8 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

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

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

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

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

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

8. U River Cruises

A brand from a well-know luxury river cruise company that caters to millennials. It sails to rivers of Europe and has stops at famous cities.

  • Each ship has a maximum of 120 passenger.
  • Requires only 10% deposit to hold the reservation.
  • Single supplements available.
Book a U River Cruises

European river cruise companies compared: What's included?

Company Meals included? Beverages included? Solo-traveller friendly? Excursions included? Extras included?
Scenic Cruises Yes Yes Yes (Supplement) Yes Butler service
APT Yes Yes No Yes Airport transfers and gratuities
Avalon Waterways Yes Yes Yes (Supplement) Yes Wi-Fi access
Viking Cruises Yes Yes No Yes Wi-Fi access
G Adventures Most Yes Yes Yes Internal flights (select tours)
A-Rosa Yes Yes No No Wi-Fi access
Intrepid No No Yes Yes N/A
U River Cruises Yes No Yes (Supplement) Yes Gratuities

European river cruise deals and sales

Uniworld Uniworld

Up to 30% off 2020 voyages worldwide

Available for cruises from 5 November 2019 – 3 January 2020. Destinations include Asia, Central Europe, France, India, Italy and more. T&Cs apply.

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My Cruises My Cruises

Up to $6,000 bonus value

Available on select travel dates in 2020 with Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises. Destinations include Japan, Alaska, Europe, China, Africa and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Up to 40% off Azamara cruises

Available on select voyages and travel dates from 14 April 2020 – 21 November 2021. Destinations include Asia, Australia, Indian Ocean, South America, Western Europe and more. T&Cs apply.

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Uniworld Uniworld

Up to 30% off worldwide cruises

Valid on select 2020 departures across Asia, Europe, Egypt, Russia and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Up to 40% off Miami cruises

Valid for travel on select dates in 2019 and 2020. Other destinations include New York, Europe, the Caribbean and more. T&Cs apply.

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MSC Cruises MSC Cruises

Free drinks of up to $1,000 value on worldwide cruises

Valid for travel between January and April 2020. Destinations include the Caribbean, USA, Canada, Northern Europe, Mediterranean, Grand Voyages and more.

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U River Cruises U River Cruises

Europe river cruises from $245 per day

Valid for travel on select dates between December 2019 and October 2020. Destinations include Budapest, Regensburg, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Brussels, Vienna and more. T&Cs apply.

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CruiseAway CruiseAway

Up to 46% off Celebrity cruises

Valid for travel on select 2020 dates. Destinations include Mediterranean Sea, Southern Europe, Pacific, Hawaii, Canada, USA East Coast and more. T&Cs apply.

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Flight Centre - Cruises Flight Centre - Cruises

Free flights, upgrades and 2-for-1 deposits on Viking Cruises

Book a Viking ocean or river cruise in destinations like Italy, France, Norway, the UK, Germany, the USA, Japan and more between August 2019 and March 2021.

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Popular Cruises coupon codes

Last checked Code description Code
10 Dec 2019 Get 12% off Sydney New Year's Eve cruise w/open bar ********
28 Nov 2019 Sydney New Year's Eve cruises from just $150 ********
13 Dec 2019 $1 deposit + up to $450 OBC + extra $100 OBC on P&O cruises ********
12 Dec 2019 Up to 40% off + US$550 OBC with Royal Caribbean ********
12 Dec 2019 Up to 30% off worldwide cruises + free items in extras ********
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