HAS PENNY INSPIRED YOU TO TAKE TO THE RIVER?

Have you been inspired by travel writer and broadcaster Penny Smith’s recent exploits sailing along the rivers of France? Though perhaps not so keen on manning the locks and steering the ship. Then head off on a Travelsphere river cruise and watch the world pass by along some of Europe’s most picturesque rivers.

“It has been a lovely trip, cruising along the waterways of France past ancient towns and villages with the view from the water giving you a completely new aspect,” said Penny, Travelsphere’s Travel Ambassador.

“Admittedly, I had a few incidents as I mastered my boating skills, so if you would like to hand over the wheel and be guided through some of Europe’s most loved rivers, a Travelsphere river cruise is the way to go,” added Penny.

Travelsphere’s Cruising the Winelands of France, is a seven-day, all inclusive cruise from Bordeaux along the Garonne, Gironde and Dordogne rivers, with prices starting at £1,824 per person. After arriving in Bordeaux, the four-star MS Cyrano de Bergerac cruise ship awaits along with a welcome cocktail reception.

After a relaxing evening, the next morning starts with a cruise along the Garonne and Gironde Rivers to the city of Pauillac. In the afternoon there is a visit to Médoc, a region famed for its elegant red wines, with such names as Châteaux Laffitte-Rothschild, Latour and Mouton Rothschild, and of course a wine-tasting is included.

Other highlights during the cruise are visits to Blaye, known for Côtes de Blaye red wine, and St Émilion, renowned for its production of full-bodied red wines.

Port on call on day five is the walled town of Cadillac, whose vineyards produce sweet white wines from Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes. Once ashore it is off to the impressive Château de Roquetaillade.

“A wine cruise with Travelsphere is absolutely idyllic. You travel through some of the best wine regions and there is plenty of time to get off the ship and head off to taste the results of the vineyards when you’re not exploring the hidden gems along the way,” said Penny.

Staying in France, Travelsphere also has all-inclusive cruises along the Seine, with tours of Paris, Honfleur and Rouen

The Golden River – Valley of the Douro is Travelsphere’s eight-day cruise along Portugal's Douro

River, calling at elegant Oporto, famed for its port wine, the ancient city of Salamanca and a host of pretty riverside towns.

Highlights of Travelsphere’s Spirit of Andalucia cruise include a walking tour of Seville, the ancient city of Cadiz, the Alhambra Palace and Isla Minima nature reserve. As with all Travelsphere’s European river cruises, all meals and drinks are included along with all of the shore excursions.

Budapest to Strasbourg is a 13-day cruise along the Rhine and the Danube through four countries calling at the iconic cities of Budapest, Vienna and Strasbourg.

Beginning in Moscow, where iconic sights include Red Square and the Kremlin, Travelsphere’s Volga River cruise ends in St Petersburg, with the Catherine Palace and the State Hermitage Museum just two incredible highlights. In between the cruises unearths Russia's fascinating history as you step ashore in traditional towns and villages and admire onion-domed churches.

Cruising Russia’s Rivers is a 12-day cruise with a lead-in price of £1,999 including all flights, accommodation on the MS Lev Tolstoy, meals, drinks and excursions.

Travelsphere also offers river cruises along the Rhine, the Venetian Lagoon and China’s mighty Yangtze River from Yichang to Chengdu, taking in the Three Gorges Dam and the Xiling Gorge.