The Best Luxury River Cruise Lines

Discover five of the best luxury river cruise lines, each renowned for their outstanding quality. This guide suggests top class options for those seeking a luxurious river cruise experience in Europe and beyond. They are all known for their high standards of service, premium level tours, incredible experiences, gourmet dining and fine wines.

From the contemporary chic of Scenic to the timeless luxury of Uniworld, each ship is a masterpiece, adorned with unique designs that often mirror their surroundings.

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Five of the Best Luxury River Cruise lines (in alphabetical order)


Consistently rated top in the Berlitz River Cruise Ship Guide, Amawaterways upholds excellence in luxury river cruising.

AmaWaterways boasts over two decades navigating the world’s waterways. This family-owned and operated company excels at its core mission – providing guests with innovative and unforgettable travel experiences. Aboard AmaWaterways ships, every day unfolds with genuine smiles. The strap line – Ama means love permeates the culture onboard.

AmaWaterways meticulously crafts authentic and immersive experiences, fostering connections with history, culture, gastronomy, and people. Talks, cookery demonstrations, and visiting entertainers on ships add to the experience, with AmaWaterways providing local recipes for passengers to take home.

Their flagship, the beautiful, double-width AmaMagna, offers guests the luxury of space and a choice of four restaurants. There is even a full size pickleball court on deck. Having experienced Ama Magna myself, I can confirm that this ship is stunning. I have also toured several other ships in the fleet and each one is beautiful.

AmaMagna Credit: AmaWaterways


Another of the best luxury river cruise lines is newcomer to the European river cruise market, Riverside Luxury Cruises. Part of the established Seaside Collection, they features three vessels previously owned by Crystal Cruises. The highlight is the Riverside Mozart, carrying 158 passengers and offering a fantastic luxury European river cruise experience. Noteworthy for being double the width of standard river ships, Mozart feels spacious and has room for more additional facilities such as four different restaurants. My own experience of this ship confirmed the exceptional level of luxury and service that guests can expect.

Riverside also differentiates itself by introducing a flexible pricing policy, allowing passengers to choose cruise-only fares or fully inclusive tariffs, customising their desired level of luxury and inclusivity.

In its inaugural year, Riverside Luxury Cruises showcased its culinary excellence on Europe’s rivers, presenting locally inspired meals with luxury ingredients. The cheese courses, changing nightly, draw from local influences, complemented by a top-notch wine selection. Wine lovers can indulge in the Vintage Room (extra cost), where exceptional wines are expertly paired with the menu.

Riverside Mozart Deck Bar - credit: Riverside Luxury Cruises
Riverside Mozart - credit: Riverside Luxury Cruises


For an ultra-luxury, European river cruise with a contemporary ambiance, explore Scenic’s river ships. Scenic ships are known as Space-Ships, and it is easy to see why. The ship is flooded with natural light at every turn.

The line’s all-inclusive river itineraries deliver a high-end experience with a more laid-back atmosphere compared to others. Scenic’s ships feature the innovative Scenic Sun Lounge – a balcony area with a floor to ceiling retractable window, opening to allow uninterrupted river views and fresh air.

Scenic focus on enhancing the luxury experience with butler service, in-room breakfast, daily canapés, and invitations to the exclusive fine dining restaurant, Table La Rive. There is an emphasis on exceptional food, often with a local theme.

I’ve sailed on two Scenic ships and toured two more. Every experience has been exceptional.

The pool onboard Scenic Azure
Scenic Azure


Travel Beyond the Ordinary™  – The Tauck Difference

With Tauck you’ll receive a top class experience, consistently delivering more than expected. It’s the attention to detail and the thought behind every aspect of your adventure that sets Tauck apart. They’ve weaved unique local encounters into every itinerary, and you’ll find yourself experiencing exclusive access and authentic local sights, not available to the public.

Tauck offers luxury European river cruises with a fleet of nine ships. They exude understated elegance, featuring tasteful chandeliers and neutral cabin colours. With 22 suites per vessel, the most for a European river ship of the same size, each suite measures 300 square feet and includes a spacious balcony for stunning views. Tauck introduces unexpected extras, described as “lagniappe” providing passengers with unique experiences. Each sailing includes special highlight events, such as private dinners or concerts in castles or historic buildings. Tauck, positioned at the upper echelon of river cruising, provides an all-inclusive luxury experience on Europe’s waterways.

Credit: Tauck


Known for ultra-luxury river cruises in Europe and beyond, Uniworld are the world’s most awarded river cruise line. Uniworld’s fleet of boutique river cruise ships are decorated with original artwork, antiques, and opulent hand-finished details in gold leaf. Their ships offer lavish suites, including some with four-poster beds. Uniworld’s exceptional service, sets them apart and includes butlers trained at the Ivor Spencer Butler School, meeting the standards required by Buckingham Palace.

Uniworld consistently delivers an exceptional luxury experience across its fleet. Each ship, uniquely decorated to complement its location, places a strong emphasis on service and local culinary inspiration. Enrichment activities highlight the destination, and excursions are tailored for a unique experience.

Every aspect of my two Uniworld river cruises has included exceptional levels of service and attention to detail.

Cezanne Restaurant onboard Uniworld S.S. Catherine - credit Uniworld
Uniworld crew member - credit Uniworld

I can help you simplify the process of choosing the best luxury river cruise line. Please complete the enquiry form below or email me:

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