A cruise on the ocean and a cruise on a river are vastly different. Both offer all the comforts afforded by luxury travel, but river cruises take an inland route allowing passengers to get up close and personal with more than just the coastal areas to which an ocean cruise would take you. Travelers have learned that this is an excellent way to visit a country and cruise lines have expanded as a result. That result means more ships, better ships, more routes, and better routes. We’ve looked at several river cruise lines and have determined that these are the lines that will offer the best value for the best cruising experience, each with its own expertise.
American Cruise Lines
With the most stateside itineraries of any line in our list, US river cruises are their specialty. American Cruise Lines has itineraries available on the Mississippi River, New England, the Pacific Northwest/Alaska, and also the southeast. They’re known for much more than their itineraries in the United States, as they have a fleet of the newest river cruise ships available. The ships boast the largest staterooms each with a private balcony, personalized service, amazing cuisine, as well as several complementary experiences including cocktail hours, pre-cruise lodging, and shore excursions on some trips. The benefit of an American Cruise Line really, though, is accessibility – you don’t have to travel too far to experience a luxury river cruise. Beginning at $2,860 for an eight-day cruise, American Cruise Lines offers a solid value for an excellent experience. Visit American Cruise Lines to view itineraries and also for more information.
Viking River Cruises
With river cruises throughout Europe as well as one in Asia and one in Egypt, Viking River Cruises is well-known for their well-planned, traveller-focused itineraries. Their fleet of cruise ships is extensive and, as with most river cruise ships, they promise spectacular scenery from each stateroom and gathering space. An example of one of their expert itineraries is the 15-day Grand European Tour which includes 12 guided tours and visits to four countries as it makes its way from Amsterdam to Budapest through the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. Beginning at $4,899 for a 15-day itinerary as described (which may include airfare from the US), Viking River Cruises promises an itinerary to remember, which can be priceless. Visit Viking River Cruises to view more options as well.
Avalon’s fleet of river cruise ships has ships that are smaller in size than some other lines. This means better accommodations and more personal service. They’ve been called the best staterooms in the river cruise industry and they have itineraries throughout Europe on seven rivers, in Asia on three rivers, and also in South America on two rivers. You can cruise for 11 days from the Inca Empire to the Peruvian Amazon on a South American Amazon River cruise with rates starting at $4,279. Visit Avalon Waterways to learn more about their itineraries and their fleet, known for its spacious and luxurious staterooms. We consider Avalon to have the best value for the best staterooms.
Tauck River Cruises
Tauck River Cruises is the river cruise line with the best reputation for the best food. This is the foodie’s river cruise with itineraries throughout Europe and rates from $3,990 for eight days. You could spend that much on eight days of dining on this caliber of food, but this rate includes more than just the food, which makes it a good value. Visit Tauck for more information on their itineraries and also to learn more about their top-rated dining.
Next we have AmaWaterways which was named by Cruise Critic as having the best river cruise. We don’t disagree. They have a full range of European itineraries, each with its own theme, for example, the Romantic Danube or Christmas Markets on the Rhine. Their ships are lovely and their fleet keeps expanding. With rates starting at $2,049 for the aforementioned seven-night Christmas Markets on the Rhine, AmaWaterways is probably the best value for a luxury river cruise. Visit AmaWaterways for more information on their themed itineraries, their expanding fleet, and view their gallery to inspire your river cruise vacation.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
While AmaWaterways was ranked the best river cruise line, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection earned the distinction of the best luxury river cruise line. An all-inclusive experience in a style of luxury not usually found in river boat cruises, Uniworld takes the river cruise to the next level. Their itineraries include river cruises throughout Europe as you’d expect, but they also have itineraries in China, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Egypt, and Russia. Of course, the value of a Uniworld cruise is relative to the level of luxury. Their 13-day excursion from Lisbon to Madrid through the Douro River starts at $5,849. Visit Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection to learn more about the best in luxury in river cruises.
So are you ready to begin your voyage on a river? Which cruise line appeals most to you? If you’re not one for a commercial experience, you may want to charter your own luxury yacht.