Are you looking for a new and exciting way to spend your family vacation? Have you ever considered a river cruise?
American river cruises offer a unique and immersive way to explore the world with your loved ones. They provide the perfect opportunity to visit multiple destinations in a single trip while offering a more relaxed and intimate atmosphere than the traditional ocean cruise industry.
From the beautiful landscapes and charming towns along the river to the onboard amenities and activities. There’s something exciting for every member of the family to enjoy on a USA river cruise.
Plus, with various destinations, you can tailor your trip to suit your family’s particular interests and preferences.
River Cruises Target Audience
Older retired or semi-retired people generally make up the majority of the passengers on river cruises. However, there has recently been a surge in younger couples and families who are also interested in these fun trips.
Younger couples find that the activities provided outside the ship are actually pretty fun, and they can only be reserved via the river cruise operator.
River cruises appeal to family vacations because they offer interesting activities for all age groups, from sunbathing on the sun deck to taking family bike trips.
Top 9 American River Cruises
You and your family have decided to avoid the hustle and bustle of an ocean cruise line for a more cozy and intimate river cruise instead. With many options to choose from in terms of river cruise lines and destinations to travel to, it can become overwhelming to make a final decision.
Below we have put together the nine best river cruise options and will explore what makes each unique and a possible match for your next family vacation.
1. Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
Price Range for a Single Ticket: $2,000 to $23,000
Uniworld provides luxurious river cruises in historic locations throughout central Europe, France, Italy, Portugal, India, Egypt, and Peru. The 19 ships in its fleet are designed to resemble boutique hotels with their chic interiors, old-timey artwork, and specialty eateries.
The ships can accommodate 120 passengers on average, and the firm prides itself on having one of the most excellent staff-to-guest ratios in the river cruise business, roughly one crew member for every two passengers.
In addition to entertainment and enrichment programs, the river cruise line’s all-inclusive fares cover meals, alcoholic drinks, some excursions, gratuities, onboard fitness classes, and Wi-Fi. The top-notch food served onboard Uniworld ships is produced using regional ingredients acquired from the places on your itinerary.
Uniworld’s regular passengers are often in their 50s or 60s and come from North America, the UK, and Australia. At the same time, the river cruise company operates a few vessels specifically targeted at younger passengers. Making this better suited for more mature families.
These are a few destinations that you can travel to on the Uniworld Boutique River cruises:
- South America
Depending on the ship and river cruise, stateroom amenities might range from marble baths to Egyptian cotton linens, French balconies, iPod docks, Nespresso coffee makers, rainfall showers, and more.
Price Range for a Single Ticket: $1,400 to $26,000
AmaWaterways is a family-owned company established in 2002. It has 26 modern riverboats with an average capacity of 150 guests. The line’s newest vessel, AmaMagdalena, will start sailing in 2023.
The river cruise company provides special themed sailings for guests with particular interests. It strives to give excursion-rich trips. Wine-themed river cruises are ideal for oenophiles who want to see some of Europe’s most well-known wine areas.
A concierge golf program will take travelers from renowned golf courses to famous golf courses.
AmaWaterways generally draws older North American tourists who love participating in physically active shore activities like walking or cycling. However, this river cruise service also accepts travelers from Australia and the United Kingdom.
Due to the variety of accommodation options offered by AmaWaterways, you should anticipate a mix of couples, families, and lone travelers.
These are a few destinations that you can travel to on the AmaWaterways River cruise line:
- South America(By 2024)
Staterooms are spacious, with bathrobes, slippers, soft bedding, and upscale toiletries. With AmaWaterways’ twin balcony design, which enables a complete step-out balcony and a French balcony with sliding glass doors, cabins can have up to two balconies. Visitors may access movies and music on demand, and in-room Wi-Fi is free.
3. American Queen Voyages
Price Range for a Single Ticket: $1,300 to $6,000
American Queen Steamboat Company and Victory Cruise Lines amalgamated to establish American Queen Voyages in the fall of 2021. American Queen Voyages is based in North America and operates on a few US rivers, including the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland, as well as the Columbia and Snake rivers.
American Queen Voyages employs four authentic paddle wheelers to accommodate 150 to 400 people. All-inclusive sailings include Wi-Fi, unlimited drinks, unlimited guided tours, meals every day of your trip, and live daily onboard entertainment.
