Tag: River Cruising

Great Wall of China
Asia & PacificEuropeRiver Cruising

Historic Sites & Cultural Highlights While River Cruising

Cruising the world’s great river is a wonderful way to travel, but it’s not just about getting from A to B. Along the way you’ll see amazing archaeological sites and learn more about the people who have lived on the riverbanks for centuries.

The list of fascinating historic sites and cultural highlights is almost as long as the Yangtze River, so here are just a few that we recommend putting high on your bucket list.

Golden statues of the Peterhof, St.Petersburg


A cruise on the Volga and its tributaries introduces you to the diversity of Russia, from extravagant buildings and extraordinary Russian architecture, to quaint cities with a cultural heritage that dates back to the Viking era.

Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg –  the world-famous Hermitage Museum houses the largest collection of priceless masterpieces by Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt and many others. Boasting over 3 million items, the bulk of the collection is displayed in the impressive Winter Palace, formerly the official residence of the Romanov Tsars, and its several annexes. Founded by Catherine the Great in 1754 and open to the public since 1852, this is one of the world’s oldest museums.

Mandrogi, Svir River – On the left bank you’ll find Mandrogi, a reconstructed 18th century traditional Russian village set amongst a picturesque landscape. Walk through the town with its restored Russian houses (izba) and browse the shops for handmade Russian crafts, paintings or traditional clothes. Stop at the popular Museum of Russian Vodka, with a collection of over 2500 varieties of vodka from across Russia. Explore the craft workshops where painting, wood carving, weaving lacework and pottery are demonstrated, and then cap off the cultural visit with a traditional shashlik lunch, served in an open-air pavillion on the shore.

Church of Transfiguration, Kizhi – On the island of Kizhi you will stand in awe at the Church of Transfiguration, one of the most impressive wooden structures ever erected. This fairy tale architectural landmark is largely responsible for creating one of the most frequented tourist attractions in Russia. The church features 22 cupolas of striking intricacy, built without using a single nail. Wander through the open-air Architecture Museum with its collection of wooden houses, windmills and churches representing ancient Russian architecture. This entire area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kremlin, Moscow – The Kremlin is one of the best-known monuments in Russia. A guided walking tour takes you inside the former residence of the Russian Czars, where you’ll see the famous Czar Cannon, the 16th century Czar Bell and Cathedral Square, home to three of Moscow’s most elaborate cathedrals: the Cathedral of Assumption, the Cathedral of Annunciation and the Cathedral of the Archangel.

Bells of Bagan Temples, Myanmar

Myanmar (Burma)

“This is Burma, and it will be quite unlike any land you know about,” said Rudyard Kipling and he’s still right! The country has gone through monumental changes in recent recent years and today Myanmar (formerly Burma) is a nation of more than 100 ethnic groups that still display their traditional values.

Thayekhittaya (Sri-Ksetra) – Know as the ‘Fabulous City’, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was one of the ancient Pyu capitals of Myanmar and lies five miles south-east of Pyay on the left bank of the Ayeyarwady. Far less crowded than other archaeological sites is equal significance, you can wander this enormous Pyu city that ruled in the area from the 5th to 9th centuries AD.

Mud Volcanoes, Minbu – The small town of Minbu is famous for its legendary Mud Volcanoes, locally known as Naga Bwet Taung (Dragon’s breath) and home to two dragons with mystical powers. Upon entering, it’s customary to perform some offerings to the stone dragons, meant to tame the mythical beast. In reality, the volcanoes are formed by trapped methane gas trying to escape from deep below the surface. These gases then force their way through mud vents in this spectacular landscape that looks extremely lunar.

Salay – The Bagan-era village of Salay is an active religious centre founded in the 13th century with over 50 impressive teak monasteries and untouched British colonial buildings. Visit the huge Youqson Kyaung wooden monastery designed as a replica of the Crown Prince House in Mandalay, with its intricate exterior carvings depicting 19th century court life and scenes from Buddha’s past lives. Continue to an area of colonial buildings and the interesting monuments of Payathonzu and the Shinpinsarkyo Paya.

