My River Cruise Reviews
I’ve been on more than 50 river cruises during the past decade, and on each of those cruises, I’ve written some sort of review. The review may have taken the form of a video, or it may have been presented as an article with photos here on River Cruise Advisor. To quickly find the review that you’re looking for, click on either the cruise company or the river you’d like to research in the table below.
River Cruise ReviewsNote that we do not include reviews for all river cruise companies. Why? We work primarily with cruise lines that sponsor River Cruise Advisor, and those, for the most part, are the major players in the industry.
|Popular River Cruise Operators||Popular European Rivers|
|AmaWaterways||Danube & Main-Danube Canal|
|Crystal River Cruises||Elbe|
|Gate One (not reviewed)||Loire River|
|Grand Circle||Main River|
|Riviera River Cruises||Moselle River|
|Teeming River Cruises||Rhone River|
|Tourrador (not reviewed)||Saone River|
|Viking River Cruises|
The intent of our reviews is to help you make informed vacation decisions. I have tried to cut to the chase and show you what the experience is like on board certain ships on certain rivers. But there are a dozen ways to skin a cat. You’ll have success finding the review you want if you answer one of the following three questions.
You’ll get much better results by answering one of these three questions.
- Already have an idea which river cruise line you want to cruise with? Click Reviews by Cruise Operator
- Pretty sure about which river you want to cruise? Click Reviews by River
- Confused about which company and/or which river to cruise? Take the easy way out and Get My Help
One question that we are frequently asked is about water levels. If water levels are a concern to you, please see our detailed page and user discussions about Water Levels.
It’s important you have realistic expectations about what river cruising is going to cost you. Increasingly, we are finding that river cruising in Europe will cost you, on average, $400 per day, per person. Take the Rhone river, for example 2020 peak season prices on the Rhone river range from a low of $309 per person a day (Viking’s June 16, 2020 sailing) to a high of $691 per person per day on Tauck. The average per diem of a 2020 Rhone river cruise for the dates we researched is $504 per person. See Rhone River Cruise Price Comparisons 2020 and How To Save On A 2020 Rhone River Cruise. You may also want to look at How Much Does River Cruising Cost?
Aside from the published rates, you’ll want to consider what’s included on your cruise, the size of the stateroom that you get for what you pay and other aspects of the cruise, such as number of restaurants, quality of excursions and much more. For help figuring all of that out, see our resource Compare River Cruise Companies to review my chart featuring what’s included on the particular river cruise that you’re considering.
My job, my passion, in fact, is to inform you as best as I can through my river cruise reviews. I know that you can become confused – dizzy may be the better word – by the various itineraries, stateroom categories, French balconies vs. step-out balconies, the differences in river ships and between the cruise companies.
Making a decision on which river cruise company to work with and which river to choose can certainly be daunting.
Help is here. I’ve have been fortunate to cruise on ships operated by all of the major companies, and in fact, I’m constantly cruising on the rivers. So I feel qualified to provide some guidance in helping you decide where you want to river cruise and which river cruise company may work best for you. Also useful is help in deciding Which River To River Cruise?
If you need inspiration, check out my book, available in print and digital editions. See the Ultimate River Cruising Handbook.
Want My Personal Recommendations About A River Cruise Best Suited For You? Simply click on the link and complete the form. I’ll do my best to help you.
New To River Cruising?
I realize that many of you have yet to experience a river cruise. River Cruise Advisor strives to showcase river cruising in all its forms, around the world, from the canals of Burgundy to the might of the Mekong. I cover the latest-and-greatest and the tried-and-tested with the same enthusiasm.
If you are new to river cruising and/or want to learn more about the various river cruise companies and their vessels, you will find a broad selection of river cruise reviews by clicking the links below. If you are coming from ocean cruising, you’ll be surprised at how much the two forms of travel differ.
All-Inclusive River Cruise Companies
These companies include prepaid gratuities and complimentary beverages 24/7. Expect to pay $500 or more per person per day. Crystal and Uniworld, however, do not include port charges.
‘Premium’ River Cruise Companies
These companies normally price out less than the all-inclusive companies but do not include prepaid gratuities. CroisiEurope includes complimentary beverages 24/7 but lacks bicycles on its river cruisers (the company also operates barges). Viking River Cruises does not feature gyms or complimentary bicycles on its ships. Expect to pay $400 or more per person per day.
