barge-canal-axxQ – Cheers. My wife enjoys browsing boutique and secondhand shops, and we both enjoy a scenic or interesting walk. We live in a beautiful coastal town in Massachusetts so we don’t feel the need to do much traveling, and have never done a cruise. We do go to London once a year for a week or so where we can stay in one place, usually the Royal Automobile Club, not pack and unpack, and have plenty to see and do. We are now interested in smaller boat cruising and river boating because it may offer the chance to see fun little towns and places without having to pack and unpack. We are both fit and enjoy at least a daily walk. We have no interest in large cruise ships. What do you suggest we investigate? Thank you.

A –  It strikes us that you might enjoy river barging more than traditional river boating or small ship cruising. The daily meandering and ability to use the walking paths, no more than 12 couples, tying up just outside local villages, sounds like it might come closest to your expectations. We would also encourage you to look at Sea Dream Yachts, the smallest available cruise ships with some excellent itineraries and no more than 98 fellow guests.  In terms of river boats, we would suggest that you concentrate on the smaller boats that navigate the seine river and the Bordeaux region. Look most seriously at Uniworld and AMA.  There are normally several walking tours a day off the AMA river boats, each based on various levels of walking stamina. Or, then again, you might better spend your money renting a home for a few weeks in a lovely village in Maine and do what you love to do.