5 Must-Experience Tauck River Cruises and Small-Ship Journeys

These destinations invite you to explore.

With 140 trips on seven continents, AAA travel partner Tauck can take you around the globe. And for those places best explored by water, Tauck offers river and small-ship cruises packed with amazing sights and experiences.

Get inspiration for your next trip with these top five destinations to visit by water:

1. The Panama Canal and Costa Rica

Man-made meets all-natural on this small-ship cruise along Costa Rica’s Pacific shoreline. One of the most biologically diverse countries in Central America, Costa Rica delights with lush rainforests, gushing waterfalls and white-sand beaches—not to mention tropical birds, brightly hued butterflies and chittering monkeys.

You can explore it all through jungle walks and treks across treetop suspension bridges, among other adventures. Then, marvel at one of the world’s greatest feats of engineering as the ship passes through the Panama Canal—be sure not to miss experts aboard the ship discussing the canal’s technical and historical impact.

Days on cruise: 12

Time to go: January–March, December

2. Venice and the Dalmatian Coast

Europe’s sparkling Adriatic Sea is your playground for this small-ship cruise that takes you from Italy to Croatia to Montenegro.

After you set sail from Venice, Croatia’s varied landscape of scenic wonders awaits. You can kayak among the islands of the Korcula Archipelago, stroll past centuries-old palace ruins in the city of Split, and ride a cable car to take in panoramic views of Dubrovnik and its medieval city walls. In Montenegro, sail into the Bay of Kotor to explore seaside villages and olive groves. Back in Venice, there’s plenty of time for palace tours, canal boat rides and people-watching on the square.

Days on cruise: 10

Time to go: May–June, August–September

3. Peru and the Galapagos Islands

This epic journey starts in mountainous Peru, where Machu Picchu holds the secrets of the ancient Incan people. Spend six days exploring this vibrant country, from the coastal capital of Lima to Cusco and Machu Picchu, high in the Peruvian Andes.

From there it’s on to Ecuador—the jumping-off point for exploring the pristine Galapagos Islands, 600 miles off the coast. There, embark on a six-night small-ship cruise with stops at six of these amazing islands. They’re home to unique animals, from endangered giant tortoises to blue-footed boobies.

Days on trip: 15

Time to go: March–November

4. Royal Danube, Berlin and Krakow

This river cruise down the Danube begins in Germany with three days in Berlin, a city where turbulent past and vibrant present meet. A high-speed train will whisk you to Nurnberg when it’s time to embark on your seven-night river cruise. Along the way, step into historic towns like Bayreuth in Germany’s Bavaria region, once home to Hungarian musician Franz Liszt.

Next, cross into Austria, a country of musical traditions and imperial lifestyles, and visit Linz, a leading cultural center, before sailing past vineyards in the Wachau Valley. The cruise wraps up in Vienna, but the trip continues with a drive to Krakow, Poland, where you can tour Auschwitz with a local guide.

Days on trip: 14

Time to go: April–October

5. Budapest to Amsterdam

This grand river cruise takes you through five European countries—the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary—while sailing along three rivers: the Danube, the Rhine and the Main.

The adventure begins in Budapest, where the Gothic Revival-style Hungarian Parliament Building dominates the skyline. Along the way, enjoy an evening in Vienna’s 19th-century Palais Ferstel, stroll past Baroque architecture in Passau and tour one of Germany’s oldest settlements, Cologne. A day in Amsterdam rounds out the trip—you can see Rembrandt’s masterpiece The Night Watch in the Rijksmuseum and take a boat tour through tree-lined 17th-century canals.

Days on cruise: 15

Time to go: April–October

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