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Best and worst river cruise lines for 2020 revealed

Our passenger survey reveals the luxury river cruise line charging £512 a night, plus the rival that’s better and £300-a-night cheaper

Best and worst river cruise lines for 2020 revealed

In the 2020 Which? Travel river cruise survey, the most expensive brand was also one of the worst.

It averaged £512 per night, per person in our price comparison, yet it finished joint-third bottom in our table, with average ratings for its cabins and port excursions.

By contrast, all five river cruise line brands that were rated highly enough to be named Which? Recommended Providers, were also significantly cheaper. In fact, one averaged £306-per-night less.

So even among the top-rated river cruise lines there should be something for you, whether you prefer a bargain or opulence.

Find out which river cruise line charges £512, plus which brands are better and cheaper in our full best and worst river cruise lines ratings.

Best river cruise line

The best overall river cruise line for the second-year running is Australian brand Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours.

It’s expensive, with an average price per night of £349, but well worth it. It impressed passengers with everything included in the upfront price: gratuities, 24-hour room service, private butlers, a concierge laundry service and a choice of at least two excursions at every stop.

It was also the only river cruise line to score a full five stars for its cabins thanks to luxury toiletries, a free mini bar and a pillow ‘menu’ with eight choices available even in standard suites.

If your wallet doesn’t stretch to cruising with Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours then you could consider joint-second-placed Emerald Waterways.

It’s the sister brand to top-rated Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, but more than £100 cheaper per night in our price comparison, and still offers a luxury experience.

Alternatively, you could pick the Which? Recommended Provider that has average prices just above £200 per night.

Read our full river cruise line reviews to discover which brand this is and the others that passengers rate best value for money.

Worst river cruise line

British brand Saga River Cruises came last in our survey results. Despite being the second-cheapest brand in our survey, it proved that a bargain isn’t always bliss.

Saga charters rather than owns its ships, and it shows, with customers rating its cabins, facilities and excursions just two stars. Its oldest ship set sail in 1979.

In 2021, Saga will launch its own new ship. But can it lure back the passenger who said he would ‘rather hitchhike’?

Saga was not the only river cruise line to score poorly in our survey. See our full ratings of the worst and best river cruise lines.

Should I be worried about coronavirus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is understandably at the forefront of people’s minds right now when booking or thinking about going on holiday.

Legally, cruise lines only need to rebook or allow customers to cancel when a Foreign and Commonwealth Office warning is in place, but many are being more flexible.

Viking River Cruises, for example, has said that all reservations made before 30 April can be cancelled or postponed by up to two years if at least a day’s notice is given.

For answers to any questions you may have about coronavirus and travelling see Coronavirus outbreak: advice for travellers.

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