Why Is River Ship Length Important
One of the real subtle differences in river cruising is what the cruise line has on board their ships.
For accommodations, this includes # of passenger cabins, what is in the cabin & views from the cabin.
Unlike Ocean Cruising, there are no inside cabins, but there is a significant difference in window size & balconies.
On board facilities & equipment is another factor that should be considered.
Choosing A River Cruise
River cruise boats are restricted to a certain size to accommodate narrow water passages. Stateroom dimensions will be similar from line to line, and onboard amenities are scarce. For these and other reasons, the most critical factor in selecting a river cruise is determining where you want to go.
Once you have a destination in mind, its all about the details. From priceless art and luxury interiors to interesting themes to culinary expectations, finding the best river cruise is all about identifying whats most important to you as a traveler.
If climbing stairs are difficult for you or you have a disability, it is essential that you discuss accommodations while onboard and at ports of call with the river cruise company. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to river cruise ships nor are those regulations followed outside of the U.S.
River Cruise Refunds And Cancellations
All river cruises booked in the UK and lasting more than 24 hours are protected by the Package Travel Regulations. So, if your provider cancels your cruise, whether that’s due to coronavirus or for another reason altogether, you are entitled to a full cash refund within 14 days.
However, not all river cruise operators have been meeting their legal obligations on refunds, so if you’re thinking of booking a river cruise, it pays to do your research. Thankfully, all our WRP river cruise providers are refunding promptly and also put on exceptional cruises, so that’s where you should start.
But the Package Travel Regulations don’t protect you if you decide to cancel the cruise, so only book if you’re sure you’ll want to travel when the time comes. And always take out travel insurance as soon as making any travel booking.
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Frequently Asked Questions About River Cruises
What is river cruising?
Its a form of leisure boat travel along inland waterways most popularly along the worlds major rivers, including the Mississippi, Danube, Rhine, Volga and Yangtze. River cruise boats are smaller than ocean liners to maneuver smaller waterways and can carry up to 250 guests. This reduced capacity makes the whole experience of river cruising more intimate than typical ocean cruising.
Are river ships different from other cruise ships?
River ships are much smaller in size compared to giant ocean liners, so they cater to fewer guests. It is easier to get to know some of the other travelers on a river ship. Also, because rivers are shallow, river cruises tend to be smoother sailing than ocean liners.
How long does a typical river cruise last?
River cruises are typically just over a week in length and include several port stops during each passage. Instead of spending many days at sea, you will spend less time sailing on a river cruise and can expect to awaken each day in a new port.
What are some amenities found on river cruises?
Ocean liners often sail with amenities such as pools, fitness centers, casinos, entertainment venues and so on. River ships tend to have fewer onboard amenities and instead offer educational, cultural or culinary experiences to keep things lively on board.
What can I expect a river cruise to include?
Whats the best season for a river cruise?
What should I pack for a river cruise?
What type of person enjoys a river cruise?
European River Cruise Lines Worth A Look By Americans
As river cruising continues to boom, more and more lines compete for attention on the European waterways. While many American travelers have heard of companies such as Viking, Grand Circle, Tauck, AmaWaterways, Crystal and Avalon — to mention just a few — there are also some European companies out there that Americans probably don’t know that may deserve consideration. Here’s a look at who they are and what they offer.
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Best Douro River Cruises
Sharing the water with traditional, flat-bottomed Rabelo boats, youll peacefully glide along aboard the ms Andorinha, Taucks newest riverboat purpose-built for the Douro. Explore the historic villages towering above the rivers banks from coastal Porto to the Spanish border and drink in the quintas that produce the regions venerable Port wine on the Douro River Cruise that speaks to you.
River Cruise Company Reviews
Part of the fastest growing segment in the cruising, river cruise lines have been popping up all over the place these days. There are more than 20 river cruise providers around the globe, and a little less than half of those could be considered premium or luxury standouts. From there, we did the hard work for you, with an in-depth look at some of the most popular river cruises available.
After our evaluation, we chose the three best river cruise lines: Viking River Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Uniworld. With multiple ships, destination countries and themed adventures, these four lines stood out for their enrichment, culinary expertise and high-touch service.
- Great Destinations and Itineraries
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Getting To And From A River Cruise
A consistent pain point in customer reviews of river cruise lines involves travel to and from the ship, which for travelers can be a stressful aspect of a trip. Common complaints include air travel thats either difficult to book, inconvenient, poorly managed or not available around the travel dates. Manage your flights online. Pick your seats early and check in frequently before your travel date to make sure nothing has changed.
Depending on how close the airport is to your ships port, you might consider taking an Uber or a Lyft from the airport to your port location or hotel if youre staying in one the night before. This saves on not only car rental costs but parking costs while youre on your cruise.
