Everything You Didn’t Think You Needed To Know About River Cruising

Everything You Didn’t Think You Needed To Know About River Cruising

If you like intimate, cosy and personal holidays, you’ll love a river cruise. It’s a way to travel that cancels out sea sickness, brings you closer to new cities and towns than ever before AND has a giant chess board on most ships…what more could you ask for?

Cruises aren’t just about huge ocean liners anymore; riverboats are the way forward where excursions are the main form of entertainment and you can discover so much from just gliding past the scenery. www.CRUISE.co.uk have put together the ultimate guide on all river cruise lines so you can pick which is your favourite! Quintessentially British or a mix with Americans and Aussie’s too? You decide…


Riviera Travel:

Riviera Travel is said to be the 5 star cruise line for the Brits, so those who love their teacups and Union Jack flag’s will fit in perfectly here! The ships were designed with the British clientele in mind and you’ll find this is reflected in the atmosphere, décor, attentiveness of the staff and it’s even the only river cruise line to supply you a kettle in your room (but we call this an essential!)

riveria decor

It has a very intimate fleet that only holds up to 140 passengers per ship yet does not charge solo occupancy supplements on selected lower deck cabins. The evening meals are four course dining (plenty of time to plan which show you want to head to after) and the menu even reflects the region you’re sailing through! Don’t worry though, there’s still a large selection of traditional British dishes for the less adventurous diners, although do remember the cultural menu is a chance to experience the exotic places around you whilst still on-board!

riveria lobby

You might be glad to know that gratuities aren’t added to your bill automatically and there’s complimentary Wi-Fi on-board too. The smart casual dress code means you can expect a relaxed atmosphere without the pressure of having to dress up (although if you do fancy getting your evening dress or bow tie out, you can do this at the Captain’s dinner).



This river cruise line stands for Australian Pacific Touring so yep, you guessed it, you’ll find Aussie’s on-board as well as a mix of Brits! They were the first line to be voted ‘Best European River Cruise Fleet’ by Berlitz guide- impressive, right?

You’ll be travelling to lots of different cities over the space of just a few days on a riverboat that will only hold up to 162 passengers and the intimate yet luxurious atmosphere is relaxed and refreshing. They don’t, like all the rest, have their own fleet; instead they partner with AmaWaterways and charter the ships for different sailings!

apt exterior

APT offer four different types of holiday: The Royal Collection, Voyages, APT Luxury and Travelmarvel. The most popular are Royal Collection and Travelmarvel; Royal Collection is the more luxurious of the two where you’ll have a chauffeur driven transfer between your house and the airport and unlimited drinks as part of the all-inclusive package. However, Travelmarvel don’t have these extras, instead they offer you more flexibility for excursions and is for those more interested in exploring the cities they’re visiting.

And it gets slightly more confusing! The two main ships that APT operate are called Aria and Concerto: Aria is more of a boutique size of ship with a capacity to hold 148 passengers whereas Concerto is the newest and only river cruise ships to feature a double balcony, holding up to 162 passengers.

apt suite

APT cruise and tour in ten different global destinations so get searching which one you fancy visiting first! And like other river cruise lines, they tend to match their cuisine to the location you’re in at the time so you can experience the local culture in style and comfort.


Did You Know: Viking cruises received an entry into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of ships launched at one time- a whole ten just in 2013!



You’ll never have known good value for money like it when you hear about the all-inclusive side to Viking river cruises! As part of one of their cruises you’ll receive return flights from the UK, en-suite accommodation with views of the river, all on-board meals, wine, beer and soft drinks served with lunch and dinner, tea and coffee, daily excursions to iconic places plus a cultural enrichment programme that’ll help you understand better about the places you’ll be visiting (because sometimes we just really don’t have a clue).

viking spirit

Not to mention the list of destinations that are on offer to you are pretty impressive with cruises along the rivers of Russia, Europe and Asia (you can also cruise along the Yangtze and see China, and how often do you get a chance to do this!) Viking river cruises have taken the industry by storm in the short amount of time they’ve been established for (only since 1997) and are now the world’s largest river cruise supplier with 64 different Viking vessels sailing around.

viking emerald atrium

The fleet accommodates for around 200 people per ship. Viking river cruises have got your back with audio headset systems so you don’t have to worry about missing out on the local knowledge when on an excursion! They give a whole new meaning to dining outdoors too as a portion of the floor-to-ceiling windows roll aside to open up the terrace so you can feel comfortable indoors whilst appreciating sailing down the river.


Did You Know: The Zambezi Queen only holds up to 28 passengers! And it is one of the few ships that sails the Chobe river in Africa so choose AmaWaterways if you want to sail on this extremely intimate vessel and enjoy a safari experience, bringing you closer to the animals than ever before!