Budget Cruise Companies
A budget of up to $200 per person per day often, but not always, limits you to either older or international ships. Excursions may not be included (but can be purchased as a package). Wine and beer with lunch and dinner, which nearly all cruise companies include at no additional cost, may not be included on the low-cost river cruise operators.
Operating On U.S. Rivers Only
Other River Cruise Operators
Past River Cruise Voyage Reports
|Barging Burgundy||April 2012||On Horizon II||French Country Waterways|
|A-ROSA Silva||December 3-10, 2013||German Christmas Markets||A-ROSA|
|AmaLotus||September 22 - 30, 2013||Riches of the Mekong: Cambodia and Vietnam||AmaWaterways|
|AmaVida||July 22 - 29, 2014||Cruising the Douro River with St. Francis Winery & AmaWaterways co-founder Kristin Karst||AmaWaterways|
|Botticelli||June 20 - 27, 2014||The Seine Valley roundtrip Paris with CroisiEurope||CroisiEurope|
|Emerald Star||July 12 -19, 2014||Danube Delights - Budapest to Nuremberg||Emerald Waterways|
|ms Inspire||April 7 - 16, 2014||Maiden Voyage of Tauck's MS Inspire - Amsterdam to Brussels||Tauck|
|S.S. Catherine||March 26-March 30, 2014||Christening Ceremonies in Lyon, France||Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection|
|Viking Baldur||December 10-17, 2013||Rhine Christmas||Viking River Cruises|
|Viking Baldur||November 30 - December 7, 2014||Danube Christmas Markets - Budapest to Passau||Viking River Cruises|
|Viking Forseti||November 22 - 29, 2014||Chateaux, Rivers and Wine - Roundtrip Bordeaux, France||Viking River Cruises|
|Viking Longships||March 17-23, 2014||Christening Ceremonies in Avignon & Bordeaux, France||Viking River Cruises|
|Viking Longships||March 22 - 25, 2015||2015 Christening Ceremonies in Amsterdam||Viking River Cruises|
|Loire Princess||April 9 - 14, 2015||Sailing the Loire River roundtrip Nantes.||CroisiEurope|
|Scenic Jasper||April 15 - 22, 2015||Budapest to Vienna with Christening||Scenic|
|S.S. Maria Theresa||May 3 - 17, 2015||European Jewels - Amsterdam to Budapest||Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection|
|S.S. Legacy||June 6 - 13, 2015||Columbia & Snake Rivers Roundtrip Portland, Oregon||Un-Cruise Adventures|
|Anne-Marie||June 17 - 26, 2015||Barging Arles to Sete||CroisiEurope|
|Viking Vidar||July 13 - 27, 2015||Grand European Tour: Amsterdam to Budapest||Viking River Cruises|
|ms Savor||July 15 - 26, 2015||Danube Reflections: Prague to Vienna||Tauck|
|Viking Torgil||September 28 - October 8, 2015||Portugal's River of Gold||Viking River Cruises|
|Viking Mandalay||November 19 - December 3, 2015||Myanmar Explorer||Viking River Cruises|
|Viking Longships Inaugural||February 29, 2016||Amsterdam||Viking River Cruises|
|River Voyager||March 18 - 22, 2016||Christening Preview Cruise from Basel to Amsterdam||Vantage Deluxe World Travel|
|AmaDolce||March 25, 2016||Taste of Bordeaux||AmaWaterways|
|Emerald Star||April 5, 2016||Enchantments of Eastern Europe||Emerald Waterways|
|Elbe Princesse||April 14, 2016||Christening Preview in Berlin||CroisiEurope|
|Crystal Mozart||July 10, 2016||Vienna Christening||Crystal River Cruises|
|Viking Embla||July 6, 2016||Passage to Eastern Europe: Bucharest to Budapest||Viking River Cruises|
|AmaSonata||August 8, 2016||Backroads Bicycling Program from Prague to Budapest||AmaWaterways|
|AmaSonata||September 12, 2016||Magnificent Europe: Amsterdam to Budapest||AmaWaterways|
|Cyrano de Bergerac||October 17, 2016||Bordeaux||CroisiEurope|
|AmaLegro||October 28, 2016||Paris & Normandy||AmaWaterways|
|American Empress||November 19, 2016||Columbia & Snake Rivers||American Queen Steamboat Company|
|Mistral||December 28, 2016||Provence||CroisiEurope|
|Crystal Mozart||March 22-27, 2018||Danube, Vienna roundtrip||Crystal River Cruises|
|Viking Hild||April 8-19, 2017||Paris to the Swiss Alps||Viking River Cruises|
|Avalon Visionary||April 11-18, 2017||Amsterdam to Paris||Avalon Waterways|
|AmaCello||April 20-27, 2017||Lyon to Arles||AmaWaterways|
|Viking Hlin||May 7-14, 2017||Amsterdam to Basel||Viking River Cruises|
|Scenic Diamond||June 9-16, 2017||Bordeaux Affair||Scenic|
|AmaLyra||August 3-17, 2017||Paris & Normandy||AmaWaterways|
|MS Sapphire||October 9 - 18, 2017||Rendezvous on the Seine||Tauck|
|Avalon Expression||September 12 - 19, 2017||Amsterdam to Nuremberg||Avalon Waterways|
|Raymonde Barge||September 12-18, 2017||Paris to Joigny||CroisiEurope|
|Emerald Radiance||November 4-11, 2017||Porto & the Douro River||Emerald Waterways|
Looking forward to do this trip!
