What are the differences between Viking River Cruises & Uniworld River Cruises & AmaWaterways & Tauck & CroisiEurope & A-ROSA & Scenic?

With so many river cruise lines in operation along the waterways of Europe and elsewhere throughout the world, it’s never easy to answer one of the most basic questions travelers are likely to have: How are each of these river cruise companies different from one another?

Tauck's ms Savor arrives in Weissenkirchen. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Tauck’s ms Savor arrives in Weissenkirchen. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

When you’re planning a river cruise in Europe or Africa or Asia or South America or the United States, you have a fair amount of choices. To better understand what your choices are, we’ve prepared the table below with some of the features our readers most commonly ask us about, coupled with a brief overview of what makes each line unique in its own right. Note that we feature only those cruise companies that we’ve personally experienced (in other words, we’ve been invited on press trips to cruise on their ships), so your favorite cruise line may not be one that we’ve compared.

Ready? Let’s get river cruising!

Attributes Of The Top River Cruise Companies

LINEComplimentary Shore ExcursionsAdditional Cost ExcursionsExclusive EventsDrinks Included?Onboard BicyclesFitness CenterSalonCinemaSpaHot Tub / PoolStep-out BalconiesTwo Room SuitesRoom ServiceStocked In-Room Mini BarDining VenuesNo Corkage FeePersonal ButlerPort Charges IncludedIncluded Airport TransfersTipping & Gratuities IncludedLaundry Included
A-ROSAcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkSome1
AmaWaterways**Somecheckmark**checkmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkMost3
Avalon WaterwayscheckmarkSomecheckmark****checkmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmark2****Option to pre-pay
CroisiEuropecheckmarkSome**checkmarkSome1
Crystal River CruisesTBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBATBA
SceniccheckmarkNocheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmark6checkmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmark
Emerald WaterwayscheckmarkSomeBeer and wine included with lunch and dinnercheckmarkcheckmark**checkmark**checkmarkcheckmark**2checkmark**
TauckcheckmarkNocheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmark2checkmarkcheckmarkcheckmark
UniworldcheckmarkSomecheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkSomecheckmarkcheckmark1*checkmarkcheckmarkcheckmarkcheckmark**
Viking River CruisescheckmarkSome**********checkmarkcheckmark2checkmarkcheckmark**
While we've tried to be as accurate as possible, sometimes the answer required more than a simple yes or no. Viking River Cruises has pools on some ships, for example, but not on others. It's the same on Uniworld. To make matters more interesting, on S.S. Catherine the pool is inside — in a bar actually, which we found odd, but intriguing. We welcome reader comments at the bottom of this post for those who can add to a better understanding of the differences between the major players.

AmaWaterways **: Beer, wine and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner; sparkling wine with breakfast. Complimentary shore excursions included in every port, along with complimentary Limited Edition Tours; some optional tours require a fee.

Avalon Waterways **: Beer, wine and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner. Avalon doesn't carry bicycles onboard but does offer dedicated, guided cycling tours in select ports of call. Avalon offers small group (30 people) reservations to Panorama Bistro (light menu paired with wine). On nice days, grilled lunches are available on the Sky Deck.

CroisiEurope **: All drinks included on select cruises. Otherwise, house wine and beer are complimentary during lunch and dinner. A separate beverage card can be purchased to buy drinks from the bar. Wine, champagne and spirits listed on the ship's special wine list are at an additional cost on all voyages. Wi-Fi internet access on most ships is limited to the reception area and main lounge.

