AmaWaterways vs Avalon Waterways river cruises: 8 key differences


Watching the world navigate in your luxurious floating hotel room easily becomes an addicting method of vacationing around the world. River cruises have been popular on European rivers for many years, however, cruise lines have expanded their offerings to exotic destinations like the Mekong, Magdalena, Amazon and other fascinating rivers around the world. AmaWaterways vs Avalon Waterways river cruises have many similarities and several key differences to consider when planning your first or next river cruise.

Historically, river cruises were aimed at an older population, now you find a larger age group of adults on board. The wider appeal has changed the offerings of tour cruise lines, providing customers with engaging active and immersive experiences to complement the classic sightseeing bus-style options.

You will quickly become addicted to river cruises – it is a fun and enjoyable way to travel.

Rhine Gorges (Photo credit: Sandi Barrett)

1. The rivers they cross

In Europe, the Danube and the Rhine are two of the most popular cruises for first-time river cruisers. AmaWaterways and Avalon Waterways navigate these rivers and offer a wide variety of stops which may vary depending on the theme of the cruise. Both cruise lines sail in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The list of Avalon Waterways river cruises includes the Main River, Moselle, Rhone, Saone, Seine, Mekong, Ganges, Galapagos Islands, Amazon and Nile.

AmaWaterways river cruise offerings include the Main River, Moselle, Rhone, Douro, Dutch and Belgian waterways, Saone, Seine, Dordogne and Garonne, Mekong, Nile and Magdalena River .

A welcoming door on a shore excursion
Sandi Barrett

2. Shore excursions

Shore excursions are a major component of the appeal of river cruises. You can search and select your options in advance. Each person can select excursions that match their interests (try a separate excursion from your travel partner – the dinner conversation is much more interesting). There is almost always a shore excursion included at each port of call as well as free time to walk around and explore the area on your own.

Many ships now offer a variety of excursions. The cruise, since it initially catered to an older clientele, generally only offered a classic-style excursion. The passengers were parked on a bus and then taken into town to explore tourist areas. Active options are becoming more and more popular, attracting a fitter crowd with an adventurous curiosity. These options are offered in the form of hikes, cycling expeditions or long hikes. With this down to earth approach, you can experience a more personal awareness while exploring a city. Another popular option is Discovery Tours where guests are immersed in a cultural experience like cooking, wine tasting, and specialty tours.

With AmaWaterways, excursions are included in the total price. There are no surprises at the end of the cruise.

Avalon Waterways includes at least one day of shore excursion with your cruise package. You will find that excursions that are more off the beaten track have additional costs associated with them.

If you choose to book shore excursions on your own through a local guide, make sure you will be back on the ship on time. The captain has a busy schedule and will most likely leave without you. You might end up with high freight costs trying to catch up with the ship at the next port. Of course, if a boat trip is late, they will make sure you get back to the boat somehow.

Dessert on Avalon Waterways
Dessert aboard Avalon Waterways (Photo credit: Sandi Barrett)

3. Dinner on board

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are offered daily on board the ship. In addition, you will be offered a tea time snack, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks available at all times. You won’t go hungry. You also won’t find the usual frenzied midnight buffet on ocean-going ships.

Dinner is the highlight of the day and the menu is created reflecting local specialties like cutlets in Austria, plum ravioli in Hungary and praline Provence pâté in France. The dining area is free style which means you can sit anywhere you like and there is usually only one hour to sit. The attentive waiters attend to your every wish and keep your wine glasses full. Wine and beer are usually included with lunch and dinner. The two cruise lines shine in the kitchen department. It is an integral part of the cruising experience that customers expect.

Both cruise lines offer unique rates and expose you to more than just a classic pepper steak. Eating locally inspired dishes, like grapes in champagne jelly or snails cooked in a delicate soufflé, offers tantalizing dining experiences.

AmaWaterways offers a specialty chef’s table in addition to the main dining room where it offers an upscale, multi-course dining experience in a romantic bistro-style restaurant.

Happy hour on AmaWaterways (Photo credit: Sandi Barrett)

4. Happy Hour

Happy hour is an integral part of vacation life. Whether you choose your favorite drink or prefer to sip alcohol free, the social aspect of happy hour is the best way to make new friends on a river cruise. It brings passengers together where they can chat about the day with new cruise friends.

