River cruiser, luxury houseboat or private yacht? Here are six of the best ways to spend a night on the water at destinations across the KQ network. Why not dabble your toes with one of our suggestions?
1 Safari houseboat, Chobe River, Botswana
Classy cruising, spectacular scenery and wonderful wildlife watching are guaranteed the moment you step aboard the Zambezi Queen. This supremely elegant houseboat operates two- and three-night cruises on the Chobe River between Namibia’s Caprivi Strip and Botswana’s Chobe National Park – home to one of Africa’s densest concentrations of game, including large herds of elephant. On board there are just 14 spacious, contemporary suites, each with its own balcony – ideal for spotting wildlife on the riverbanks as you drift sedately past. As well as fine dining and relaxation in the pool, the Zambezi Queen offers a range of activities, from safaris to tiger fishing. Cruises can be combined with visits to the majestic Victoria Falls (just 80km away by road) and you’re also close to the famous ‘quadripoint’ at Kanzungula, where the borders of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia all meet.
• KQ flies to Livingstone three times a week
2 Yacht, Seychelles
Consisting of around 115 tropical islands scattered across an impossibly blue sea, the Seychelles are fringed with pristine sugar-sand coves and dazzling coral reefs – perfect for exploring by boat. Cruises are offered by various operators, with vessels ranging from traditional three-masted schooners to ultra-modern catamarans. Some are like floating 5-star hotels, complete with luxurious cabins, resident stewardesses, dive guides and chefs turning out top-notch creole cuisine. A popular option is to charter a skippered yacht, island hopping between Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, anchoring in idyllic bays, snorkelling off the deck and going ashore to visit highlights like the Vallée de Mai palm forest. More adventurous itineraries head to the distant atolls of the Outer Islands.
• Fly KQ four times a week
3 Backwater Houseboat, Kerala, India
Converted from rice barges, these graceful vessels – known locally as kettuvallams – offer a comfortable base from which to cruise the watery labyrinth of lakes, lagoons and rivers that seep through the coastal hinterland of Kerala in southwest India. Coir-knotted canopies of coconut matting shade open foredecks where you can lie back in sunloungers and eat delicious alfresco meals of fish curry, prawns and banana fritters. Cabins are usually air-conditioned and have en suite bathrooms – opt for a premium standard houseboat and you’ll find opulent extras like teak panelling, picture windows and king-size beds. A Kerala houseboat journey provides a fascinating window on traditional life in rural India. Everyone, from duck farmers to schoolchildren, use the Backwaters to get around, and you’ll mingle with myriad boats, from passenger ferries to dugout canoes.
• KQ flies daily to Mumbai
4 River Nile Cruiser, Cairo-Aswan, Egypt
The classic Nile cruise takes various guises. Shorter trips start in Luxor or Aswan, but for the ultimate river experience you can’t beat the traditional ‘Long Nile’ cruise from Cairo to Aswan – an epic 600-mile, two-week journey, which has only recently been reopened to tourists. Most cruises are aboard luxurious triple-decker ‘floating hotels’ boasting many of the facilities you’d expect to find in an upscale hotel on land. Accommodation is in comfortable – and sometimes unexpectedly spacious – air-conditioned cabins, offering ever-changing views of the river through large picture windows. You will also find a good restaurant, bar, swimming pool, gift shop and gym, plus nightly entertainment and a resident Egyptologist to keep you both informed and entertained during your sojourn along one of the world’s most fascinating rivers.
• KQ flies to Cairo five times a week
5 Canal Houseboat, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Visiting Amsterdam and fancy something a bit different from the average hotel? Then check out the range of houseboats moored along many of the city’s canals, as well as the Amstel River and old city docklands. Traditionally used as a way of dealing with housing shortages in the cramped Dutch capital, houseboats now provide a funky source of alternative tourist accommodation, allowing visitors to experience life in Amsterdam like a true local. The boats themselves have varied origins. Some are converted from old cargo vessels, while others have been custom made. A few offer B&B, although most are available to rent as a private floating apartment. Many houseboats are unexpectedly spacious and surprisingly luxurious: there are none of the cramped cabins, low ceilings and rickety companionways you might expect.
• KQ flies daily to Amsterdam
6 River Seine Cruiser, Paris-Honfleur, France
One of Europe’s classic river journeys, luxury cruisers set off from Paris and meander along the Seine through idyllic French countryside before reaching the sea at Honfleur. Most cruises last around one week. One of the most popular stops is Giverny, home of impressionist painter Claude Monet from 1883 until his death in 1926. You can visit his house and admire the water-lily gardens that captured the artist’s imagination. A short distance downriver, Rouen boasts one of Europe’s greatest medieval cathedrals, while the pretty town of Les Andelys is home to the dramatic Château Gaillard. Long and sleek, Seine river cruisers typically accommodate around 150 passengers in spacious cabins. You can relax on the sun deck, enjoy fine dining, take part in activities such as wine tasting and listen to talks on the area’s history and culture.
• KQ flies to Paris six times a week