Emerald Waterways **: Packaged shore excursions included in Emerald Cruisefare. Wine, beer & soda complimentary for lunch and dinner; beverage packages are available for extra fee. Suites are stocked daily; all staterooms restocked with bottled water. Room service included for suites only. Laundry concierge available but for a fee. Spa and Salon are available for a fee.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection **: Uniworld charges for at least one excursion, the Vienna Evening Concert at 75 euros. Uniworld offers free laundry service in many of its higher-end suites across its fleet. Additionally, most Uniworld ships have complimentary self-service laundry facilities for passengers to use; only River Royale, River Baroness, Douro Spirit, and River Victoria lack this feature in the European-based fleet. s.s. Antoinette and s.s. Maria Theresa feature cinemas, with complimentary popcorn. Ships also feature Nordic walking sticks in addition to bicycles. Pools are featured onboard the S.S. Antoinette, S.S. Maria Theresa, Queen Isabel, Century Legend and Century Paragon. Hot tub onboard the River Royale. Room Service and Butler Service on Uniworld is at the suite level only. Cinema available only onboard S.S. Antoinette and S.S. Maria Theresa

Viking River Cruises ** A Complimentary shore excursion is included in every port; there are also additional optional shore excursions available on every itinerary. On most itineraries guests are offered the option to experience Privileged Access to museums, private collections and after-hours events curated especially by Viking (these include behind-the-scenes tour partnerships with Lobkowicz palace in Prague, Czech republic and the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia.) Beer, wine and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner. Specialty coffee & teas available anytime. Optional Silver Spirit beverage packages are available for extra fee & makes drinks all-inclusive. Pool only on Viking's Douro itineraries. Airport transfers included when air is purchased through Viking.

Also be sure to see How Do Danube River Cruises Prices Compare?

A-ROSA

Defining Feature: All-inclusive, active luxury river cruises with decided European flair.

Destinations: Europe

A-ROSA Stella docked in Lyon, France, as she begins a weeklong cruise along the Rhône and Saône rivers in southern France. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

A-ROSA Stella docked in Lyon, France, as she begins a weeklong cruise along the Rhône and Saône rivers in southern France. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

A-ROSA only began marketing to North American-based river cruisers in 2013 but since then, the company has made significant inroads into the market thanks to their fleet of all-inclusive ships and uncommon features like large fitness centers, on-deck pools, alternate dining venues and complimentary bicycles.

The line’s increased focus on fitness and wellness has earned them accolades from travelers seeking a more active experience. Their European roots also offer an experience that has been tweaked for American audiences, but which remains largely authentic. Expect plenty of local wines and culinary offerings onboard.

Stateroom 325 on A-ROSA Stella measures 156 square feet and is generous in amenities - flat-panel television, French-style “Juliette” balcony and more. © 2013 Monica Frisk

Stateroom 325 on A-ROSA Stella measures 156 square feet and is generous in amenities – flat-panel television, French-style “Juliette” balcony and more. © 2013 Monica Frisk

While A-ROSA has a fleet of 11 river cruise vessels, only three are marketed to the English-speaking world: A-ROSA Flora, A-ROSA Silva, A-ROSA Stella.

We are big fans of A-ROSA. Ralph has cruised on both A-ROSA Silva and A-ROSA Stella. Check out our review of A-ROSA Stella and be sure to read Ralph’s  Assessing A-ROSA Stella: 9 Differentiating Factors That Would Make Me Cruise Again.

Also see our review of A-ROSA Silva and a Live Voyage Report, German Christmas Markets On A-ROSA Silva.

Read more about A-ROSA.

AmaWaterways

Defining Feature: Modern, contemporary ships combining elegant style and service.

Destinations: Europe, Portugal, Africa, Cambodia & Vietnam, Myanmar

Kristin Karst (left), AmaWaterways' executive vice president, and Rudi Schreiner, president, photographed during a Bavarian christening ceremony of their new ship AmaPrima in Vilshofen, Germany. Kristin is presenting a present to AmaPrima godmother Valerie Wilson. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Kristin Karst (left), AmaWaterways’ executive vice president, and Rudi Schreiner, president, photographed during a Bavarian christening ceremony of their new ship AmaPrima in Vilshofen, Germany, with AmaPrima godmother Valerie Wilson. © 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Founded in 2002 by Rudi Schreiner, Kristin Karst and the late Jimmy Murphy, AmaWaterways boasts a fleet of 14 modern ships that sail the waterways of Europe, plus two vessels – the AmaLotus and AmaDaraoperating in Vietnam and Cambodia; Zambezi Queen in Africa and the stylish AmaPura that sails to AmaWaterways’ newest exotic destination, Myanmar (Burma).