David Nikolson says
I would like to thank S-cruises for organizing a wonderful and informative river cruise in Russia, especially in the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg. The week cruise passed very quickly and we managed to see a lot and enjoy the beautiful views in this wonderful country. Our ship the Little Prince was incredibly roomy for so many tourists, a large restaurant, a terrace, one could also sit on the deck and enjoy this cruise.St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Hermitage and the Moscow metro stations are special places worth visiting for every foreign tourist. The Volga River is an incredibly beautiful natural creation, it beckons with its mysteriousness, when you swim along it you are imbued with the history of this city.It seems to me that this was my best cruise in all 10 years, I have already been to Russia before but have never ordered river cruises.I also want to thank the staff of the company for the professional approach, service, especially the delicious dishes in the restaurant, everyone is polite and ready to help guests in any situation.I really hope that I will return to this beautiful country and thanks to this S-cruises company I will be able to visit other attractions and fill myself with this atmosphere and imbued with the spirit of this great country.
Larry Stanifer says
Looking forward to a trip this Oct.
I’m planning a cruise on the Rhine river. First river cruise for the family. Going to be husband, me and our 10 year old. Can someone tell me which premium ship takes kids? I was excited for emerald Maykong River Cruise but then read 21 and older.
Kathie B says
Hello, We are planning our first River Tour on AMA in April 2020 from Basel to Amsterdam.. Should we be worried about cancellations due to water levels? This has taken much of our savings. When we arrive in Switzerland how do we figure out where to stay to get ready to board the boat in Basel? The same goes when we get off in Amsterdam. We do not want to do the AMA land tours, we just want to do our own thing at the beginning and the end. Any advice?
I’m far from a cruise expert as we are heading to our very first river cruise in April as well. We will also cruise from Basel to Amsterdam but with Scenic. I do however have years of experience planning all our independent travel itineraries around the world as well as travel agent background. I’m curious to see how being on river cruise ship will compare to my usual independent travel style.
Scenic offered their hotel in Zurich for $400 CAD per night for the night before the cruise starts. It’s more than I’m willing to spend on a night in a hotel. So instead of taking their offered hotel I found my own airport hotel for under $200 CAD. Including free transfers to and from airport. Since we are not looking for a resort or to spend any time in the city of Zurich (unfortunately) I just wanted a hotel near airport with good reviews and breakfast included. Idea being we get to have a night of rest before meeting the group at Zurich airport and before being transferred to Basel and the boat.
We have booked a river barge AirBnB in Jordaan, Amsterdam for 5 nights after the cruise. Our cruise ends on May 6th which will hopefully allow us to enjoy the last days of the tulip fields. I’m sure early May will be beautiful in Amsterdam even if we miss them.
As for water levels, I’m hearing we are better off at the end of April than later in the summer. But Mother Nature does unpredictable things and I intend to enjoy my holiday come whatever. Which brings me to our new cause of worry…the Corona Virus. As of today, March 3rd, we are fully intending to go and do our cruise at the end of April. Should Scenic cancel our cruise we would rebook for later this year. But i’m looking at this virus as another seasonal flu and intend to take all precautions to stay healthy.
I booked our own flights as well. Scenic offered free flights for our booking and I had the freedom to make my own reservations instead of letting them decide how we get from Vancouver to Zurich and back. This way I could use an airline I collect points with and they covered the expense.
Have fun customizing your trip!
