The 10 Top River Cruise Lines | Travel

If you’d wish to take a cruise, however aren’t within the crowds or hustle and bustle of a large ocean liner, chances are you’ll need to contemplate a river cruise. River cruises supply the chance to go to lesser-known ports all over the world, due to the small measurement and maneuverability of the vessels. They additionally usually present distinctive, customized service, as most welcome fewer than 200 visitors at a time. On high of that, you may spend the vast majority of your journey exploring a special port every day, as most locations alongside the waterways are pretty shut collectively.

To aid you decide one of the best river cruise line for you, U.S. News analyzed traveler and professional critiques, and detailed the onboard facilities, shore tour choices, value factors, various itineraries and general expertise to count on under. Read on to see which river cruise line ticks all of the containers for what you are searching for in your subsequent cruise trip. (Note: Some sailings could also be affected because of the coronavirus pandemic. Cruise traces might require vacationers to indicate proof of COVID-19 vaccination or current a detrimental COVID-19 check earlier than boarding. For the newest info, please go to the CDC website and every particular person river cruise line’s web site.)

Top River Cruise Lines

  • Viking River Cruises
  • Uniworld River Cruises
  • American Cruise Lines
  • AmaWaterways
  • Avalon Waterways
  • American Queen Voyages
  • Tauck
  • Emerald Cruises
  • Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours
  • Crystal River Cruises


Viking River Cruises

Top River Cruises

(Courtesy of Viking River Cruises)

Price vary: About $2,000 to $11,000 per individual
Sails to: Europe, Asia, Africa, U.S. (beginning summer time 2022)

Founded in Russia in 1997, Viking River Cruises is without doubt one of the most well-known river cruise traces crusing at the moment. Viking’s 60-plus ships carry roughly 75 to 250 individuals (relying on the vessel) and traverse main rivers throughout Europe, together with the Danube, the Rhine, the Douro and extra. Other standard routes sail to locations in Asia, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt and – beginning in summer time 2022 – alongside the Mississippi River.


Travelers could also be conversant in Viking’s sister model, Viking Ocean Cruises, which operates bigger ocean voyages with an emphasis on opulent lodging and various enrichment actions. Viking’s river cruises comply with the same highway map, with meals, most shore excursions and Wi-Fi entry (the place relevant) included within the base fare, and facilities and actions like visitor lectures, cooking demonstrations, musical performances, libraries, outside decks and extra. Select Viking river boats are additionally geared up with swimming swimming pools, whereas cabins characteristic minibars, premium toiletries, purified water and TVs.

On board, you may look forward to finding largely English-speaking passengers. Viking’s excessive value level usually attracts older crowds within the 55-plus age group, and vacationers should be not less than 18 years previous to cruise on the road. Recent cruisers thought of their river voyages on Viking to be bucket checklist experiences, praising the scenic shore excursions, top-notch service and comfy rooms. However, a number of have been dissatisfied with the meals high quality and choices on board, with some noting that snacks weren’t supplied between mealtimes. Viking’s river cruises for 2022 and 2023 final between eight and 23 days, and costs vary from round $2,000 to $11,000 per individual. For extra info, go to the Viking River Cruises website.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Top River Cruises

(Courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises)


Price vary: About $2,000 to $23,000 per individual
Sails to: Europe, Asia, South America

Uniworld gives luxurious sailings in historic cities throughout Central Europe, France, Italy, Portugal, India, Egypt, Russia and Peru. Its 19 ships – which purpose to create the texture of a boutique lodge with their trendy decor, vintage art work and specialty eating places – maintain a mean capability of 120 cruisers, and the corporate boasts one of many highest staff-to-guest ratios within the business (one crew member for about each 2 vacationers).

Stateroom facilities differ by vessel, however might embody marble loos, Egyptian cotton linens, French balconies, iPod docking stations, Nespresso espresso machines, rainfall showers and extra. The line’s all-inclusive charges cowl all meals, alcoholic drinks, excursions, gratuities, onboard health courses, web and Wi-Fi entry, plus leisure and enrichment courses. Uniworld prides itself on its top-notch delicacies, which is made with native substances sourced from the ports in your itinerary.