Bagan –  This is the country’s spiritual centre and one of the largest and most unforgettable archaeological sites in the world. Over 2,000 pagodas, stupas and temples dot the golden plains of the city. Visit the magnificent Ananda temple, a whitewashed masterpiece that houses four standing Buddhas. Continue to Dhammayangyi, Bagan’s largest temple, built during the reign of King Narathu.

Canals of Amsterdam, Netherlands


On the 16 Day Classic European River Cruise, as you sail between Amsterdam and Budapest you can expect to be wowed by opulent palaces, remarkable places of worship and incredible ancient monuments.

Bratislava, Slovakia – This capital city is among the youngest in Europe, yet has a mix of modern and Baroque architecture and retains a rich history dating back more than 2000 years. Walk along the cobblestone lanes of the historic town centre; view St. Martin’s Cathedral, coronation site of the Kings of Hungary, and visit the 13th century Old Town Hall and the Franciscan church.

Regensburg, Germany – One of Germany’s largest and best preserved medieval cities, Regensburg is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A guided walking tour highlights the city’s stunning architecture as you view the Old Town Hall, the Dom St Peter and the Porta Praetoria, gateway to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Marvel at beautiful churches and one of the oldest stone bridges crossing the Danube.

Nuremberg, Germany – Nuremberg, an energetic city with a visible history of almost one thousand years. Most famous for its historic Palace of Justice, where the War Crimes Tribunal met in 1946, today Nuremberg is an energetic city that still has a visible history of almost one thousand years. You can stroll through the shops that fill the Old Town, visit the vibrant Market Square or walk along the fortified walls of Nuremberg Castle.

Amsterdam, Netherlands – A panoramic tour of 700-year-old Amsterdam introduces you to both the old and the new sections of this city. View the Royal Palace on Amsterdam’s Dam Square, the Queen’s official home-away-from-home. On to the Dutch National Monument dedicated by Queen Juliana as a memorial to the victims of WWII and to the unusual Skinny Bridge, once so narrow that pedestrians could not pass each other. Then a must-do is a glass-top boat cruise through the winding canals for an up-close view of the stately historic homes, 16th-century warehouses and charming churches with striking bell towers.

Terracotta Warriors, China


Gate 1’s China tours combine four relaxing days on the Yangtze River with visiting the Middle Kingdom’s great cities and seeing the sights that you wouldn’t want to come all the way to China and miss out on!

The Great Wall of China – Number one on any list of iconic historic sites in China has to be the Great Wall. Travel to the extraordinary 2000-year-old Great Wall of China, one of the most spectacular structures ever built by man, spanning nearly 6,500 km of China’s northern frontier. Take time time to climb the ramparts of this ancient wonder to view breathtaking mountain passes, plateaus and grasslands from this 7th-century defensive fortification.

Forbidden City, Beijing – At the entrance to the Forbidden City you’ll find huge Tiananmen Square, the largest public plaza in the world built at the height of the Ming Dynasty. The square’s Gate of Heavenly Peace was once used as a staging ground for imperial edicts and by Mao Zedong himself to declare the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. From here, enter the Forbidden City, which served as the Imperial Palace until 1912. The extraordinary and immense walled complex is truly a masterpiece of Chinese architecture; its complex consists of 800 buildings with more than 9,000 rooms.

Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an – An unforgettable experience is visiting the archaeological site of the magnificent Terracotta Warriors, a vast collection of life-size soldiers, horses and chariots that were entombed with China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. This world-famous site, stumbled upon by local farmers in 1974, is still being discovered and excavated today, more than forty years since the time of its unearthing.

Three Gorges Dam, Yangtze River – The dam is the world’s largest and most ambitious hydroelectric project ever undertaken, nearly six times the size of the Hoover Dam. In addition to producing electricity, the dam was constructed to increase the Yangtze River’s shipping capacity and reduce the potential for floods. This project has forever changed the landscape surrounding the Yangtze River and has also forced the relocation of people who once lived along the river. Tour the massive site to see this impressive achievement of engineering.

