As many great global cities sprung up along waterways, traveling by river boat can be a unique and relaxing way to explore the world’s architectural treasures and bucolic landscapes. Forget the maps, train schedules and dragging luggage through the streets. Stash your bags for the duration and recline in your stateroom or perch on the deck for breathtaking cityscapes, sunsets and starry nights as a sleek vessel delivers you to new vistas. Viking River Cruises has consistently been rated by Condé Nast Traveler as a top-notch small vessel company as it hosts a manageable 100 to 300 people on luxe trips from Europe and Russia to China and Egypt. Cruise the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges while discovering the cultural history of the dynasties, savor the French countryside from the Rhone, drift along the Danube past the idyllic towns of Hungary and Austria, or float down the Nile in style from Aswan to Luxor in the shadow of the Sphinx and other splendors.
In addition to the many shades of travel river cruising affords, green is the latest color of choice for Viking, which recently launched a new eco-friendly vessel, the Viking Legend, whose inaugural voyage left Amsterdam this July, en route to Budapest. The Legend stands as the first of the fleet to be certified by new European Union guidelines for greenhouse emissions. Its diesel electric hybrid engine consumes 20 percent less fuel and the boat contains its own water treatment plant on board. (A champagne toast to Viking for embarking on new ways to reduce their carbon footprint). And it gets better: for those who can book a last-minute 2009 trip, Viking is offering several 2-for-1 trips to their top destinations for bookings by August 18th. For the 2010 season, their Early Booking Discount contains the following: 2-for-1 cruises on ALL itineraries, $800 off airfare per couple through July 31st, then $500 off airfare per couple through September 31st, and free wine with dinner. Bon voyage!