Uniworld’s typical clientele are typically of their 50s or 60s and reside in North America, the U.Ok. and Australia, although the river cruise line has choose vessels aimed toward a youthful demographic. For instance, two of its ships – The A and The B – have been designed with millennials ages 21 to 45 in thoughts. The compact ships have onboard bars and nightclubs, yoga courses, rooftop lounges and extra, and there are many cellphone charging ports scattered all through the widespread areas.

Recent cruisers supplied considerable reward for his or her voyages, complimenting the trendy lodging, attentive employees and interesting excursions. Though complaints have been few and much between, a handful of previous vacationers felt the expertise was not well worth the excessive value level. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ 2022 and 2023 sailings vary from eight to 25 days and price between $2,000 and roughly $23,000 per individual, relying on the itinerary. Learn extra on Uniworld’s website.

[Ready to plan a cruise? Find the best value sailings on GoToSea, a service of U.S. News.]

American Cruise Lines

Top River Cruises

(Getty Images)

Price vary: About $2,300 to $14,000 per individual
Sails to: U.S.

As the title suggests, American Cruise Lines sails completely on rivers throughout the United States. Popular cruises go to locations alongside the Mississippi River, all through New England and lining the Columbia and Snake rivers within the Pacific Northwest. The line additionally excursions Alaska, the Southeast and the Puget Sound between Washington State and the Canadian border.

American Cruise Lines operates 14 comparatively new river vessels (the common ship is about 4 years previous), starting from fashionable riverboats to small coastal ships to genuine paddlewheelers. The vessels can carry between 100 and 185 passengers. Comfortable cabins can accommodate as much as three individuals per room, although some are designed completely for solo vacationers. Each room gives image home windows, a spacious toilet and – in some instances – a personal balcony. In the ships’ public areas, cruisers can get pleasure from day by day onboard leisure like jazz and blues performances, in addition to shows by historians and space consultants.

The line guarantees an all-American expertise; as such, you may look forward to finding American employees aboard the American-built ships and meals that pays homage to the locations you’ll go to, from New Orleans-style andouille sausage gumbo to New England-inspired seafood boils. Complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres are served each evening previous to dinner, and meals, snacks and wine and beer are included within the base fare.

Travelers on American Cruise Lines are likely to lean North American and are sometimes of retirement age. Recent cruisers loved the trendy decor and engaging meals on board, although a number of stated the housekeeping companies and disorganized actions may use some enchancment. Voyages in 2022 and 2023 final between 5 and 22 days and costs vary from about $2,300 to $14,000 per individual. For extra info, go to the cruise line’s website.


Top River Cruises

(Courtesy of AmaWaterways)

Price vary: About $1,400 to $26,000 per individual
Sails to: Europe, Asia, Africa, South America (beginning winter 2023)

Whether you are seeking to sail by means of the guts of Europe or looking for a once-in-a-lifetime journey touring locations like Vietnam, Egypt, South Africa or, starting in 2023, Colombia, contemplate a river cruise with AmaWaterways. A family-owned enterprise based in 2002, AmaWaterways operates 26 river cruise boats (the road’s latest vessel, Magdalena, begins crusing in 2023) that welcome round 160 passengers on common. The cruise line goals to supply excursion-rich experiences and gives distinctive themed sailings for passengers with sure pursuits. Wine-themed voyages are excellent for oenophiles wishing to discover a few of Europe’s hottest wine areas, whereas golf-themed cruises will transport passengers from one well-known golf course to the subsequent. Or, go for a vacation river cruise to go to magical Christmas markets round Europe.

