Of all the questions we get from readers here on River Cruise Advisor, the most prevalent relates to how to compare river cruise lines. We’ve made an attempt (a successful one, I might add) to define some of the differences between river cruise companies in our chart that outlines river cruise inclusions. But beyond that, how do you know what you will be committing to when you’re in the process of booking your river cruise? Will you be cruising on the Ritz-Carlton of the rivers or the river cruise equivalent of a Super 8 hotel?
While we don’t match river cruise companies to hotel brands for comparison purposes, we do try to give you an idea of how cruise lines are categorized in our view. It’s not a perfect view, but our grouping offers some general guidelines as to which line fits where – in our opinion.
How To Compare River Cruise Lines
We look at river cruises (generally) as being all-inclusive or premium. What’s the difference? The all-inclusive lines include prepaid gratuities and complimentary beverages 24/7 – and a lot more. If you want an all-inclusive cruise, you may do best to compare river cruise lines in the all-inclusive category.
There is no such thing as a “premium” category in river cruises, but so that we’ll have a system for comparison, we’ve used the ocean cruise equivalent terminology to group river cruise companies that do not include prepaid gratuities and 24/7 booze. If the all-inclusive river cruise lines are like Seabourn and Silversea, the premium river cruise lines are more like Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises.
You can read more about each cruise company by clicking the links.
All-Inclusive River Cruise Companies
‘Premium’ River Cruise Companies
* CroisiEurope includes complimentary beverages 24/7 but not prepaid gratuities.
Operating On U.S. Rivers Only
Other River Cruise Operators
We’ll continue to evolve this space, but for now, this is how we see river cruise companies being grouped in competitive sets. As always, we encourage you to talk to your travel agent and compare amenities and prices before committing to a river cruise.