AmaPrima

AmaPrima on the Danube, approaching Vienna. @ 2013 Ralph Grizzle

Personable service has been a hallmark of the line since Day One. It’s a theme that transcends each of AmaWaterways’ stylish river cruise ships and even applies to the company itself. Co-founder Kristin Karst even writes her own blog for the line. Expect to feel not like a number, but like an old friend, when you sail with AmaWaterways. Check out our audio podcast, Bicycles & Beer, Wine & Chocolate, Myanmar & Much More On AmaWaterways: An Interview With The Founding Couple

In recent years, the line has been taking its lauded brand of cruising to other parts of the world. In addition to Europe, AmaWaterways offers luxury voyages to South Africa, Cambodia and Vietnam, and Myanmar (Burma) with a focus on cultural immersion and authentic experiences both onboard and ashore. In 2015, the line introduced the new AmaDara to the Mekong. See AmaWaterways Adds AmaDara On The Mekong In 2015

We’ve enjoyed many wonderful cruises through Europe and abroad on AmaWaterways. Check out our Live Voyage Reports, AmaLotus – Vietnam & Cambodia as well as 12 Things To Like About The New AmaPrima.

Read more about AmaWaterways.

Avalon Waterways

Defining Feature: Some of the most uniquely-designed staterooms afloat. 

Destinations: Europe, Asia, Amazon, Galapagos Islands

Avalon Waterways sails the waterways of Europe, and offers river cruise journeys around the world. Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways sails the waterways of Europe, and offers river cruise journeys around the world. Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways

The first of Avalon’s “Suite Ships,” Avalon Panorama, debuted in May 2011 and pioneered the use of two full decks featuring Panorama Suites with floor-to-ceiling windows that open to create what the line calls Open Air Balconies. And while Avalon states that up to 100 cruisers could fit within the spacious, 200-square-foot Panorama Suite, we wouldn’t recommend it. But let’s not split hairs – these are still some of the most spacious river cruise ships out there.

Founded in 2003, Avalon has worked quickly to ensure that all of its river cruise vessels are now Suite Ships, each offering some unique features like beds positioned to face the balcony windows, and some of the best-designed bathrooms we’ve seen on a river cruise ship. That the line offers itineraries throughout Europe and to farther-flung destinations like Asia, the Amazon and the Galapagos Islands (the latter of which is operated by a ship) is just the icing on the cake.

Avalon may not be building new vessels on the scale of some of the other lines, but the ones they are bringing out are constantly moving their product forward in an increasingly elegant, modern fashion.

CroisiEurope

Defining Feature: Family owned, shallow-draft cruises exploring nearly every corner of Europe.

Destinations: Europe, Asia

© 2015 Ralph Grizzle

CroisiEurope’s newest barge, Anne-Marie, in France. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Founded by Gérard Schmitter in 1976, CroisiEurope River Cruises is still a family run business, responsible for the construction, ownership and day-to-day operations of river cruise vessels that are capable of carrying between 100 and 200 passengers. In 2014, the company took delivery of an additional three vessels, bringing its fleet to a total of 33 river cruise ships. CroisiEurope is also one of the few lines to offer sailings on nearly every  river in Europe.

One of CroisiEurope’s defining features is its shallow-draft river cruise vessels. By reducing the amount of the ship that exists below the waterline, CroisiEurope can sail into the heart of cities – like Strasbourg, where CroisiEurope is headquartered – while other river cruise operators are forced to dock on the other side of the Rhine, in the German town of Kehl, and bus guests in.

© 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Interior details onboard CroisiEurope’s new Loire Princesse. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

The line also offers pseudo river-ocean voyages through the Mediterranean that are wholly unique within the industry.

In 2013, CroisiEurope began actively marketing to North American travelers for the first time. Check out our Live Voyage Reports from onboard CroisiEurope’s sleek vessels:

Read more about CroisiEurope River Cruises

Crystal River Cruises

Defining Feature: Spacious staterooms; set to be the largest suites on the rivers when the line debuts in 2017.

