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


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).