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What Is The Best River Cruise Line In Europe

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River Cruise Line Reviews

6 Best European River Cruise Lines. Which One Is Right For You?

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.

Book A Cruise On Scenic

Typical starting price: $2,195 for 7 nights

Where do they sail: Danube, Main , Rhine, Moselle, Rhône, Douro , Seine, Bordeaux, Volga , Mekong , Irrawaddy

Duration: 7 to 21 nights

Specialty cruises: National Geographic, Christmas markets

Onboard amenities : Laundry, wellness area, gym, massage services, hair salon, Wi-Fi, e-bikes, L’Occitane products, pillow menu, shoeshine

Inclusive: Meals, butler service, gratuities, transfers, excursions, beverages , minibar fully restocked daily, chef-prepared picnics, 24-hour in-room dining, entertainment

Pros: Having a butler on call is a big perk. They will tend to your needs throughout the journey including nightly turndown service and laundry concierge. Scenic also has the Tailormade App, which works as an audio guide and offers independent city tours, and an offline navigation system.

Cons: There are different levels of service depending on the cabin category you book. For example, guests staying in suites enjoy exclusive dining, priority reservations, and a private Captain’s cocktail party, while those staying in standard rooms will lack many special perks.

Scenic operates custom-made vessels and a variety of cabins types. Standard suites are sparse, small and lack balconies. A good mid-tier option is the Royal Balcony suite, which comes with a great view and perks like daily fruit skewers, canapes, and petit fours. All upgraded suites come with butler service, nightly turndown, and a laundry concierge.

Small Ship Line #1: Seadream Yacht Club

Sailing through the Caribbean, around Europe, or across the Atlantic on either of SeaDreams two 112-passenger yachts means quickly getting to know your fellow guests. Facilities on the six decks include a pool, whirlpool, and casino, but the real highlight is the watersports marina that can be lowered down to the waves for easy ocean swimming, kayaking, and more. The ships often overnight in port, allowing guests the opportunity to experience the local nightlife before taking off for their next destination. In 2021, SeaDream will launch a 110-cabin luxury expedition yacht, SeaDream Innovation, that will sail to all seven continents.

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Planning A European River Cruise

Once youve chosen your Europe river cruise route which hopefully this post will help with youll have to choose a cruise company. There are plenty of options, so do some research.

Make a list of your must-haves for the ship, and any sights you really want to see on your river cruise. Then look for a cruise company that ticks all your boxes. Check that the itinerary stops at all your must-see sights, and read online reviews to make sure that the company sound like the right fit for you.

Book your cruise, then look for flights. Lots of European river cruises start and finish in two different cities, so you might need two separate flights. However, it can often be cheaper to book return flights to and from the same city, as well as a separate internal flight back to the original airport.

If youre visiting from outside of Europe, dont forget that you may also need a Schengen visa to visit certain countries. With this guide , you will have all the information. And, of course, dont forget the travel insurance!

River Cruise Prices And Fees


River cruises are typically all-inclusive, meaning Wi-Fi is usually free, along with regular meals and sometimes alcohol. How much and the type of alcohol and the times of day or night served may depend on the details of your booking. If drinks are an expected part of your vacation, make sure your upfront fee includes unlimited, premium alcohol. Your river cruise package price may or may not include tips, so be sure to confirm the tipping policy before going on board.


River cruises tend to be booked well in advance. If you are planning a trip for next summer, a good time to book is in the fall when the most deals are to be found, according to travel experts. On the other hand, some cruises may offer last-minute deals closer to the booking cut off. A travel agent may help you find the best price, or you could contact each cruise line directly for help.

River cruises arent for the budget traveler. Its a sound financial practice to protect the amount youve paid for your trip with travel insurance to cover trip cancellations for any reason, delays, lost luggage, illness or injury while traveling and more. You will pay from $120 to $250 for travel insurance, depending on your age and the trip being insured. It is recommended that you check with your credit card company to see if they include travel insurance as a perk.

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What Is A Family River Cruise Like

River cruise ships are pretty small at least compared to ocean ships, anyway. Whilst an ocean ship might have anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 passengers on board, river cruise ships tend to accommodate about 200 people.

The relatively small size of river cruise ships means that theres obviously no room for things like water slides, rock climbing walls or any of the activities your kids would go crazy for on an ocean cruise.

However, there are some things theyll like, such as small swimming pools, Jacuzzis, cinemas, games consoles and giant noughts and crosses.

Each day youll stop at a different port of call. Your ship will often dock right in the heart of the city, so you can get off and explore on foot, on a coach or maybe on bikes if your ship has those to borrow.

Comparing The Cruise Lines

Peaceful, scenic and intimate, river cruising offers a smooth, gentle ride along the world’s most remarkable waterways visiting the world’s most historic cities and hidden charms in style and safety.

