How to hold on to springtime on a river cruise
As autumn hits the southern hemisphere, follow the sun with one of these glorious river cruises, and enjoy some fine sights too, writes Jane Archer
MONET, MONET, MONET
Delay a spring cruise on the Seine until early June (summer starts officially on June 21) and with luck the water lilies immortalised by Claude Monet will be in flower.
His Giverny gardens are not to be missed; trips to Honfleur and Auvers-sur-Oise, where Van Gogh died, reveal more about the impressionists. Visit avalonwaterways.co.za.
MUSIC ON THE DANUBE
Spring is perfect for a river cruise to Budapest, as the city's museums, concert halls and streets come alive with music, art, dance and opera to celebrate the largest cultural festival in Hungary (March 30 to April 22 in 2018).
Music lovers will delight in Mozart and Strauss concerts in Vienna, and seeing Mozart's childhood violin and his music manuscripts in the Salzburg house, now a museum, where he was born. Visit uniworld.com/za.WELLNESS ON WATER
If you're a fitness fanatic - or looking to become one this year - keep/get fit on one of AmaWaterways' new wellness river cruises, and you'll be jogging, stretching and cycling to a different backdrop every day. Visit cruises.co.za.
In Holland, seven million tulip bulbs are planted each year in Keukenhof Gardens, blooming from around mid-March to mid-May. About 40km south of Amsterdam, the gardens are included in several cruise itineraries travelling along Dutch waterways. Visit emeraldwaterways.com.EXPLORE MORE IN MYANMAR
Enjoy the warmth of Asia on a Pandaw cruise around the Irrawaddy Delta in Myanmar. This is a true adventure, visiting towns, markets, temples, churches and mosques, plus a wildlife reserve, where saltwater crocodiles lurk. There are only two departures in 2018, both in March, on a vessel that holds just 32 passengers. Visit pandaw.co.uk.WAKING UP ON THE RHINEThere will most likely be a winter chill in the air on the Rhine in April, but don't be put off.
Spring is a busy time on the river as cruisers rush to beat high summer prices, trees begin to blossom and the café culture in Holland, Germany and France kicks in. Scenic's Rhine cruises visit all three countries. Visit scenic. co.uk.BLOSSOMS IN BERLIN
Cruising the Elbe in spring is not just a good excuse for seeing cherry blossoms in Berlin but also a fairly sure way of avoiding the low water that plagues the river most summers - and which, incidentally, means few cruise lines dare to venture here.
Trips include visits to Meissen, famed for its porcelain, and the beautiful city of Dresden. Visit croisieurope.co.uk.
GET CRACKING TO THE US
Easter in the US means colourful parades, eggs and bunnies, so you'll feel at home celebrating on a Mississippi river cruise, but be aware that the holiday weekend is a favourite for Americans, so the boats fill up fast. When not painting eggs, there are antebellum mansions to explore and Civil War battlefields to discover on this cruise on the American Duchess. Visit lightbluetravel.co.uk.
PEACHES IN PORTUGAL
June, July and August in the Douro Valley are dubbed "three months of hell" by the locals, so most people beat the summer heat by cruising there in spring instead. It's a lovely time of year, with peach and orange trees starting to blossom and the tiny grapes used to make the port wine peeking through the verdant vines that cloak the river banks. Visit uniworld.com/za.ART IN THE LOW COUNTRIES
Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum receives around 1.6 million visitors each year, so APT's spring river cruise around Holland and Belgium, with a private tour before the doors open to the public, will be snapped up. There's more Van Gogh on offer at the Kröller-Müller Museum near Arnhem, plus a visit to the former home and studio of Rubens in Antwerp. Visit aptouring.com
© The Sunday Telegraph
• For more information about river cruises, contact Lifestyle Cruises and Imagine Cruising.