The main differences in happy hour for these two cruise lines are primarily financial. With Avalon, happy hour is half-price drinks that you load into your line of credit. Your bar bill can be a surprise at the end of the cruise if you’re a heavy drinker or like to buy a ride or two. Conversely, AmaWaterways includes a signature drink during their Sip and Sail happy hours. If you select the cocktail of the day, it is included in the price of your cruise. Of course, if the drink of the day is a martini and you prefer a Manhattan, you’ll see it on your bar tab.

View from the Avalon cabin
View from the Avalon cabin (Photo credit: Sandi Barrett)

5. Housing

Accommodation sizes range from tiny – around 150 square feet with a small window – to cabins that measure 200 square feet and more with French balconies or walk out, or spacious suites with 300 square feet and more space with walkout or walkout. French balconies.

Ships offer luxurious beds when paired with a balcony view and are a fabulously relaxing way to watch the world float by. If you choose a small room with a fixed window, you miss out on the panoramic view and the fresh air, so you will have to go to the deck for the best views.

6. Amenities

Both cruise lines offer exceptional amenities. You will find the following items available on both fleets:

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner on board every day
  • Free wine, beer, or soft drinks with lunch and dinner are included daily on board
  • Wellness / adventure host for fitness activities
  • Free WIFI
  • Free computer stations
  • Premium deck shading system and lounge chairs
  • Bridge play area
  • Guest lounges with comfortable seating and panoramic river views
  • Lounge with 24-hour self-service beverage and snack station
  • Free bikes for hikes
Cologne Cathedral in Germany
Cologne Cathedral (cc-images /

7. Types of cruises

There is an element of mix and match with these cruise lines. You will find that some of their river cruises lend themselves to certain types of specialty cruises.

Special interest cruises on the Avalon Waterways include Active and Discovery; Wine appreciation; Beer lovers; Oberammergau; Culinary experience; Christmas and holiday season; World War I, the history of WWII and the Habsburg kingship; Garden and nature lovers, photography enthusiasts, Jewish heritage and other unique specialist cruises.

AmaWaterways offers active and discovery cruises, Christmas market, golf and wine. You can read our wine river cruise reviews to see if this is the right river cruise for you.

When you are looking for the ultimate in river cruising, AmaWaterways is launching a new Seven River Journey. A 46-night European river sailing extravaganza with three sailing dates in 2023. Imagine living with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking magnificent river views for six luxurious weeks.

8. The cost

The base cost depends on the date of the trip, the length of the trip, the type of accommodation, etc. in conjunction with the particular river cruise you choose. For comparison, we’ve selected the April 2023 Rhine Cruise from Amsterdam to Basel. If you are staying in a cabin with a French balcony; sail for 7 nights and visit the Netherlands, France, Germany and Switzerland, you will find that the cost is comparable between the two cruise lines.

Avalon Waterways Romantic Rhine Cruise Sailing April 8, 2023, the 200-square-foot Panorama Suite starts at $ 4,488 per person.

AmaWaterways’ Enchanting Rhine Cruise Sailing on April 6, 2023, 210-square-foot French Balcony Suites start at $ 4,898 per person.

If you have additional costs, such as extra excursions or tips, consider paying them before you leave. This way you pay in your national currency and you will avoid international charges from your credit card company.

Both companies offer a solo traveler supplement, so you end up paying more as a solo traveler, but not double the cost.

Other river cruise companies

There are a host of other river cruise companies vying for your vacation money. Choosing the right cruise line for your destination and budget can be a daunting task. Seek advice from a trusted travel agent who will guide you through the selection and booking process. Their expertise will save you time and money.

Below is a list of luxury river cruise companies to consider:

River cruise memories

Sailing on smaller riverboats is completely different from sailing on a huge cruise ship. Whichever river cruise line you choose, AmaWaterways or Avalon Waterways, you will fall in love with the intimate, personalized service provided and the memorable adventures of these two exceptional cruise lines.

Learn more about what river cruises can offer passengers:


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