On board, visitors can count on cabins appropriate for {couples} or single vacationers, in addition to a set quantity of connectible rooms designed for multigenerational households. Staterooms are spacious and have one or two balconies per cabin, in addition to perks like bathrobes and slippers, plush bedding and luxurious toiletries. In-room Wi-Fi is complimentary, and visitors could have entry to motion pictures and music on demand.

Outside of their cabins, passengers can get pleasure from facilities like small swimming pools and solar decks, health tools, a hair salon, therapeutic massage companies and extra. Recent vacationers had excessive reward for his or her experiences, noting the gorgeous ports and enjoyable excursions, in addition to the good onboard service and comfy lodging. Still, some felt that sure locations have been much less spectacular than they have been made to appear within the on-line advertising and marketing supplies, so make sure you do your individual itinerary analysis earlier than reserving so what to anticipate.

AmaWaterways primarily attracts North American vacationers of their 50s who get pleasure from participating in energetic shore excursions that contain strolling or biking. Still, passengers from the U.Ok. and Australia sail on this river cruise line as effectively. You can look forward to finding a mixture of {couples}, households and solo cruisers in your vessel, due to AmaWaterways’ various cabin choices. Trips in 2022 and 2023 vary from seven to 16 nights and price round $1,400 to $17,000 per individual, relying on the itinerary. In summer time 2023, AmaWaterways will sail the longest river cruise ever: a 46-night voyage throughout seven waterways in Europe. Prices for that voyage begin round $26,000 per individual. Learn extra about AmaWaterways on its website.

Avalon Waterways

Top River Cruises

(Courtesy of Avalon Waterways)

Price vary: About $1,100 to $11,000 per individual
Sails to: Europe, Asia, Africa, South America

Serving Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, Avalon Waterways sails 20 riverboats alongside standard thoroughfares just like the Danube, the Seine, the Nile, the Rhine, the Ganges and extra. Launched in 2004, Avalon stands out for its spacious vessels – often known as Suite Ships – which characteristic a few of the largest rooms within the river cruise business and beds that face wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling home windows, offering panoramic views. Additional stateroom perks embody complimentary breakfast in mattress; L’Occitane toiletries; height-adjustable sitting areas; ample space for storing; and your alternative of a comfortable, medium or agency mattress.

Across the ship, passengers can get pleasure from facilities like a solar deck with lounge chairs, whirlpools and a recreation space, in addition to quite a few eating places and bars and a 24-hour self-serve espresso station. Travelers may also have their decide of Classic, Active or Discovery shore excursions – starting from normal excursions with a neighborhood information to climbing outings alongside a hilltop fort – relying on their pursuits and bodily talents. Most latest vacationers reported having an excellent expertise on their Avalon river cruises, highlighting the pleasant, educated employees and engaging meals. Still, some have been dissatisfied of their itineraries, stating they felt they overpaid for the sights they noticed on the journey.

Avalon Waterways attracts English-speaking cruisers from a wide range of nations, sometimes of their 50s and 60s. However, kids ages 8 and older are welcome on board (although there are not any designated youngsters golf equipment), and a few voyages entice youthful or older passengers. River cruises on this line sometimes final between 4 and 15 days in 2022 and 2023, and costs vary from round $1,100 to $11,000 per individual. Fare inclusions differ by itinerary. For extra info, go to the Avalon Waterways website.

American Queen Voyages

Top River Cruises

(Courtesy of American Queen Voyages)

Price vary: About $1,300 to $6,000 per individual
Sails to: U.S., Canada (by 2023)

In fall 2021, American Queen Steamboat Company merged with Victory Cruise Lines to type American Queen Voyages. Based in North America, American Queen Voyages sails a number of routes within the U.S., together with the Mississippi River; the Ohio, Tennessee and Cumberland rivers; and the Columbia and Snake rivers. It is ready to develop its sailings to Canada and different areas within the U.S., such because the Pacific Northwest, by 2023.

