Although the term "gay cruise" may immediately conjure up images of massive boats packed with couple thousand gay men on their way to the Caribbean or traveling along the Mexican coast, there exists a whole different world of gay water travel you may not have considered: the river cruise. For those who find an ocean liner overwhelming, river boats are much more intimate and able to navigate shallower waters, allowing for exploration inside a country (instead of just around its edge.)
To acquaint us with some of the best LGBT river cruise options, we asked Eric Poole, Marketing Director for Brand g Vacations to share some of his favorites:
"Lyon, France: Considered the gastronomic capital of the world, Lyon has hundreds of exceptional family-run restaurants in its insanely charming Old Town. Three-course, prix-fixe dinners of Michelin star-quality food can be had for 25-45 Euros (about $27-48).
Burdwan, India: This city on the Ganges is home to the Rajbari, containing 108 18th-century temples. Yes, you read that right – 108, with 74 temples in an outer circle and 34 inside.
Siem Reap, Cambodia (photo at top): This Southeast Asian city not only has the astounding Angkor Wat temple complex, but world-class hotels, dining and spas. Get your holy on, then get a fabulous, two-hour massage – for $50.
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam has long been a top European city, of course, but gay pride here is unlike any other: their over-the-top parade floats down the canals.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Occupied by France for nearly a century, Ho Chi Minh (formerly Saigon) is home to stunning French architecture, millions of motorcycles (often carrying four people), and shopping for bargains galore thanks to the incredible exchange rate. We bought a gorgeous contemporary oil painting in a gallery for $60.
Budapest, Hungary: (photo above) The Danube (on which Budapest sits) is lined with postcard-perfect scenery – castles, villages, and bridges. But Budapest tops them all – stunning, grand art nouveau buildings line the waterfront as if designed to make river cruisers gasp. You'll want to keep your camera handy at all times.
Samiria River, Peru: This Amazon tributary winds through the rainforest, and is home to some of the most incredible and varied wildlife on the planet: umbrella birds, capuchin, howler and spider monkeys, and capybaras (a sort of giant guinea pig), among many others. You’ll feel like you’re starring in The Jungle Book.
Vienne, France: If you go in July, Vienne is home to a fabulous jazz festival, housed in an ancient, 8,000 seat Roman amphitheatre. We saw Diana Krall while sitting on the same semi-circular stone benches where Romans sat 2,000 years before.
Yangon, Myanmar: Now that the former Burma has opened itself to the western world, you can visit this paradise of pagodas, including the dazzling Shwedagon, a 30-story pagoda studded with more than 4,500 diamonds.
Salzburg, Austria: Although Salzburg requires a short bus trip from the river city of Linz, it’s worth every minute. This storybook city where The Sound of Music was filmed (and where you can take a fantastic Sound of Music tour) is beyond charming, and its Old Town is a jewel. Be sure to take in the Mozart dinner and concert (Salzburg is his birthplace), held in a spectacular, luxurious building."
To get more information on upcoming LGBT river cruises, visit brandgvacations.com.