Say “cruise” and one thinks of massive ships puttering across oceans and seas. But there’s another side to this method of travel, with smaller boats and more tailored itineraries. Meet the river cruise: a fresh way to eat and drink well while trundling along three of the world's standout waterways. Here are three new itineraries:

Italy: The recently remodeled UniWorld River Countess will be home base as you wind your way up the Po river. The ship embarks from Venice, and positions you for day trips to Bologna, Padua and Verona, where you’ll sample the local dishes, shop for Parma ham and, while in Bologna, attend a pasta-making class. Rates start at $3,100 per person.

Portugal: This 15-day itinerary from Ama Waterways covers the heart of Portugal’s wine country with a cruise up the Douro. At each stop, guests will be ferried to various top-notch vineyards, such as Quinta da Avessada, for tours and tastings, or for visits to the museums and shopping districts of Porto and Lisbon. Rates start at $2,800 per person.

Vietnam & Cambodia: See the fruit orchards, rice paddies and fish farms of these lush locales from the deck of an intimate 16-person cruise as it sails through the Mekong Delta. Boats embark from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and travel all the way to Bangkok. Rates start at $3,270 per person.