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1 October 2020

Best and worst river cruise lines

We ask hundreds of passengers about their river cruise experience in our independent survey so that we can tell you which companies you should book with and which ones you should avoid.
River cruise in Austria
Naomi Leach

Want to know which river cruise line to set sail with? Read on to discover what customers really think of popular cruise brands.

The river cruise brands we recommend feel spacious on-board, with top restaurants, comfortable cabins and varied on-board facilities, despite their diminutive size. They have no hidden costs and live up to their brochure billing.

With the average price of a European cruise coming in just shy of £280 per night, river cruising might not look like a budget holiday at first glance. But factor in food, drinks and daily excursions, which are all typically included as standard, and the figures start to sound more reasonable.

Offering a smaller, more intimate proposition than ocean cruising, it’s important to know which river ships have cramped decks and which give you space to enjoy the view. And whether affordability or decadent design matter more to you, it’s vital that you choose the brand offering the best value for money.

Best river cruise brands overview

In our annual survey we ask hundreds of river cruise customers about their experiences when booking and on board their ship to be sure that the Which? Recommended Providers are the very best river cruise lines on water.

Based on real experiences, we can reveal what customers really think of each river cruise brand.

Discover the full results of our river cruise survey with ratings for all the major brands including AmaWaterways, Riviera Travel, Saga Cruises, Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, Emerald Waterways, APT Luxury River Cruises, Uniworld, and Viking River Cruises. Find out which river cruise lines are Which? Recommended Providers. See how well passengers rated each cruise line for value for money, food and drink, cabins, port excursions, on-board facilities, description matching reality, customer service and passenger-to-space ratio.

To get all this information, join Which? and access all of our reviews of river cruise companies.

We’ll tell you exactly what you need to know about all the biggest river cruise brands and will help you avoid signing up for a trip you'll come to regret.

If you're already a member, then simply log in to unlock the table below and access our survey results.

River cruise survey results
Brand WRP Customer service On-board facilities Food and drink Port excursions Description matching reality Value for money Customer score

Using the table Red dot = Which? Recommended Provider (WRP). Only river cruise lines that receive an excellent customer score and meet our pricing transparency criteria can achieve WRP status. Percentages based on proportion of respondents who selected 'Excellent' or 'Good' in each category. Customer Score Combination of overall satisfaction and likelihood of recommending to a friend. Only river cruise lines rated by at least 30 respondents are included.

Which? members can log in now to unlock the table above, plus our expert analysis on this page. Not yet a member? Then sign up for Which? to unlock our results and all of our online reviews – including how to find the best river cruise deals.

What makes a Which? Recommended Provider?

Which? Recommended Providers are the cream of the crop and the accolade is only given to river cruise lines that achieve the highest customer scores

That’s not all. We know that pricing transparency is important, so we only offer it to the companies that provide clear information about gratuities, excursions and drinks at the booking stage. After all, it's hard for customers to compare prices if they can't find these details before parting with their cash. If the companies fall down in more than one area, they’re not eligible to be Which? Recommended Providers, whatever score they receive in the survey.

Which? is independent - we work for you, the consumer, so you can be sure that our recommendations are influenced only by our survey results. We don’t take advertising and we buy all the products that we test ourselves, so our advice helps you to make the right choice first time and avoid costly mistakes.

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