The handy chart below offers a quick comparison of the world’s best river lines, but read on to see why our experts recommend each of these river cruise options.

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Amawaterways Family River Cruises

The launch of AmaWaterways ship AmaMagna, in May 2019, has really drawn attention to how family-friendly river cruising can be.

This new double-width ship, which sails on the Danube, has a whole host of facilities that kids will love. When the theatre isnt in use, it becomes a cinema showing the latest kids movies. There are also Playstations and Nintendo Switches as well as board games and, importantly, a decent-sized swimming pool.

Whilst most of AmaWaterways river boats have bicycles thatguests can use ashore, AmaMagna also has child-sized bikes so that the wholefamily can explore together.

The cruise line has a partnership with Disney, offering Adventures by Disney cruises. Here, you can visit the French villages that inspired the tale Beauty and the Beast, enjoy a magical carriage ride in Budapest and eat breakfast doughnuts shaped like Mickey ears.

You can read more about AmaMagna from Cruise Lifestyle here.

Minimum age to cruisewith AmaWaterways: Children must be four years old or over to cruise, butthis river cruise line isnt recommended for children under eight years old.

Accommodation: Adjoiningcabins provide accommodation for up to five people. Cabins with sofa beds are availablefor families of four. If you prefer, children under 11 are allowed to share abed with two adults.

Child fares: Childrenpay the full adult fare.

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts:

We Tried The Best European River Cruise For Under 40s! | River Cruise Ship Tour

Some of the most luxurious Nile cruises are offered by Oberoi Hotels & Resorts.

The Oberoi Zahra river ship has glass showers with full-length view windows and a misting system to keep you cool on the sundeck and outdoor restaurant.

And get this. A fleet of air-conditioned black Mercedes vans shadows the ship onshore. When the ship docks, theyre waiting and ready to whisk you away to see the tombs, temples and 5,000 years of Egyptian history.

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Medium Ship Line #: Oceania Cruises

Its all about the food on Oceania Cruises. Its 1,250-passenger MS Marina and MS Riviera offer restaurants by Jaques Pepin, a six-course Dom Perignon dinner with a pairing of three vintages, a cooking center where passengers of all cooking skill levels can take classes, and culinary-themed excursions, like a visit to the market in Nice with a chef. Its four smaller Regatta-class ships also have excellent dining options, like the Polo Grill and the Italian eatery Toscana. Two new 1,200-passenger ships are on the way for Oceania, set for delivery in 2022 and 2025.

Best And Worst River Cruise Lines

Our river cruise ratings reveal a gulf in quality between the best and worst companies, so if you’re thinking of booking a river cruise for later in 2021 or beyond, it’s essential you do your research.

Offering a smaller, more intimate proposition than best and worst cruise lines, its important to know which river ships have cramped decks and which give you space to enjoy the view. And its vital that you choose the river cruise company offering the best value for money, with no hidden costs.

To help you find the best river cruise line for your budget we ask hundreds of customers about their booking and on-board experiences in our annual survey. That way, we can be sure that Which? Recommended Providers are the very best river cruise lines on water.

Our survey doesnt just uncover the companies offering great cuisine, varied facilities and good value for money. It also highlights the brands with lacklustre cabins, unimaginative excursions and overpriced packages. Based on real experiences we can reveal what customers really think of each river cruise brand.

Also Check: When Is The Best Time To Cruise The Mediterranean

Medium Ship Line #1: Msc Cruises

Showing up for the third time on our list, MSC Cruises is clearly beloved by many! The Swiss cruise line has just four medium-size shipsthe Lirica classwhich accommodate between 2,000 and 2,600 passengers. Theyre also the oldest ships in the fleet, though they each underwent refurbishment as part of MSCs Renaissance program to modernize interiors and expand their size. The line is known for its Mediterranean inspirationthough its fleet sails far beyond the region, calling at ports all over the worldso youll find delicious Italian food on board no matter where your ship is taking you. MSC sailings are quite lively, especially at night, with many guests partying at nightclubs into the late hours.

What To Wear On A Baltic Cruise In June

2017 Editors

As for the best time to do a Baltic cruise, June is one of the warmer months in the Baltics and is still not packed with summer holiday tourists.

Take some light clothing if the weather is favourable but do still pack layers in case it takes a turn. A rain poncho might come in handy.

No matter what the time of year, don’t forget your glad rags if you’re cruising with a line that offers fancier evenings.

“Whilst on board there will be ample opportunity to dress up in the evenings if you wish, so consider taking suitable outfits for these occasions,” said Michelle. “Cocktail dresses for ladies for example and black-tie for the gentlemen.”

– READ MORE: Northern Europe travel guide from the Baltics to the Fjords – where is best for you?

