Take to the Waters This Summer

Will you row your own boat or lean back and enjoy the river ride?
Salmon River, Idaho
Salmon River, Idaho
IF THE FIRST THOUGHT of cruising leaves you cold, there could still be a reason to ditch your desk for a waterway. The giant cruise ships you remember aren’t the only way to explore the water. This summer, choose one of these two very different options for a trip to remember.

> The Vibe: Rugged and Adventurous
> The Trip: Row Adventures, Salmon River
For most of your trip down the Salmon River in Idaho (pictured above), the scenery alongside your inflatable raft will take most of your attention. White sand beaches, golden sunshine and rocky cliffs are part of the reason it is often referred to as the Riviera of the West.  But there are challenges, too: Whitewater Rapids will require you to paddle hard alongside your fellow travellers. The reward? Evenings in camps that have been set up for you and meals that will banish the idea that camp dining means weiners and beans. There is no access to a Wi-Fi signal for most of the trip, meaning a real vacation is possible and you’ll have plenty of time for stargazing and campfires. Row Adventures’ trips aren’t limited to the Salmon River, either; consider trips to the Galapagos, Baja or the Amazon as well. www.rowadventures.com

> The Vibe: Relaxed and Cultural
> The Trip: AMA Waterways, Melodies of the Danube
You’ll travel through four European countries on this river cruise between Budapest in Hungary and Vilshofen an der Donau in Germany. Along the way you’ll learn about the impressive histories of composers like Beethoven, Mozart and Strauss. The river route allows for unique vantage points of major cities like Vienna and stunning villages like Melk, in Austria.  There are about 120 passengers only on board each ship, and the variety of tour paces (including the option for bicycles at some ports of call) means you can have a guided tour without feeling you’re rushing or waiting for others. Chaîne des Rôtisseurs chefs guarantee that meals on board are exquisite. AMA Waterways also offers sailings along the Rhine and Mekong rivers, and Christmas market sailings add in time for shopping, too. www.amawaterways.com

Heather Greenwood Davis is a lawyer and a contributing editor to National Geographic Traveler magazine.