river cruises 2024

Top 9 River Cruises in 2024

Charting the Course

River cruising offers a unique and intimate way to explore the world’s most magnificent waterways, allowing passengers to immerse themselves in the culture, history and landscapes of each region from the comfort of a floating hotel. Many Americans are discovering the world with river cruises as the industry continues to evolve, providing an array of sumptuous vessels and enticing itineraries.

Here is a rundown of top river cruise companies and what they offer.

The 9 Ultimate River Cruises of 2024

1. Viking River Cruises

Known for its expansive fleet and extensive range of destinations, Viking River Cruises remains a heavyweight in river cruising. Viking's longships are renowned for their Scandinavian design, comfortable accommodations and all-inclusive pricing structure. The company offers itineraries on many of the world's most famous rivers, including the Rhine, the Danube, the Seine and the Yangtze.

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  • Amenities: Viking’s ships boast spacious staterooms, many with full-size verandas, as well as onboard cultural enrichment programs.
  • Cost: Prices vary depending on the destination and length of the cruise, but Viking is known for its competitive pricing and regularly offers promotions and discounts.
  • Destinations: Europe, Russia, Asia and Egypt.

2. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

Uniworld promises a luxury river cruising experience with its collection of one-of-a-kind, exquisitely appointed boutique river ships. Featuring lavish interiors that could rival the grandest of hotels, Uniworld pays immense attention to detail and personal service.

  • Amenities: Expect gourmet dining, sumptuous staterooms and a high staff-to-guest ratio ensuring impeccably attentive service.
  • Cost: Uniworld falls into the luxury segment of river cruising, with prices reflecting the upscale experience, but inclusive of most excursions, meals and beverages, including alcohol.
  • Destinations: Europe, Russia, Asia, India and Egypt.

3. American Cruise Lines

As a premier operator of river and small ship cruises in the United States, American Cruise Lines offers a range of cruise experiences focusing on the Mississippi River, the Columbia and Snake Rivers and Alaska. Their small ships enable visits to ports that larger vessels can't reach, ensuring an intimate and unique experience.

  • Amenities: Expect comfortable lounges, large staterooms and a variety of onboard amenities including evening entertainment and enrichment programs.
  • Cost: Prices are in line with luxury cruising, but remember that they reflect an all-inclusive experience that covers meals, accommodations and excursions.
  • Destinations: Various itineraries across the United States.

4. AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways is revered for its innovative ship designs, which include features such as twin-balcony (a French balcony and outside balcony) staterooms and a Chef's Table specialty restaurant. This family-owned company offers a variety of active excursions for those who like to explore by bike or on foot.

  • Amenities: Luxurious staterooms, a wellness program, multiple dining options and a fleet of bicycles for guest use.
  • Cost: AmaWaterways is in the premium market segment, with a pricing model that includes meals, most beverages and many excursions.
  • Destinations: Europe, Africa and Southeast Asia.

5. Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways sets itself apart with the unique design of its Suite Ships, which feature the largest standard staterooms in river cruising. Their Open-Air Balconies offer wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows that provide guests with extraordinary views and more space to relax.

  • Amenities: Spacious accommodations, a choice of dining venues and the Avalon Choice program offering a range of excursion options catered to different interests and paces.
  • Cost: Fares are in the premium category, typically including meals, wine with dinner and selected excursions.
  • Destinations: Europe, Asia, South America and the Nile.

6. Tauck

Renowned for its exclusive access and in-depth cultural experiences, Tauck offers luxury river cruises that provide more than just a sightseeing trip. Their itineraries are designed around destination immersion, with comprehensive tours and expert local guides.

  • Amenities: Spacious accommodations, gourmet cuisine and all-inclusive service with virtually every expense covered from the moment of embarkation.
  • Cost: On the higher end of the spectrum, reflecting the premium level of service and inclusions.
  • Destinations: Europe and Egypt.

7. Emerald Cruises

Emerald Cruises specializes in modern, innovative river ships with features like a dual-purpose heated pool that converts into a cinema in the evening. They offer a great balance of luxury and affordability.

  • Amenities: Contemporary design, a wellness area with a gym and spa and inclusive trips and excursions.
  • Cost: Mid-range pricing with options for various budgets and fares that include meals, selected drinks, transfers and excursions.
  • Destinations: Europe and Southeast Asia.

8. Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours

Scenic goes beyond typical river cruising to offer a truly all-inclusive luxury experience. With Scenic, 'Space-Ships' offer larger than average suites and a 1:3 staff-to-passenger ratio, promising exceptional service.

  • Amenities: Spacious suites, multiple dining options, butler service for every guest and an extensive list of included beverages and excursions.
  • Cost: Scenic is at the high-end range, with comprehensive pricing reflecting the all-inclusive luxury experience.
  • Destinations: Europe, Russia, Southeast Asia and Egypt.

9. Aqua Expeditions

For those looking to explore off the beaten path, Aqua Expeditions specializes in highly personalized, luxury expedition cruises on the world’s greatest rivers - the Amazon in Peru and the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia.

  • Amenities: High-end suites, 1:1 staff-to-guest ratios, expert-guided excursions and gourmet cuisine.
  • Cost: Prices reflect a boutique luxury adventure experience, comprehensive of excursions, gourmet dining and transfers.
  • Destinations: Amazon and Mekong.

Currents of Luxury

River cruising presents a plethora of opportunities to indulge in the enchantment of world rivers. Whether you prioritize luxury and amenities or exotic and adventure-filled itineraries, there's a river cruise tailored to every taste and interest.

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