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2019 Editors' Picks Awards: River Cruises

See the lines and ships that best represent excellence in ocean, river and luxury cruising, chosen by Cruise Critic's international team of editors.

River Cruise Lines

Best River Cruise Line
AmaWaterways offers comfortable ships, highlighted by friendly service and a wide range of activities. A focus on family and wellness sets the line apart. With third berths and connecting staterooms, AmaWaterways makes it easy for travelers to explore ports in new ways, with tours designed for bikers and hikers. The innovative doublewide AmaMagna made the fleet more diverse in 2019.
Best New River Ship
The most-anticipated river ship of 2019 is also the best of the year. Unique because it's double the width of most river cruise ships, AmaMagna is a game changer. The modern ship offers large staterooms, a full-sized pool and an array of restaurants. AmaMagna is a dream for fitness and wellness enthusiasts, with a large gym and dedicated spa space -- unheard of on river ships.
The latest in Uniworld's ongoing update program, S.S. Bon Voyage has received Super Ship treatment, with an extensive overhaul. S.S. Bon Voyage now has more suites and a fancier flavor, complete with marble, fabric-covered walls and Murano glass chandeliers. Dining, too, received an upgrade with brasserie-inspired decor and offerings, making it a perfect reflection of the Bordeaux region where it sails.
Best for Active Cruisers
The leader in active river cruising continues to innovate with wellness coaches on every ship, leading yoga, core and stretching classes. While AmaMagna, the line's newest ship, has a full-sized fitness room, staying healthy is a focus fleetwide, with new programs added regularly. (Champagne yoga, anyone?) Add in biking and hiking in each port, and you'll find it easy to work off calories.
This boutique river cruise line's sister company is Red Carnation Hotels, which is why the beautiful staterooms are individually decorated with antiques and artwork that rival anything you would find in the best hotels. From Italian marble bathrooms to custom Savoir of England beds and silk walls, there are four-posters in some of the suites and liveried butlers on call.
Sophisticated dishes, made-to-order meals and an excellent included wine list make Crystal Cruises the perfect choice for foodies. No dining room lines here; on Crystal, there's open seating and plenty of tables for two, allowing passengers to eat on their own schedule. While oenophiles will love splurging for the decadent Vintage Room, casual dining also shines, with delicious burgers and global tapas.
Scenic's partnership with National Geographic has significantly broadened and deepened enrichment offered onboard specified cruises. Expert lecturers and photographers give in-depth talks about the culture, the people and the historical significance of the places you are visiting, as well as accompanying selected tours. Photographers offer tips and advice to help you better capture the sights you are visiting.
Every aspect of an Adventures by Disney cruise is focused on the family, carefully balancing kids' needs with parents' time off. The eight Adventure guides and cruise director keep attention on fun onboard activities, such as kite flying on the back of the ship and dedicated kids' meals, as well as family-focused shore excursions such as jousting and canopy climbs.
New to river cruising? Then Viking River Cruises should be your first stop. Perhaps the best-known river cruise line, Viking is also one of the most expansive; the company's vast fleet of Longships means it's easy to find the perfect sailing. Smart inclusions, such as beer and wine at lunch and dinner, Wi-Fi and a shore excursion in every port, mean few extra fees once onboard.
From the Mekong to the Yangtze, the Danube to the Douro, the Nile to the Volga, you'll find a Viking riverboat. The line has pioneered cruises on many of the world's rivers, offering insightful and in-depth itineraries exploring the culture, heritage and sights of the destinations. The sheer amount of ships means that it's easy to find a river cruise to suit any taste.
Want to feel spoiled on the rivers? Crystal has you covered, with butler service, spacious suites and delicious, round-the-clock dining. Crystal takes the tour element out of river cruising, encouraging passengers to choose-their-own-adventure with sumptuous extras such as indoor fitness pools, meals prepared a la minute, concierge shore excursion service -- flightseeing in Europe! -- and signature events.
When it comes to service, no river cruise line does it better than Tauck. Three program directors on every sailing ensure all cruisers are taken care of, on the boat, during shore tours and at the line's signature events. Whether you need help or want to celebrate a special occasion, Tauck will help take care of it.
Avalon is not only offering more active tours than before but also giving passengers plenty of choice. In 2019, Avalon expanded its Active Discovery cruises to its suite ships, including the Rhone, Rhine and Danube rivers. The Avalon Choice program offers three paths to immersion: Classic, Discovery or Active. Shore excursions might include biking through Camargue National Park or a Van Gogh painting workshop in Arles.
Traveling on your own can be the best -- no compromises, no snoring -- but single supplements can be a real drag. Vantage caters to people who travel solo by adding cabins for one, some with French balconies, on all ships in the European fleet by 2020 (and on its upcoming Nile ship ms Nebu). Solo Connections mixers, hosted by cruise directors, make introductions easy and enjoyable.
Tours, beer and wine at meals and Wi-Fi are all included as standard on an Emerald Waterways cruise, but at a lower price point than other lines. Add the indoor/outdoor pool, comfortable cabins and outstanding food -- reflecting the region in which you're cruising --and you'll find that you get more for your money with Emerald Waterways.

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