The rivers we explore

An enchanting network of rivers sweep through culture-rich cities, towns as old as time, and regions of unparalleled beauty..

From source to sea, rivers connect more than just towns and cities. They offer a glimpse into enriching cultures, a chance to explore immersive heritage sites, and see more of the wonders of our beautiful world. 
Choose to travel on one of these great passageways and you’ll encounter iconic sights, stunning landscapes and regional customs rarely seen or experienced by the ordinary traveller. The beauty of a river cruise is that every day brings something new to discover, so you’ll never tire of the journey.

At Emerald Waterways, we offer luxurious passage on nine exceptional rivers. Each of our carefully-crafted itineraries introduces the highlights of the river, so you can immerse in local life and experience our signature brand of deluxe river cruising from Europe to the Far East.

Which river will you choose? From the Rhine to the Irrawaddy, find your perfect match below.
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Europe

Danube

Passing through the heart of Europe, the Danube is your gateway from west to east, offering seamless passage between beloved capitals and striking continental vistas. Many of Europe’s finest cultural treasures are found on its weaving course, so expect unforgettable discoveries at every stage of your journey.


Marvel at the architectural feats of Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava and Belgrade, and be charmed by the medieval splendour of Bavaria. EmeraldACTIVE excursions help you see more of Austria’s Wachau Valley and the unique heritage of Slovakia, while the spectacular Iron Gates mark a natural border between east and west.

Ten countries, four capitals and countless heritage highlights – a river cruise on the Danube is unlike any other. 

Rhine

Central and northern Europe are yours to discover on the iconic passage of the Rhine, whose course begins in the Swiss Alps and ends on the North Sea coast of the Netherlands. This beloved waterway cuts a course through six countries and is lined with some of Europe’s most spectacular towns and cities, from Strasbourg, Mannheim and Koblenz, to Cologne and the wonderful, colourful Dutch capital of Amsterdam.

Strike out from Switzerland or the Netherlands on the timeless flow of the Rhine, and prepare for extraordinary days of discovery on the river. Hike through the iconic Black Forest, drift through Strasbourg’s medieval heart on a traditional batobus, see the beautiful timber-framed town of Heidelberg, and cycle the elegant streets of Amsterdam. The World Heritage-listed Rhine Gorge will prove a highlight of your journey on this magnificent river.

Main

Spanning the breadth of Germany, the Main showcases the medieval wonders of Bavaria, affording seamless passage between the ancient heritage towns of Miltenberg, Bamberg and Würzburg. This Germanic river has long been an important trade route, and its 237-mile course connects the Rhine to the Danube via the Main-Rhine-Danube canal – one of Europe’s oldest and most vital passageways.

Main river cruises are often combined with a longer journey on the Rhine and Danube, though that’s not to say the river is lacking in cultural highlights. Step into history in Miltenberg and see Wildenberg Castle, or spend time exploring the grounds of the Bishop’s Residenz in Würzburg during an exclusive EmeraldPLUS event.

Capturing the beauty of southern Germany, the Main is a unique river waiting to be discovered

Rhône

Join us on the Rhône River and fall in love with the provincial charm of southern France. Flowing from north to south from the French Alps to the Mediterranean Sea, the Rhône weaves through the celebrated wine regions of Beaujolais and Burgundy, the culinary capital of Lyon, and onward through the lavender-strewn expanse of Provence. Heritage, local produce and hours of Mediterranean sunshine – the Rhône offers a river cruise experience quite unlike any other.

For great lovers of wine, the Rhône and its banks offer up countless opportunities to sample the local offering. Discover the wine-making customs of Chalon-Sur-Saône in the heart of the Burgundy region, and explore the vineyards of Provence. History lovers, too, will be in their element on this enrapturing river, with Avignon’s exquisite Palais des Papes and Arles’ Romanesque monuments affording memorable cultural immersion.

Douro

Snaking through Portugal’s rugged north, the Douro provides spectacular passage from the historic coastal city of Porto to the Spanish border and beyond. This beautiful river is flanked for much of its course by the Douro Valley, easily one of Europe’s most fertile and impressive regions, and a place where you can indulge in one of Portugal’s most beloved exports: port wine.
 
All of our Douro river cruises begin and end in Porto, a city renowned for its seafaring heritage and exquisite baroque architecture. See the Palácio da Bolsa, visit the historic port wine cellars or take part in an EmeraldACTIVE walking tour of the city. Beyond Porto, the Douro Valley is revealed in Vega de Terrón and Pinhão, while a visit to the Spanish city of Salamanca promises sightseeing to remember.

Volga

Journey through the heart of Mother Russia on the massive watershed of the great Volga, Europe’s longest river. Held dear by local people for thousands of years, this ageless waterway is integral to the local culture and identity of Russia, and a river cruise showcases all its many highlights – from the elegance of St Petersburg to the might of Moscow.

Travelling the Volga River is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Characterised by contrasts, the river connects pioneering cities such as St Petersburg and Moscow with regional villages whose people stay true to a traditional way of life – making for a truly unique travel experience. Learn Russian folklore in humble Mandrogi, negotiate the inland sea of Lake Onega, and walk the flagstones of Moscow’s iconic Red Square. A Volga river cruise promises a journey to remember.

Southeast Asia

Mekong

Delve into the colourful and mystical lands of Southeast Asia on the River Mekong, and experience the local customs and cultures of Cambodia and Vietnam on this exotic passageway. From Ho Chi Minh City, the second city of Vietnam, to the jungle lands of Siem Reap, home to the renowned Temples of Angkor – the Mekong is your gateway to the exoticism of the East, and the perfect way to get to grips with local life.

Each of our Mekong river and touring itineraries includes a 7-day cruise on-board the purpose-built Mekong Navigator, so you can cruise this legendary waterway in the utmost comfort and luxury. Admire the colonial beauty of Ho Chi Minh City, see the vibrant floating markets of Cai Be, and explore the traditional industries of the Mekong Delta region. In Cambodia, Phnom Penh dazzles with its Khmer antiquities, while the Temples of Angkor in Siem Reap provide an enchanting finale to your journey.

Irrawaddy

Affectionately referred to as ‘the road to Mandalay’ after Rudyard Kipling’s poem, the Irrawaddy is the perfect choice for those seeking a ‘pure’ travel experience. Here, on the banks of this 1,300-mile passage, local people follow a simple way of life centuries in the making, and temples and pagodas dot the river’s banks from Yangon to Mandalay, telling of Myanmar’s deep-rooted spirituality and time-honoured customs. 

Marvel at the impressive Shwedagon Pagoda in Mandalay, encounter the 2,200-plus intricate carvings of Bagan, and pay a visit to the charming rural village of Yandabo, where an EmeraldPLUS experience invites you to a local school, providing fascinating insight into local life on the river. 

Adventure awaits on the Irrawaddy, and we can’t wait to welcome you on-board.

Egypt

Nile

Few rivers conjure the spirit of discovery and exploration like the Nile. The world’s longest river, this alluring passageway negotiates 11 countries overs its epic 4,000-mile course, and has become a revered icon of Egypt, through which its route is the most storied. Held sacred since the earliest dynasties of Ancient Egypt, the Nile is easily one of the world’s most treasured rivers, its banks dotted with countless artefacts and monuments which reveal the alluring history of the ancient world.

Travel the Nile through the heart of Egypt, and you’ll encounter distinguished heritage wonders from the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Valley of the Kings, to Aswan Dam and the temples of Ramses II. From Cairo to Aswan, these legendary waters will help you unearth the pages of Egyptian antiquity, and all in the comfort and luxury you can expect from Emerald Waterways.