Donna Heiderstadt

AmaWaterways vs. Viking: Which of those in style river cruise traces is best for you?


Among the many cruise traces navigating the rivers of Europe, Southeast Asia and Egypt are two of the best-known names within the business: AmaWaterways and Viking.

Every model is distinguished by its hallmark points of interest, reminiscent of AmaWaterways’ collection of always-complimentary excursions and Viking’s persistently modern Scandinavian-inspired inside design. However is there actually that a lot distinction between these main river cruise manufacturers that it issues which one you select?

The reply is sure. A few of the variations could even shock you, so learn on for a head-to-head comparability of AmaWaterways versus Viking.

For cruise information, evaluations and suggestions, join TPG’s cruise publication.

AmaWaterways vs. Viking: Meet the river cruise traces

The Danube River on the Serbian and Romanian border. AMAWATERWAYS

River cruise traces AmaWaterways and Viking launched inside 5 years of one another. Each are helmed by well-known cruise and journey business executives and have fleets of contemporary river ships. But every takes its personal distinctive method to itineraries, excursions and onboard atmosphere.

AmaWaterways was based in 2002 by Vienna-born Rudi Schreiner, Germany native Kristin Karst and the late Jimmy Murphy, an American. The road has a fleet of 26 ships, with three new vessels launching in 2024 and 2025.

The model’s hallmark is providing a number of excursions, sometimes three or 4 per port, included within the cruise fare. These are often a metropolis strolling tour, maybe with a wine or culinary focus, or a bus tour to close by sights. One “Light” group is devoted to visitors who want slightly further time getting round, and every port nearly at all times features a more difficult hike or bike experience for fitness-focused visitors. AmaWaterways ships additionally carry bicycles on board, which can be found for impartial exploration.

The corporate is understood for custom-designed ships with destination-inspired up to date decor. Its public areas really feel like these you’d discover in a regionally owned boutique lodge. A key design innovation by AmaWaterways was the introduction of the “twin balcony,” which consists of a French balcony and a full-size step-out balcony. This provides distinctive views and a way of spaciousness to the cabins that characteristic them.

The Viking story began just a few years earlier than AmaWaterways. Launched in 1997 by Norwegian-born cruise veteran Torstein Hagen and several other companions, Viking River Cruises was designed to be destination-focused and culturally immersive. Viking at present has 69 river ships, with two extra scheduled to launch in 2024 and 2025.

Day by day E-newsletter

Reward your inbox with the TPG Day by day publication

Be a part of over 700,000 readers for breaking information, in-depth guides and unique offers from TPG’s specialists

Associated: The 5 finest locations you’ll be able to go to on a Viking cruise ship

Viking’s river cruise fares embrace one complimentary shore tour in every port, sometimes a panoramic bus tour or guided strolling tour. Company can also select from amongst a spread of different extra-fee tour choices, most with a cultural or culinary bent however some a bit extra energetic.

The corporate grew its river cruise enterprise by attracting mature vacationers looking for a handy option to discover a number of cities and nations in Europe. Nonetheless, its model recognition and progress significantly accelerated with the introduction of its first Viking Longship in 2012 and a profitable advertising and marketing marketing campaign across the launch of the Longships (together with sponsorship of “Downton Abbey” on PBS Masterpiece).

Immediately, Viking’s 55 nearly similar Longships, named for Nordic gods and goddesses (from Viking Agir to Viking Vili), characterize a sure customary of European river cruising, and all characteristic gentle and ethereal Scandinavian design.

Not like AmaWaterways, which stays strictly a river cruise firm, Viking has expanded into ocean cruising. In 2015, the corporate launched the 930-passenger Viking Star and now operates a fleet of 9 similar ocean ships. In 2022, it added a pair of 378-guest, Polar-6-Class expedition ships. Which means Viking followers can trip world wide with out leaving the model.

Ship measurement

Viking river cruise ship on the Rhine. VIKING

The ships in AmaWaterways and Viking’s river cruise fleets vary from intimate (28 visitors) to grand (386 visitors), with the scale variations most notable on rivers such because the Nile, Mekong and Mississippi.

AmaWaterways’ 29 ships aren’t totally uniform, even the 20 in its in style European fleet. These ships are both 360 or 443 ft in size and carry 140 to 196 passengers and 45 to 70 crew members, respectively. The bulk (15 ships) carry between 152 and 162 passengers and 51 crew, whereas 4 smaller vessels accommodate both 140 or 144 passengers and 45 crew.

The outlier is 196-guest AmaMagna, which is the road’s flagship vessel on the Danube. At 443 ft lengthy and 72 ft vast, it’s nearly double the width of the typical river ship with out considerably growing the passenger depend. This has created an abundance of house that AmaWaterways has used to boost the cruise expertise. Cabins and suites are bigger than on its different ships at 205 to 710 sq. ft versus 160 to 350 sq. ft. AmaMagna additionally provides passengers a selection of 4 eating venues slightly than two, in addition to 5 onboard bars, distinctive for a river ship.

