By Celeste Moure
Join Uniworld on the Nile, the Mekong, and the Ganges this winter.
Many great civilizations evolved along major rivers as a matter of practical necessity, and this detail of history is a boon to contemporary travelers. Today, a luxury cruise down the Nile, the Mekong, and the Ganges – rivers so legendary a simple name-check sparks wanderlust – allows you to tap directly into the beating heart of Egypt, Vietnam, Cambodia, or India with ease and in comfort.
This fall, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection supplies ample reasons for first-timers to strike out on an exotic adventure and for veterans to return for a deeper look on these storied waterways. With Uniworld’s singular blend of local expertise, authentic shore experiences, carefree luxury, and all-inclusive amenities, the only question you have to answer is which great river?
The United Nations World Tourism Organization reports that Egypt is seeing a 55 percent increase in tourism. “It’s becoming popular again for several reasons,” says Virtuoso travel advisor Tom Barnum. The most important, he says, is that travelers are returning from Egypt with positive stories about the people they met and the feeling of being safe while there.
That’s good news, because Egypt is home to some of the wonders of the world, conveniently located along the mighty Nile: the Temple of Karnak at Luxor, a mindboggling complex of ancient stone temples, carved pylons, and hieroglyphic-covered obelisks; the famed Valley of the Kings, where elaborate imperial tombs are secreted under desert mounds; the awe-inspiring pyramids and the Great Sphinx at Giza; and the Egyptian Museum, chockablock with treasures, including the shimmering booty from King Tut’s tomb.
See it all in the fascinating company of Egyptologists during a Nile cruise aboard Uniworld’s 82-passenger River Tosca. The all-suite vessel features a stylishly adorned lounge with full-service bar, cozy library, restaurant, fitness room, massage room, and an expansive sundeck with shaded cabanas and a swimming pool. “The cruise is the way to go,” Barnum says. “Not all towns and hotels in Egypt are great, and having your own oasis to return to daily is amazing. You welcome the comfort of the ship after a long day of touring.” The journey includes 12 excursions, four at UNESCO World Heritage sites, and two nights before and after at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza.
Beauty, history, and tradition meet in the Mekong, the longest river in Southeast Asia. Encounter floating villages and markets, striking pagodas and temples, and endless rice paddies as you journey between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap during Uniworld’s 13-day journey aboard the 68-passenger Mekong Navigator. With a design reminiscent of the French Colonial-era manor homes that once lined the streets of old Saigon, the all-suite Mekong Navigator features a sophisticated and comfortable ambience.
“We were immersed in the lives and culture of Vietnam and Cambodia in a way that was open, educational, and impactful,” says Virtuoso advisor Judy Parker, who sailed the Mekong with Uniworld. Her highlights included a special water blessing from Buddhist monks in Angkor Ban, a visit to Cái Bè to meet village elders, and an excursion to colorful Sa Ðéc, where author Marguerite Duras lived.
The 13-day journey includes three days in Siem Reap and two in Ho Chi Minh City. “The way that Uniworld combines a comprehensive land portion of the trip with the cruise portion creates the perfect balance for this adventure,” Parker says. “If the Mekong is not on your bucket list now, you need to add it.”
A land with more than a dozen languages, millions of deities, 1.3 billion people, and a swirl of vibrant colors and exotic flavors, India is a destination unlike any other, and even seasoned travelers might find the mere idea of navigating it alone daunting. Through a mix of attentive service and local knowledge, Uniworld Cruises makes Ganges travel as effortless as it is meaningful.
Sail down India’s holiest river to behold the stunning architecture and magnificent Hindu temples in Kalna, shop for crafts at authentic artisan villages in Matiari, explore the former French outpost in Chandannagar, and learn about the legacy of Mother Teresa in Kolkata.
The lavish 56-passenger Ganges Voyager II boasts spacious, high-ceilinged suites with hand-painted murals and all the comforts of a five-star hotel, including a comfy sitting area and a French balcony with floor-to-ceiling glass doors. Uniworld’s acclaimed onboard wellness program includes yoga sessions, group lectures, and a dining menu that highlights organic ingredients.
Ganges tours feature alternative pre-cruise land experiences, such as four days on the ground from New Delhi to Kolkata with ME to WE, a social enterprise charity dedicated to helping local communities and allowing visitors to experience the soul of a destination through interactions with villagers, lessons in Hindi phrases, traditional cuisine, and one night’s stay at a luxury tented camp fit for a maharaja. Another journey focuses on India’s Golden Triangle by delving deep into the country’s fascinating religious heritage. Highlights include a visit to Jaipur’s Pink City and Agra’s Taj Mahal, which you’ll get to see at sunrise and again at sunset.
This article is sponsored by Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. All photos courtesy of Uniworld.