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European River Cruise

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We are planning a 2015 European river cruise. Never done one so need a little help. There are many different lines and am wondering who has cruised on one of these and which one did you prefer. I am open to any different itinerary am looking for a mid-range price. Any thoughts please would be appreciated.

Thanks .

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We have never taken a river cruise but according to a poll in T+L in their latest issue the top five are;

1. Tauck, 96.93.

2. Viking, 94.14.

3. Unworldl Boutique, 93.80.

4. Grand Circle, 92.19.

5. Amawaterways, 88.48.

BTW I have read of numerous complaints about Grand Circle when problems occur. It seems that they are not responsive and leave you in the lurch.

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Thanks, I am looking at uniworld and Amawaterways closely. It is on my wife's bucket list more than mine. I am happy in the Caribbean. However, you know the old saying 'happy wife, happy life".

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Tim!

Hopefully your river cruise planning is going well. We’ve done five river cruises in Europe so far and can’t wait for the next one!

You may want to narrow down the itinerary that interests you the most before focusing on the cruise line. Not every line offers the same itineraries. They can range from 4 to 30 nights long and visit dramatically different destinations. There are also numerous “themed” sailings at no additional cost.

Mid-range pricing means different things to different people; just remember that much, much more is included in the price of a river cruise than that of most ocean cruises.

In our experience, Avalon Waterways and AMA Waterways were almost identical products. AMA may get a slight edge in accommodating special requests and flexibility in adjusting the itinerary or excursions at a moment’s notice as issues arose. Avalon’s “suite ships” are amazing – the best designed river cruise ships by far in our opinion.

Uniworld did not live up to their reputation at all for us. They claim to be a luxury line offering a “six star” experience. Food was good, not great, and service was so poor there were numerous complaints. After the complaints it noticeably improved but I can still say we’ve had better service at one time or another on every mass market big ship line. The ship itself was (at the time) their newest and best but had issues from basic upkeep to glaring flaws in the initial design.

The river cruise experience is amazing – more immersive and fulfilling than any big-ship cruise we’ve taken – you won’t be disappointed regardless of your choice! Let us know if you have any specific questions.

Happy cruising!

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We haven’t sailed Viking River (yet!) but from what we’ve heard from friends and read, they would be considered more “mass market”. There’s nothing wrong with that, we have friends who’ve sailed Viking a few times and wouldn’t switch for anything. Here’s just one example of a difference though. Wine included with dinner (and sometimes lunch) is a big part of the river cruise experience. Because they have so many ships and so many passengers I understand Viking has purchased their own vineyard and serve their own wines every night on every itinerary. The other river cruise lines still serve different wines each night, usually from vineyards in the location you are cruising through that day! For us, that really adds another dimension to the experience – and if we’re going to Europe, we really want to try the local wines!

Also keep in mind that Viking has a lot of stateroom categories while most other river cruise lines only have 3 or 4, so be very careful that you’re comparing “apples to apples” when deciding.

We’ll be living vicariously through you until we can plan our next river cruise – maybe Christmas Markets 2015 or Tulips & Windmills 2016! So many cruises, so little time!

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