Motivation Monday: 2021’s Top River Cruise Lines

A Viking longship sailing past a European castle
Guess who The winner is? Courtesy of THAT river cruise line, keep reading!

#11: Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours

Courtesy Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours

Scenic has 16 luxurious river vessels that sail rivers across Europe and Asia, including the Danube in Germany, the Irrawaddy in Myanmar, & the Volga in Russia. Every one of Scenic’s voyages is 100% all-inclusive, meaning that even your transfers, excursions, all food & beverage (including the mini-bar!), and even gratuities are covered in the fare, which makes for a truly relaxed and stress-free experience. A big plus: every cabin gets butler service!

#10: Delfin Amazon Cruises

Courtesy Delfin Cruises

Sailing the Amazon River in Peru is very uniquely blissfully escaping you into the wilderness, where you might find piranhas or pink dolphins. Delfin, the 1st Relais & Chateaux cruise line, makes your Amazon River cruise luxuriously comfortable, with boutique accommodations aboard its 3 rustic yet luxury ships. When you become a guest onboard with Delfin, the cuisine is amazing, and like many river cruise lines, they incorporate regional dishes made with local ingredients into the menu.

#9: Avalon Waterways

Courtesy Avalon Waterways

With 14 river cruise ships, Avalon has quite a selection of itineraries through rivers in Europe, India, Southeast Asia, Egypt, & Peru (though it charters ships in those last 2 areas). Avalon’s purpose-built river cruise ships are very spacious with suites that are 30% bigger than the standard river cruise ship, and feature fully retractable floor-to-ceiling windows, which transforms your entire suite into a balcony stateroom!

#8: Crystal River Cruises

Courtesy Crystal River Cruises

Launched in 2016, Crystal River Cruises offers custom for the river ships. The company is focused on matching the top-of-the-line service of its ocean ships, & it certainly has convinced the readers of the survey which led to these results that they have accomplished this goal! They have 5 river ships, 4 of which (Crystal BachMahlerDebussy, & Ravel) are Europe’s only 100% suite & 100% balcony river ships sailing on the Rivers Moselle, Rhine, Danube, & Main. Crystal River cruise guests enjoy an all-inclusive cruise including butler service, unlimited drinks (including wine), Wi-Fi, & fitness classes!

#7: American Queen Steamboat Company

Courtesy American Queen Steamboat Company

American Queen Steamboat Company is nostalgic for sure with 4 paddlewheelers that sail the Mississippi, Columbia, Snake, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland Rivers in the USA, so if you love old style and don’t want to head to Europe on a particular trip, you’ll love these ships! These are very leisurely sailings, most of which are about 9 days long, but some are longer such as their 15-16 day journeys from Minneapolis to New Orleans.

#6: AMAWaterways

Courtesy AmaWaterways

AMAWaterways sails Europe, Africa, Vietnam, & Cambodia, and have debuted a few new ships debuting in the past few years. New ship AMAMagna launched in 2019 – which was ground breaking for River Cruises in Europe because it is a double-wide river cruise sailing the the Danube with massive 710 square foot suites, a previously never met stateroom size for a river ship. Though much larger than AmaWaterways’ other ships, the guest count only increased by 20% to 196 passengers, ensuring an intimate experience still remains. AmaWaterways has 22 ships sialing Europe’s riveres, 1 in Vietnam & Cambodia, and 2 in Africa (including the brand-new AMADahlia on the River Nile in Egypt). In 2023, AMAWaterways plans to expand into Latin America, with the AMAMagdalena in Colombia!

#5: Vantage Deluxe World Cruises

Vantage Serenity on the Duoro Courtesy Vantage Deluxe World Cruises

This river cruise is a branch of tour operator Vantage Deluxe World Travel with several ships, mostly in Europe. Their ships were some of the 1st river ships in Europe to have cabins for single / solo travelers. They started sailing their new m/s Nebu on the NIle in Egypt in 2020, which also has solo cabins.

#4: Grand Circle Cruise Line

Courtesy Grand Circle Cruise Line

You might not have heard about Grand Circle Cruise Line but it has a loyal following. Known for their immersive itineraries, this small cruise line is part of tour operator company Grand Circle Travel, but it does have 6 river ships. In Europe they operate 5, but the 6th, named Nefertiti, sails Nile in Egypt.

#3: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Courtesy Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Uniworld’s 21 stunning boutique ships cruise worldwide throughout Europe, Egypt, Russia, China, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, & Peru. Their tours allow guests many chances to get a bit closer to their destinations with visits to local homes, farms, & artisans, and each tour is rated by ability level. During the year 2018, 2 of its ships were overhauled for a new venture called “U by Uniworld Cruises” featuring itineraries, dining, & activities to reach younger prospective passengers: think silent discos, mixology classes, & even rooftop camping.

River Ship Line #2: Tauck River Cruising

Courtesy Tauck River Cruises

Tauck has 9 river going vessels that sail Northern Europe with itineraries that specialize in the castles of Germany’s Rhine river, or something like exploring Paris with Monet’s gardens at Giverny on the Seine river. Unique sailings throughout the year welcome multi-generational or family groups, even including younger children, which is something of a rarity among river cruise lines.

#1: Viking River Cruises

Courtesy Viking River Cruises

Viking Cruises has expanded quickly over the more recent years. Currently, Viking has 60+ river ships and 6 ocean ships in its fleet. Viking River Cruises explores familiar bodies of water such as the Danube and Rhône in Europe, and less well known itineraries such as the Volga in Russia, the Nile in Egypt, & the Mekong in Southeast Asia (though the Nile and Mekong are gaining more attention). Viking River Cruises includes complimentary Wi-Fi & select shore excursions in the cruise fare, and they also offer “Culture Curriculum” giving guests an experiential learning experience through events like regional wine tastings and menus that rotate by season.

Final Comments

I do highly suspect that the reason Viking River Cruises won this award is two fold: first, people voting might be most familiar with this brand due to their extensive advertising, but they are also probably carrying the most number of guests! I would say for sure that a few other lines definitely provide a more inclusive or more luxurious experience, but these are all wonderful companies to work with.

Ready to plan your next river cruise? Easy Breezy Journeys is ready to help you! Answer a few quick questions by clicking HERE and we can get started!

Danube River photo courtesy of Ama Waterways

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