The main dining area, showroom, sun deck, poker rooms, and lounges are on board. The native food served onboard each cruise differs depending on the route. Making American Queen Voyages is perfect for families exploring new tastes and cultures.
These are a few destinations that you can travel to on the American Queen Voyages River cruise line:
- Canada(by 2023)
- Mississippi River
The staterooms on the American Queen Voyages come equipped with soft bedding, coffee machines, minifridges, TVs, and private balconies, making all river cruises onboard comfortable and enjoyable.
4. Viking River Cruises
Price Range for a Single Ticket: $2,000 to $11,000
One of the most well-known river cruise companies operating today, Viking, was founded in 1997. The Danube river, the Rhine river, the Douro river, and other important rivers in Europe are all traversed by Viking’s 60+ longships, which can transport anywhere from 75 to 250 passengers.
People may be familiar with Viking Ocean Cruises, which runs more extensive ocean journeys emphasizing lavish amenities and various enrichment activities. Viking river cruises follow a similar format with meals, daily walking tours, and Wi-Fi access included in the base price.
Additional features and activities include guest lectures, culinary classes, musical performances, libraries, outdoor decks, and shore excursions.
The majority of the passengers on the river cruise will speak English. Due to its higher price point, Viking often draws older passengers in the 55+ age range, and its cruises require passengers to be at least 18 years old.
These are a few destinations that you can travel to on the Viking River cruise line:
- Mississippi River
On Viking River Cruises ships, facilities including air conditioning, a TV, and a minibar are available in every accommodation. A desk, a seating space, and a safe may also be in certain rooms. The ship’s trip places inspired the interior design and furnishings, which were created to be cozy and welcoming.
5. American Cruise Lines
Price Range for a Single Ticket: $2,300 to $14,000
As its name suggests, American Cruise Lines only has USA river cruises, including Mississippi river cruises, that only two other cruise lines have on the itinerary.
American Cruise Lines visit locations in New England, the Hudson River, the Mississippi River, and the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest. Other sites include Alaska, the Southeast coast, Florida, and the Puget Sound between Washington state and the Canadian border.
The fleet of 15 small ships and river vessels operated by American Cruise Lines includes modern riverboats, small coastal ships, and open paddle wheelers. The ships have a capacity of 100 to 190 people.
Sailing on American Cruise Lines includes flat-rate domestic airfare for all voyages, complimentary pre-cruise hotel stays, plus specific shore excursions and shoreside transportation.
These are the destinations that you can travel to on the American cruise line:
- Mississippi River
American Cruise lines staterooms can have up to three people can comfortably share a cabin, and all ships include single guestrooms exclusively for tourists. Picture windows, a large bathroom, and occasionally a private balcony may be found in every room.
6. Avalon Waterways
Price Range for a Single Ticket: $1,100 to $11,000
Avalon Waterways operate twenty riverboats along well-traveled waterways like the Danube river, Rhone river, Seine river, Nile river, Rhine river, Moselle river, Mekong river, and Ganges river. Avalon, which debuted in 2004, is notable for its expansive ships, referred to as Suite Ships.
Throughout the river cruise journey, A sun deck with beach chairs, whirlpools, a game area, several restaurants and bars, and a 24-hour self-serve coffee station are available to guests.
Depending on your interests and physical capabilities, you can choose from Classic, Active, or Discovery shore excursions, which range from regular tours with a local guide to trekking expeditions up a hilltop castle.
English-speaking travelers, mainly in their 50s and 60s, travel on Avalon Waterways from various nations. The train welcomes passengers eight years of age and older, making it perfect for a full family vacation.
These are a few destinations that you can travel to on American cruise lines:
- South America
The bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, offering panoramic views, and are among the biggest cabins in the river cruise business. Complimentary breakfast in bed, L’Occitane products, height-adjustable seating places, plenty of storage, and your option of a soft, medium, or firm mattress are just a few more cabin goodies.
7. Emerald Cruises
Price Range for a Single Ticket: $1,200 to $10,400
Emerald Cruises, formerly known as Emerald Waterways, offers river cruises on some of the most well-known rivers in Europe and Asia, including the Danube river, the Rhine river, the Douro river, and the Mekong river.
The cruise fee includes gratuities in the base price. It covers all meals, drinks with lunch and dinner, daily shore excursions, Emerald ACTIVE choices that are more physically demanding, Wi-Fi, and onboard entertainment.
