PLY ME A RIVER

Whether it’s a romp through Egypt or a lan­guid voy­age on the up­per Mekong, these new river cruises prom­ise ad­ven­ture and lux­ury in equal parts.

DestinAsian - - GOOD TO GO | THE LIST - BY JAMES LOUIE

1 / Elbe MS ELBE PRINCESSE II

Pur­pose-built for nav­i­gat­ing the no­to­ri­ously shal­low Elbe River and its trib­u­taries, this sleek new stern-wheeler’s ul­tra-shal­low draft en­ables it to carry pas­sen­gers all the way be­tween Prague and Ber­lin on eight-night itin­er­ar­ies that take in the dra­matic ter­rain of Sax­ony’s Elbe Sand­stone Moun­tains, Dres­den’s re­stored Baroque land­marks, and the an­cient Bo­hemian town of Lit­o­merice. On­board ameni­ties in­clude a lounge and bar with a dance floor, a restau­rant spe­cial­iz­ing in re­gional Euro­pean fare, and a spa­cious rooftop sun deck. croisieu­roperiver­cruises.com; from US$2,365 per per­son

2 / Mekong GYPSY

Added to Mi­nor Ho­tels’ Mekong King­doms fleet of river boats in May, the twocabin Gypsy of­fers in­ti­mate two- and three-night cruises be­tween the Lao­tian tem­ple town of Luang Pra­bang and Chi­ang Saen in north­ern Thai­land. The rus­tic-chic ves­sel sports thatched roofs and bam­boo daybeds, plus a mid-ship lounge and din­ing area where the crew serves up meals and cham­pagne-fu­eled high tea. Cus­tom­iz­a­ble shore ex­cur­sions range from guided jun­gle treks and lao lao (rice whiskey) tast­ing ses­sions to vis­it­ing an ele­phant camp at the halfway point of Pak Beng. mekongk­ing­doms.com; from US$5,200 per trip

3 / Ganges RV KATHA PANDAW

Af­ter six years of ser­vice on the wa­ter­ways of South­east Asia, this colo­nial-style teak river cruiser is re­lo­cat­ing to In­dia for weekly ex­pe­di­tions up and down the Lower Ganges (or Hooghly) from De­cem­ber on­ward. Guests will em­bark on a seven-night voy­age through West Ben­gal that starts or ends in Kolkata, tak­ing in the 19th-cen­tury Shia con­gre­ga­tion hall and mosque at Hooghly, erst­while French and Dan­ish colonies, and Mur­shid­abad’s neo­clas­si­cal Hazard­uari Palace. Next Oc­to­ber, par­ent cruise line Pandaw will de­ploy two more ships for reg­u­lar cruises on the Brahma­pu­tra and the Ganges as far as Varanasi. pandaw.com; from US$1,701 per per­son

4 / Nile VIK­ING RA

Cruis­ing on the Nile looks poised for a come­back with the launch later this year of Vik­ing River Cruises’ 52-pas­sen­ger Vik­ing Ra. Named for the an­cient Egyp­tian sun god, the all-suite ship will sail from Luxor to Aswan and back on a leisurely week­long voy­age as part of the 12-day Pharaohs and Pyra­mids tour, balanc­ing iconic at­trac­tions such as Kar­nak and Abu Sim­bel with less-fre­quented tem­ple sites like Den­dera. Most state­rooms come with pri­vate ve­ran­das, though guests will be equally tempted to take in the pass­ing scenery from the Jacuzzi on the panoramic sun deck. vikingriver­cruises.com; from US$5,399 per per­son

The MS Elbe Princesse II at the Ger­man town of Rath­manns­dorf, en route to Dres­den.

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