This river cruise line operates 4 genuine paddlewheelers that maintain between 150 and 400 passengers. All-inclusive sailings embody limitless onboard Wi-Fi, limitless drinks (and an open bar), limitless guided excursions, eating all through your cruise and extra. On board, vacationers will discover a principal eating room, an leisure corridor, a solar deck, card rooms and lounges. Each cruise serves up tasty native delicacies that varies by itinerary. Staterooms characteristic plush linens, espresso makers and minifridges, TVs, personal balconies (in choose lodging) and extra.

Recent cruisers have been impressed with American Queen Voyages’ choices, noting the road’s well-kept vessels, nice employees and scrumptious meals. On the opposite hand, some vacationers skilled web connectivity points all through their journeys, and others have been unimpressed with the customer support brokers they spoke with over the cellphone.

American Queen Voyages’ 2022 and 2023 cruises final from 5 to 20-plus days and price between $1,300 and $6,000 per individual. The line primarily caters to vacationers of their 50s, although chances are you’ll discover the occasional grandparent and college-aged grandchild. The line is particularly appropriate for passengers who use wheelchairs, due to its abundance of accessibility choices. History buffs additionally have a tendency to love the itineraries and enrichment applications on board. Learn extra on the American Queen Voyages website.


(*10*)Top River Cruises

(Courtesy of Tauck)

Price vary: About $3,000 to $13,000 per individual
Sails to: Europe

Travel firm Tauck wears a number of hats: It operates small ship voyages all over the world, land excursions throughout seven continents, small group journeys for a mean of 24 vacationers at a time, household excursions and – lastly – European river cruises. Take your decide from 9 river vessels to discover standard waterways just like the Moselle, the Rhine, the Danube and the Rhone. All-inclusive fares cowl shore excursions, onboard actions and leisure, gratuities, drinks and extra. Plus, Tauck gives unique entry to unforgettable experiences like wine tastings at personal vineyards and gala dinners in historic castles.

Tauck’s river boats are freshly renovated (between 2018 and 2019) and carry between 84 and 130 passengers. More than 80% of the staterooms characteristic French balconies and floor-to-ceiling home windows, permitting for wonderful views. Other in-room facilities might embody adjustable local weather controls, satin linens, pillow-top mattresses, terry material robes and extra. Outside of your cabin, you may discover perks like a solar deck, a placing inexperienced, enrichment applications like cooking demonstrations, a health middle and complimentary bikes to discover on shore.

Tauck caters to prosperous, English-speaking cruisers – primarily Americans within the 55 and up age group – although you might also discover households with grownup kids on board. The line appeals most to vacationers preferring all the small print of their journey to be taken care of for them, versus those that wish to plan actions unbiased of the cruise line. Recent passengers communicate extremely of their river cruise experiences, highlighting the distinctive degree of group and spacious, luxurious lodging. However, some have been left wanting extra out of the meals high quality on board.

River voyages with Tauck vary from eight to 25 days in 2022 and 2023, and costs run between $3,000 and nearly $13,000 per individual. Visit Tauck’s website for extra info.

Emerald Cruises

Top River Cruises

(Getty Images)

Price vary: About $1,200 to $10,400 per individual
Sails to: Europe, Asia

Previously often known as Emerald Waterways, Emerald Cruises transports vacationers throughout a few of the hottest rivers in Europe and Asia, together with the Danube, the Rhine, the Douro, the Mekong and the Volga. The all-inclusive expertise covers all meals, drinks with lunch and dinner, shore excursions, Wi-Fi entry and gratuities within the base fee.

Emerald operates 9 vessels holding between 84 and 180 passengers; all boats boast luxurious public areas and lodging with en suite loos and flat-screen TVs. Common space facilities embody heated indoor swimming pools, solar decks, spa and wellness services, and a wide range of eateries. Onboard health courses can be found, as are different types of leisure. On shore, cruisers can hire bicycles to discover historic metropolis facilities.

Cruisers on latest sailings – particularly first-time sailors – loved their experiences on Emerald Cruises. High factors included the attentive crew members and stress-free reserving and planning course of. However, some famous that the ship could possibly be noisy at evening and that the meals was mediocre.

