River cruises are more popular than ever, with new itineraries, ships and unforgettable excursions. Nick Dalton selects the best for the year ahead

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For History Buffs

China is an increasingly popular destination and the classic cruise here is on the Yangtze, through the mighty Three Gorges. Visit temples, a school and the Lesser Three Gorges Dam, as well as Shanghai, Xian’s terracotta warriors, the Great Wall and Beijing.
Viking River Cruises’ 14-day Imperial Jewels of China cruise on Viking Emerald departs regularly from March to October, from £2,195pp including two nights in Beijing and Xian and three nights in Shanghai, flights, excursions and wine with dinner (vikingrivercruises.co.uk/020 8780 7900).