Emerald owns and runs nine boats that accommodate 84 to 180 guests each. The ships include large common areas and bedrooms with en suite bathrooms and flat-screen TVs.
Heated indoor pools, sun terraces, massage and wellness centers, and a selection of restaurants are all included in the common areas’ amenities. There are fitness courses on board, as well as various entertainment options. Cruisers can rent bicycles on land to tour old city cores.
These are a few destinations that you can travel to on the Emerald cruise lines:
Depending on the ship and its itinerary, the cabins aboard Emerald Cruises ships vary. Cruise ships often provide a variety of accommodation classifications, such as inner staterooms, oceanview cabins, and balcony staterooms, each of which may have a distinct set of features and facilities.
Price Range for a Single Ticket: $3,000 to $13,000
Tauck is a multifaceted travel firm that offers small-ship trips worldwide, land tours on all seven continents, small-group excursions for a maximum of 24 passengers at a time, family vacations, and, last but not least European river cruises.
On one of our nine riverboats, a cruise travels across famous rivers, including the Douro, Moselle, Rhine, Danube, and Rhone. All-inclusive rates include gratuities, refreshments, onboard entertainment, and wine tastings.
River Voyages with Tauck can accommodate up to 84 to 130 people. Excellent views are provided by the French balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows found in more than 80% of the cabins.
The river cruise amenities include a sun deck, putting green, enrichment activities like culinary demos, a fitness facility, and free bikes for onshore exploration outside your cabin.
These are a few destinations that you can travel to on the Tauck cruise lines:
- South America
Tauck’s accommodations are generally cozy and practical, with features like private bathrooms, air conditioning, and baggage storage. Stateroom and cabin sizes can differ, with some being bigger than others.
9. CroisiEurope Cruises
Price Range for a Single Ticket: $600 to $7,000
Since its founding in 1976, the French cruise company CroisiEurope has been operated by a family. This company has a fleet of 55 ships and barges that travels to 40 different nations, including Egypt, Cambodia, and Spain.
The company sails two specially designed ships in Lake Kariba in southern Africa, which is unusual for river cruises. Furthermore, CroisiEurope has a subsidiary that offers barge tours on six distinct French canals, including those in Burgundy and Provence, around the country.
The minimal onboard amenities keep the cruise ticket at a realistic cost. The cruise line aims to provide the finest value in the cruise business. French cuisine with a touch of local flavor is the focus of the cuisine in the main dining room, which is included in the price of the voyage.
A CroisiEurope cruise has a diverse mix of passengers, with significant contingents from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and North America. Depending on the itinerary and season, the cruise company hosts a mix of elderly couples, groups, and families and younger families.
These are a few destinations that you can travel to on the Tauck cruise lines:
Several different accommodation types are available on CroisiEurope’s ships, including standard cabins, luxury cabins, and suites on river cruises.
On board CroisiEurope’s ships, every place has air conditioning, a cozy bed, sheets, and towels. The firm also offers daily housekeeping services to preserve the cleanliness and upkeep of the cabins.
Frequently Asked Question
Do River Cruises Offer Wheelchair or Mobility Access?
Regarding wheelchair accessibility, river cruise ships fall short of ocean cruise ships. When docked, there will frequently be gangplank access and occasionally the need to walk up and over other boats.
Due to the ship’s hardware lacking expanded entrances or accessible restrooms, permanent wheelchair users will find river cruises challenging. When utilized on trips, wheelchairs are welcome if a person can only walk short distances.
What Precautions Should I Take in Terms of Safety?
It would be best if you weren’t concerned about anything in particular. Once you have boarded your ship and are comfortable, the Cruise Director will give you a thorough safety and navigational briefing in the comfort of the lounge.
Onboard, if you have any more inquiries, these will be addressed.
When is the Ideal Season to Go on Mississippi River Cruises?
The spring, from April to mid-June, in the fall, or during the holiday season, when temperatures are warm and humidity levels are lower than in the summer, is the finest time for river cruises on the upper Mississippi river.
American Queen Voyages, American Cruise Lines, and Viking River Cruises are among the only three cruise lines with the Mississippi river on their itinerary.
How Much do You Tip on river cruises?
Most river cruises incorporate gratuities. But, if yours didn’t, the recommended range is between $10 and $20 per person daily.