Destinations: Europe

courtesy Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises is entering the river cruise market in 2017 with a brand-new, purpose-built ship. Rendering courtesy Crystal Cruises

Game changer? Launching in March 2017, Crystals two new as-yet-unnamed river cruisers will feature 68 suites measuring 250 square feet and two Penthouse Suites measuring 500 square feet. The latter are larger than Scenic Jasper’s 475-square-foot Royal Panorama Suites.

The 250-square-foot guest suites will feature walk-in wardrobes, American king size beds and bathrooms with double vanities. The two 500 square-foot Penthouse Suites will feature what Crystal says are “added comforts and conveniences.” Public areas will include the Palm Court with a dance floor and glass-domed roof as well as a well-appointed fitness center and spa.

Billed as “luxury river yachts,” Crystal’s new vessels will be built by German shipyard Lloyd Werft and will boast yacht-like designs with greater space-to-guest ratio than any other river cruise ship, according to a Crystal press release. The vessels will include Crystal’s signature all-inclusive six-star service, plus what Crystal says is a fresh approach to the traditional river itineraries and experiences.

More information about Crystal’s new river cruise product will be posted here as it becomes available.

Tauck

Defining Feature: All-inclusive river cruise tours that include overland journeys chocked full of exclusive experiences.

Destinations: Europe

ms Savor heading toward Linz. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Tauck’s ms Savor heading toward Linz. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

Founded in 1925 by Arthur Tauck Sr., the long-standing American tour company has been slowly but surely expanding into the European river cruise market, offering up its unique brand of inclusive luxury river cruises coupled with full-guided overland journeys.

One of Tauck’s defining features is what the company offers ashore. The line offers exclusive events like private lunches, dinners and concerts, and in some cases, even private after-hours tours of museums like the In Flanders Fields museum in Ieper, Belgium, and the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague.

The lounge on ms Savor. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

The lounge on ms Savor. © 2015 Ralph Grizzle

The line is also starting to innovate on the waterways of Europe, introducing new Loft-style staterooms aboard their two newest vessels, ms Inspire and ms Savor that are quickly becoming some of the most talked-about staterooms. The line is also noteworthy for its restraint: instead of carrying 190 guests, these new vessels take just 130.

Aaron recently cruised on Tauck’s ms Inspire through Belgium and Holland on the centenary of World War I. See his Live Voyage Report, Tauck’s MS Inspire – Belgium & Holland.

Ralph recently sailed aboard ms Savor along the Danube. Read his complete Voyage Report here.

Read more about Tauck.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Defining Feature: All-inclusive, boutique river cruises accented with classic ‘old world’ European design.

Destinations: Europe (including Italy), Russia, Portugal, Egypt, China, India, Cambodia & Vietnam

The striking atrium lobby aboard Uniworld's new S.S. Maria Theresa welcomes guests into a world of European opulence. Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.

The striking atrium lobby aboard Uniworld’s new S.S. Maria Theresa welcomes guests into a world of European opulence. Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.

Uniworld’s full name might be a mouthful, but the company has been providing river cruises in its own inimitable style longer than any company on this list, save for CroisiEurope. And during the past three decades, Uniworld has learned a thing or two about how to run a successful river cruise line.

Good Morning! Waking up aboard Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection's S.S. Maria Theresa. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Good Morning! Waking up aboard Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s S.S. Maria Theresa. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

One of Uniworld’s defining features is its intrinsic style. The interiors of each of Uniworld’s 14 European-based ships (with a new one coming in 2015) are entirely unique, reflecting a style that could best be described as Versailles-meets-Ritz Carlton. It’s this style, coupled with the line’s varied itineraries that include less-visited waterways like Italy’s Po River, that keep guests coming back time and time again.

Uniworld recently went all-inclusive, becoming one of only a handful of lines to offer a truly inclusive experience along the waterways of Europe.

In March of 2014, Ralph attended the S.S. Catherine Christening. He calls Uniworld the “Seabourn of the Rivers.” See his report from the south of France on S.S. Catherine.

In March of 2015, Aaron looked on in Amsterdam as the new S.S. Maria Theresa was christened. Click here for the full multi-day report.