This is one of river cruising’s world’s largest companies with over 20 ships that carry around 164 people each (now that’s a staff to passenger ratio we like the sound of). They only started trading in 2002 and have still been voted as ‘Best European River Cruise Fleet’ by the prestigious Berlitz guide (3 years in a row!)

The guests are usually a mix of Brits, American’s, Aussie’s and most definitely people who love city breaks as on these cruises you’ll get to visit lots of different countries in a short space of time (well you’re on holiday, you may as well fit in all the new things that you can!) You’ll really get to experience the city you’re in whether it’s Amsterdam, Cambodia or Africa as you’ll have an hour long guided tour with an expert followed by some free time to explore by yourself!

ama waterways balcony stateroom

When you’re not galavanting off in a faraway city you can relax on-board with your choice of the heated pool, whirlpool, pool bar, swim bar (where you can sit inside the pool on seats with a cocktail- heaven!), fitness room, hair salon, walking track or another giant chess board. AmaWaterways are the first river cruise line to bring bikes on-board for you to hire since realizing it’s an excellent way for you to roam around the cities the ships take you to! The décor is modern and you’ll find elegant touches too.

ama waterways restaurant

As you know, APT charter AmaWaterways ships so you’ll find the same sorts of restaurants on-board where breakfast and lunch is buffet style and there’s complimentary tea and coffee too. The open seat policy gives the ships dining that relaxed side whereas the intimate venues hold a first come, first serve basis. They recommend what gratuities are ideal for the crew members ($12 per day, per person) however they leave the choice up to you and some of you might be pleased to know there is a relaxed dress code so you can leave the dickiebow at home and think more ‘country club casual’.


Did You Know: AmaWaterways used ‘ama as part of their name because it’s Latin for ‘love’ so you romantics out there will definitely be able to enjoy an intimate river cruise with this line and explore all the exotic places it takes you to.


River Cruise Line:

These four star floating hotels boast first class service and an air of ‘the world is your oyster’ for all passengers on-board! With a fleet of 10 river vessels there are 30 itineraries to choose from to 16 countries throughout Europe so you’ll never be short of choice or the opportunity to explore exciting destinations.

lady anne

This cruise line have over 15 years’ experience in the travel industry and have won awards for their quality of service. The décor exudes style with its polished interiors and cabins that are an inviting space to relax with the panorama deck that offers great views from a French balcony. They call the MS Serenity the leading lady of their premier cruise collection with her distinct claret and cream colours on the outside and the exquisite meals and spacious, attractive lounges on the inside.

Solo travellers should head here as River Cruise Line don’t hold a single cabin supplement so make the most of a cabin all to yourself with no added fee and sail down some iconic rivers. You’ll find a relaxed and informal atmosphere, crew in smart uniform and spotless brass furnishings on-board this fleet so you’ll definitely be sailing in style to the centre’s of famous cities!


River Cruise Line offer a variety of ships with different themes and décor but all with a friendly, welcoming atmosphere on-board: the award winning African Queen sails along the River Thames and only accommodates 14 passengers so oozes intimacy whereas the MS Z Shashkov is a five-deck vessel that cruises through the Russian Waterways offering outside staterooms with majestic views.




This is another all-inclusive line that means flights, transfers, meals, drinks and excursions are all included in your holiday price! With over 100 years of organizing relaxing and enjoyable holidays you can be sure to expect four star comfort and style on-board with the rich colours and luxurious, soft furnishings.

This river cruise line pride themselves on providing relaxing and friendly holidays that are full of entertainment and that take you into the heart of your ports of call, meaning you get to see and do more than you thought.


The fleet explores the rivers of Germany and Switzerland, France, Italy, China, Egypt and beyond, with a huge selection of the less travelled routes too for that feeling of exclusivity. As a passenger you can get excited for expert planned excursion programmes and the chance to explore captivating capital cities and iconic landmarks.

shearings decor

Shearings boast breathtaking views from the sun deck and luxury without the price tag; MPS Da Vinci is the line’s stylish yacht that sails down the Rhine, Moselle, Main and Danube. Choose this elegant vessel if you fancy relaxing in a beautifully designed lounge with an open fireplace or if you love to head to the sauna after using the on-board gym features! Expect five exclusively chartered ships where each cruise is tailored for you with fascinating ports of call and helpful tour guides that leave you with a memorable holiday.


Avalon Waterways:

This is a cruise line that offers you river cruises that reveal the best of Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. They are proud to share a unique point of view with you where a step beyond the ordinary is key so you’ll find bigger spaces, better views and more enriching excursions.

luminary dining room

Avalon Waterways hold a relationship with Globus, an award winning tour company with more than 85 years of experience and 300 support staff on the ground in 65 countries around the world; this means passengers will have the best, all-inclusive land programmes available.