InspirationRiver Cruising

Wining & Dining on the World’s Great Rivers

If you’ve come on board a river cruise to slim down, then let’s face it, you’ve probably chosen the wrong holiday. The fantastic selection of international food and wine is a wonderful part of your river cruising experience.

Each day starts with a delicious buffet breakfast, then during the fascinating shore excursions you get to walk it off just in time for an international buffet lunch that has a choice of hot and cold dishes. Dinner is often a la carte and when you’re cruising in Europe it will be accompanied by selection of regional wines and beers. So make sure you do a few laps around the sun deck so you can fit it all in!

Here are some of our favourite dishes from around the world that you’ll want to try on your river cruise journey.

Austrian strudel like Oma makes ~ image by RitaE

Austrian Apple Strudel

You haven’t tasted the best Apfelstrudel until you’ve sampled this world-famous dessert in Vienna. Find a cosy coffee house and order a serve with lashings of cream and you’ll be in heaven. There are many strudel variations, from puff pastry to filo, or filled with peach, poppy seed, traditional apple and the delicious soft cheese with warm vanilla sauce that’s served at Vienna’s renowned Cafe Drechsler.

Heartwarming Hungarian goulash ~ image by RitaE

Hungarian Goulash

Is it is a soup? Is it a stew? No, it’s a super dish that’s somewhere in between! The recipe originated from the medieval Kingdom of Hungary and the crucial ingredient is Hungarian paprika, so where better than Budapest to try this famous Central-European meal. Also essential to the beef dish is onions, tomatoes and green capsicum, then like all national recipes there’s some controversy around whether or not it’s traditional to include potatoes and noodles.

Spicy Sichuan cuisine ~ image by sharonang

Sichuan Fried Pork With Chilli

Sichuan cooking is one of China’s great eight cuisines and Chengdu is not only famous for its cuddly panda residents, but it’s renowned as the ideal place to try Sichuan’s best local dishes. On 14 Day China with Chengdu & 3 Day Yangtze Cruise, before you board the ship you have 3 nights to enjoy the foodie delights of Chengdu. Fried pork with chilli is a common favourite that’s made with fresh Sichuan pepper, garlic, ginger and of course lots of red or green chillies. For the more traditional version, one of the iconic dishes of Chengdu is Shuang Jiao Tu, or rabbit fried with peppers.

Sweet Russian donuts ~ image by isfara

Russian Pyshki

Donuts for breakfast are not only an American thing. Many Russians love to start their day with a sugar overload of condensed milk coffee and pyshki. Served hot and dusted in icing sugar, the taste is not identical to the donuts we know, but the popularity is the same. In fact, there’s cafe in the heart of St Petersburg that’s been selling pyshki since the 1960s. At Pyshechnaya they still used the old machines and recipe from Soviet times and it’s such a local institution that no other business is allowed to open on this site at Bolshaya Konyushennaya St. 25.


Asia & PacificEuropeRiver Cruising

Where The World Goes By: Life On Board A River Cruise

There are fascinating cities, historic villages and stunning landscapes to see as you cruise along any great waterway, but one of the highlights of the journey is also enjoying your time on board the ship. It’s your home-away-from-home and not unlike a floating hotel, so here we share with you some of the features of Gate 1’s different ships around the world and help you learn more about life on board.

Regal Cruising in Europe

In 2018, Gate 1 will have four ships operating in Europe on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. On each of the vessels you’ll find spacious outside cabins with individual climate control, flat screen TV, direct dial telephone, built-in safe, hairdryer, private bathroom with modern facilities.

Ship amenities include bar-lounge, restaurant, sun deck, fitness centre, complimentary wifi and a 24-hour coffee & tea station.

MS Monarch Empress, built and owned by Gate 1 Travel

MS Monarch Empress – the pride of the fleet, this 5-star ship was built by Gate 1 and debuted in 2016. She carries a maximum of 144 passengers in 72 outside cabins, 58 with French balcony and floor-to-ceiling windows. The Empress also has a putting green on the sun deck and there is an elevator for easy access to upper decks.