Scenic Luxury Cruises And Tours Review Which Recommended Provider
Scenic specialises in luxury river cruises in Europe and Asia. It’s not cheap, but there are no nasty-surprises because everything’s included in the initial price, so the company still earns four start out of five for value for money. You have a choice of at least two excursions at every stop, while on-board, you’ll be treated to high-quality cabins, lots of space, excellent food and friendly and helpful staff.
, or read our full Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours review for more information.
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Second Guest Flies Free Offer
Pay airfare for one guest, and you’ll automatically lock-in roundtrip flights for two. Secure these savings online by choosing your nearest airport in step one of your cruise booking, and enjoy air-to-sea made easy. We’ll coordinate your roundtrip flights, and transportation between the airport and cruise port.
Find this offer on 4+ Day Cruises to this destination and beyond.
Adventures By Disney River Cruise
Typical starting price: $4,599 for 7 days
Where they sail: Danube, Rhine, Seine
Duration: 8 days
Specialty cruises: Danube Christmas markets, Oktoberfest, Rhine food and wine, Seine National Geographic photography
Amenities : High-speed Wi-Fi, gym, sun-deck, walking track, bikes for shore use, pool or whirlpool, fitness classes, salon, massage
Inclusions: All meals, unlimited beverages , daily excursions, all gratuities onboard and at restaurants, daily cocktail hour, select meals off the ship during excursions, onboard entertainment
Pros: Adventures by Disney guides add a wonderful touch to each journey with storytelling, educational information, and goes above and beyond to ensure every guest has a great time.
Cons: The ships aren’t “Imagineered.” In other words, if you are used to the added magic that occurs on a Disney Cruise Line, you won’t find that here.
Adventures by Disney, the guided, family vacation arm of the Walt Disney Company, offers unique journeys sprinkled with signature Disney magic. Each day, you’ll receive an enamel pin reflecting the day’s adventure such as Mickey dressed as Mozart or Donald cooking goulash.
The Adventures by Disney river cruises are designed for families, and their itineraries, both onboard and onshore, have something for every age group. Kids love the Junior Adventurer dinners or Disney movie nights, and there is also a Just Teens program with dinners and separate tour groups at various destinations.
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The Thinking Person’s Guide To River Cruising
Welcome to River Boat Ratings, the internet’s leading site for those who are seriously considering sailing on one of the world’s great waterways. It is good to have you here and we’d like to begin by making a few promises to you:
- We will never talk down to you or insult your intelligence. This is a site for adults who do not need advertising hype, phony “user reviews” or PR double-speak.
- This is the only river cruise review site that does not accept paid advertising from the companies we are reviewing. We do not accept promotional fees from any river boat company. You will never see an ad of any kind on riverboatratings.com
- We use only the industry’s most respected professional sources for information. Unknown “users” will never be quoted. The bulk of our material is sourced from leading industry reports and from the most respected travel journalists. Our evaluations are never based on popularity polls or self-appointed critics.
WHY TRUST US?
Actually, we’re not sure you should “trust” anyone you meet on the internet. We urge you to check our background and credentials. Make certain you feel comfortable entrusting some of the best moments of your life to our consultants. Here are a few things about us we hope will be of interest:
Look around our site. Do you notice anything unusual?
American Queen Steamboat Company
Typical starting price: $2,199 for 7 nights
Where they sail: Mississippi, Ohio/Tennessee/Cumberland, Columbia/Snake Rivers
Duration: 7 to 15 nights
Specialty Cruises: Music festivals, music of the ’50s and ’60s, bourbon, Cajun/Creole, wine, Kentucky Derby
Amenities : Wi-Fi, bicycles for shore, library, fitness center, smoothie and juice bar, pool, sun deck, spa, fitness, hiking sticks
Inclusions: All meals, unlimited beverages , in-room dining, one-night pre-cruise hotel stay, hop on hop off buses onshore, ground transfers, Wi-Fi, daily entertainment
Pro: You’ll save money as you won’t have to pay to fly overseas.
Cons: Excursions cost extra, starting at around $79. The least expensive cabins are interior and have no windows.
As the name implies, the American Queen Steamboat Company uses old-school-style riverboats for their journey. These state-of-the-art, authentic paddle wheelers can accommodate from 150 to 400 guests, depending on the ship.
Choose from a wide variety of accommodations from well-appointed suites to small no-frills single staterooms that are a mere 80 square feet. Some sailings have Loft Suites, which are two stories with floor-to-ceiling windows and have two full bathrooms, a dining area, a lounge with a Queen sofa-bed, a balcony, and an upstairs bedroom.
Notable Excursions :
COVID-19 vaccinations are required for all guests and crew. COVID-19 procedures are available here.
