10 Amazing River Cruises (2023)

Don’t miss the boat. Travelers are abandoning ship – ocean liners, that is – for river cruises. Smaller river boats can go places the big boys can't, and often drop you off in town, instead of making you wait for a shuttle to shore.

10 Amazing River Cruises (1)

Steamboat Cruise

Take a step into history on an American Queen Steamboat cruise down the Mississippi River.

Photo by: American Queen Steamboat Company

American Queen Steamboat Company

River cruises also typically include land excursions with your fare. Of course, because the ships are smaller, you won’t get extravagant amenities like rock climbing walls. On the other hand, fewer passengers, and meals served at set times, make it easier to socialize. You also have more time on land, because you’re not at sea for a day or more. Here are 10 of our favorites.

Snake and Columbia Rivers, Pacific Northwestern U.S.

You’re in pioneer country when you sail the Snake and Columbia Rivers in the scenic Pacific Northwest. Board a steamboat to retrace Lewis and Clark’s legendary route; many have onboard experts who'll discuss the region’s history, culture and natural resources. You’ll see the majestic Columbia River Gorge and icy-cold Multnomah Falls, the second highest waterfall in the U.S. Book a jet boat ride when you reach Hells Canyon, the deepest canyon in North America, to look for Native American pictographs and watch the landscape change from high desert to alpine forest.

10 Amazing River Cruises (2)

Steamboat Cruise, Columbia River

Take in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest on a cruise down the Columbia and Snake Rivers with the American Queen Steamboat Company.

Photo by: American Queen Steamboat Company

(Video) 9 Best River Cruises In The World

American Queen Steamboat Company

Danube River, Europe

The Danube is Europe’s most popular cruising river. It flows through Germany, Austria, Hungary and other counties on its 2,000-mile route, and you’ll find itineraries that include Vienna, Munich, Prague, Budapest and other don't-miss cities. Disembark in Vienna, the “City of Music,” to visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Hofburg Imperial complex, home to the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the Lipizzaner stallions. Look for fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle, the Black Forest, Heidelberg Castle and the infamous Nuremberg Rally Grounds in Germany.

10 Amazing River Cruises (3)

Danube River Cruise

Visit magical Old World cities like Vienna, Budapest and Prague on a cruise down the Danube River.

Photo by: Globus Avalon Waterways Affinity

Globus Avalon Waterways Affinity

(Video) 6 Best European River Cruise Lines. Which One Is Right For You?

Moselle River, Europe

One of Europe’s great rivers, the Moselle winds from tall mountains in France through Luxembourg and Germany. Plan your trip in the fall to see brilliant autumnal colors in the landscape, or go at Christmastime, when small towns and big cities along the river glow with festive lights. Sample Riesling, Kerner and other regional wines, and leave plenty of time to see the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame and other Parisian landmarks. Book your trip in spring, and you can include Holland’s iconic windmills and colorful tulips.

10 Amazing River Cruises (4)

Moselle River Cruise

Get your fill of medieval castles and fine wines on a cruise down the Moselle River through France, Germany and Luxembourg.

Photo by: Globus Avalon Waterways Affinity

Globus Avalon Waterways Affinity

Shanghai, Chongqing, Nanjing and other prominent Chinese cities lie along the 4,000-mile Yangtze. The Three Gorges region is the most scenic stretch of the river, with its forested mountains and sheer cliffs.

10 Amazing River Cruises (5)

Goddess Stream Gorges, China

On a cruise down the Yangtze River with Victoria Cruises, you may go through the picturesque Goddess Stream gorges.

Photo by: Victoria Cruises

(Video) 10 Great Things to Do on a DANUBE RIVER CRUISE, Europe | Passau, Melk, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest

Victoria Cruises

Take a land trip in Fengdu to visit the fabled “Ghost City,” where mystical attractions include the Nothing-To-Be-Done Bridge and the Ghost Torturing Pass. As you pass pagodas on the riverbanks, you’ll encounter the infamous Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydro-powered project (and, sadly, one of the most costly and environmentally damaging).

10 Amazing River Cruises (6)

Victoria Katarina Ship

Explore the Yangtze River aboard the grand cruise ship, the Victoria Katarina.

Photo by: Victoria Cruises

Victoria Cruises

Nile River, Africa

Cruise Africa’s Nile, the longest river in the world, for a 5,000-year journey back in time. Fans of history and archeology will want to tour Cairo and Giza to visit the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx, among other artifacts and treasures. Highlights on a Nile cruise include the Valley of Kings and the Valley of Queens, where Tutankhamen’s tomb was found in 1922. Many other royals are thought to still lie undisturbed in the region. Note: Be aware that there is a high risk to your safety and security when traveling in Egypt. Violent political protests and terrorist attacks may occur without warning. For detailed information, visit the U.S. Department of State's website and also check the Embassy of the United States, Cairo, Egypt website.

