Enjoy posh nosh, paddle a kayak, soak up a little history or tap your toe to a concert on board a river cruise. Here’s our pick of the bunch…

Let the music play on

While Europe is steeped in musical history and several river cruises pay homage, an Irrawaddy River cruise hosting classical French musicians is much more of a novelty. The Strand Cruise, a 42-passenger ship, offers a four-night musical cruise from Bagan to Mandalay. An eight-piece orchestra will perform a series of intimate concerts in exotic riverside settings. The vessels’s other themes include Family and Photography. (Visit: thestrandcruise.com)

Tauck’s 12-day Magical Music Along the Blue Danube cruise from Budapest to Prague follows in the footsteps of  Mozart, Beethoven, Bartók, Schubert, Liszt, Strauss and Haydn. Tauck’s eloquent “maestros” – performers and scholars – will host shore excursions in cities where the musical greats lived, composed and played, and hold musical seminars on the ship, either ms Savor or ms Joy. Highlights include listening in on an orchestra tuning up at rehearsal at Vienna’s Auersperg Palace and an evening of ballet, Mozart and dinner at the gorgeous baroque Palais Pallavicini. (Visit: tauck.com.au)

Toe-tapping jazz is at the very heart of Avalon Waterways’ 11-day Burgundy and Provence cruise from June 29, and its Rhone & Rhine counterpart concurrently. Enjoy onboard performances and the opportunity to take in the Vienne Jazz Festival ­from either cruise. (Visit: avalonwaterways.com.au)

Created for connoisseurs

River cruises promising food and wine experiences are plentiful but a handful are specifically tailored for true connoisseurs. APT’s Wine Series is gaining momentum. Noted wine experts accompany a range of cruises in Europe, leading vineyard tours, hosting onboard tastings and dinners and giving seminars on traditional continental wine-making. The 15-day Amsterdam to Budapest Magnificent Wine Series cruise, priced at $9295 per person twin share, departs September 15, 2018. (Visit: aptouring.com.au)

On yur bike, kayak or golf buggy

Stretching the legs on a cycling tour has long been popular on river cruise stops, but it certainly gets more energetic than that. Avalon Waterways’ new Active Discovery cruises are upping the pace with hiking, jogging, cycling and canoeing on its nine-day Danube to Linz itineraries; departing April 28, 2019, priced at $4487 per person twin share. (Visit: avalonwaterways.com.au)

Uniworld’s Let’s Go itineraries have been designed to appeal to the more active cruisers of all ages, with golf, kayaking, guided hikes and cycling – terrific ways to enjoy and make the most of the eye-catching European countryside and sharpen that appetite. (Visit: uniworld.com/au)

Crystal River Cruises’ lavishly refurbished Crystal Mozart and upcoming new builds Crystal Bach and Crystal Mahler will sail the Danube, Rhine and Main, offering adventurous excursions for extreme luxury lovers. As well as helicopter flightseeing there will be an off-road driving course at the Volkswagen plant in Bratislava and – this must be a first – lessons in the sport of Bavarian curling. (Visit: crystalcruises.com)

Rolling back the years

Anywhere you cruise in Europe there’s a history lesson around the next corner, whether in the guise of Roman ruins, imposing medieval castles, ornate palaces and time-storied monuments. However, for a more in-depth perspective of specific eras, there are cruises that explore World War II themes in France and Jewish history in Germany. Uniworld’s Remarkable Rhine itinerary, from Basel to Amsterdam, explores 2000 years of Jewish heritage and culture through the ages and charts its recent cultural rise in the country. This itinerary promises to be most memorable for history buffs of all persuasions. (Visit: uniworld.com/au)

Avalon Waterways has a seven-night Paris to Normandy itinerary ideally suited to the military minded. Departing July 7, 2018, and priced at $4373 per person twin share, the cruise takes in the Overlord landing beaches, American Cemetery and moving monuments to the fallen of D-Day, as well as onboard lectures by the line’s resident World War II historian. (Visit:avalonwaterways.com.au)