Read more about Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.

Viking River Cruises

Defining Feature: Scandinavian design, Nordic sensibility and the most river cruise ships on the waterways of Europe – by far.

Destinations: Europe, Russia, Portugal, Egypt, China, Cambodia & Vietnam, Myanmar, Ukraine

Viking Vidar alongside in Wurzburg, Germany on another beautiful - and hot - day. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Viking Vidar alongside in Wurzburg, Germany on another beautiful – and hot – day. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

It’s hard to not know about Viking River Cruises. Chances are that you’ve seen the company’s ads during Downton Abbey and other programs, or you’ve simply heard about Viking because of the prodigious expansion of the new Viking Longship fleet. Everywhere you look, from print advertising to docking spaces in Europe, Viking is there.

Founded in 1997 by cruise industry veteran Torstein Hagen, one of Viking’s defining features has always been providing guests with a good river cruise at a reasonable price. When the first of its new Viking Longships set sail in March of 2012, the company became a driving force for innovation within the industry, pioneering firsts like the indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace and the introduction of the first true suites on the waterways of Europe.

Changes are everywhere aboard the newest generation of Viking Longships - if you know where to look. Shown here is the Viking Lounge aboard Viking Skirnir. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Changes are everywhere aboard the newest generation of Viking Longships – if you know where to look. Shown here is the Viking Lounge aboard Viking Skirnir. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Viking doesn’t feature gyms, or hot tubs, or bicycles aboard its ships for the simple reason that, as Hagen puts it, all of Europe is a natural gym. In many of the towns and cities Viking stops in, walking tours are offered and bicycle rentals from private vendors are plentiful. Those are amenities that Hagen believes are under-used on other vessels, and space that could be better put toward the line’s wide array of staterooms and suites.

As active travelers who enjoy cycling and some time in the gym, we don’t always agree with Hagen but we do love his ships. Viking’s big, bright ships are the company’s defining feature, along with crews that are increasingly polished as some of the best and brightest stars are coming to work for Viking from other lines. By the time the line took delivery of another 12 Viking Longships in March of 2015, Viking had launched a total of 42 new  vessels since 2012 – more than any other river cruise line afloat. The line will launch additional Longships next year, along with a new vessel on the Douro, Viking Osfrid.

In 2015, Viking also took delivery of their first oceangoing cruise ship – Viking Star. She will be joined in 2016 by a sister-ship, Viking Sea, and in 2017 by two additional vessels: Viking Sky and Viking Sun.

Click here for our multi-day voyage report from onboard Viking Star in London and her christening in Bergen, Norway.

For the Viking Longships, see Ralph’s Six Points Of Differentiation: Viking Odin Review

We’ve each sailed Viking several times now, and have Live Voyage Reports from all three Danube Christmas Markets runs, all four Viking Longsships christening ceremonies, and France’s Bordeaux region. Read about our past and upcoming sailings on our Live Voyage Reports page.

Read more about Viking River Cruises

Meantime, In America

American Queen Steamboat Company River Cruise Reviews

American Queen paddlewheels cruise

The American Queen paddlewheels through heartland of America. © 2012 Ralph Grizzle

Review from our sister site, The Avid Cruiser.

Even if you’re an avid cruiser like us, you’ll find there’s little to compare to the American Queen. It can’t be compared to a river cruise vessel in Europe. The largest paddlewheeler ever built, the six-deck American Queen is nearly 2.5 times wider than those river cruisers. Spanning 90 feet across, she offers multiple restaurants, including a gorgeous two-story main restaurant, lots of public rooms, a variety of staterooms and suites, a small pool, gym and, of course, a giant paddlewheel to propel the riverboat.

Click play to check out the Avid Cruiser’s video review featuring The American Queen.

For optimal viewing, toggle the full-screen icon. Troubling viewing the video? Click here. Or subscribe to the Avid Cruiser video podcasts to download the videos to your iDevice.

Check out all of our articles and videos featuring the American Queen.

  • SFONAN

    Ralph – Thanks for the disclaimer – couldn’t imagine why one of the very best – Avalon Waterways – wasn’t included until I read that.

