If you’re new to cruising you may not have heard of river cruises. Even some seasoned travellers may be new to this different way of exploring the interior of countries as opposed to their coastline. While a river cruise may not seem that appealing, some of the finest cruises in the world take place on rivers and offer a completely unique experience.
These cruises have actually been a big success for the cruising industry, revitalizing it and drawing in new customers in recent years. New ships have been introduced on the most popular rivers with more in-depth itineraries to keep passengers interested.
Similarly, passengers will immediately notice the smaller, more refined ships offering more of a tailored and luxurious experience than any of the large ocean cruise liners could. Luxury hotel quality bedrooms soaring just above the water, with efficient room service and minimal disruption from the few passengers. When it comes to experience, it really is a world away from your traditional cruise.
As a want-to-be cruiser, it can often be hard to pick which cruise to spend your hard-earned money on. With so many different companies claiming to have the best cruise, it can become stressful to commit. When it comes to cruises, the phrase ‘you get what you pay for’ has never been more true. The variance in quality for river cruises is dramatic. Some of the most luxurious cruises in the world take place on rivers, as well as some of the cheapest. It’s important to pay attention to the price and make sure a cheap price isn’t because it is out of season.
Traditional ocean cruises usually vary quite a lot in terms of what they offer, but with river cruises, you will find a lot of similarities. When booking your cruise, you should expect to be offered a variety of food and drink, excursion and guide packages.
We have scoured the websites and online reviews and are happy to present you the very best European river cruises.
A name that perfectly describes their offering, Crystal River Cruises set the standard when it comes to river cruises. While they are fairly new on the block, their four luxurious ships have been making serious waves in the industry. Finding success around the world, their introduction to river cruising has gone without a hitch, quickly rising to the top of the ranks attracting guests year after year.
The staff across the four ships are trained by Crystal River and adhere to their high standards. Guests can expect Michelin level dining in the main open seated restaurant, casual dining options in their award-winning bistro, a superb guest to crew ratio and stunning bedrooms.
The spacious ship carries through to living quarters. Even the small rooms are unusually large with a whole host of amenities including 24-hour room service dining. The vast majority of rooms come with a balcony and are a good height above the water for the best possible views.
While Crystal River cruises don’t come cheap, they offer a range of cruising options including an all-inclusive and complete shore-excursion package.
This family-run cruising business has been soaring the seas and rivers for the best part of a century and is still going strong. It has a huge amount of respect within the industry and it is for good reason.
They offer a wide range of unique opportunities as they have slowly built up relationships with destinations along the shore. Guests can expect to experience otherwise inaccessible venues and restaurants during their stay. Expect the service to be top-quality as well. Tauck ensures all crew members and higher-ups adhere to the company values and ways of working that put the guests first and present a genuinely caring demeanour.
Tauck River cruises are a level below luxury, and while they offer extremely well-regarded river cruises, it is up to a certain standard. The name has become synonymous with value rather than budget and guests come from far and wide to ride on the famous Tauck ships.
A culmination of three ambitious travel entrepreneurs brought AmaWaterways to life, born out of a love for travel and the travel industry. Since 2002, their ships have been welcoming guests to experience their unique sense of hospitality and award-winning guest experience.
They are always pushing the boundaries and experimenting with ways to elevate their ships and experience to the next level. Whether this is by having fewer guests on board, more balconies or extravagant excursions, they’ve done it all. They have pushed the dining boundaries especially, offering an exclusive tasting menu to all guests.
If you’ve considered a river cruise in the US, you will have come across Uniworld. They have recently branched out to Europe and have made a strong name for themselves over the pond. This highly-awarded cruising company has perfectly created the boutique feel on the river waters. The entire experience has been built from the ground up to resemble everything that comes with a boutique hotel, from the materials and food to the service and smells.
You probably will have come across the interior and decor of Uniworld ships in your searches. The handcrafted and unique design of the different ships and rooms is definitely something to celebrate. The design and feel changes from ship to ship as well, so be sure to do your research on their website to pick the vessel that suits you best.
Scenic River Cruises
Scenic River Cruises have it all in spades. They offer luxurious ships that push the boundaries in terms of size, style, amenities and facilities. With some of the largest suites on the river waters and a bounty of luxury amenities, if you’re looking for the full experience with all the bells and whistles, this might be the cruise for you.
With a multitude of packages available from all-inclusive to the ‘Enrich’ package, guests can travel in their own way. Free wifi, a spa and sun deck are just some of the perks of cruising with Scenic River Cruises. When you step off the boat you have the option of riding around on electric bikes or taking a guided tour with a local guide to really make the most of your time off the ship.
A European river cruise is truly a unique experience that is designed to be experienced in some sort of luxury. Smaller ships with fewer guests, better facilities, bigger rooms and better food, sign me up please! Wherever you want to go in Europe, these 5 cruising companies offer the very best cruises on the river waters.