Kubu Queen, Botswana
A simple but comfortable houseboat plying the waters of the Okavango River, the Kubu Queen takes guests on tailor-made itineraries, making use of two accompanying tender boats to explore narrow channels and lagoons and spot hippos and crocodiles. The boat sleeps up to six guests in two cabins and one open-air bedroom. Prince Harry and Chelsy Davy opted for the latter when they chartered the boat earlier this year.
Kubu Queen, Okavango River, Botswana (www.kubuqueen.com). Four-night trips start at £1,907 per person booked through Cazenove & Loyd (020-7384 2332; www.cazloyd.com). The price includes flights, transfers and accommodation.
Seyhan Hanna, Turkey
The latest edition to a sleek fleet of gulets (classic Turkish sailing boats) Seyhan Hanna may be traditionally styled on the outside but she features many modern comforts on the inside. The fully crewed trips take in many highlights of Turkey's Lycian Coast but, if you charter the whole boat as a group, they will tailor an itinerary to suit.
Seyhan Hanna, Lycian Coast, Turkey (020-8605 3500; www.exclusiveescapes.co.uk). Seven-night trips start at £895 per person, including flights, transfers and accommodation.
Run by Malabar House, one of the first boutique hotels to open in Fort Cochin, Discovery is a little more stylish than your average Keralan backwater rice barge. Offering guests luxury tours around Lake Vembanad, the Discovery is one of the most exclusive ways to take to the water as well as one of the most environmentally sensitive; the vessel is powered by solar energy.
Discovery, Lake Vembanad, Kerala, India (00 91 478 2582 794; www.malabarhouse.com). One-night cruises start at €175 (£146) per person, full board.
Yangzi Explorer, China
Launched earlier this month, the Yangzi Explorer is a new five-star cruise ship operating on the Yangzi River. With a capacity of 124 passengers, it may not be an intimate experience, but it's certainly a lot more exclusive than your average river cruise. <br/>
MS Yangzi Explorer, China (www.akyangzicruise.com). Four-night cruises start at £557 per person, booked through Abercrombie & Kent (0845 618 2214; www.abercrombiekent.co.uk).
Aqua Expeditions, Peru
If you've always associated cruising with unattractive white boats and dodgy cabaret acts, this is the boat to persuade you otherwise. Aqua Expeditions' Amazon Basin river cruises are taken on a relatively small vessel (sleeping a maximum of 24), styled more like a design hotel than a ferry. Better still, it also minimises water and energy use, employs local people and is fitted with a special sewage disposal system.
MV Aqua, Peru (00 51 1 368 3868; www.aquaexpeditions.com). Three-night cruises start at US$1,950 (£1,026) per person, full-board.