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Best River Cruise Ship (2021)

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Note from 10Best: Someday, we'll all be ready to pack our suitcases again and head out on our next adventures. In the meantime, we'll keep supporting the places that inspire us. Contact individual cruise lines for the latest updates. 

  • Avalon Envision

    Avalon Envision
    Avalon Waterways

    The newest addition to the Avalon Waterways fleet debuted in 2019. Two decks of Panorama Suites offer wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling windows and window-facing “Beds with a View.” Guests enjoy free wifi access, a fitness center and adventure center for bikes and other gear, multiple dining venues and an observation lounge.
    Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways

  • Viking Einar

    Viking Einar
    Viking River Cruises

    This river ship gets its name from the Norse earl of Orkney and sails on the Rhine and through Dutch Low Countries. Guests stay in one of 95 staterooms; suites offer two full-size rooms with both a veranda and a balcony.
    Photo courtesy of Viking River Cruises

  • American Song

    American Song
    American Cruise Lines

    One of America’s first modern riverboats, American Song carries 164 guests. Amenities include a four-story glass-enclosed atrium, lounges 40 feet above the water, spacious suites and more windows than just about any other riverboat, so stellar views are all but guaranteed.
    Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines

  • American Queen

    American Queen
    American Queen Steamboat Company

    American Queen is the largest steamboat ever built, and an elegant vessel for floating the Mighty Mississippi and its tributaries. The relatively small ship–only 436 passengers–offers big ship amenities like a pool, two-deck theater, library and nightly entertainment.
    Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company

  • Avalon Tranquility II

    Avalon Tranquility II
    Avalon Waterways

    Built in 2015, Avalon Tranquility II features wall-to-wall panoramic windows, a Sky Deck with a hot tub and deck game area, elevator service and a well-stocked library. Staterooms come with Egyptian linens, L’Occitane bath products, free wifi and plenty of storage space.
    Photo courtesy of Avalon Waterways

  • S.S. Joie de Vivre

    S.S. Joie de Vivre
    Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

    Sailing the rivers of France, Uniworld’s newest Super Ship, the S.S. Joie de Vivre, is adorned with original artwork, antiques and handcrafted furnishings. Cuisine is where the ship truly shines, with an onboard sommelier and Parisian-style sidewalk cafe.
    Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

  • S.S. Maria Theresa

    S.S. Maria Theresa
    Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

    S.S. Maria Theresa, an ultra-luxe Uniworld Super Ship, sails along the Rhine and Danube Rivers. With only 150 passengers, the small vessel boasts big ship amenities, including a fitness center, enclosed heated swimming pool, spa, salon and a cinema for onboard movie screenings. All-inclusive fares cover meals, beverages and wifi.
    Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

  • S.S. Beatrice

    S.S. Beatrice
    Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

    The S.S. Beatrice combines Old World elegance with modern amenities. The vessel is adorned with yacht-style light wood, marble and parquet floors, a grand nickel and black iron staircase and pieces of art from Picasso, Signoretto and Calder. Guests enjoy four dining options, solar shades and plentiful USB ports to keep devices charged and ready to go onshore.
    Photo courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

  • American Duchess

    American Duchess
    American Queen Steamboat Company

    One of the most sophisticated paddlewheelers on U.S. waters, American Duchess carries up to 166 guests through the heart of America. Passengers enjoy open-seating dining, spacious suites (some of the largest on the rivers) and live entertainment. The ship’s unique Loft Suites comprise two-story state rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, two full bathrooms, a dining area and a lounge.
    Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company

  • American Countess

    American Countess
    American Queen Steamboat Company

    American Countess, the newest riverboat in the American Queen fleet, carries 245 guests along the Tennessee, Ohio, Cumberland and Mississippi Rivers. The vessel features forward-facing windows for soaking up the views, a contemporary gym, theater and a host of enrichment programs that put river voyages into their cultural and historical contexts.
    Photo courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company

From the Seine to the Danube, the Mekong to the Chobe, the world’s great rivers have become a hotspot for cruising over the last decade. Riverboats serve as floating hotels, allowing passengers to unpack once and explore an entire region. 

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

  1. Avalon Envision - Avalon Waterways
  2. Viking Einar - Viking River Cruises
  3. American Song - American Cruise Lines
  4. American Queen - American Queen Steamboat Company
  5. Avalon Tranquility II - Avalon Waterways
  6. S.S. Joie de Vivre - Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
  7. S.S. Maria Theresa - Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
  8. S.S. Beatrice - Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
  9. American Duchess - American Queen Steamboat Company
  10. American Countess - American Queen Steamboat Company

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning cruise ships!

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