I AM SO HAPPY TO READ ABOUT WATER LEVELS REPORTSON DANUBE
I am on AMA LEA AUG 09 and expect all to go well- if not I go with the flow
your hints and those from passengers should be the GOLD STANDARD for knowing what to expect
thank you a million times
Planning on a river boat cruise down the Mekong in February 2020.
Trying to decide between the Scenic and Emerald cruises.
Do you have an opinion on which to take.
boat and room comfort
quality of on board service
quality of expeditions, dinners and entertainment
We are younger and would like bike tours or opportunities or other active excursions.
Neil and Corinnne
Ralph Grizzle says
Either. They are sister companies. Scenic will likely cost more, and if you’re okay with that, go for Scenic. If not, scale down to Emerald. Scenic should be the better overall experience – but with the price tag reflecting that.
Karen McKenzie says
Hello – I did six cruises with Uniworld, the cruises were wonderful but every boat and staff have there little idiosyncraties. When it came time to go on the Bordeau cruise we changed to Scenic because it was longer for the same money as Uniworld and then we stayed with Scenic for the Burcherest to Budapest cruise and once again the cruise was great bit Scenic did not mention there was a large group going who basically took over the ship.
We went back to Uniworld and decided to do Venice ( the only company I believe) and the cruise was excellent even tho we did not cruise. Uniworld did move the boat a bit but the whole experience with the cruise and staff was not necessary.
We now have booked for Tulip and Windmills and hope we have the same experience re staff food and fun but since the someone I met on the Venice cruise went on the Budapest to Burcherest and said the food was awful , the staff partied all nite and the covering on the wall were filthy. When talking to a travel agent she did not recommend going Uniworld as she said they are concentrating on their U by Uniworld boats.
I tried calling Uniworld and expressing my concerns but the lady spent the whole time telling me that they are #1 .
These river cruises do cost a lot of money and I do read your reviews and I suppose you cannot say any negative but when a company falls below there grade it would be nice to know
We have been on Croisieuope and the food was great , the boat was clean, and the staff was excellent . We did not pay top dollar but we got top dollar experience except for the beds.
Hopefully you can give me some insight regarding my upcoming cruise . I want to book the Douro now so I can get cabin I want but I am hesitant to book Uniworld till after the trip unless you can make a suggestion.
Thanks for listening to me.
AMA Waterways, AMA Waterways, AMA Waterways
Mike V says
Not so much after being deceived about low water and spontaneous conversion to a bus trip that would have cost half as much or less!
AMA, Nope not so much anymore.
Mike V says
My girlfriend and I have been on three European river cruises. They have all been on AMA. The Rhine was the first, Basel to Amsterdam! It was stunning scenery delicious foods and generous pours of wonderful wines and some very good cold beers. The excursions informative, interesting and all included. Bike tours were available and popular. Our room was very comfortable and with a sliding glass wall that opened all the way!
Our second, Amsterdam through Belgium and back to Amsterdam. What a great experience. Just like the first. Since we seemed to have a good thing going we booked a third!
The Danube, Vienna to Nuremberg! We heard about the drought and low water and contacted to cruise line. We were assured that where other ships had deeper drafts AMA could still operate. We called again about a week out and reassured we were good to go! Nothing could have been further from the truth! Directly after the mandatory safety meeting we were told our cruise was now Vienna to Passau. We would be using buses for the rest of our destinations. But, and here was the caveat, we were going to be “well compensated for these changes” and they were very sorry for the changes! This from our cruise director.
Well to say I was disappointed was an under statement, we were intensionally deceived! AMA or any others had not been past Passau in five weeks! My girlfriend took the bus to Nuremberg and said it was a mistake. I stayed on board and walked around a bit-what a waste! Then the “well compensated” part fell far short-$165US *CREDIT” on a future cruise! We were just swindled like so many others! Never again AMA, because never again AMA…
Lois Yarnall says
Just returned from a Viking Rhine River Cruise, Amsterdam to Basel, Nov 16-23.
