A Guide to River Cruising: The Best Liners and Journeys to Book

With more and more ships and destinations to choose from, the trick is finding the perfect waterway for you. 

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While river cruising has been gaining momentum for the past four years, it’s safe to say that 2015 was the year of the river cruise. Within the last year, veteran lines added new routes in sought-after countries (AmaWaterways, for example, delved into Myanmar, and Uniworld sailed into Eastern Europe), while many companies expanded their fleets—Viking River Cruises brought on a whopping 12 boats. Viking also announced that by 2017 it would take on the iconic American Cruise Lines and dock two new ships in New Orleans to sail the Mississippi. Meanwhile, luxury ocean player Crystal Cruises began plotting its arrival into the market.

For the discerning traveler, river cruising’s boom is great news. Smaller ships, fewer passengers, and more-tailored itineraries now make river ships more exclusive than ocean liners. To help navigate these new waters, we vetted companies large and small, scrutinizing their rooms and destinations.