(Video) 10 SURPRISING THINGS about River Cruise Lines

Elbe River, Europe

Germany’s second best-known river, the Elbe (the Rhine is first), offers stunning scenery and opportunities to explore the culture and history of Germany and Eastern Europe. The Elbe flows past vineyards and the Sandstone Mountains, also called the Saxon Alps, on its way to the North Sea. Sail from Prague to Hamburg or Berlin to see the cities of Dresden; Meissen, notable for its fine porcelain; Wittenberg, where Martin Luther launched the Reformation; and Magdeburg, the site of Germany’s first Gothic cathedral. Be prepared to be flexible, though, because the Elbe's water levels can drop in the summer. Cruise operators must sometimes bus passengers to their destinations, or transfer them to boats in other locations on the river, before they can resume their journey.

Rhine River, Europe

10 Amazing River Cruises (7)

Canals in Holland

Explore the canals of Holland on a Viking River cruise.

Photo by: Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises

If you’re interested in culture, fine dining and art, plan a cruise on the Rhine, one of Europe’s most historically important waterways. The Rhine starts in the Alps, in east-central Switzerland, and continues into the North Sea, and flows to the Netherlands. Many old cities lie along its path, including Strasbourg, in France, and Cologne, in Germany. Embark in Zurich to sail through the Rhine Gorge toward Heidelberg, known for its famous castle and historic old quarter. Board in Amsterdam, in the spring, to spot fields of daffodils, tulips and other flowers. There are many other options for a Rhine cruise, including departures from Paris, Brussels, Budapest, Prague and Munich.

Mekong River, Southeast Asia

With its origins in the Tibetan Plateau, the Mekong is Southeast Asia’s longest river, reaching to the South China Sea. Book passage through China, Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand for scenery that ranges from small rice paddies and humble fish farms to Cambodia’s impressive Silver Pagoda and more. In Hanoi, Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City, take a walking tour to interact with the locals and learn about their cultures, history and traditions.

Amazon River, South America

(Video) 10 Things You Shouldn’t Do On A European River Cruise. And Why

Tropical rain forests, colorful parrots, red howler monkeys, and remote villages are just some of the highlights of the Peruvian Amazon River basin. Most riverboat companies employ naturalists who'll help you understand the region’s history, culture and human and animal inhabitants. Be sure to allow time to explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu, which dates back to 1450. Once you’re on the river, you’ll be in an untamed wilderness with incredible biodiversity. Plan a guided tour down the river’s tributaries to visit a native village, take a nature walk into the jungle, or swim with the Amazon’s incredible pink dolphins.


Which side of the ship is better on a river cruise? ›

The truth, though, is this: There's no “better” side of the ship. It doesn't matter where you're going, or what river you're sailing on, or even what ship you're sailing aboard. Both sides of the ship are created equal. The trouble with trying to pick a side of the ship based on something you'd like to see is this.

Is it worth getting a balcony on a river cruise? ›

A veranda cabin is generally worth the splurge on a seagoing vessel, which is why 80 percent of new ships are built with balcony access. A balcony can offer a wonderful perspective when you're sailing into or from a port of call—even hearing the sounds from the port below adds to the experience.

Is Viking Cruise Line in financial trouble? ›

Meanwhile, one of the largest European operators, Viking River Cruises, has been having a bumpy ride financially. A planned funding deal this past spring to cover expenses has fallen through. But—unsurprisingly—Viking claims it is in sound financial condition, reports The Travel Insider.

What is the best floor to stay on a cruise ship? ›

You want to be as close to the pivot point as possible to feel the least movement. Avoid cabins near the front (bow) or back (stern) and on decks higher than the middle deck of the ship. So, on a ship with fourteen passenger decks, your best options are below deck seven.

Where should you not stay on a cruise? ›

Cruise Ship Cabins to Avoid
  • Cabins with obstructed views. ...
  • Cabins with a connecting door. ...
  • Those that are close to the lifts or stairs. ...
  • Staterooms that are too far from the lifts or stairs. ...
  • Cabins near the laundry room. ...
  • Beware of cabins with little privacy. ...
  • Staterooms directly below public and entertainment areas.
Jan 17, 2023


1. Best River Cruise Lines (Which one is right for you?)
(Kofo - River Cruise Travel Expert)
2. Exploring Europe By River: The UNFORGETTABLE Europe River Cruise Guide YOU MUST SEE
(Wanderfully Lost)
3. 8 Best River Cruises in Europe - Travel Guide [4K]
4. Top Three River Cruise Lines Comparison Viking, AmaWaterways & Uniworld
(Ask a Real Travel Expert - RTE Travel Talk)
5. 7 Things River Cruise Lines Won't Show You on The Adverts
(Emma Cruises)
6. River Cruising: 10 things you MUST know
(Cruise With Ben and David)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jeremiah Abshire

Last Updated: 28/05/2023

Views: 6609

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jeremiah Abshire

Birthday: 1993-09-14

Address: Apt. 425 92748 Jannie Centers, Port Nikitaville, VT 82110

Phone: +8096210939894

Job: Lead Healthcare Manager

Hobby: Watching movies, Watching movies, Knapping, LARPing, Coffee roasting, Lacemaking, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Jeremiah Abshire, I am a outstanding, kind, clever, hilarious, curious, hilarious, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.