Welcome to the Travel with a Challenge Cruise and Train Travel Theme page, presenting our complete collection of feature articles showcasing European river cruise and barging vacations, worldwide small-ship expedition cruises and freighter travel, and exciting senior-friendly train journeys.
Our Cruise & Train Travel Theme Page sponsor is Ecoventura, a global leader in sustainable tourism, celebrating 20 years as an expedition cruise company in Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, and providing an authentic experience in small compatible groups. The fleet of three identical superior first-class 20-passenger motor yachts, Flamingo Eric and Letty, and the 16-passenger luxury dive live-aboard, Galapagos Sky, offer comprehen-sive full week itineraries every Sunday from San Cristobal including the outer, most spectacular islands in the archipelago.
Feel free to explore our other Travel Theme Pages for vacations well suited to senior travelers, their families and friends. Please click on image buttons or titles below to enter each richly-illustrated feature story.
Join a small-ship expedition cruise among the historic, wind-swept and picturesque islands along the west and north coasts of Scotland. These sparsely-inhabited islands are famous for their geologic wonders, Viking and Neolithic monuments, abundant bird life and world-class whisky distilleries. Sample them all!
Embrace the Arctic on a Northwest Passage Cruise
Adventurous travelers will want to discover a 17-day expedition cruise navigating the waters of Canada’s newest territory, Nunavut, and down the west coast of Greenland. Veteran expedition cruisers, John and Sandra Nowlan, share their delight in exploring the wildlife, geology and indigenous cultures that makes this a unique experience not to be missed.
Holland is famous for its canals and locks that link landscapes and cities together. Join a 12-day art appreciation cruise aboard a traditional canal boat that takes in historic and modern art museums and teaches painting techniques to participants that were used by well-known Dutch masters.
Ever wondered what it would be like to buy a three-month Eurail pass and explore Continental Europe without a timetable? Award-winning book author, Karen McCann, shares her hilarious, harrowing, life-changing adventure as she and her husband visit 13 countries at their pace, mostly in Eastern Europe.
A cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage is a bucket list item for travelers around the world, but before booking a cabin on a giant cruise ship, consider a small-ship expeditionary vessel instead. This article illustrates the many benefits from itinerary flexibility and eye-level natural encounters to learning about native heritage direct from descendants of those settling the land 10,000 years ago.
In the Fall of 2014, a new 7,000-kilometer luxury train journey was unveiled between Budapest, Hungary and Tehran, Iran (think Persia!). Its first 15-day trip sold out in just 10 days. Ride along through five countries as Sophie Ibbotson and Max Lovell-Hoare share their adventures and insights, including appreciative glimpses of Persia’s archaeological treasures, and warm encounters with the Iranian people. More journeys are scheduled for 2015 and 2016.
Lakes, rivers, narrow canals with complex lock systems, strollable historic towns and exquisite tiny islands are all part of a five-day Ontario waterways cruise that has been getting the itinerary right since launching in 1982. Julie Ferguson describes her experience aboard this 44-passenger vessel.
Bird Watching is one of the world’s most popular activities. Traditionally, most of it has been land-based, but increasingly small-ship cruises are being recognized as an ideal platform for spotting birds both while at sea and in remote places where land access is best made from a ship’s landing craft. An expert shares his five favorite destinations for small-ship bird viewing around the world.
If you are an experience-driven traveler, expedition cruising is just the ticket, taking participants on an educational, adventure-laced holiday journeying, often quite literally, to the ends of the earth. Alison Gardner describes her 16-day voyage to Australia’s and New Zealand’s rarely-visited Subantarctic Islands.
Tom Koppel shares his up and down adventures with Switzerland’s amazing transportation options throughout the country, ranging from trains on dizzying trestles and spiral tunnels to funiculars and gondolas. One convenient Swiss Pass allows visitors to experience them all and the fabulous vistas they offer for discount prices.
Travel with our author and photographer, Julie and Patrick Lawson, as they board a giant container ship in Seattle to discover the appeal of crossing the Pacific Ocean to Shanghai in a manner quite unlike the experience of a traditional cruise vacation. Could this be a new travel option for you?
Join Richard Blackburn on a self-guided narrow boat exploration of the Trent & Mersey Canal in the North Midlands of England. Britain’s network of historic canals is an adventurous treat for senior vacationers like Richard and his wife, Jan, who navigated their 45-foot-long, 7-foot-wide narrow boat through some incredibly tight spaces, many locks and beautiful English countryside.