  • JBRobinson

    Right on SFONAN – This page is actually one giant advertorial…get out your magnifying glass and you can just spot: “Note that across the site we primarily include cruise companies that sponsor River Cruise Advisor.”

  • http://avidcruiser.com/ Ralph Grizzle

    I’ve revised the disclaimer to include it in the main text and I corrected it. It was not accurate that only companies that sponsor River Cruise Advisor were featured. What is correct is that only companies that we have personally experienced were included. The disclaimer now reads (in two places): Note that we feature only the river cruise companies that we’ve personally sailed on and experienced. Your favorite line may not be in our chart. If so, mention your favorites in the comments section below.

    We do our best. We make all the information on this site available for free. Most visitors have only good things to say about what the service we provide. I simply wouldn’t know how to do it any better – and make it worthwhile for us.

  • Larry Azamara

    Ralph – with all due respect, your disclaimer fails to address the main flaw in your justification. By you own admission your web site receives what you choose to call “sponsorships”…but most people would call them fees. Fees that your web site receives from cruise companies, in exchange for positive publicity, so in effect you are the owner of some web sites that derives revenue from customers in the cruise industry in exchange for favourable reviews. Most reasonable people would describe your company therefore as a PR firm specialising in digital endorsements.

    The problem, as I see it lays in two areas.

    Firstly you use the term journalist in describing yourself, when inherently journalists are impartial and at arms lengths from the commercial necessities of the publication they write for, so you are using word in a commercially advantageous way, which is not accurate.

    Secondly you claim to write your reviews of the ships as part of a free “press trip”, when actually you are not part of any “press” organization, you are actually a paid supplier of the cruise companies from which you receive “sponsorships” from, and are invited aboard in order to provide positive PR coverage. The fact that the companies choose to add you as a “press trip” visitor actually detracts from the legitimate role that the press play in the description and analysis of a ship and it’s pro’s and con’s, which due to your conflict of interest, are lacking in your reports.

    Your statement “We make all the information on this site available for free”, is curious as it is not free to the advertisers, nor the sponsors, and if you believed it could be charged for via subscription or some other method then why not move to that model?

    I think Ralph you have some issue to work through to make the statements on your web site an accurate reflection of your business.

  • http://avidcruiser.com/ Ralph Grizzle

    Larry, While I get where you’re coming from, your reasoning comes from an uninformed point of view about how things actually operate in the media world. For example, I am on a press trip at this very moment in the Mediterranean with journalists from major publications. There are 12 of us, all from US-based media outlets. All of us are guests of the cruise line, and in fact, of the hotel where we stayed last night. The cruise line paid our air and all expenses. This is the way that all travel companies operate. And all media that I know of accepts. No one pays the retail rate of these cruises to write about them or review them. I travel three or four times a year with writers from USA Today, often with writers from major newspapers like the Miami Herald, a lot with Travel Weekly, Cruise Critic and other publications. And yes, I have even traveled with writers from Conde Nast, the Truth in Travel publication. I’ve traveled twice with Conde Nast writers, once in Antarctica and once in the Mediterranean.

    I am a journalist, not using the word in a commercially advantageous way. It is my profession. I’ve won awards from journalism associations, and more than that, I have a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I even wrote a book about a journalist. His name was Charles Kuralt, and my journalistic philosophy is a lot like his. He said, “Most reporters can’t go back to the towns they wrote about. I never wrote that kind of story.” So I am not the Mike Wallace style of journalist, never have been. Don’t want to be.

    As for subscriptions, been there, doesn’t work. NPR exists on sponsorships, and NPR doesn’t call them fees. We chose the NPR model. Without it the digital space that this site occupies would be blank, and 99.99 percent of our readers would not want that.

  • Pingback: Differences Between Viking River Cruises & Uniworld River Cruises & AmaWaterways & Tauck & CroisiEurope & A-ROSA()

  • April

    Great site, Thanks. Is it advisable to pay in full 10 months ahead to get all the discounts? Is it better to place a deposit ? Yes, no matter what, need cancellation insurance. Again, Thanks.