On Portugal’s Douro River, AmaWaterways has two ships, AmaDouro and AmaVida. Every accommodates 102 passengers and 38 crew. A 3rd vessel, AmaSintra, will launch in early 2025.

In Egypt, AmaWaterways at present operates AmaDahlia, which carries 72 passengers and 62 crew. When a second ship, AmaLilia, launches in 2024, it is going to accommodate 82 passengers and 65 crew.

On the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, AmaDara is the cruise line’s sole vessel. This ship, that includes French colonial decor and fantastically carved wooden furnishings, accommodates 124 passengers and 52 crew.

AmaWaterways additionally operates one vessel on the Chobe River in Botswana, and like AmaMagna, it is an outlier — however for the alternative cause. At simply 150 ft in size, Zambezi Queen was designed in 2019 particularly for wildlife viewing and accommodates simply 28 passengers and 22 crew.

In 2024, AmaWaterways will add South America to its portfolio when it begins cruising the Magdalena River in Colombia. AmaMagdalena will carry 60 passengers and 30 crew.

Associated: Finest river cruise traces world wide

As for Viking, the corporate’s fleet of 55 similar Longships is ubiquitous alongside Central Europe’s main rivers. At 443 ft in size, every accommodates 190 passengers and 53 crew members.

On Portugal’s Douro River, Viking operates 4 smaller ships. They carry 106 passengers and 33 crew members. On the Elbe River in Germany, the cruise line has two ships, Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla, every carrying 98 passengers and 33 crew.

On the Seine River in France, Viking’s 4 similar ships, all inbuilt 2020, accommodate 168 passengers and 46 crew.

Viking’s fleet on the Nile River in Egypt at present numbers 4 ships, with two extra within the pipeline. The 2 latest — Viking Osiris and Viking Aton — have been launched in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Every accommodates 82 passengers and 48 crew members. The equally sized Viking Hathor and Viking Sobek are set to affix them in 2024 and 2025. Two smaller ships, Viking Ra (2017) and MS Antares (2007), carry simply 52 and 62 passengers, respectively, with crew staffs of 55 and 75.

In Asia, Viking operates only one ship. Viking Saigon, which debuted in 2022 and accommodates 80 passengers.

Viking’s largest river ship is definitely cruising stateside. Viking Mississippi, which debuted in 2022 and is 450 ft in size, accommodates 386 visitors and 147 crew.

If you happen to do the maths, you may see that whereas each AmaWaterways and Viking’s major European river ships are 443 ft in size, Viking’s ships carry 30 extra visitors. Which means Viking ships will probably be a tad extra crowded and cabins barely smaller (135 to 205 sq. ft versus 160 to 235 sq. ft) to accommodate. (Nonetheless, suites on Viking vessels are typically a bit roomier.)

AmaWaterways additionally has a barely higher crew-to-guest ratio on its core European river fleet: 51 crew members for 156-162 visitors versus Viking’s 53 crew members for 190 visitors. Each cruise traces provide glorious service, nonetheless, and any discrepancy will most definitely be felt when a Viking ship is crusing at capability, and the ship’s sole eating room is full at mealtimes.

Who’s on board AmaWaterways and Viking?


A number of components play a job within the passenger combine aboard these competing river cruise traces. For one, Viking’s ships are adults solely (passengers should be a minimum of 18), whereas AmaWaterways welcomes multigenerational households. That is to not say that you will discover children working amok on the latter’s ships, however you may share your river cruise with mother and father and youths or grandparents and youthful youngsters (the minimal age is 6) throughout summer season and spring break.

The obvious distinction to the informal observer, nonetheless, would be the age and health stage of every line’s core clientele.

Viking is very in style with Individuals — particularly older Individuals age 65 and above who just like the cruise line’s consistency and emphasis on straightforward sightseeing by bus. Extra energetic passengers may discover themselves annoyed by the tempo of guided strolling excursions, however they’ll at all times ebook excursions coded as “average” or “demanding” slightly than “straightforward” to reduce the percentages of being slowed by fellow passengers who aren’t as speedy.

AmaWaterways can be in style with U.S. vacationers however attracts a barely extra worldwide demographic that is additionally maybe a bit youthful — and fitter. Why? Not solely does the cruise line provide energetic mountain climbing or biking excursions in most ports, however its ships even have a Wellness Host on board main morning and afternoon yoga, meditation and health lessons. Company who ebook AmaMagna may even play pickleball on a full-size court docket.

AmaWaterways additionally companions with bike touring firm Backroads to host teams of cyclists on board, sometimes 30 to 40 at a time, for lengthier and more difficult bike rides than on its regular itineraries.

