Whether cruising along a gentle river or charting ocean waters, cruises have historically been swathed in nostalgic grandeur, and many journeys forever immortalised in works of art.

Taking influence from figures of cultural worth, these trips hark back to great days gone by.

1. Explore Dr Livingstone’s Africa

Pay homage to explorer and Scottish missionary David Livingstone by observing flora and fauna on a cruise along Botswana’s Chobe River. Many of the specimens featured in his famous 1857 book Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa, were collected in this region, which leads to the mouth of the Zambezi and the mighty Victoria Falls (renamed by Livingstone in honour of Queen Victoria).

[Related story: Magical safaris in Botswana prove why it’s such a popular holiday destination – travel story]

Swapping 4WDs for the 28-passenger, five-star Zambezi Queen houseboat, safaris in this game-rich region are done from the water. Wake up to buffalo grazing along the riverbanks and elephants coming to drink in large herds; Botswana boasts one of the densest elephant populations in Africa and towards the end of the dry season (August to October) many come here to refresh.  Aardvark Safaris offers a two-night safari cruise on the Zambezi Queen from £761pp, on a fully inclusive basis (except some drinks).

2. Discover the Colombian home of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Next year marks 50 years since publication of One Hundred Years of Solitude, the classic surrealist novel written by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Visit Colombian colonial town Santa Cruz de Mompox – the inspiration for fictional town Macondo – on a one-day riverboat journey along the sleepy Rio Magdalena.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995, the town, which is tricky to reach by road, was used by the Spanish as a shipping port for gold and today, many silver workers still sell wares. Marquez grew up nearby and claimed to “know every village and every tree on that river”. Along with stately architecture, further waterside eye-candy includes a raft of bird species and tree scrambling spider monkeys. Real World Holidays features the journey as part of a seven-day holiday to Colombia from £1395pp, including all accommodation, internal transport and transfers, tours, guides and entrance fees, plus breakfast every day.

3. Experience Kipling’s colourful Burma

In his 1890 poem Mandalay, Rudyard Kipling captured the awe and wonder of exotic Burma, as seen through a British soldier’s eyes. The former British colony now known as Myanmar has endured difficulties in recent time, but a change in political regime has led to growing tourism.

Many luxury riverboats now cruise along the Irrawaddy River, along a stretch which passes through Mandalay. The Ultimate Travel Company features a two-night trip along the river onboard the charming RV Pauken as part of a 14-day escorted tour through the country.

The trip departs February 19, 2017, and costs from £5,995pp (two sharing), including flights from the UK.

4. Paddle along Mark’s Twain’s beloved Mississippi

Paddle back to the late 19th Century, when steamboats trundled along America’s Mississippi river, on a cruise inspired by literary icon Mark Twain. His 1876 novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was about a young boy growing up alongside the Mississippi River, while the epic waterway which runs through 10 US states also played a central role in popular sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Both books are stocked in a library onboard The American Queen, a fancy steamboat replica operating a Mark Twain cruise along the Mississippi from July 23, 2017, travelling from St Louis to Minneapolis.

Visit the author’s hometown Hannibal Missouri and listen to on board lectures and presentations about his work and life. A nine-night package costs from £2,975pp (two sharing), including all meals, pre-cruise accommodation and flights from the UK on July 22.

5. Champion Britain’s cultural greats

It’s been a bumper year for British literary anniversaries, dominated by the likes of Beatrix Potter, Roald Dahl and Shakespeare; next year commemorations continue with the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. In honour of Britain’s cultural heritage, Cunard has launched its first Arts & Literary Cruise around the British Isles on board the Queen Elizabeth, departing July 1, 2017.
Guest speakers will discuss their favourite authors and there’ll be performances by the Royal Cunard Singers and Dancers in the ship’s Royal Court Theatre.

Leave the ship to explore locations that have inspired writers and poets including Walter Scott, JK Rowling, Victor Hugo and Seamus Heaney. The 13-night trip, departing Southampton, costs from £1,499pp (two sharing) including all meals.

Do you have a nostalgic cruise to recommend? Tell us about the in the comments box below