I have read the other “comments” re: Viking’s handling of low water levels, and, although we were notified a week before our departure that we would not be on our original ship in Amsterdam due to low water levels , we did not experience the appalling treatment that others experienced. Yes, we were “bused” on two occasions , a total of 5 hours , when navigation was impossible and switched to another ship mid-cruise, 3 days in. Viking handled the transfers to insure our trip was inconvenienced as little as possible . Other than the long walks from the ship docking to board motor coaches in very cold weather, we did not experience missing out on any of our planned itinerary. In fact, when we were unable to cruise the most picturesque part of the Rhine on our ship , Viking hired a “day cruise boat” where all quests were served lunch & unlimited beer and wine and cruised the Rhine Gorge for 4 hours. Prior to our departure, we knew there may be navigation issues with low water levels , however, Viking “stepped up” and made our River Cruise experience enjoyable and comfortable as possible under the circumstances.
I took a Viking river cruise in August, and it was the worst experience I have ever had cruising. During our week long cruise, we only cruise for 45 minutes. The ship broke down, and we were bused everywhere, and we also missed visiting several of the cruise stops that we had arranged. The company refuses to reimburse the passengers for the waste of money and time.
We took a Viking cruise (which really was a non-cruise) in October 2018. We were notified 3 days before the cruise “there might be a schedule change due to low water levels.” We were not able to board in Basel so we were bused to the next port which was Speyer. The Rhine was so low that people were walking on it. Needless to say Viking knew the river was too low to cruise and still did not cancel the cruise. We were bused for hours on end to our destinations and then back to Speyer. Some days we spent over 10 hours on the bus. “Traveling the World in Comfort” is their logo, but we spent the week “Traveling the World in Misery.” We were so exhausted from getting up at the crack of dawn to catch the bus, traveling for hours, taking a very rushed tour, traveling for hours back to Speyer, eating dinner (food was not exceptional) and then doing it all again the next day. We signed up for a cruise not a bus tour. Viking did not deliver. They have terrible customer service and refuse to reimburse passengers for a terrible experience.
Eileen Saluga says
Hi, new to the site and could use some advice. This is our first river cruise and we’re likely going to book one one Scenic for Sept 2018. They offer travel insurance thru Trip Mates; but to be hones I’m seeing some less than good reviews about them online … any personal experience anyone can share would be appreciated. I’m also pricing out Travel Guard which a travel agent friend recommended.
Laurel Williams Greeley says
Anyone been on Scenic? I am leaning on that for a Prague to Budapest river cruise in 2017. All inclusive but with many choices. Would love feedback.
Ralph Grizzle says
I have. Scenic strives to be the most inclusive of all river cruise companies. So naturally gratuities and 24/7 bar is included, but also laundry service and nearly everything else you can think of. The ships are beautiful with gorgeous staterooms. There are also multiple dining venues. Scenic’s competitors are Tauck, Uniworld and Crystal. Search Scenic on our site and you’ll find lots of articles.
frank byrne says
nice article Ralph. Thank you.
What should happen when things don’t go right on a cruise? We
recently booked a River Cruise with Vantage on their latest and newest vessel the
River Voyager launched on April 26, 2016, its first themed ship highlighting
jazz music. Why then would this ship, well past shakedown fail with the bow
thruster going out of service into the 6th of a 13 day cruise on July 13, 2016?
Was it human error or some other cause? And how should Vantage have performed
in light of this development? As things stand today no reasonable compensation
has been offered. Vantages immediate
reaction was to make a 15 day river cruise into a bus excursion something to
horrendous to even considers and yet they went ahead notwithstanding the
complaints and criticism of most passengers. To those who wanted to leave then
and there, nothing reasonable was offered in the way of a refund, not then and
not now. How safe is this vessel for any future river cruise? Can it happen
again? Up to this time passengers have been too stunned to respond; but I feel
that will change in the near future as more of the 170 plus on that ill-fated
adventure begin to speak out and demand compensation. There are many precedents
as to what others lines have done in similar circumstances, why does Vantage
feel that they are different?
Ralph Grizzle says
Good questions. I hope Vantage is reading and will respond.
Have never booked on Vantage, but they seem to be different than most other cruise lines in their marketing and advertising. Since I don’t think they own a lot of ships they would have to rely on replacing the thruster rather then the ship. Ship would probably have to go back to the yard to be repaired. Engines do fail and thrusters are really important on river cruisers. Now if it happened on Viking they would bring in another ship, I’m thinking as they have lots. If it was Uniworld which doesn’t have many spare ships, they would comp you big time for what you missed. We are loyal Uniworld folks and we have never sailed on Viking or any other lines for that matter, so I admit we are prejudiced. And we did experience low water on Uniworld and we were comped big time because our ship couldn’t finish the cruise.
Ralph Grizzle says
Seems to be a pretty good explanation to me. Thank you!