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Best River Cruise Companies Overview
With the average price of a European cruise coming in just shy of £280 per night, river cruising might not look like a budget holiday. But factor in food, drinks and daily excursions, which are all typically included as standard, and the figures start to sound more reasonable.
Take Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, top of our annual river cruise survey. It promises an all-inclusive experience, so you wont face any on-board surprises. Plus, youll get free beer and wine with lunch and dinner, as you do with Emerald Waterways, APT Luxury River Cruises and Viking River Cruises, three of our other Which? Recommended Providers this year.
Of course, you wont find the range of on-board facilities of the vast ocean liners, but then you wont be spending whole days at sea either. River cruises get you straight to city centres so theres more time for sightseeing and excursions. That said, with nearly all meals taken on board and usually only one dining option youll want to be sure the food and drink pass muster.
In the table below, we show the results from our annual river cruise survey. Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours remained top of our table for the second year running with impressive customer service scores. Its sister company Emerald Waterways came joint second with APT Luxury River Cruises, Viking River Cruises was rated fourth, while Riviera Travel came fifth. All five brands received our Which? Recommended Provider Rating.
Best Rhne River Cruises
From high in the Swiss Alps, the Rhône carves a scenic path to Lake Geneva and through France on its more than 500-mile journey to the Mediterranean Sea. Over the centuries, cathedral towns have sprouted up along its banks. And today, the Rhône is one of the worlds most revered wine growing regions. Youre certain to find Rhone River Cruises that will inspire you to raise a glass.
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What Makes A Which Recommended Provider
Which? Recommended Providers are the cream of the crop and the accolade is only given to river cruise lines with the highest customer scores.
Thats not all. We know that pricing transparency is important, so we only offer it to the companies that provide clear information about gratuities, excursions and drinks at the booking stage. After all, it’s hard for customers to compare prices if they can’t find these details before parting with their cash. If the companies fall down in more than one area, theyre not eligible to be Which? Recommended Providers, whatever score they receive in the survey.
Similarly, a company can only be considered for WRP status if it has committed to promptly refunding customers for any cruises it is forced to cancel, such as if coronavirus travel restrictions prevent the cruise from going ahead.
And because Which? is independent, you can be sure that our recommendations are influenced only by our survey results. We’re not influenced by third parties and we don’t accept freebies from product manufacturers, retailers. or providers.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Whilst you may not have heard of this much awarded company , you should certainly add it to yourroster of the best river cruise vessels in the world.
When you step on one of their vessels, you immediately start toappreciate the Uniworld difference. The concept is all aboutrecreating the feel of a small boutique hotel on board anall-inclusive river vessel, and every ship is different, personallydesigned by members of the Tollman family who own Uniworld’sparent, TravCorp.
If you’ve seen pictures of Uniworld’s ships then you’ll probablyhave been struck by the slightly garish interiors depicted in theofficial photography but in reality, the decor is a lot moresubtle than it appears in the oversaturated promo shots. Quirky,yes, but elegant and tasteful with it.
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Best Rhine River Cruises
Noted for dramatic folklore, a renowned wine growing region and UNESCO World Heritage sites dotting its banks, Rhine River Cruises flow through six European nations. Once thought by Ancient Romans to be the outermost border of civilization, the Rhine is now home to working windmills, medieval towns, storybook forests and a river cruise thats just right for you.
River Cruise Line Reviews
Of the 16 providers we’ve reviewed, just five are good enough to earn Which? Recommended Provider status: Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, APT Luxury Cruises and Tours, Emerald Waterways, Viking River Cruises and Riviera Travel.
Not only can you rely on them to organise a fantastic cruise, but you can also count on them to promptly return your money if things go wrong and your cruise can’t go ahead. Unfortunately, that’s more than can be said for many cruise companies.
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Best Family River Cruises
The best part about experiencing Europes sophisticated cities, rich history and iconic sites is the pure joy of sharing every moment of it together. Thats why weve custom-crafted several itineraries specifically for families to highlight hands-on adventures, on board fun and all-ages accessibility. Now everyone can find the best European Family River Cruises for their family!
European River Cruise Deals And Sales
Up to $1,500 off 2022 Europe river cruises w/flexibilty
Up to $1,000 off per couple on 15-day Europe cruise + flights
Up to $1,500 off 2023 cruises
Up to $1,500 off Europe cruises
Up to 50% off river cruises
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for Travel Weekly, Escape, Showpo, The Nibbler and Hostelworld. She was also the editor of kids magazine DMAG. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and has visited 55 countries .
Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas in these delectable destinations!
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Nile River Cruises In Egypt
Feel like Cleopatra on the Nile when you journey down the same river where they honeymooned on the Egyptian queens royal barge.
But they no doubt would be jealous of the vessels you can cruise on today.
Put a Nile River cruise on your bucket list! The tombs and temples of ancient Egypt are eye-popping