7 top European river cruise companies compared

Set sail on a luxurious adventure through some of the world's greatest rivers with these European cruise companies.

There’s something utterly romantic about exploring Europe by boat. Whether you’re travelling down the Danube through Austria, Hungary and Serbia where castles and charming towns emerge around every turn, or along the River Rhine through Switzerland, Germany and Amsterdam where dramatic mountains and heritage canals paint the landscape - seeing Europe by river is an experience like no other.

Keen to board ship and set sail? These are the companies offering river cruises with the most arresting landscapes in Europe. Where will you go?

Scenic Cruises

1. Scenic Cruises

Boasting a handful of awards including Best Luxury Cruise Line 2015 by Cruise Passenger Magazine and Best Luxury Tour Operator 2016 by Luxury Travel Magazine, Scenic Cruises has made a name for itself in luxury tourism. Its 5 star cruise ships travel throughout Europe, Russia and Asia offering services that include airport-to-boat transport, unlimited access to top-shelf beverages, personal butler services and onshore excursions tailored to your whims and desires. Quality, thy name is Scenic.

  • Luxury travel that includes 5 star cruise ships, unlimited beverages, personal butler services and tailored onshore excursions.
  • River cruises travel throughout Europe (including France and Portugal) Russia and Asia (Vietnam and Myanmar).
  • Solo travellers welcome.

Book a Scenic Cruises cruise

Luxury 5 star cruises with Scenic from $455 per day including all tours and drinks

Book a 5 star all-inclusive river cruise, including fine wines, sightseeing in ports, use of electronic bicycles, transfers and more, from $455 per day with Scenic.

Image: APT

2. APT

A cruise company that needs no introduction, APT Touring has a reputation for being the most innovative and awarded luxury river cruise operator in Europe - and with good reason. Its fleet sails throughout Africa, Asia and Europe, delivering personalised service, all-inclusive luxuries and amenities and grand on-shore hotel experiences on each and every cruise. Go on, spoil yourself.

  • Themed cruises include APT’s Wine Series, which sees you travel through vineyards and partake in onboard wine tastings.
  • APT Collection cruises offers Royal Signature Experiences where you can undertake an imperial rail journey, visit Namedy Castle and attend a concert in the City Palace in Vienna.
  • 260+ river cruise options throughout Europe.

Book an APT cruise

Book luxury APT river cruises online from $6,927, including flights

Sail Europe's rivers and canals with APT from $6,927 including the cruise and return flights from Australia when booking with CruiseAway.

Avalon Waterways

3. Avalon Waterways

A member of the larger Globus travel company, Avalon Waterways has an extensive catalogue of cruise experiences for whatever your fancy. Choose your cruise by region, country or even theme - beer appreciation river cruise anyone? The sky (or should that be the water?) is the limit.

  • Book cruises through Austria, Bulgaria, Holland, Switzerland, Hungary, Belgium, France, Romania, Serbia, Germany and Slovakia.
  • Christmas river cruises available.
  • Stopover packages available.

Book an Avalon Waterways cruise

Find the lowest price on luxury river cruises with Avalon

Book Avalon cruises along the Rhine, Rhone, Saone, Danube and other European rivers with CruiseAway.

Viking Cruises

4. Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises prides itself in offering an intimate on-water experience. Each one of its longships typically caters to less than 200 guests, delivering a relaxing and uncrowded on-board experience. Its river cruises travel along the Danube, Rhine, Douro (Portugal) and Elbe (Germany) rivers with numerous guided tours being offered at each docked city, making the experience not only intimate, but immersive as well.

  • Travel on small ships of 200 guests or less.
  • River cruises travel along the Danube, Rhine, Douro and Elbe rivers.
  • River cruises and ocean cruises available.

Book a Viking Cruises cruise

Book one passenger and get one free on Viking River Cruises

Book select Viking River Cruises with CruiseAway and the second passenger travels for free.

G Adventures

5. G Adventures

Those who prefer a faster-paced river cruise experience can explore G Adventures’ sailing options. Although limited to Burgundy for European adventures, the tour company offers exceptionally intimate boats (a maximum of 22 passengers) making it ideal for larger groups or for social butterflies who enjoy the company of strangers.

  • Sail through Burgundy via river cruise or barge.
  • Intimate sailing groups (22 passengers on cruises through Burgundy).
  • River cruises through the Amazon, Mekong and Ganges also available.

Book a G Adventures cruise


6. A-Rosa

Based out of Germany, A-Rosa’s humble fleet of 11 vessels is dedicated to river cruises through Germany and Eastern Europe. For those who prefer touristic luxuries, five of its bespoke ships are designated for international travellers with a variety of international cuisines and languages available.

  • Specialises in river cruises throughout Germany including down the Danube, Rhine and Rhone.
  • Single supplements available.
  • Meals included on most sailings.

Book an A-Rosa cruise

European river cruises with A-Rosa from just $434

Book river cruises such as the 3 night Viennese Getaway from just $434 per person with CruiseAway.

7. Intrepid Travel

Whether you’re young or young-at-heart, Intrepid Travel offers adventurous sailing that will fuel your lust for travel. Its fleet of Europe-based yachts travel through the Mediterranean, with each housing up to 11 passengers who won’t have to lift a finger to help sail the ship - unless of course, you want to.

  • Intimate groups of 8-11 per yacht.
  • Minimal luxury facilities with bathrooms being shared and meals operating by a trip kitty, which everyone contributes to.
  • Activities are 50/50 land-based/water-based so you’ll have plenty of time to explore the townships you dock into.

Book an Intrepid Travel cruise

Up to 25% off on last-minute deals

Booking late? It's worth the wait with these slashed prices for last minute travellers.

European river cruise companies compared: What's included?

CompanyMeals included?Beverages included?Solo-traveller friendly?Excursions included?Extras included?
Scenic CruisesYesYesYes (Supplement)YesButler service
APTYesYesNoYesAirport transfers and gratuities
Avalon WaterwaysYesYesYes (Supplement)YesWi-Fi access
Viking CruisesYesYesNoYesWi-Fi access
G AdventuresMostYesYesYesInternal flights (select tours)
A-RosaYesYesNoNoWi-Fi access
Intrepid TravelNoNoYesYesN/A

European river cruise deals and sales

Free flights with river cruise bookings

Available with select sailings from March until November 2017 on river cruises with APT or Travel Marvel through Flight Centre and get free or 2-for-1 flights to/from the cruise. Destinations include Spain, Portugal, France and Germany.

Up to 25% off on last-minute deals

Booking late? It's worth the wait with these slashed prices for last minute travellers.

Find the latest cruise deals

Search through CruiseAway’s latest offers for extra savings, onboard credit, upgrades and more.

Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is a journalist, avid traveller and all-round bargain hunter. If there's an online coupon code, deal or cheap flight available, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too.

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