Knowing what’s included in your river cruise (and what’s not) can sometimes be a deciding factor as to which river cruise company to book. While our comparisons identify much of what’s included, sometimes the answer requires more than a simple yes or no. For example, while most of the river cruise companies that we write about offer complimentary shore excursions in ports of call, some charge for “optional” excursions. Also, airport transfers are included when air tickets are purchased with the river cruise company, but may not be included otherwise. What about port charges? Not all companies include those either. What follows is our cheatsheet for what each company includes in their river cruises.
AmaWaterways: Beer, wine and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner; sparkling wine with breakfast; and complimentary cocktails during Happy Hour, which was introduced in 2018. Complimentary shore excursions included in every port, along with complimentary Special Interest Tours. AmaWaterways features twin balconies, both a French and an outside balcony, in many staterooms. In addition to the main dining room, AmaWaterways features The Chef’s Table restaurant, with multi-course, wine-paired dinners at no additional charge. Light lunches and breakfast are served in the lounge, along with full lunches and breakfast served in the main dining room. There are other nice touches on board like gluten-free snacks, fruits, Gemstone detox water, 24/7 coffee stations and more. Airport transfers are included when purchasing air through AmaWaterways. Pre-paid gratuities are offered. Wifi included (and it works well). Port charges not included.
Avalon Waterways: Beer and wine included with lunch and dinner; sparkling wine with breakfast. Coffee, tea and non-alcoholic beverages complimentary 24/7. In addition to the main dining room, Avalon offers small group (30 people) reservations to Panorama Bistro (light menu paired with wine). When weather permits, grilled lunches are available on the Sky Deck. Meals can also be served in the Club Lounge and Panorama Lounge. Some optional tours require a fee. Airport transfers included when purchasing air from Avalon. Avalon’s beds face floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors for gorgeous views while your head is propped on the pillow. Stocked in-room mini-bar incurs charges for each item selected. Wifi included. Port charges not included.
CroisiEurope: All beverages included except for premium champagnes and wines. Complimentary shore excursions included in every port. Wifi included. Port charges included.
Crystal River Cruises: Everything is included, except for port charges. All of Crystal’s new-builds feature Panoramic Balcony Windows, which function, in essence, like balconies. Wifi included.
Emerald Waterways: Complimentary shore excursions in every port. Wine, beer and soda complimentary with lunch and dinner. All staterooms restocked daily with bottled water. Owner’s Suites come with complimentary stocked mini-bars. Room service included for suites. Laundry concierge available for a fee; complimentary for suites. Wifi included. Port charges included.
Riviera: Riviera’s beverage package, which includes wine and beer with lunch and dinner, goes for $159 a week. Wifi included. Port charges included.
Scenic: Everything is included for all guests, regardless of ship or suite.
Teeming River Cruises: Excursions are optional, and guests can choose which excursions to add to their cruise on an a la carte basis for a fee. Guests have the option to purchase a Standard Drink Package, which includes Beer & Wine with lunch and dinner or the Premium Drink Package, allowing guests access to premium beverages 24/7. Specialty coffee and tea beverages are available anytime. Bikes are available on certain ships. Personalized discounted airfare is available for guests. Port charges not included.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection: Uniworld charges for at least one optional excursion, the Vienna Evening Concert at 75 euros. Free laundry service in higher-end suites across its fleet. Additionally, most Uniworld ships have complimentary self-service laundry facilities for passengers to use; only River Royale, River Baroness, Douro Spirit, and River Victoria lack this feature in the European-based fleet. Room Service and Butler Service on Uniworld is at the suite level only. Wifi included. Port charges not included.
Viking River Cruises: A complimentary shore excursion is included in every port; there are also additional optional shore excursions available on every itinerary. Beer, wine and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner. Specialty coffee and teas available anytime. Optional Silver Spirit beverage packages are available for an extra fee, making drinks all-inclusive. Room service, stocked mini-bars and laundry are included for Explorer Suites. Bicycles and gyms are available ashore and arranged by Viking. Airport transfers included when booking air (or receiving free air) with Europe. Some promotions offered prepaid gratuities or shipboard credits. Port charges included.
An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at www.avidcruiser.com.