(25) River and Canal Cruising
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River and canal cruises offer the opportunity to explore interior destinations traveling the rivers and canals of Europe, Asia, South American and North America. River and canal cruises are leisurely and casual. Because the ships used on river cruises are much smaller than cruise ships (average 40 to 200 passengers), there is more camaraderie with passengers and crew members. Barge cruises are even smaller with fewer than 50 passengers and slow cruising on narrow waterways and canals. But, don't think spartan. Most of the small river cruise vessels and barges are well-furnished. Meals are delicious and entertainment consists of a piano bar, cultural lectures and performances by local groups. Another perk, shore excursions are usually included in the cost of river and canal cruises.
Popular river cruises feature itineraries on the great rivers of Europe, French wine country, the Nile River in Egypt, Amazon River in South American and Yangtze River in China. In North America, cruise California wine country, trace the path of Lewis and Clark, get up close and personal in the Inside Passage in Alaska or travel the Mighty Mississippi River on an authentic riverboat. Some of the leading river cruise lines include: Grand Circle Travel (www.gct.com), Peter Deilmann Cruises (www. deilman n- cruises .com), The Barge Connection (www.bargeconnection.com), Cruise West (www.cruisewest.com), Uniworld (www.uniworld.com), Viking River Cruises (www.vikingrivercruises.com), Avalon Waterways (www.avalonwaterways.com) and Delta Queen Steamboat Company ( www .majesticamericaline.com ) .