Virtuoso Traveler 2019 June Three Ways to Take a Sustainable River Cruise

Three Ways to Take a Sustainable River Cruise

Making a ME to WE connection in India.
Making a ME to WE connection in India.
Responsible travel providers are working to ensure that river cruising’s rising tide truly lifts all.

You can’t step in the same river twice, said Heraclitus. If the ancient Greek philosopher were alive today, he might apply that same wisdom to river cruising. As its popularity continues to surge – according to Virtuoso’s 2019 Luxe Report, it’s among the top three travel trends for 2019 – the ecology of our world’s great waterways faces the potential for dramatic change, as do the communities that live along their shores.

“With a growing number of travelers getting on board, it’s vital that river-cruise companies embrace sustainable-tourism leadership,” says Costas Christ, Virtuoso’s global strategist for sustainability. “The good news is that, through innovative green technologies and an abiding commitment to the well-being of locals, a handful of conscientious companies are charting a course toward a brighter travel future.” Here are three that are protecting the health of our rivers and the people whose lives and work depend on them.

Uniworld River Cruises helped establish the world’s first standards for environmentally friendly river cruising, and their partnership with ME to WE, the community-service arm of WE Charity, supports clean-drinking-water initiatives in remote villages. Together, they’ve crafted a 12-day journey that kicks off with four days of cultural immersion and service projects in rural Rajasthan, followed by eight days on the Ganges, sailing round-trip from Kolkata. Departures: Multiple dates, October 8, 2019, to December 6, 2020; from $5,199.

A Room to Read-funded library in Vietnam.
A Room to Read-funded library in Vietnam.
AmaWaterways’ Zambezi Queen, which sails southern Africa’s Chobe River, uses river water that’s purified in an eight-step process for onboard showers, taps, and the pool (the water is heated by solar panels); biodegradable cleaning products; and a water-jet propeller system that doesn’t disturb the riverbed.

To give back to communities along the Mekong River, Aqua Expeditions works with Room to Read to fund schooling and literacy projects. In 2016, the cruise line raised more than $10,000 to build a library at a primary school in Vietnam. 

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