MS Monarch Queen & MS Monarch Baroness – first class sister ships

MS Monarch Queen & MS Monarch Baroness – these first class sister ships joined our exclusive charter in 2017. They were built in 2006 and 2007 and since then have been refurbished with new decor, updated bedding and soft furnishings. On the sun deck you will find a jacuzzi and the Queen and Baroness also have an exclusive Backlounge Steakhouse. The additional restaurant serves prime cuts of meat and fish in a relaxed open-kitchen dining room, that can only be booked on board for an supplementary charge of 10 Euro per person.

MS Monarch Princess – Outside cabin with French balcony, Sapphire Deck or Royal Deck

MS Monarch Princess – the newest addition to the Gate 1 river cruising family and is the most intimate with a maximum capacity of 138 passengers. She was built in 2009 and has all the conveniences of a modern, first class ship, with recent soft refurbishments like the Queen and Baroness. There is also a jacuzzi on the sun deck to enjoy relaxing after your full day of sightseeing.

Gate 1 tip: the lead price category E cabins are on the water level with a window. They offer great value, but if you want to upgrade your experience, from only $280 pp more on a 7-night cruise you can enjoy the comfort of a French balcony cabin in categories A, B, C and D. But hurry, category D cabins fill up fast!

Russian Waterways

There’s no better way to experience the enchantment of Russia than on a river cruise. Sail between St Petersburg to Moscow, stopping along the way to explore Uglich, Yaroslavl, one of Russia’s oldest cities, the culturally and historically rich town of Goritsy, the small island of Kizhi and the romantic village of Mandrogi. You’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy city tours of both Moscow and St Petersburg, highlighting the Kremlin and Hermitage museums.

Russian ships are generally older than the ones you’ll find cruising the Danube, but what they lack in modern facilities they more than make up for in atmosphere. All your meals are included, with a selection of Continental and Russian cuisine. Bottled water is provided at lunch and with dinner you can choose from wine, beer or soft drink. There’s also Russian vodka tastings on board, so you can get a real taste of the local culture!

MS Kronshtadt – cruising St Petersburg to Moscow or v.v

MS Kronshtadt – has 90 outside cabins, 24 Junior Suites and 2 suites. All cabins are air-conditioned with simple furnishings, basic bath facilities and a window. The ship’s amenities include two bars, a lounge and sauna.

MS Zosima Shashkov – look for Book By savings!

MS Zosima Shashkov – the larger of the two ships, Zosima Shashkov has 140 cabins and 2 suites. Each is an outside cabin with a window, simple furnishings, basic private bathroom and air-conditioning. The ship’s amenities include two bars, a lounge and sauna.

Cruising Majestic Myanmar

The Irrawaddy River is the lifeline of Myanmar (Burma) and with Gate 1 you can cruise in style between Mandalay and Pyay aboard the deluxe RV Irrawaddy Explorer. It’s an experience designed to give you a greater appreciation of Burmese life and culture, while discovering the country’s hidden beauty as you cruise it’s largest river.

On board you’ll enjoy cultural performances, educational talks, cooking classes and nightly entertainment in the lounge. Food is also a feature, with delicious breakfast and lunch buffets and locally-inspired dishes at table-served dinners. Plus you’ll receive complimentary bottled water, coffee, tea, soft drink and with dinner, local beer and wine.

Irrawaddy Explorer – visit 17 cities on a 10-day cruise

RV Irrawaddy Explorer – this boutique ship has 28 outside cabins, each tastefully furnished and with floor-to-ceiling windows. In your spacious cabin you will find full sized beds (twin or queen) with premium mattresses and linen, private bathroom, hair dryer and other modern conveniences. Ship amenities include bar-lounge, dining room, outside lounge, sun deck, jacuzzi and salon.

