the river, from “Chinese wing tipped pagoda temples to remote Buddhist monasteries.” Take a dreamy dip in the on-deck, riverside pool, relax in your eco-friendly, luxury suite with floor-to-ceiling windows, relax in the on-ship spa and indulge in the innovative five-star cuisine, ever changing as chefs shop at the waterside markets for the freshest, local ingredients.

Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

Yanghzi River, China
With a crew to passenger ratio of 1:1, private suites with balconies overlooking the river, a two-floor theater and luxury spa, the Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer isn’t a cruise, it's a curated experience. Choose from 3, 4, 5,6, 8 and 9 night experiences and explore on and off the river, including the bustling heartbeats of Beijing and Shanghai. Or for a truly curated journey through China and couple it with luxury rail journey to Yichang.
Photo:Steph Wu
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U by Uniworld

The first self-described “millennial cruise line” – forget the 55+ set, this is geared towards 21-45 and curated beyond measure. Think later docking times (to accommodate late-night parties), on-board paint & wine classes, yoga, silent discos with in-house resident DJ’s and food sourced locally with lots of vegetarian options. They’ve also partnered with VizEat, where you can disembark and taste the city while sharing a meal in the home of a U Host. It’s authentic home cooking meets immersive travel. Plan your day in port cities as you please and spend your nights in town if you so choose.  With 27 ports of call in 6 countries along 4 rivers there’s no lack of sights or interest – both on-board or off.
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Aria Amazon

Peru
Can you imagine an ultra-luxurious, yet intimate river cruise down some of the most wild and wonderful ecosystems in the world? A cruise on the Aria Amazon offers the highest levels of guest service possible with a 1:1 guest to staff ratio in smart-climate controlled suites. Designed by leading Peruvian architect Jordi Puig and measures 45 meters (147 feet). Aria Amazon, can accommodate a maximum of 32 guests with indoor and outdoor luxury lounges and a rotating menu of Amazon jungle influenced menus.
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Scenic Aura

Irawwaddy River, Burma
The Scenic Aura is a 213-foot vessel launched in 2016 and can accommodate 44 passengers in 22 one-bedroom balcony suites. With a 1:1 staff-to-guest ratio it’s personalized service at it’s best. Bonus: can you imagine cruising down the exotic Irrawaddy River while enjoying an movie at the Open Air Cinema on the Sun Deck? Hello, happy place.
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Crystal Bach

Rhine River
Explore treasured UNESCO sites as you sail down the Rhine, you’ll be surrounded by castles, historic towns & terraced vineyards all from the comfort of your curated suite. You’ll have plenty of perfect opportunities to explore these stunning sites as Crystal Bach docks in ports overnight.
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Scenic Azure

Duoro River, Portugal
Boasting a wealth of cutting edge-technology Scenic Azure navigates the picture-perfect waterways of the Duoro River in Portugal. With only 96 passengers aboard and a crew-to-passenger ratio of 1:2, sip cocktails at the Panorama Lounge Bar, relax in your suite with round-the-clock butler service and spend sunlit days exploring a wealth of Portuguese land excursions.
Photo:Aman Resorts
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Amanikanlearn more

Ever thought about booking a private, luxury vessel modeled after a traditional spice-trading ship with six of your sweetest friends? Here’s your chance (and how) on the Amanikan. Views of Indonesian secret spots, cabins above deck with private sundecks and unparalleled views while enjoying the comforts and luxuries an Aman Hotel affords.
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Scenic Jasper, Opal & Amber

Europe - Rhine, Maine & Danube Rivers
The newest in a fleet of luxury “space-ships,” the Scenic Jasper, Opal & Amber, host 169 passengers in 85 suites with private balconies – the largest accommodations on these rivers. Besides award-winning dining, sumptuous sun decks and an inclusive butler service, all of the balcony suites feature exclusive Scenic Sun Lounge system that transforms your balcony into an all-weather conservatory-style space at the gentle touch of a button.
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Crystal Mahler

Rhine, Main & Danube Rivers
The grandest of the voyages in Europe, Crystal Mahler embodies the dreams of Charlemagne and cuts it’s path down the Rhine, Main & Danube Rivers traveling between Amsterdam & Budapest – you’ll explore the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary – oh my. Stunning suites, guided or un-guided ship-to-land excursions and waterside markets complete this massively stunning ship.

The Oberoi Zahra Nile Cruiser

Nile, Egypt
Enjoy amenities from luxury Oberoi Hotel brand on-board the The Oberoi Zahra. On a seven night cruise, guests will discover ancient monuments, magnificent temples and five thousand years of Egyptian culture, in supreme style and comfort along the Nile River. Bonus: enjoy the signature Oberoi Spa treatments which offers Balinese, Thai and Western treatments.
Photo:Zambezi Queen
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Zambezi Queenlearn more

Journey to this jewel of the Chobe River, the Zambezi Queen, an unforgettably fabulous floating venue moored deep in the heart of Africa. Imagine floating down sparkling, sunlit African waters, docking on the serene beaches of the most beautiful countries along the coast, and then ending the day in your luxurious 5-star suite. Throw in world class dining, spa-side cocktails, a candlelit massage, and you can only be on the Zambezi Queen.
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Sanctuary Sun Boat III

Nile River, Egypt
Voted one of the ‘Top 100 Most Beautiful Boats in the World’ by Conde Nast readers, on the Sanctuary Sun Boat III, you’re certainly not Moses floating down the river in a basket babes, you’re basking in some serious bespoke accommodations. Think Egyptologist-approved itineraries, hand-crafted fare & food, while surrounded by style hearkening back to the 20’s & 30’s.

The Oberoi Motor Vessel Vrinda

Kerala, India
Take a two or three night luxury cruise through a beautiful backwater stretch of Vembanad Lake and the vibrant waterways of Alley, also known as the "Venice of the East.” An intimate ship that hosts only 8 luxury suites and 24-hour butler service, the Oberoi Moto Vessel Vrinda offers the perfect private chartered getaway complete with palm trees, rice paddies, colorful villages and nightly traditional performances.
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Scenic Tsar

Russia
Scenic Tsar, launched in 2013, was the first ‘new-build’ ship to be launched onto Russia’s waterways in over 25 years. With wraparound balconies so as not to miss a single sweet detail of your surroundings and only 112 guests, it feels both intimate and otherwordly as you cruise the mighty Volga.
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