You can expect your cabins to have a bed that faces the window instead of the wall so your view changes and so you can enjoy the incredible views that river cruises are famous for as soon as you wake. Don’t miss out on the private cocktail parties in the Panorama and Avalon suites and you can get to enjoy the designer lighting and enhanced soundproofing in the comfort of your own cabins, too.

avalon suite

Not to mention there’s free Wi-Fi on board, a fitness centre, library, sky deck and whirlpool! All of this can be made the most of whilst you’re sailing to some exotic destinations like the famous Amazon, the volcanic Isles of the Galapagos or the Yangtze (the longest river in Asia and 3rd longest in the world!)



A line that’s proud to be labelled as all-inclusive luxury where no request is too large or too small. Its sister company, the five star Red Carnation, holds a collection of hotels that enabled Uniworld to use the expertise gained from over 50 years of owning and operating luxury boutique hotels worldwide. This means you can expect real luxurious surroundings and attentiveness to detail in everything from décor to service.

uniworld suite

Despite the high standard of design, you won’t have to worry about how to dress as there’s a casual yet elegant dress code alongside the open seated dining; you can dine al fresco in the sky lounge or have dinner under the stars on the sun deck. You won’t be short of activities to get involved in as there’s Go Active hiking and biking excursions led by a local naturalist or sports guide. ‘Do As The Local’s Do’ excursions allow guests to walk in the shoes of local citizens and enjoy authentic cultural experiences or ‘Choice Is Yours’ offer a range of activities so that passengers can choose and make their experience more personal.

uniworld sun deck

Travel & Leisure named Uniworld the ‘Top River Cruise Line for Families’ several times due to their kid friendly menu and creative activities on-board (plus children aged 4 to 18 sail for 50% off!)


Emerald Waterways:

Another river cruise line where everything is included in your holiday price: all meals, onshore excursions, travel, accommodation, drinks with dinner, tips and your own choice of airport. They were voted Best Value for Money in 2015, too- bonus!

emerald waterways

The fleet is made up of four vessels and offer river cruises through Europe and Africa where you can sail to iconic landmarks, historic towns, beautiful cities and UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you dine al fresco you can view the endless views of the river through the floor to ceiling windows; choose from the Terrace or Horizon bar.

On average the suites and staterooms are larger than other vessels but don’t charge for the extra space and every suite on the Vista deck comes with an emerald Panorama balcony. The intimate fleet is made up of four stylishly appointed vessels showcasing a combination of modern design and ultimate comfort that will make you feel like you’re travelling on a boutique hotel.

emerald waterways pool

You’ll find innovation on-board in the form of a pool that transforms into an evening cinema and their custom-built Star-Ships that were voted ‘Best New River Ships’ in 2014. By cruising with Emerald you can discover some unique destinations like Portugal’s countryside and France’s golden beaches and snow-capped peaks, and will go to sleep one night in Bratislava and wake up in Budapest!


Scenic Tours:

The Scenic story began back in 1986 and have since rapidly expanded to build the scenic space ships, winning an award for Favourite River Cruise Line at the Globe Travel Awards. The state of the art ‘Scenic Space-ships’ point out a higher than usual space ratio and carry meticulously planned itineraries on their cruises through Europe and Asia for Brits, Aussies and North Americans.


The fleet consists of 16 river ships and are due to launch its new and first ocean ship in 2018! You can expect luxury super yacht’s with a choice of helicopter or submarine for their ocean expeditions that will include English speaking local guides and are a part of the all-inclusive deal, along with butler service, tips, drinks, dining and mini bar. 82% of cabins feature full size balconies so you can experience the river views from the comfort and relaxation of your own cabin and it’ll be your reminder that you’re on a ship and not in a five star hotel!

You’ll have access to the wellness area with massage services, hair salon, gym, special on-board entertainment, Wi-Fi, e-bikes and luxuriously appointed suites to retire to at the end of the day. Each cruise is tailored for you and even each ship had a destination in mind: the Scenic Gem has been custom built to sail the historic Siene river in the north of France with its ability to sail to the port commune of Honfleur thanks to a special design and the latest technologies.


Your experience will still remain intimate on-board this specific ship with space for just 126 guests; other ships hold an almost 1:1 staff-to-guest ratio and others carry no more than 48 cabins!


That is the end of your ultimate river cruise guide! Which cruise line is your favourite? Have you sailed with any of these cruise lines before? Do you prefer to travel so intimate there’s less than 30 people on board or do you prefer a luxury five star vessel with several decks? Let us know in your comments below…

Bulletin Editor

Editor and Creative Copywriter of Cruise.co.uk's bulletin blog, bringing you cruise news, tips and guides daily! - Contact: [email protected]

About The Author

Bulletin Editor

Editor and Creative Copywriter of Cruise.co.uk's bulletin blog, bringing you cruise news, tips and guides daily! - Contact: [email protected]


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