China’s Middle Kingdom Magic

They don’t come much bigger than the Yangtze River. It’s the longest river in Asia and the third-longest in the world, but the longest to flow from source to sea in one country. While there’s 1000’s of years of history to uncover on its banks, the Yangtze is also famously the site of the Three Gorges Dam, which is the biggest dam project and hydropower station in the world.

Cruising the Yangtze on Gate 1’s most popular 13 Day China with 4 Day Yangtze River Cruise, or one of our other China cruise options, will take you upstream from Yichang, sailing through Wu Gorge, with its magnificent Twelve Peaks, before docking at Shibaozhai to see the impressive Ming Dynasty pagoda.

Gate 1 use a selection of 4-star ships on our 3 or 4-day river cruises. These include ships operated by Victoria Cruises, a leader in luxury river cruising, and deluxe cruise vessel, MV Century Sun.

Victoria Cruises – modern European-Asian design

Victoria Cruises – these modern ships are either newly-built or structurally re-built and have a European-Asian design. The cabins are all outside with private balcony, bathtubs and cable TV. In addition to the regular inclusions, Gate 1 travellers also receive an Amenity Package with morning coffee and tea service, wifi public areas and access to the Executive Lounge, where ‘happy hour’ is served an hour before dinner with house wine and beer. You can click here to find more information on the individual ships.

Century Sun – complete with Sun Deck for maximum viewing!

Century Sun – this deluxe ship meets world class standards. There are 153 cabins and a maximum of 306 passengers. Each cabin has private balcony with full-length window, along with TV, safe, mini bar, hair dryer, individual climate control and a European style bathroom. The amenities on board include bar, restaurant, lounge, library, sun deck and fitness centre.

Gate 1 tip: From the China tour page, when you click on an itinerary and your preferred departure to start the reservation process, it will show you which cruise company is used on that date.

If you like the idea of being in a new place each day, while being able to enjoy the comforts of a river ship, and love the appeal of only having to unpack once and travelling at a more relaxed pace, then peruse our website for more information on our amazing river cruises, or call our reservations specialists on 1300 653 618 for assistance.

Asia & PacificEuropeRiver Cruising

River Cruise Highlights: From Bagan to Budapest

River cruising let’s you relax while the world comes to you. From the sun deck or your cabin French balcony, you can watch it all go by. Then when it’s time to disembark, you’re right at the riverside, ready to wander through picturesque villages, explore fascinating cities or discover ancient sites.

Here are just some of the shore excursions that are offered with Gate 1 Travel and are bound to be a highlight on your river cruise journey.

Irrawaddy River – Myanmar (Burma)

On the luxurious 9-night cruise on Myanmar’s longest river you can look forward to visions of golden pagodas, emerald rice fields and welcoming villages. There are many included shore excursions and here are just a few of the highlights.

Amarapura: Walk across the famous teak U-Bein bridge before boarding a sampan for a memorable sunset ride on the river.

Monywa: A major trade centre for agricultural products from the surrounding valley. Visit the amazing 12th century Hpowindaung and Shwebadaung Caves, adorned with hundreds of Buddha statues placed inside niches decorated with wonderful mural paintings.

Shwe Pyi Thar Village: Walking tour through this typical nomadic village where you learn about collecting and processing palm sap into palm sugar, sweets and liquors.

Bagan: The country’s spiritual centre and one of the largest and most unforgettable archaeological sites in the world. Over 2,000 pagodas, stupas and temples dot the golden plains of the city. Plus while you’re in Bagan, visit the bustling Nyaung-U morning market with its colourful stalls.

Yangtze River – China

The popular 4-day river cruise commences in Yichang and travels upstream to Chongqing (3-day cruises in reverse). The journey itself is spectacular, as you sail through Wu Gorge, famed for its magnificent Twelve Peaks and see century-old temples on the river banks.

Optional shore excursion package: this package makes it easy and includes a tour of Shibaozhai pagoda, enjoying a scenic small boat trip up Yangtze tributaries and visiting the Three Gorges Dam.

