As a Certified Travel Advisor an ASTA Verified Travel Advisor and a CLIA Master Cruise Counselor, Zac Wilson is the owner of Daydream Vacations Travel Agency in Granbury, www.DaydreamVacations.com.
River Cruise is the best way to explore Europe, but which river cruise line is best for you? Readers may recall my column in the June 2, 2021 edition of Hood County News detailing many reasons why I recommend river cruising as the best way to experience Europe. Now that you’re planning your trip, it’s time to discover which river cruise line meets your needs.
There are many details that are similar among the cruise lines. For example, the ships are essentially the same size in width, length and height. This is due to the need to fit in the many locks along the rivers, under the bridges, and dock at the same ports. They also have similar itineraries, visiting the same ports along the way. They all offer incredible shore experiences, chef-inspired cuisine, a variety of wines and spirits and luxury accommodations. This is a luxury travel market and there are no budget river cruise lines. They are all four- and five-star experiences. However, there are many details that make them quite different from one another.
You may have heard of Viking, AmaWaterways, Avalon and Riviera River Cruises, just to name a few. Other names include Tauck, Uniworld, Scenic, Emerald and more. Your travel advisor will guide you to the right river cruise line and itinerary.
Viking River Cruises is probably the brand that most Americans know about. They focus their advertising in the U.S. and they are the company that started the industry in 1997, sailing the Volga River in Russia. In today’s market, this is the best bang for the buck for an all-inclusive experience. However, the price is good because they squeeze about 190 passengers onboard. This means smaller staterooms and fewer social areas and dining options.
AmaWaterways began in 2002 when co-owner Rudi Schreiner left Viking to create a better cruise line with inspirational designs. With larger suites and more onboard offerings, they only carry about 160 passengers for a more enjoyable atmosphere. They are truly a five-star experience and have the best wine/vineyard itineraries in Europe. They also have the industry’s premier vessel AmaMagna sailing the Danube. This is the cruise line that Adventures by Disney uses for its exclusive trips.
Avalon is owned and operated by Globus Tours. Globus is a long-standing tour company in Europe, and they have incredible tours and experiences. They have a uniquely designed suite with an open-air balcony design that puts more space in your room.
Riviera River Cruises is great for solo travelers and fun groups. Every itinerary has rooms for solo travelers at a single occupancy rate. Originally, Riviera catered to other English-speaking markets like Australia and the U.K. Now competing in the U.S. market, they have an incredible price point to get your attention. Riviera is also great for travelers who prefer an ala carte experience rather than an all-included one. This is perfect for travelers who prefer to pay for only what they need rather than an all-inclusive price that includes unwanted options.
I’m proud to announce that I am one of only 500 Travel Advisors worldwide attending the exclusive ASTA River Cruise Expo in Budapest in March 2022. I will explore several vessels from differing brands, I will dine and compare each chef’s offerings, and I will return as Hood County’s river cruise expert. Follow me on social media for videos, pictures and more.
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