May 17, 2019

Three Exotic, Luxe River Cruises We Are Loving This Year

Picture of Nick Cabugos
Nick Cabugos

Creative Director, Montecito Village Travel


It’s not too late to plan an amazing trip to one of the world’s most exotic and less traveled destinations that will leave an incredible imprint to last a lifetime.

Every time our big blue marble called Earth completes another ride around the sun, it either represents a year filled with all you hoped it would be, or another year that went by too fast, with fabulous places to go and amazing things to do left behind for “maybe next year.”

That was me a decade or so ago, until I started writing my travel goals at the same time I wrote my business goals. I have learned that “a dream written down with a date becomes a goal,” and with that thinking, I’ve given myself the wonderful gift to see the world, one precious trip at a time. The more I travel, the more I crave the truly authentic experiences of meeting the people, seeing the beauty of exotic locations and exploring the wonderful cultures in faraway places. Having seen so many of the great cities of the world, I’ve been thinking about what’s next, and have had my eye on the incredible experiences offered by Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. The line offers luxury river cruises on the world’s most iconic rivers throughout Europe and Asia, sailing on the most beautiful boutique hotels on the rivers today. With excellent service, delicious cuisine and one of the highest staff-to-guest ratios in the industry, a Uniworld River Cruise is a bucket-list experience—here are three of their routes I’m loving now.

India FAM MVT Photo


“Be the change you want to see in the world” is a quote that inspires me daily, and the opportunity to travel to India, where Gandhi lead his movement for nonviolence, is yet even more inspiring. To visit his memorial in Delhi, one of three cities in the Golden Triangle made up of Delhi, India’s sprawling capital city; Jaipur and its Pink City; and Agra, home to the iconic Taj Mahal, would be the answer to a long-anticipated trip. I’d really like to see this historic land by river cruise and a Uniworld River Cruise has quite the luxe offering.


From sunrise and sunset over the Taj Mahal, to visiting Mother Teresa’s modest home and memorial to the Rajbari Temples, these are the timeless treasures that beckon to be experienced.

Website-Blog-Iconic-Life-Uniworld-ButlerPhoto by Andrew Evans

Once onboard the elegant ship, you can start your day with silver tea service presented by your butler in your cabin or private balcony. During your excursion, inspired wellness surrounds you with daily yoga classes, educational sessions, even a healthy dining option offering natural and organic selections. Make sure to take advantage of the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric on your trip and indulge a green smoothie if you, well, indulged too much of something else.

A recent traveler, Andrew Evans, a notable travel writer and television host said it best in a recent blog where he asked what it is to embrace Indian culture: “It means waking up in the pink sun, taking the time to enjoy the flavors and gifts of the earth, and showering with sandalwood. It means breathing slowly and mindfully, letting my yoga practice work for me and my body, rather than conforming to the trend of yoga; it means embracing the unforgettable scenery, inhaling the clouds incense that float up from sacred temples, and not ever getting too upset by the wonderful surprises that happen when you let them.”



Don’t Miss These Inspiring Experiences

NEW DELHI: Home to 17 million people and around for 2,500 years, New Delhi is both an ancient and exhilarating modern city that has been built and destroyed numerous times. Experience this city through the centuries.

TAJ MAHAL AT SUNRISE AND SUNSET: Countless photos have been taking in front of the iconic Taj Mahal, and one of the best ways to experience this global treasure is at sunset.

TEMPLE CITY: Explore ancient Hindu temples in Kalna, built in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

KOLKATA: Visit Mother Teresa’s home and tomb and see the legendary flower market.

Book a select 2019 departure and save up to $4,000 per couple for a limited time with Picture-Perfect Savings. Cruise along legendary rivers at an unmatched value before the end of the year.

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I feel like everyone is talking about travel to Vietnam and Cambodia right now for the stunning beauty of the lands and the extraordinary people. Both have their own social traditions and history of struggle, but the resilience of the people is what makes this experience. Traveling aboard the Mekong Navigator,there is no better way to enjoy 13 days starting in Ho Chi Min City than by river cruise and gaining access to places rarely seen. Excursions off the ship will give you insights to the struggles and the XX?