Danube River – Hungary, Austria & Germany

The Danube is Europe’s second-longest river, after the Volga, and travels 2860 km from Germany through ten countries in total. The most popular cruising section from Budapest, Hungary, to Regensburg, Germany, includes many great shore excursions and here are a notable few.

Budapest: City tour begins on the Pest side of the river; view Parliament, City Park, and Heroes Square. Cross to Buda to see the Royal Palace, Matthias Church and the graceful medieval architecture along the cobbled streets.

Bratislava: Tour the capital of Slovakia, a mix of modern and Baroque architecture with a rich history dating back more than 2000 years. Walk along the cobblestone lanes of the historic town center; view St Martin’s Cathedral, coronation site of the Kings of Hungary, the 13th century Old Town Hall and the Franciscan church.

Melk: Disembark for a guided tour of the historic Benedictine Abbey, considered one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Europe. View the Abbot’s chambers, the Kaiser’s walk, and the lavish library.

Salzburg optional tour: For those who haven’t been to Salzburg before, this is a great opportunity to see some of the city’s most historic sites on a walking tour, including Mirabell Palace, the Abbey, Salzburg Cathedral and St Peter’s Cemetery.

Rhine River – Netherlands, Germany & Switzerland

Flowing from the southeastern Swiss Alps, through the Rhineland and eventually to the North Sea in the Netherlands, the Rhine River is a vital navigable waterway. Its course has set many boundaries between countries or empires, hence the many castles and fortifications that we can still be seen on its banks.

Cologne: One of Germany’s largest cities and capital of the Rhineland, your walking tour is highlighted by the soaring, twin-steeple Gothic cathedral that is the geographical and spiritual heart of the city.

Koblenz: Located at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, join an orientation walk and enjoy free time to explore the Romanesque architecture and imposing defensive towers of this 2000-year old city. Or, join the optional tour to the dramatic Marksburg Castle, the only hill castle on the Rhine that’s never been destroyed and has been continuously occupied for over 700 years.

Strasbourg: A lovely day awaits you in the Alsace capital of Strasbourg, situated on the border of France and Germany, blending the cultures of both countries. Discover Strasbourg on the tour highlighting the city’s centre, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Breisach: This small city dates back over 4000 years. On your walking tour along the cobbled streets lined with pastel-painted houses, it’s hard to believe this town was mostly destroyed in WWII and then totally restored to its original beauty. View the towering Romanesque and Gothic St Stephansmunster Cathedral.

Volga River – Russia

The legendary Volga an ideal passageway through Russia’s fascinating history and cultural traditions. The French writer Alexandre Dumas describes its significance well, “Every country has its national river and Russia has the Volga – the longest river in Europe, the Queen of rivers – and I was one of the many who went to bow to her Majesty River Volga.”

St Petersburg: Begin on the stunning Nevsky Prospekt, the main avenue of the city, planned by Peter the Great. Continue to view the Palace Square, Peter and Paul Fortress, St Isaac’s Cathedral with its huge golden dome and the magnificent Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, a superb example of Russian architecture. Visit the world-famous Hermitage Museum, housing the largest collection of priceless masterpieces by Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt and many others.

Goritsy: Visit the old Russian town with a rich historical and cultural heritage. Stroll the grounds of the 14th century Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, also known as the Monastery of St Cyril of the White Lake, one of the largest and best preserved medieval Abbeys in Russia.

Uglich: This town played an important role in Russian history when Prince Dmitry used it as a hiding place from the bloody reign of his father Ivan the Terrible. Today’s walking tour will visit the Church of St Dimitry-on-Blood built in honour of the Prince on the exact spot where he was killed by his father’s forces, and the Transfiguration Cathedral impressively decorated with painted icons and frescoes.

Moscow: Begin your panoramic city tour at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, St Basil’s Cathedral and the former headquarters of the KGB. Explore storied Red Square, and visit GUM, a large department store that could easily be confused with a palace. Visit the Kremlin on a guided walking tour that takes you inside the former residence of the Russian Czars.

Find out more about included and optional shore excursions on each of our river cruise tours.