My Favorite River Cruises
The goal in listing my favorite river cruises is to help you with decisions about your river cruises. I’m fortunate to be able to experience so many river cruises (I’ve been on more than 50 since 2006), and I’m happy to share information about my experiences. For the past 25 years, my goal has been to provide resources to help you make informed cruise vacation decisions.
On this page, read about my cruises from 2017, 2016 and 2015, from cruises on luxury hotel barges to river cruise ships plying the Rhine, Danube and more. You’ll find a treasure trove of resources to help you choose your cruise.
In the interest of full disclosure, all of my river cruises were hosted by the cruise companies that I write about. I hope you find the information I have provided useful for your planning purposes. If I can help you along the way, please click on Get My Help.
My Favorite River Cruises Of 2017
In 2017, I cruised on Crystal, Avalon, AmaWaterways, Viking, Scenic, CroisiEurope and Emerald Waterways. Read about these cruises (and check out the videos that my team and I produced) for inspiration of what might work for you.
1. Crystal Mozart, Vienna Roundtrip
My 2017 river cruise season kicked off in March with a short cruise on Crystal Mozart. I had been on Mozart before, last summer during its christening in Vienna. But that was for only 48 hours. This time I got to experience Mozart and learned what makes this ship so special. Check out Crystal River Cruises: In A Class Apart?.
2. Avalon Visionary, Active Discovery On The Rhine & Moselle
Next up in April was Avalon Waterways, a company that I had not experienced since cruising Avalon Creativity several years ago. Creativity had none of the bells and whistles of Avalon Visionary, a so-called “Suite Ship.” On Avalon’s Suite Ships, staterooms are large by industry standards. The top two decks have 200-square-foot and 300-square-foot suites with beds facing the sliding glass wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows. I also liked what is called Avalon Fresh, a healthy dining option, and Active Discovery, a program focused on engaging guests in immersive, local experiences. Check out From Amsterdam To Paris On An Avalon Waterways’ Active Discovery Cruise.
3. Viking River Cruises: Rhine Getaway
Koblenz, Germany — It had been awhile since I was on a Viking Longship, and although I had attended christening events and even did a couple of weeklong cruises on Viking a few years ago, too much time had passed since I’d stepped on a Longship. Last Sunday that changed when I boarded Viking Hlin in Basel for a seven-night “Rhine Getaway” voyage to Amsterdam. Midway through the voyage, as I sat in the Aquavit Lounge on a gorgeous day while Viking Hlin was docked alongside the Deutsches Eck in Koblenz, I realized something I had nearly forgotten – and that was just how good Viking is. Read more: What I Learned About Viking River Cruises While Cruising The Rhine
5. Cruising The Rhone On AmaWaterways: Lyon To Arles
I produced a video from my Rhone river cruise with AmaWaterways in the spring of 2017. What I love about the Rhone is that it combines the beauty of the river with the charm of Provence. You’ll see all of it in the video, A Cruise On France’s Rhone River With AmaWaterways. Also, check out a second video about the Rhone, Riverside Chat Episode 2: Rhone River Cruises and be sure to read my post featuring Rhone River Excursions On AmaWaterways.
4. In Bordeaux, What Scenic Does Differently
Five companies operate river cruises in Bordeaux: AmaWaterways, CroisiEurope (with two ships), Scenic, Uniworld and Viking. All five companies run similarly sized vessels, similar itineraries and similar land programs, and visit more or less the same destinations. My story identifies what Scenic does differently in Bordeaux, from boasting the largest suites of any river cruiser in the region to its on-board cooking school, butlers for every suite and longer (11-night) Bordeaux cruises. Check out In Bordeaux, What Scenic Does Differently.