  • http://avidcruiser.com/ Ralph Grizzle

    River cruises are in high demand, so yes, it’s important to act quickly, make that deposit and cover yourself with insurance. Planning in advance is key to a good experience.

  • Carol

    I have to stay that I am a huge planner/researcher for my husband and I when we go on vacations. I enjoy reading before hand about the areas, and types of tours etc. Thinking back on the days before the internet and relying on tour books and travel agents to send me in the right direction was a real chore. Now with the internet and the extraordinary capabilities that it gives a traveler to plan, in some cases, for their lifelong adventure is an amazing tool. One I rely on immensely. So with that said, I look for anything I can find relating to a particular trip I may be thinking of booking. I search for ANYONE’S opinion on the subject and weigh what is said for it’s informational purposes. I really don’t care much who or what company is imparting this information, rather using it to gather as much information as I can to help me make the best planned trip that I can. In this case, I was searching for info on the Viking Baldur. We are sailing on her 7/27/14 on a Grand European Tour down the Rhine, Main, and Danube. The review/day by day account that Aaron Saunders posted on his Christmas Market trip was very well done and interesting., full of great information. Again, not reading it for info on the markets but rather for what was said about the ship, cruise line and some of the towns he visited. To each his own for what you garner from the things posted on the internet. I for one am happy to have learned quite a bit from is review and am happy I stumbled upon it. Thanks for your great review and we are very excited to be on the Baldur for our first river cruise.

  • Aaron Saunders

    Thank you, Carol – I am glad you found the Viking Baldur review useful! I started these day-by-day reports a few years back to give people an up-to-date view of what they can expect on their trip, and more importantly, of their ship. Viking Baldur is very comfortable, very stylish, and nicely appointed. You should have a wonderful time on your Grand European Tour – it’s a fantastic itinerary!

    Have fun and Bon Voyage!
    -Aaron

  • betsy

    I am anxious to read about Avalon as that line has been highly recommended to me for river crossing.

  • Shirley

    Ralph, the next time you prepare a chart, please consider using a “check” mark as opposed to an “X” to indicate the affirmative. An “X” has a very negative connotation to most people. Without reading the fine print below the chart, my husband expressed his surprise that Viking (the line we’re leaning toward for our first river cruise) doesn’t have step-out balconies, a feature that is very important to us. Reading down that category, one sees “some” “some” “some” and then an “X”. A check mark is much more positive, and if you really want to get fancy and even more affirmative, make it green!

  • DJ

    Hope you will post a review of your extensive experience. Like yourself, we do considerable research in planning vacations and last summer mixed a week with Viking, a week with trains through Belgium, and two weeks visiting Norway’s ports. I basically found the preparation for the Rhine Getaway to decrease our enjoyment of it! The short daily walking/bus tours got us back for lunch (with beer/wine) and seemed to basically fill available time in the least expensive manner). If you are that planner-type that haunts Roll Calls on Cruise Critic, you tend to do port visits by yourself or in private groups. I have found that my Roll Calls for Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity include a majority of experienced world travelers who have information and experience to share! It seems that most of our Viking travelers were on their first European vacation and found the morning walks or bus rides just fine, as long as the beer and wine were waiting on their return!

  • Amitabh Sarma
  • Fill Wood

    I just discovered and love this site. As a compulsive travel planner, who likes to research every detail imaginable from as many sources as possible, I welcome the info that you provide. My wife and I have taken over 30 ocean cruises, but are new to river cruising. I particularly appreciate your info regarding exercise opportunities available on the various lines, especially the availability of bicycles as my wife and I also have taken numerous bicycle trips and are looking forward to being able to cycle across Europe without carrying panniers and un-packing/packing in new hotels every night, as we have in the past. I’d appreciate any info you can provide comparing the quality of the bicycles offered on the various cruise lies, especially Ama and Uniworld. I don’t expect the bicycles to be as good as our own custom touring bicycles or even high-end road racing bicycles, but hopefully they should be relatively new, decently maintained, and with some gearing to allow one to visit hilltop castles and not just pedal on bike paths along the river banks and in town centers.