Step aboard an elegant river cruise ship with Travel with a Challenge editor, Alison Gardner, to sample a week of stimulating exploration along the Rhone and Saône Rivers from Arles in southern Provence, through Lyon and on to Chalon sur Saône in southern Burgundy. Every day the 130 guests have much to see and do!
Join retired social worker, Bea Faulkner, on her prize-winning archaeological adventure cruise of Turkey’s Lycian southwest coast. As a winner, she was invited to write about her trip for publication in Current Archaeology World magazine. Here Bea shares those same impressions with our readers.
Sail from Montréal with Alison Gardner, Travel with a Challenge editor, aboard a 450-passenger cruise-ferry navigating the St Lawrence River and its Gulf to Québec’s isolated Les Îles de la Madeleine (Magdalen Islands), brimming with personality, colorful history, unique landscapes, Acadian culture, and distinctive cuisine.
Join anthropologist and travel writer, Susan Stafford, as she explores the upper reaches of Peru’s Amazon Basin. Abundant wildlife viewing, pink-toed tarantulas, colorful stinkbirds, and visits to isolated Amazon villages are all accomplished from a comfortable river boat custom-built for international visitors navigating in a challenging environment.
Join Travel with a Challenge editor, Alison Gardner on a classic cruise adventure, barging the picturesque Canal du Nivernais from Clamecy to Auxerre, while sampling the region’s distinctive cuisine and enjoying daily excursions to historic chateaux, medieval towns and wine tastings en route.
Travel writer, Alison Gardner, samples the famous vacation train’s GoldLeaf Service on a luxury two-day rail journey full of wildlife sightings, frontier history and spectacular scenery. Join her from Jasper, Alberta through the Canadian Rockies, across British Columbia to Vancouver and the blue Pacific.
NEW CONTENT AND IMAGES FOR ONE OF OUR MOST POPULAR FEATURE ARTICLES EVER! Explore Europe’s diverse cultures, cuisines, countrysides and historic towns from the unique perspective of a canal-based vacation. Ranging from all-inclusive luxury hotel barges to budget barge charters, meet operators who deliver memorable experiences in style.
Between Croatia’s historic cities of Split and Dubrovnik lie the major islands of Korcula, Hvar, Vis and Brac, coveted and occupied by many masters from Greek and Roman times through the 20th century. A traditional wood and polished brass motorsailer with plenty of cabin comfort and super-fresh Dalmatian cuisine is home for an exploration of these “Jewels of the Adriatic”.
Guests on a Dalmatian sailing cruise are treated to an authentic insider glimpse of culture and history on Croatia’s little known Island of Vis, where the guide proudly points to gravestones marking his family’s roots there for more than 500 years and hosts these international visitors at his family vineyard and winery.
Until 1992, it was only a fabulous dream to river cruise uninterrupted from Amsterdam on the North Sea to Vienna, never mind following the Danube all the way to the Black Sea. Today it still remains a rare possibility which Alison Gardner recounts for readers from her own experience in 2007.
Explore the Scottish Highlands from the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea on a one-week barge cruise through the Caledonian Canal, Loch Ness and other lakes [lochs] of the deeply-chiseled Great Glen. There will be heather-clad hills and clan castles that reflect this ancient land’s colorful history, and the famous Scotch whiskey is guaranteed to be on the educational agenda too!
Born and raised in India before settling in Canada 30 years ago, Margaret Deefholts shares her lingering passion for her birth country with a ride into the mountains aboard an historic miniature railway chosen by the United Nations in 1999 as a cultural World Heritage Site.
Sail the South Pacific on a 16-day adventure with travel writer, Margie Goldsmith, as she boards a very modern freighter delivering cargo to the remote Marquesas Islands year round while introducing up to 200 passengers per trip to the best of traditional Polynesian culture and heritage, 900 miles from its home base in Tahiti.
Both novice and veteran sailing enthusiasts will be inspired by our thoughtful spotlight on worldwide Sail Training adventures for the older traveler where historic, multi-masted Tall Ships offer satisfying physical challenges and the immeasurable camaraderie of team work.
All aboard for a three-part exploration of Mexico’s fabled Copper Canyon, including a spotlight on the canyon system’s natural history and geology, and perfect places to stay and explore along the way.
Helena Zukowski whisks readers from Singapore through Malaysia to Thailand while sampling the luxurious trappings and gastronomic delights of Eastern & Orient’s restored rail car service.
Check out our other theme pages, clustering richly-illustrated feature articles by travel theme or regional destination:
Travel Adventures in Africa
Bird and Nature
Sleeping with History Accommodations
Multi-Generational Family Travel
South Pacific destinations
Asia and India destinations
Wellness and Spiritual vacations.