Europe River Cruise Companies

Tour Companies

We travelled with [company name], but there are other companies in addition to the ones mentioned below that offer the same basic itinerary:

  • Scenic Tours – “Jewels of Europe”
    • Evergreen Tours – “Splendours of Europe”
  • APT – “Magnificent Europe”
    • TravelMarvel – “European Gems”
  • Costless Travel – “Across Europe”
  • Viking River Cruises
  • Avalon Waterways – “Magnificent Europe”
  • AMAWaterways – “Magnificent Europe”
  • Uniworld – “European Jewels”
  • Tauck – “Amsterdam to Budapest by Riverboat”
  • Lüftner Cruises – “Across Europe”
  • Emerald Waterways (UK/US/CA) – “Splendours of Europe” (Same ships as Evergreen)
  • Grand Circle Cruise Line – “The Great Rivers of Europe” (Ends in Vienna, but 15 days and much cheaper)
  • Vantage Travel – “Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales” – (Bonn to Budapest, but Amsterdam can be added)
  • Abercrombie & Kent – “Heart of Europe” (A slightly longer cruise)
  • CroisiEurope (UK) – “From Amsterdam to Budapest” (A slightly longer cruise, with different highlights)

There are many other companies that target the non-English-speaking market.

AMAVerde
APT AMAVerde in Bamberg
Viking Tor
The Viking Tor in Rudesheim
MS Savor
Tauck’s 2014 ship MS Savor in Linz

Which Company to Choose?

It is difficult to choose a cruise when the routes are identical. There are three main points to consider:

  • Price
  • Stops
  • Attractions included

Pricing

Some people are driven by price, so it is important to remember that a given company will offer “early bird” pricing and play with the “fly free” carrot, such as offering it to one person or both. Some will offer a “free upgrade” or “on-board credit”  if you book early. The price differences also reflect the attractions you see only from the outside, from the inside, or not at all. For example, Evergreen *mentions* the Cologne Cathedral and a city walk, but some others explicitly take you inside.

Scenic offers unlimited free alcohol, while Evergreen/Emerald only offers free alcohol during lunch and dinner. You won’t be on board during most days, so all-day alcohol might not mean much.

Tauck is an up-market brand, which is also seen in its fittings, furnishings, crockery, passenger bags etc.

Tauck ship
Spying on neighbours on a Tauck ship in Linz (showing a reflection of our own dining table)

So, do your comparisons of companies at the same time for the desired time slots. Not every company might have a sailing on the desired day.

ships
Two ships docked at Melk

Stops

Some companies do not stop at certain places, such as APT/TravelMarvel, whose ships skip Cologne but instead stop at Bonn and Andernach. They also skip Bratislava as a main stop, but give you two days in Vienna (a good thing, as there is so much to see, but on the second day you could opt to see Bratislava).

Attractions

The other variation occurs with what you do on each day. Some companies will let you loose in the town square for some hours, while others will have an included castle visit in the same time. You might only get to a certain attraction if you go with a certain company, for example, the AMAWaterways offers an option between seeing the Audi factory or a walking tour of Regensburg.

The side tours are included in Scenic, while you pay extra if you are using Evergreen. So do the sums – some people on our cruise did no optional tours at all.

River Levels

The river levels were low when we were at Regensburg and passengers on Viking and AMA Waterways ships had to offload and take a bus to Passau, whereas our ship had no problem owing to its shallower draught.

Offloading passengers
A Viking ship crew forms a bucket brigade offloading passenger suitcases at Nuremberg.

Other factors

There are many other factors that might influence your decision, such as a new ship, more luxury options, etc. All seem to offer free Wi-Fi, so your internet needs will be met. Tauck’s ships carry fewer passengers. AMAWaterways also provides a computer in each cabin. Your own circumstances can also come into play. If you have difficulty walking and are happy to miss out on some excursions, then Evergreen Tours might  be a cheaper option for you. The US/Canada packages might seem cheaper but they might not include flights and tips. Do your homework a few times and have a great trip!

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