5. A Cruise Along The Seine With AmaWaterways
The Normandy region is renown for its beauty, its palatable flavors, its gorgeous countryside and the D-Day Landing Beaches. Bookended by Paris, a cruise along the Seine speaks to the sublime pleasures of exploring a narrow ribbon of river that inspired a handful of French Impressionists and that continues to inspire Francophiles today. I produced a video from my August cruise with AmaWaterways on the Seine river. Check out A Cruise Along The Seine With AmaWaterways. Also be sure to see my 2018 Price Comparisons On The Seine and a second video, Riverside Chat: Six Reasons To Cruise The Seine
6. A Barge Trip Along France’s Petit-Seine & Yonne Rivers
In September of 2017, I hosted a barge trip along France’s Petit-Seine & Yonne rivers on CroisiEurope’s Raymonde. Barge travel ranks among my favorite forms of travel for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the intimate size of the barge itself. Check out the video, A Barge Trip Along France’s Petit-Seine & Yonne Rivers. I’ll be hosting a similar trip in 2018. Beginning on September 14, 2018, CroisiEurope’s Anne-Marie, a 22-person luxury hotel barge, will take us from Sete to Arles. This all-inclusive voyage spans six days, ending on September 20 in Arles. This trip was so good the first time that I did it that I had to do it again. Learn more and reserve your space now: Cruise With Me: Barging From Sete To Arles
7. A Cruise Along The Douro With Emerald Waterways
With more than 20 ships operating Douro River Cruises, your choices are abundant. Why choose Emerald Waterways? After spending eight days on the new Emerald Radiance during November, I identified six ways that the company differentiates itself from its competitors on the Douro. See Douro River Cruises: Six Reasons To Choose Emerald Waterways
My Favorite River Cruises Of 2016
From Bordeaux to the Seine to the Danube and Provence, I did eight river cruises in 2016. I’ll be compiling them all in an ebook to be published by the end of the month. Below you’ll find links to voyage reports from each of my river cruises in 2016. I hope that you find them useful in planning your river cruises.
My 2016 season kicked off in March with a cruise on AmaDolce in Bordeaux.
When I think back to this past spring in Bordeaux, I think of bicycles and bountiful vineyards. Boarding in the beautiful UNESCO-designated city of Bordeaux, I spent seven nights on AmaDolce, operated by AmaWaterways. This itinerary basically offers Bordeaux wine tours via boat and bike. Read more …
I felt like a true adventurer on Emerald Sky’s Enchantment of Eastern Europe cruise in early April of 2016. That’s in part because Emerald Sky took me to developing countries I had not been to before, namely Romania and Bulgaria. The 10-night voyage started in Bucharest and ended in Budapest, perfect bookends for exploring this beautiful and fascinating region of the world. Read more …
I was on Crystal Mozart for fewer than 48 hours. Even so I quickly came to appreciate what Crystal Cruises, a leader in luxury blue-water cruising, was attempting to create on the Blue Danube. I should note that I had no choice but to make a quick study. Two nights on board, and I was to be booted off. I was part of a VIP group in Vienna for Crystal Mozart’s christening. After the bottle had broken against the hull, we were expected to start packing to make room for paying guests on Crystal Mozart’s inaugural voyage. Read more …
Do you enjoy bicycling and seeing new places? If so, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better mix than bicycling in Europe during your river cruise. In August, I did just that, traveling with my 19-year-old son on a “bikes and boats” trip with AmaWaterways and Backroads. As regular readers of River Cruise Advisor know, AmaWaterways is a multi-awarded river cruise company. Not as well known among RCA’s readers, Backroads bills itself as the world’s #1 active travel company. The combination of cycling and river cruising was a match made in heaven, and a perfect way to travel for this father and son duo. Read more …
The duration of the cruise, spanning 14 nights/15 days, is perfect for those who have the time for a truly immersive European experience: three rivers, five countries and scenic cruising through the heartland of Europe. And time to absorb and reflect on it all. Read more …
CroisiEurope is the only company that I know of that offers Bordeaux cruises of four different durations. The company operates two ships in Bordeaux, Cyrano de Bergerac and Princesse d’Aquitaine, on 5-, 6-, 7- and 8-day cruises. My four-night/five-day sampler cruise provided only a taste of Bordeaux on Cyrano de Bergerac, and while four nights is too short of a cruise for those who endure a trip across the Atlantic, four nights is a good option for those who couple the cruise with an extended stay in France. Read more …
AmaWaterways operates in three regions of France: Bordeaux, Provence and Paris/Normandy. One of my favorites is along the romantic Seine. The seven-night voyage begins in the “City of Light,” where the AmaLegro was docked within view of the Eiffel Tower. Read more …
I spent the days after Christmas up until New Year’s Day in France. Part of my time was spent in Paris, where I visited a friend before heading off to Lyon to cruise into the new year with CroisiEurope.
Traveling by TGV rail, I arrived in Lyon two hours after leaving Paris. It was a pleasant trip and definitely the way to get between the two cities. Once in Lyon, I paid about a euro to take the tram from Gare Part-Dieu Villette (the train station) to Université Lyon I, where CroisiEurope’s Mistral was docked just a few steps away on the Rhone. Read more …