Best river cruise line? Readers vote Viking River Cruises

This is the fourth win for Viking River Cruises

River cruising has been exploding in popularity in recent years, and it's easy to see why. You check in, unpack your bag and let your floating hotel take you on a journey of discovery down some of the world's great waterways, with experiential guided excursions along the way.

  • Viking River Cruises

    Founded in 1997, Viking River Cruises plies the waterways of Europe, Russia, China, Southeast Asia and Egypt with its fleet of more than 60 vessels. While Viking has also launched an award-winning ocean cruise line, the company built its reputation in river cruising. These all-inclusive cruises feature outside staterooms, WiFi, wine and beer with meals, shore excursions in every port and Viking’s signature Culture Curriculum program.
    Photo courtesy of Viking River Cruises

  • AmaWaterways

    Many of the staterooms in AmaWaterways’ fleet of river ships feature a French balcony and a full outside balcony, providing guests stellar views of the passing scenery. Joined by no more than 163 fellow passengers, guests find plenty of room on board to spread out and relax. Shore excursions are included in the fare, and in many ports of call, guests can choose from several options. A fleet of complimentary bicycles on board allows guests to explore destinations in a more active, leisurely way.
    Photo courtesy of AmaWaterways

  • American Cruise Lines

    Guests plying America’s waterways with American Cruise Line enjoy some of the newest and most environmentally friendly small ships and riverboats on the continent. Professional chefs cook up delectable meals from locally sourced ingredients, while musicians, naturalists and historians come aboard to enhance the cruising experience. Spacious staterooms feature private balconies for stellar views no matter the itinerary – there are 35 of them throughout the U.S.
    Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines

  • American Queen Steamboat Company

    American Queen Steamboat Company specializes in Mississippi River cruises ranging from five to 23 days. These all-American, all-inclusive itineraries include pre-cruise hotel stays, wine and beer with dinner, regional cuisine and shore excursions in each port of call. Themed voyages dive deeper into topics of interest, like wine, bourbon, Mark Twain, Civil War, Elvis or Big Band.
    Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company / www.AQSC.com

  • Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

    Luxurious river ships with an average capacity of 130 guests and one of the best staff-to-guest ratios in the industry ply the waters of Europe, Russia and Asia under the Uniworld name. Passengers on Uniworld vessels enjoy gourmet cuisine, immersive shore excursions and many all-inclusive benefits. The ships themselves are each unique, complete with sumptuous staterooms and original art commissioned exclusively for Uniworld.
    Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

  • Vantage Deluxe World Travel

    Vantage’s state-of-the-art riverboats provide cruisers free extras, like WiFi, French balconies and a rear-facing Captain’s lounge with a retractable roof. All-inclusive packages mean almost all costs are taken care of up front, including things like shore excursions, transfers to and from the ship and Vantage’s signature Cultural Connections program. Solo travelers aboard Vantage enjoy custom-built single cabins with no single supplement.
    Photo courtesy of Vantage Deluxe World Travel

  • Aqua Expeditions

    Founded in 2007, Aqua Expeditions specializes in Peruvian Amazon River itineraries aboard the 16-suite Aria Amazon and the 20-suite Aqua Mekong, launched in 2014 to ply the waters between Cambodia and Vietnam. With an eye toward sustainability, Aqua Expeditions’ riverboats are fuel efficient with ultra low emissions, and only 100-percent clean and sterile water gets discharged back into the rivers.
    Photo courtesy of Aqua Expeditions

  • Gate 1 Travel

    Gate 1 Travel offers affordable river cruises along waterways throughout the world, including the Rhine, Main and Danube in Europe, the Nile in Egypt and the Yangtze in China. At least one tour is included in each port, and guests enjoy onboard amenities like free wifi and beer and wine with dinner.
    Photo courtesy of Gate 1 Travel / Facebook

  • Emerald Waterways

    Emerald’s custom-built Star-Ships give guests more space than almost any other vessels in Europe. Onboard amenities for Emerald’s eight to 17-day itineraries include a heated pool, nightly cinema, sun deck, fine dining, beer and wine, soft drinks and EmeraldPLUS experiences – activities designed to immerse guests in the culture and history of each fascinating destination they visit.
    Photo courtesy of Emerald Waterways

  • Avalon Waterways

    River cruisers in Europe will find the largest standard staterooms and suites aboard Avalon’s fleet of luxurious ships. Onboard amenities include fitness centers, a Sky Deck with a whirlpool and shade system, free WiFi, flat screen TVs and a self-serve beverage station. The Avalon Choice program allows cruisers to customize the details of their experience, ensuring each vacation is a perfect fit.
    Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways

The top 10 winners in the Best River Cruise Line category are as follows:

  1. Viking River Cruises
  2. AmaWaterways
  3. American Cruise Lines
  4. American Queen Steamboat Company
  5. Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
  6. Vantage Deluxe World Travel
  7. Aqua Expeditions
  8. Gate 1 Travel
  9. Emerald Waterways
  10. Avalon Waterways

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Don and Heidi Bucolo (EatSleepCruise.com), Carrie Finley Bajak (CruiseBuzz.net), Danielle Fear (Cruise Miss), Sherry Laskin (CruiseMaven.com), Jason Leppert (Popular Cruising), Chris Owen, Doug Parker (Cruise Radio) and Ming Tappin (Your Cruise Coach) were chosen for their knowledge of the cruising industry.

Congratulations to all these winning cruise lines.

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Don and Heidi Bucolo

Don and Heidi Bucolo

Carrie Finley Bajak

Carrie Finley Bajak

Danielle Fear

Danielle Fear

Sherry Laskin

Sherry Laskin

Jason Leppert

Jason Leppert

Chris Owen

Chris Owen

Doug Parker

Doug Parker

Ming Tappin

Ming Tappin