Best Cruise Destinations for Culture
Touring a village by horse-drawn cart in Myanmar, experiencing a floating market on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, watching a loud and colourful sing-sing cultural performance in Papua New Guinea, or taking part in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony … the cultural experiences available to cruise passengers are a journey into a country’s DNA.
In many cases, such as in Papua New Guinea (PNG), ships can provide access to otherwise almost inaccessible parts of a country. In other countries historic ports will be on the itinerary, or a journey along a classic river such as the Nile, Danube, Mekong, Irrawaddy, Ganges or Amazon. Cruise passengers can gain privileged access to events that are difficult for independent travellers to get to because land accommodation is booked out, or too expensive. Ships time their itineraries with festivals and other events in mind so you can be sure of being in the right place at the right time.
What will you See?
Authentic village life, European treasures, cultural performances, fire walking, festivals, world’s-best museums, concerts, bustling markets.
Most likely destinations
Three of the best
Travel through the heart of the continent along Europe's famous rivers including the Rhine, Danube and Seine and see multiple countries including France, Austria and Hungary. Along the way, stop in cities such as Vienna where cultural immersion may include a concert of Mozart’s classics, seeing the work of renowned artists such as Gustav Klimt, listening to the Vienna Boys’ Choir, eating sachertorte in an old-fashioned cafe, or attending a Christkindl market.
Go off the beaten track, along the fertile Mekong River and Mekong Delta, into a region of jungle, rice paddies and villages. See floating markets, tour farms and visit small towns and settlements where you can try local delicacies in over-water restaurants.
3. Papua New Guinea
Cruising in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has become extremely popular in the Past few years, perhaps because it still feels undiscovered and authentic. P&O Australia is one of the pioneers of PNG cruises and is continuing to add new destinations to its itineraries there, with the Conflict Islands being included for the first time in 2016. The crystal-clear water of PNG is perfect for swimming and snorkelling, and there are beautiful jungle-fringed beaches and cultural performances to see. Villagers often paddle out to greet ships and sell fresh fruit and trinkets from their canoes.
A moment to remember
The colourful ’ava ceremony is a Samoan welcoming ritual that cruise passengers are treated to in the beautiful harbour of Pago Pago.
Who will take you there
Avalon Waterways, APT River Cruising, Azamara Club Cruises, Viking River Cruises, Princess, P&O, Pandaw River Cruises and Travelmarvel are just some of the cruise companies offering rewarding cultural voyages.
Cultural immersion does not stop when you’re back on the ship. Onboard experts enhance the cultural experiences with commentary and lecture programs (as well as guiding when on shore). There are also cultural enrichment classes on many ships, including painting classes, martini-appreciation classes and learning how to cook the cuisine of the region you are visiting.
Visiting remote communities, trying local food, or viewing a European masterpiece will be more rewarding if you have researched the subject matter prior to the cruise.