All about European River cruises
** Military discounts on all river cruises for American and Canadian active/retired military and veterans **
- save hundreds or even up to a thousand dollars per cabin!
- get great advice from one of our river cruise experts
Here’s how to book a river cruise with us and get the biggest discount:
- Use the links or the blue search box to see all your river cruise options.
- Then call and ask to speak to a river cruise expert who will make the booking and get all your discounts applied. 866-964-5482
Use the blue search box in the right column to search for a river cruise in 2016 or other specific parameters like a certain departure month.
Two for one pricing on river cruises!?
Yes and no. The prices you see on their brochures and websites ALREADY HAVE that discount built in. So don’t look at their prices and think that’s what you’ll pay for two people. Those are per person rates!
Prague, on the Danube
Have questions about river cruises?
Have questions about river cruises?
We have answers!
What's the ultimate insider’s tip about river cruising that you need to know? We'll tell you!
Although you may only have heard of Viking river cruises, (thanks to Downton Abbey), there are two other river cruise companies which are just as good, but haven't had as much publicity.
This has resulted in the prices for Viking river cruises often being higher than Avalon or Amawaterways, even though those latter two are just as good as Viking! We've based this conclusion of having viewed many Viking, Avalon and Ama waterways ships and knowing the amenities they offer and their comparative prices.
The new Viking longships are gorgeous. The design and decor are super sleek and contemporary. So Viking is worth paying for and will live up to your expectations.
But if the cruise itinerary and date you prefer is offered on Avalon or Amawaterways for ⅓ less than it's offered on Viking, don't hesitate to take advantage of those savings and forgo being on Viking. Everything you'd have on Viking, you'll get on both those river cruise lines.
Which river cruise company has the nicest ships?
The only real difference among river cruise ships, is the new v. the older. The ships built in the last three years are quite different than the ships built 10 to 20 years ago.
A new Viking, Avalon, Amawaterways or Uniworld ship will look much different than an older ship in the same fleet. While they will all look "fancy", the new ships all have a contemporary, bright, fresh design and decor that is very appealing.
This is a picture of a French balcony suite on a new Avalon ship.
This is the atrium of a new AmaWaterways ship.
How many different river cruise companies are there?
The five primary luxury river cruise lines in the worlds are: Viking, Avalon, Ama waterways, and Uniworld and Tauck.
Uniworld and Tauck are the most expensive because they include all spirits, gratuities and transfers.
Also, the Uniworld decor is distinctively more Victorian with far more fabric used than the decor of the others. If you like that sort of thing - Uniworld will be right for you.
How much does a river cruise cost?
The average price for a 7 to 14-day river cruise is usually between $2000 and $6000 per person on Viking, Avalon and AmaWaterways; and $4000 to $8000 on Uniworld and Tauck.
If you go in the off season like March or November and get only an ocean view cabin, you could pay as little as $1800 per person.
What is included in that price?
Your private room with private bathroom, three gourmet meals a day, specialty coffee, tea and bottled water, alcohol and beer with lunch and dinner, and daily shore excursions.
Uniworld and Tauck include all alcohol, soft drinks, transfers and gratuities - so they are really all-inclusive and are much more expensive than Viking, Avalon and AmaWaterways.
What’s not included on Viking, Avalon or Ama waterways? Transfers to the ship, travel insurance, salon services or gratuities.
Are there any more affordable river cruise lines?
Yes, on A-Rosa and Croisi, a 5-day cruise in an ocean view cabin could cost as little as $800 per person. See details about them below.
What are the river cruise ships like?
Dozens of new river cruise ships have been built in the last 3 years, and their sleek, contemporary design is spectacular. We’ve seen many of them in person! On the top deck expect a small pool and/or hot tubs, walking tracks, putting greens and on the new Viking ships - herb gardens!
This is the sun deck on a Uniworld ship.
What are river cruise staterooms like?
They range from:
* 170 sq ft rooms with small windows,
* French balconies,
* regular balconies,
* and larger balcony suites, which can be up to 300 sq ft suites with panoramic views.
There are no 'inside or windowless' cabins on a river cruise ship.
What are river cruise excursions like?
Perfect! You are broken up into small groups, lead by a knowledgeable, English-speaking guide, given a wireless headset which makes for effortless listening while walking at your own pace, luxury bus transportation if necessary - everything you need to get the most out of your exciting, beautiful and historic destinations.
What was one of my favorite things about my most recent river cruise?
Seeing the baby lambs on the gorgeous green countryside along the river in Holland and hearing their tiny, squeaky bleats!
Internet access? All river cruises in Europe offer free high-speed Internet access! Each ship has a few computers guests may use.
Tipping? You are expected to tip about 14 Euro per day for the Program Director and Staff.
What travel documentation do you need?
You must have a passport for all travel outside the United States, but will need a visa only if your river cruise goes to Russia, China, Egypt, Jordan or Southeast Asia.
Is airfare included in the price of a river cruise?
No. Sometimes free air is offered on select river cruises. But those are specific, limited promotions.
Tauck and Uniworld include transfers, even if you buy outside air.
Avalon, AmaWaterways and Viking only include transfers if you buy air through them.
What’s food on a river cruise like?
It's far far better than the food on your average ocean cruise ship. In general, there are a team of about 10 people in the kitchen cooking for 100 guests and they can get fresh, local produce and protein in every port - so it's easy for them to make the food special! Dining rooms are fancy.
AmaWaterways has more than two dozen bicycles on its ships that you are free to use throughout Europe.
Which rivers in Europe can you cruise on? Where do river cruises go?
River names below are underlined.
Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, France, Germany
The Rhine runs from the Netherlands to Switzerland, along the French border and through eastern Germany. Cruises from Amsterdam to Basel or vice versa, are on this river.
Moselle flows through France, Luxembourg and Germany and is known for excellent viewing of castles and wine tasting of local varieties such as Riesling. Cruises that do a pre or post Paris land tour usually cruise the Moselle.
Germany, Austria, Hungary, Croatia, Romania and more Eastern Europe countries
Danube - flows from east to west: from southern Germany, through Vienna, Austria, along the southern border of Slovakia, down through Hungary, along Croatia and Serbia and is the natural border between Romania and Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova and then empties into the Black Sea.
Main river which is in central Germany and connects naturally to the Rhine and via man-made canal to the Danube. Cruises in the heart of Germany, from Frankfurt to Prague, cruise on this river.
The Main-Danube canal is 106 miles long and connects the Main and Danube, creating an unbroken stretch of 2200 miles from the North Sea to the Black Sea!
Seine is in the northwest part of France, basically connecting Normandy and Paris.
Saone and Rhone are in the mid and south of France and can take you from the Cote d’Azur to Paris or vice versa.
The Canal du Midi runs along the south of France. It's so small, the ships usually only hold 24 or less passengers and are called hotel barges.
Loire - in west, central France. The only river cruise company on the Loire is Croisi.
Douro River in Porto
Volga - from St. Petersburg to Moscow
The longest river cruise is 24-days, and goes from Amsterdam to Bucharest. Prices start at about $8000 per person.
The shortest river cruises are 3-days, on Croisi and start at about $738 per person.
What's the difference between a balcony and a French balcony?
A normal balcony is a sit out balcony, which is an exterior space which contains chairs for you to sit on.
A French balcony means one wall of your cabin is a floor to ceiling sliding glass door that you can open and lean out of for a better view and fresh air.
A French balcony generally costs less than a regular sit-out balcony.
Viking and AmaWaterways have rooms which have a French balcony in the sleeping area of the cabin, and a sit out balcony off the living room area of your cabin - so you can enjoy the balcony experience both ways! See below.
Are there any river cruise cabins that will hold more than two people?
Tauck is on the most expensive end of river cruises, but has some ships with cabins that will hold two children in addition to two adults.
On ARosa and Croisi, children ages 2 - 16 cruise for free, as long as the one child shares the bed in the room. No additional beds, rollaways, will be provided.
Amawaterways also allows children age 4 - 10 to share a cabin with two adults, as long as the child will sleep in the bed with the parents. No additional bed will be provided. Call for price, depends on date and length of voyage.
Uniworld allows children on select voyages during summer, spring and holiday breaks. A family host is provided to help plan activities.
Avalon will not allow children younger than 8 on their ships, and they have no special organized activities for children. A third passenger is never allowed in any cabin type. Two people per cabin only.
Never heard of A-Rosa and Croisi? Here's what you need to know.
A-Rosa and Croisi don't offer the same level of luxury decor and gourmet cuisine like you'll find on Avalon, AmaWaterways, Viking, Tauck and Uniworld.
But they are still wonderful options in many ways.
A-Rosa also includes gratuities, free transfers, open bar throughout the ship, free beverages with dinner too including regional wines, free bottled water, complimentary use of bicycles aboard, free shore excursions in every port, flat screen tv's, putting green topside, pools or whirlpools, complimentary wifi, all port charges and taxes.
Croisi is a French, family-owned business that offers affordable river cruise. Most of the passengers are French or German, but most of the crew speaks some English. Below is main lounge on one of the Croisi ships.
Croisi includes wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner year around, and offer unlimited drinks, including house spirits during the high season from April to October. Food and wine aboard is locally sourced and consistently good.
Croisi does not offer free shore excursions, however. And they do not have cabins with balconies of any kind.
Children under the age of 10 are eligible for a discounted rate year-around on every Croisi river cruise. On certain summer cruises in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Croatia, children age 16 and under are free.
Of their 40-some ships, four of them are new, 24-passenger 'hotel barges' that are small enough to fit through the tiny canals of Provence in the South of France. These small barges have wifi throughout, bicycles for guest use, en suite showers, tvs and windows. There are no balcony cabins on these special small hotel barges.
The picture below is of a hotel barge, cruising gently through the tiny Canal du Midi in the south of France. Adorable!!
Deposit requirements / Final payment dates / Cancellation fees
Avalon requires a $250 per person, non-refundable deposit, and final payment due 3 months (90 days) prior. Insurance based on price of package and includes cancel for any reason insurance for the cruise portion.
Viking requires $500 per person and final payment within 90 days. But often they try to get you to pay in full 6 to 9 months in advance! We can negotiate that down for you. If you cancel within 120 days for sailing, the fee is only $100 per person. At 90 days out, the fee is 15% of the cruise fare, and so on.
AmaWaterways, $400 pp deposit and final payment 90 days prior. $200 cancellation penalty if cancelled before final payment.
River Cruise Travel Insurance
The river cruise companies generally offer travel insurance for about $795 per person!! But that includes the ability to cancel for any reason and receive a future cruise credit.
We can often get the cost of travel insurance down to $250 per person, but this insurance only allows you to cancel for covered reasons, like: death, illness or injury in the family, redeployment or revocation of leave.
Drink packages on River Cruise
On Viking, for beverages other than the free wine and beer offered with dinner, you could buy a beverage package. See details here. There is no corkage fee and you may bring local wine aboard and enjoy it with your meals.
No drink packages on Avalon or Amawaterways. All drinks included on Tauck and Uniworld.
Have more questions? That's what we're here for!
Call and ask to speak to a river cruise expert, 866-964-5482.