Six of the best: cheap and cheerful boat trips

Can't afford a cruise on the QE2? No problem. Gareth Lloyd finds some (very) affordable alternatives
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The Independent Travel
FORTUNATELY you don't have to be rich and famous to travel the most exciting waterways of the world (see above). As economic alternatives to a cruise on the QE2, we have come up with six of the best budget boat trips in some of the most exotic locations.

Kowloon to Hong Kong Island for 20p

The best value boat trip in the world is the ride between Kowloon and Hong Kong Island on the humble Star Ferry. The views of the world's most dramatic cityscape are superb, particularly at dusk when the lights twinkle through the humidity and the spray. You'll get a feel for the frenetic pace of life as hydrofoils, junks and cruise liners loom from all directions. Ferries depart every few minutes from 6.30am to 11.30pm.

Allapuzha to Kottayam for 8p

This leisurely trip along Kerala's backwaters is one of the highlights of a trip to India. All along your way through palm-fringed lagoons, lakes, rivers and canals you pass settlements where people live on narrow spits of land. Though practically surrounded by water, they still manage to keep cows, pigs, chickens and ducks, as well as cultivating vegetable gardens. Families eke out their diet with fish caught by Chinese cantilevered fishing nets. Six boats a day take an average of three hours for the journey.

Vadhiem to Dragsvik for pounds 5

Not only is Sognefjord Norway's longest and deepest waterway, it is also its most beautiful, and worthy of a journey to Norway on its own merit. On the boat trip between the Vadhiem and Dragsvik you sample the best of Sognefjord's awe-inspiring scenery. Green-swathed mountains rise above the villages cowering at the water's edge, while below you there is a body of water 10 times deeper than most of the North Sea. The boats that make this 30km trip leave every hour or so between 7am and 10pm.

European Istanbul to Uskudar for 30p

Sailing on the Bosphorus with the wind in your hair and the mosques of the Golden Horn dominating the water is the best way to appreciate how this short stretch of sea, has played its part in the fate of empires. Lap up the history, and several glasses of tea, on one of the many daily boats that make this historic 20-minute hop.

Porto Velho to Manicore for pounds 15

The journey down the River Madeira from Porto Velho to Manicore provides you with a fascinating insight into the life of Amazonia. On this 500km journey the riverbanks are lined with thick jungle, full of colourful birds, and only breached by occasional Indian villages and settlers' ports. Travelling "hammock class" in an eight-berth cabin is one way to get to know the locals. Several boats a day make the two-day journey.

Algeciras to Tangier for pounds 12

One of the most stressful - but romantic - ways to cross from Europe to Africa is by sea. On departing Spain you will be obliged to join the hordes wrestling their way aboard clutching everything from chickens to contraband whisky. On arrival in Morocco you will be tormented by relentless Tangier hustlers. But aboard ship you can enjoy a window of perfect tranquillity with a few glasses of cheap Spanish pseudo-champagne. There are at least eight ferries to Tangier each day.

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