2016 Editors’ Picks Awards: River Cruise Lines

2016 Editors' Picks for Cruise Critic

Editors' Picks Awards

The Cruise Critic Editors' Picks Awards are chosen by Cruise Critic's international team of editors, based on the lines and ships they feel best represent excellence in each of the designated categories. Awards announced October 2016.

Best River Cruise Line


With programming that caters to families (through a new partnership with Adventures by Disney) and the actively inclined (through tour operator Backroads), as well as art-, music- and wine-lovers, AmaWaterways has successfully drawn new passengers to river cruising, and it continues to tweak the onboard experience with specialty restaurants and new cabin configurations.

Read our review of AmaWaterways

Best New River Cruise Ship

Crystal Mozart
Crystal River Cruises

With multiple restaurants, expansive spa and gym spaces, and indoor and outdoor lounges, Crystal Mozart is more like a small ocean cruise ship than a riverboat. Public spaces have a wow factor, and cabins are laden with high-tech amenities. Add in top-end speedboats and Michelin-starred dinners, and Crystal Mozart makes a standout debut for the new Crystal River line.

Read our review of Crystal Mozart, Crystal River Cruises

Best Luxury River Cruise Line

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Similar to lavish luxury hotels, Uniworld's ships are the most beautiful and unique in river cruising. Looks aside, the line offers fine dining, almost full inclusivity (alcoholic drinks, excursions and tips), butler service and amenities that include a cinema, pool and spa. While Europe itineraries prevail, the line branched into India this year and expanded its multigenerational family cruises.

Read our review of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection
Tauck River Cruising cruise line

Best River Cruise Line for Dining

Tauck River Cruising

Choice rules here, with river passengers craving interesting regional specialties, familiar comfort food and dishes friendly to dietary restrictions. With the addition of Arthur's -- a casual grill that's open all day, offering a vast menu -- Tauck ensures passengers can eat what they want, when they want. The line also encourages authentic shore dining by giving out lunch money for local cafes.

Read our review of Tauck River Cruising

Best River Cruise Line Cabins

Avalon Waterways

In Avalon's smartly designed 200-square-foot Panoramic Suites, you can turn your cabin into a fresh-air balcony, thanks to wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows that slide completely open. The line also positions beds to face the river -- not the wall -- so you can watch the world go by in total comfort.

Read our review of Avalon Waterways

Best River Cruise Line Itineraries

Viking River Cruises

It's a simple equation: With its vast fleet of Longships, Viking River Cruises has the most choice of rivers and cruising dates in Europe and beyond, including exotic destinations like Myanmar, the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Nile in Egypt. Its sheer size also helps the line snag the best berths, making getting into town a breeze.

Read our review of Viking River Cruises

Best River Cruise Line Shore Excursions


When it comes to variety, Scenic's shore excursions can't be beat. The luxury line includes plenty of choice onshore. It even allows passengers to explore on their own with GPS-guided tours. Recently added Portugal sailings also open doors for new experiences, such as dinner at an award-winning winery. Cap off the night at the line's signature "Scenic Sundowners" cocktail reception.

Read our review of Scenic
American Cruise Lines cruise line

Best River Cruise Line for Enrichment

American Cruise Lines

Think American history is dry and boring? You haven't met the river historians on American Cruise Lines. The engaging speakers hold daily lectures, as well as Q and A sessions about the river you're sailing on so you won't miss the significance of the scenery. Narration is also broadcast into your room so you can listen while resting.

Read our review of American Cruise Lines

Best River Cruise Line for Active Cruisers


AmaWaterways has always been a trendsetter when it comes to keeping cruisers active. Options for staying fit include bikes for passengers to use in port, active shore tour options -- including bicycle sightseeing -- and onboard fitness centers. Its partnership with Backroads means passengers on exclusive itineraries can bike and hike during the day before wining and dining onboard at night.

Read our review of AmaWaterways
Adventures by Disney (AmaWaterways) cruise line

Best River Cruise Line for Families

Adventures by Disney (AmaWaterways)

Adventures by Disney's foray into river cruising strikes the perfect balance of endless fun for kids -- Learning to be a knight! Getting lost in a maze! -- with plenty for adults too, such as wine tasting and a night at the opera. The partnership with AmaWaterways is inspired, with ships specially designed for families. They include a number of interconnecting cabins and a swimming pool.

Read our review of Adventures by Disney (AmaWaterways)

Best River Cruise Line for Value

Emerald Waterways

Starting prices are less than those of most other river cruise lines. Plus, free excursions in every port, complimentary beverages (soft and alcoholic) at lunch and dinner, all gratuities (on the boat and in port), unlimited Wi-Fi and transfers to and from your boat are included in the fares. There's no doubt Emerald offers the best value on Europe's rivers.

Read our review of Emerald Waterways
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