River Cruise Lines

Several river cruise lines specialize in taking travelers on unforgettable trips along such famous waterways as the Nile River, the Mississippi River, and the Danube River. The amazing journeys that these cruise lines offer typically last anywhere from a couple of days to more than a month, and generally speaking, their package deals are all inclusive. River cruise passengers have little to worry about in the end, which in turn makes relaxation easy to achieve, and therein lies much of the allure when it comes to river cruises. It’s not all about relaxation, however. River cruise passengers usually have opportunities to visit towns, villages, and cities along the way, and there might also be opportunities to enjoy such things as a bike ride in the countryside or a forest hike. A distinct advantage of river cruising is the fact that most ports are in the center of the city, town, or attraction. Passengers step right off the ship and into the destination - without long bus transfers or having to tender into land on smaller craft.

There are key elements to look for when consulting the best river cruise companies. Obviously, price and itinerary are factors. Many of the features of cruises across the board are similar - from the layout and standard of luxury of the ships to the ports of call and included shore excursions. Ask questions. Compare the number of included shore excursions. For optional excursions, find out if any meals are included. Is wine or beer included with meals? Are there complimentary cocktail hours? Does the company have its own docks, or is there tandem docking? Tandem docking means that two or more ships may dock side-by-side. Passengers from the further ship/s will disembark through the lobby of the ship closest to the dock. Ask about the nationality and age range of passengers. The best river cruise companies invest a lot to ensure their Sales Agents have first-hand experience. Ask if you can speak with an agent who has personally been on the cruise you are discussing.

Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises

One of the world’s leading river cruise companies, Viking River Cruises has a fleet of more than 20 well-outfitted vessels and focuses its cruises mostly on the waterways of Europe and China. Travelers can also arrange river cruises in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Egypt through the company. The Viking River Cruises itineraries last from eight to 23 days, and among the featured waterways are the Rhine, the Seine, the Volga, and the Yangtze River. Expert tour guides are in place on every Viking cruise, and awaiting passengers along the way are opportunities to enjoy wonderful land-based excursions. On a Viking river cruise in France, for example, chances are good that you will find yourself being treated to such things as a half-day tour of Paris, a visit to the former home of Claude Monet in Giverny, and a guided walk to the historic Chateau Gaillard in Les Andelys. The company has offices in Los Angeles and Boston, as well as a number of European countries.

Uniworld River Cruises

Uniworld River Cruises
Uniworld River Cruises

Uniworld River Cruises is based in the United States in Los Angeles and operates a fleet of more than 20 river cruising ships. It also offers trips along the rivers of China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Egypt, and Europe, and has branch offices in various countries, such as France, Switzerland, and China. Where Uniworld mainly distinguishes itself is with its ships. All of the company’s river cruising vessels are akin to luxurious boutique hotels. In fact, Uniworld dubs itself as "The world’s only authentic boutique cruise line." Five-star luxury is the name of the game, and the all inclusive packages are invitingly complete.

Grand Circle River Cruises

Grand Circle River Cruises
Grand Circle River Cruises

There are a number of river cruise lines that travelers will do well to consider when trying to plan that next great cruise. One such cruise line is Grand Circle Travel. Fourteen four-star ships are used to carry passengers on the Grand Circle river cruises, and among the possible ports of call are European cities like Budapest and Prague, and Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Chongqing. The Grand Circle Cruise Line doesn’t deal exclusively in river cruises, however. Travelers can book a small ship cruise of the South Pacific through Grand Circle, with highlights including the Great Barrier Reef and tribal villages in Fiji. It is also possible to book overland excursions through the company, with an example being the trips that include visits to such renowned U.S. National Parks as Yellowstone and Grand Canyon.

Avalon River Cruises

Avalon River Cruises
Avalon River Cruises

Avalon Waterways launched in 2004, and it hasn’t taken long for the company to distinguish itself as one of the world's best river cruise companies. Based in Lugano, Switzerland, this branch of the Globus family of brands offers trips along the commonly featured rivers of Europe and China, as well as Nile River cruises in Egypt. Also available through Avalon Waterways, it should be mentioned, are trips that see travelers sailing through the Galapagos Islands. Regardless of the trip in question, Avalon provides its guests with high levels of service and opportunities to enjoy some of the world’s very best destinations. The company strives to keep its fleet up to date, which is just one more reason why it gets its fair share of favorable reviews, and it has even introduced revolutionary vessels that have suites with amazing panoramic windows.

Tauck River Cruises

Tauck River Cruises
Tauck River Cruises

The best river cruise companies take care of all the details, even going as far as to help travelers arrange all of their transportation needs, including flights. Such is the case with Tauck, which has managed to carve out quite a travel industry niche over its more than 80 year history. Much like Grand Circle River, Tauck specializes in river cruises, as well as land-based adventures and other kinds of trips. In relation to the Tauck river cruises, France is a major destination, and there are also cruises through Central and Eastern Europe. As is common in the river cruising industry, Tauck offers more general sightseeing cruises and special cruises with a theme. An example of a theme cruise are the "Musical Magic" trips along the Blue Danube that highlight the lives of such renowned composers as Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Strauss - with stops in ports like Vienna. As you might also expect in a leading cruise line, Tauck uses high quality ships for all of its river cruises and strives to provide its passengers with excellent service from start to finish.

AMA Waterways

AMA Waterways
AMA Waterways

Rounding out this list of best river cruise lines is AMA Waterways. Formed in 2004 by a team of river cruise executives, this high quality operation offers approximately 30 different itineraries with destinations in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The length of the various river cruises ranges from nine to 27 days, and the African tours include safaris and even visits to beautiful Victoria Falls. A fleet of 15 custom-designed ships are at AMA’s disposal, and among the innovative features of these ships are the rooms with either step-out or French balconies. Other inviting elements that are associated with AMA Waterways cruises are the champagne welcomes and the available beauty and hair salons and massage treatments. Life is good aboard the AMA ships, and as is true of the other top rated river cruise lines, guests are smoothly transported from destination to destination, having little to worry about in the way of motion sickness.

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