Start your trip in the invigorating metropolis Ho Chi Minh City, often referred to as Saigon, teeming with colorful floating villages and remnants of its French Colonial history. Skyscrapers tower over ancient temples and motorbikes race around picturesque alleys. Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh is a thriving city with French charm that sits where three rivers meet, divided into a lovely residential district, evolving Old Town and French colonial area, all worth seeing. Everyone wants to ride a sampan through the floating villages lining the banks of the well-trafficked Mekong river, visit a basket-making factory and cruise through the canals to Evergreen Island, where village homes are built on stilts.

Your Indiana Jones moment will present itself when you explore the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, a significant religious complex today a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Your Indiana Jones moment will present itself when you explore the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, a significant religious complex today a UNESCO World Heritage site. The height of culture once flourished in medieval Cambodia on this spectacular site. This trip also takes you on the sites of tragedy that serve to mark history and remember those lost, like the Killing Fields and the genocide museum, and the vast tunnels that the Viet Cong booby-trapped during the Vietnam War. From the somber sites, to a more upbeat experience, you’ll visit children in school and villagers in their homes, and if you chose, you may receive a very rare water blessing from Buddhist monks.

The trip wraps up with a visit to Angkor Thom, the royal city, built in the 12th Century at the height of the Khmer dynasty. This ancient complex contains Hindu and Buddhist monuments once lost to the world for many years, hidden under dense jungle vines. With so many places to see, the opportunity to experience the people in these beautiful places is the memory that will change your life.


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ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE: This UNESCO World Heritage site will inspire your inner Indiana Jones.

KILLING FIELDS: This somber day may be one of the most impactful of the trip as you’ll learn of the tragedy and reconciliation.

CU’ CHI TUNNELS: You’ll glimpse the Viet Cong’s vast network of incredibly narrow, booby-trapped tunnels dating from the Vietnam War. If you dare, you can even climb inside for a closer look.

If your bucket list also includes seeing the iconic sites of the Pyramids, the Sphinx and cruising the ancient temples along the Nile, now is a great time to travel to Egypt.




The historic discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb by archeologist Howard Carter in 1922 renewed interest in ancient Egypt. I remember seeing the exhibition that resulted half a century later in Chicago, and even as a kid, I knew Egypt was an exotic, mysterious place. If your bucket list also includes seeing the iconic sites of the Pyramids, the Sphinx and cruising the ancient temples along the Nile, now is a great time to travel to Egypt as the exchange rate is favorable for travelers. And why not indulge the royal treatment and travel like a queen or pharaoh on a 12-day Uniworld luxury river cruise onboard the all-suite River Tosca.

You’ll begin at the world-famous Egyptian Museum full of treasures and artifacts, some recovered from the tomb of King Tut. You’ll journey to Giza to experience one of the seven great wonders of the world, the ancient Pyramids and the Sphinx—iconic for sure. Religious temples and ancient ruins are a theme on this adventure. You’ll explore the Temple of Karnak, the biggest complex of its kind in the world with towering columns and sphinx lined paths, and see its twin shrine, the Temple of Luxor. You’ll travel with an exceptional Egyptologist who will add stories and insights along the way. You’ll visit temples of mythological figures like Hathor and Horus and honor the first female rule at the Temple of Hatshepsut. You’ll feel like an archeologist yourself as you explore the ancient burial grounds of royalty in the Valley of the Kings.


You’ll enjoy the river in several other ways, by an Egyptian Nile sailboat called a felucca and on another smaller boat for exotic bird watching. You’ll visit the Old Cataract Hotel, depicted in Agatha Christie’s “Death on the Nile,” for afternoon tea. The trip concludes with a sound and light show in Giza with a backdrop of the Pyramids, and the next day you travel to Ancient Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage site to see the Great Sphinx and experience the Pyramids up close, perhaps climbing them—an iconic ending to an iconic trip.


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