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American Queen Steamboat Company

Did you know you dont have to fly to Europe to take a luxury river cruise? American Queen Steamboat Company operates cruises in three unique regions of the country so youre never far from a fun and relaxing cruise vacation. Known for their gorgeous paddlewheelers, American Queen Steamboat Company curates itineraries which show off the best of Americans famous rivers like the Mississippi. Enjoy high-end service, delicious cuisine and shore excursions steeped in the history and culture of each region. Amenities like 24-hour room service, private balconies and nightly entertainment vault American Queen Steamboat Company to the top of the river cruise line rankings!

American Queen | Photo: American Queen Steamboat Company

Small Ship Line #: Metropolitan Touring

Operating three expedition vessels in the Galápagos, Metropolitan Touring is the ideal cruise line for those seeking a casual experience in the wildlife hotspot. The tiny ships, which only accommodate between 40 and 78 passengers, have a laid-back atmosphere where the focus is very much on wildlife spotting. The company also offers land-based tours in mainland Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia that can be combined with a Galápagos expedition.

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Cruise From Home And Relax

Everyone knows that a cruise vacation is one of the most relaxing, hassle free vacations you can take. Imagine if you also didn’t have to worry about traveling to start your vacation but could just drive up to a port near your home and get onboard your luxury cruise ship. Here at CruiseExperts.com we’ve made it easy to see which cruises start close to home. Get started with our Home Port widget by clicking on your home port below.

Emerald Waterways Review Which Recommended Provider

European River Cruise Pros and Cons: Should You Do One?

If you like the sound of Scenic’s river cruises but are put-off by the cost, you’ll want to consider it’s more cost-conscious sister, Emerald Waterways. All its ships have been built within the last 10 years, so it’s no wonder they were highly rated for spaciousness and facilities. The food is top-quality, too, making Emerald Waterways a great option for a slightly more wallet-friendly European river cruise.

, or read our full Emerald Waterways review for more information.

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Medium Ship Line #1: P& o Cruises

The British line P& O Cruises is the oldest in the world, established in 1837 to ferry mail and passengers between the United Kingdom and the Iberian Peninsula, but it began to offer leisure operationsthe very first cruises as we know themas early as 1844. The ships cater to a primarily British audience, and they provide good value for a classic cruising experience. Guests enjoy traditional activities like shuffleboard, dance classes, and pub quizzes. The ships typically sail in Europe, though they do have ports of call in Asia and the Middle East.

Comparing The River Cruise Lines

Blog River Cruises

It’s true what they say, that oceans take you to countries, while rivers take you through them. The chance to explore ancient sites, experience magnificent cities and immerse yourself in the culture and cuisine of places that can’t be reached on a traditional cruise ship is the allure of river cruising.

But which river cruise line is right for you? What amenities or services are offered by each? How does each river cruise line compare?

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Best Cruise Lines For River Cruises

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The best cruise lines for river cruises as ranked by verified reviews submitted over the past 12 months. This list is continuously updated as we receive new reviews from our members, so be sure to check back often!

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APT’s award-winning, five-star river ships offer unforgettable journeys along iconic waterways. The line sails itineraries throughout the rivers of Europe, Myanmar , China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. APT is known for its Freedom of Choice program that lets guests tailor their excursions to suit their personal preferences.

Rating details


AmaWaterways is one of the most well-known river cruise lines, consistently ranking highly among other river lines and in Europe overall. All of their modern vessels include either a swimming pool or whirlpool, which is a treat not always found on river ships. Most balcony cabins include two types of balconies: a French balcony as well as a traditional outdoor one.


Avalon Waterways offers a river cruise fleet of over 20 vessels sailing in Europe, South America, Egypt, and Asia. Avalons Suite Ships offer unique Panorama Suites that feature widest opening windows in river cruising and the industry’s only Open-Air Balcony perfect for exploring the lands you are journeying through from the comfort of your stateroom.


Compare cruise ships

Large Ship Line #: Royal Caribbean International

Family River Cruises: Which River Cruise Lines Are Best ...

Though Royal Caribbean is perhaps best known for its mega-ships, it has quite a number of large ships, toothe 3,100-passenger Voyager-class ships, for instance, were once the worlds largest, until Royal Caribbean debuted the larger Freedom class and subsequently the Oasis class. Each class had its own series of firstsVoyager of the Seas was the first ship to have an ice rink and a rock-climbing wall, while Freedom of the Seas introduced the first FlowRider surf simulator at sea.

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Medium Ship Line #: Silversea Cruises

Silverseas fleet has five ships, of which just two are technically medium-sized, with passenger counts around 600 peoplebut thats considered quite a large number for the luxurious cruise line, which specializes in smaller vessels, including five ships in its expedition fleet. Silversea Muse is the newest and largest ship, making her maiden voyage in 2017. Despite her relatively small size, Muse has eight restaurants for her passengers, all of whom are accommodated in spacious suites. As a cruise line, Silversea sails to more than 900 destinations around the world.

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