Typical clientele aboard Emerald Cruises’ voyages embody American and British passengers round retirement age, although some youthful vacationers might make an look as effectively. Children 12 and older are permitted on board, however there are not any youngsters golf equipment or designated actions for youthful cruisers. Special rooms and dinner reservations can be found for solo vacationers. In 2022 and 2023, Emerald Cruises’ sailings sometimes final between 5 and 26 days, and costs vary from round $1,200 to $10,400 per individual. Visit Emerald Cruises’ website to study extra.

Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours

Top River Cruises

(Gillies Zaiser/Courtesy of Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours)

Price vary: Less than $2,000 to $23,000 per individual
Sails to: Europe, Asia

From the Danube to the Mekong, Australian journey firm Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours gives lavish, all-inclusive river sailings with an emphasis on customization. The extra upscale sister model of Emerald Cruises, Scenic affords vacationers the chance to do as a lot or as little as they need whereas on board and ashore.

Enrichment actions are hand-picked by the road’s “Journey Designers,” and vessels present a top-notch degree of service due to their excessive crew-to-passenger ratios. In reality, every passenger receives a chosen butler who can full nightly turndowns and make laundry preparations, amongst different duties. Spacious suites on board are bigger than these on most different riverboats (starting from 160 to 510 sq. ft), and high-tech balcony controls permit lodgers to let in as a lot or as little solar as they’d like with the contact of a button. Cruisers may also get pleasure from particular in-room touches like pillow menus.

When it involves eating, Scenic sources native substances from the ports visited on the itinerary to supply an genuine expertise. All meals are included within the base cruise fare, together with drinks, gratuities, Wi-Fi entry, shore excursions and electrical bicycle leases in choose locations.

Recent cruisers have been happy with their experiences aboard Scenic’s vessels, praising the spacious cabins, pampering butler service, and educated crew members and tour guides. However, some vacationers really useful skipping the particular Christmas market cruise, as they discovered it to be much less festive than anticipated.

Scenic’s river cruises entice a big Australian demographic, although American, British and Canadian passengers can be discovered on board. Most vacationers are well-heeled adults ages 55 and older. In 2022 and 2023, Scenic’s river cruises span 5 to 36 days, and fares vary from lower than $2,000 to nearly $23,000 per individual. Visit Scenic’s website for extra info.

Crystal River Cruises

Top River Cruises

(Courtesy of Crystal Cruises)

Price vary: About $2,800 to $15,200 per individual
Sails to: Europe

An offshoot of Crystal Cruises – which operates two luxurious ocean ships – Crystal River Cruises operates a fleet of 5 river cruise ships on standard waterways all through Europe. Itineraries make stops alongside the Rhine, the Danube, the Main and the Moselle rivers.

On board, vacationers can count on elegant lodging with 24-hour butler service, all-day in-suite eating, one-touch lighting and bedside iPads, TVs with on-demand programming and premium toiletries. All-inclusive charges embody Michelin-inspired eating, choose wines and spirits, gratuities, Wi-Fi entry, choose shore excursions and bike leases on land. Outside of their suites, cruisers can get pleasure from a spa, an indoor pool, and enrichment applications like visitor lecturers and musical performances.

Recent cruisers praised the elegant riverboats and top-notch meals; many stated their expectations have been exceeded general. Still, a number of have been dissatisfied with the customer support expertise in the course of the reserving course of, and a few older passengers felt the shore excursions have been too hectic for his or her consolation ranges.

The majority of Crystal River Cruises’ passengers reside in North America, and most are prosperous and of their mid-50s. You’ll most constantly discover {couples} or small teams touring collectively, however sometimes households will select Crystal throughout holidays or when college is out. Cruises in 2022 and 2023 final between 5 and 17 nights, and costs vary from $2,800 to $15,200 per individual. See the Crystal River Cruises’ website for extra info.

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