Wine lovers are one other core group for AmaWaterways, which in 2024 will host greater than 70 wine-themed cruises highlighting totally different wineries (principally U.S.-based but additionally some European wineries on Rhone itineraries) which have been invited to convey their wine membership members on board for tastings, lectures and particular excursions. Some teams purchase out your complete ship, however the common is 70 to 80 passengers, or about half the ship’s capability. Which means you might be crusing with a big group that is keenly targeted on wine.

Cabins and suites

Veranda Suite on Viking Hlin on the Rhine River. M. WOLLSDORF/VIKING

As a result of 19 of AmaWaterways’ core European ships fall into two measurement classes, accommodating 144 to 162 passengers, cabin and suite design is constant throughout a lot of the fleet. Every of the generously sized rooms includes a flat-screen TV and a rest room with a roomy bathe.

Fastened window cabins on the bottom deck are 160 sq. ft, French balcony cabins are 155 to 170 sq. ft, twin balcony cabins (with each a French balcony and step-out veranda) are 210 to 235 sq. ft, and suites are 300 to 350 sq. ft. The corporate’s two Douro River ships, AmaDouro and AmaVida, characteristic equally sized cabins and suites.

Whereas the final theme uniting the lodging throughout AmaWaterways’ European fleet is up to date design with destination-inspired touches, suite decor is exclusive from ship to ship. Normally, cabin decor has develop into lighter and brighter with every new (or newly refurbished) ship, with attention-grabbing textures and patterns changing extra conventional materials.

In 2017, AmaWaterways additionally launched the primary river ship (AmaKristina) with connecting rooms, designed for multigenerational households or teams of pals touring collectively. Six extra ships (AmaLea, AmaMagna, AmaMora, AmaLucia, AmaSiena and AmaDahlia) now even have this characteristic.

Associated: Finest river cruises in Europe

Viking Longships are every a carbon copy of the others, so passengers know precisely what they’re getting after they ebook. Cabins are extra compact than these on AmaWaterways’ ships however have an ethereal atmosphere that includes gentle woods, impartial materials and a well-designed toilet with a heated ground.

Normal cabins are 150 sq. ft and have a small window simply above the water line. French Balcony cabins are a cosy 135 sq. ft, however characteristic wall-to-wall sliding glass doorways. Veranda cabins are 205 sq. ft, whereas veranda suites are 275 sq. ft. The 2 Explorer Suites are 445 sq. ft, together with a 270-degree wrap-around veranda.

For barely bigger lodging, river cruisers ought to look to AmaMagna, as its double-width design permits for roomier lodging. Its two prime balcony classes provide a beneficiant 474 and 710 sq. ft of house, just like the sq. footage of suites on many ocean ships.

Eating choices on AmaWaterways vs. Viking

Breakfast on AmaPrima’s prime deck. AMAWATERWAYS

There isn’t any query that you’ll eat nicely on a river cruise. Each AmaWaterways and Viking have culinary packages designed to attraction to all kinds of meals preferences, together with vegetarian. You may count on to take pleasure in traditional preparations in addition to destination-focused eating highlighting regional cuisines.

AmaWaterways, which is the one river cruise line that is a member of the distinguished culinary group La Chaine des Rotisseurs, provides a la carte eating from menus that change day by day for each lunch and dinner, in addition to full-service breakfast from menus slightly than a buffet. Choices vary from eggs Benedict or omelets to smoked trout or avocado toast.

Company preferring a lighter, extra casual breakfast or lunch can skip the Essential Restaurant and decide to take pleasure in a small collection of choices served in a central buffet within the Lounge.

Sit-down lunch menus within the Essential Restaurant characteristic a collection of appetizers served family-style and major course choices that embrace a minimum of one native preparation, reminiscent of goulash in Budapest or wiener schnitzel in Vienna. Dinner menus are extra intensive and embrace three or 4 appetizers/soups and three or 4 mains (with well-conceived meat or fish choices and scrumptious vegetarian dishes). There are two hard-to-resist dessert decisions, together with seasonal fruits and a collection of cheeses.

All AmaWaterways ships additionally characteristic the Chef’s Desk, an intimate house (it seats 28) situated in the back of the ship and providing panoramic views. Passengers can reserve a shared desk right here to take pleasure in a fantastically ready multicourse meal at no extra value.

As well as, AmaMagna provides two extra restaurant choices: Jimmy’s for informal, family-style eating and Al Fresco for vegetable-forward menu choices served in an out of doors setting.

AmaWaterways serves a superb collection of complimentary wines (most from native vineyards alongside your river cruise route) and beers with each lunch and dinner, in addition to a collection of complimentary blended drinks, wines and beers in the course of the nightly predinner Sip & Sail cocktail hour. Glowing wine can be out there throughout breakfast.

Viking’s eating expertise can be designed to supply loads of choices. At breakfast and lunch within the Essential Restaurant, passengers can choose objects from the buffet — which usually contains freshly made pastries, cheeses, smoked salmon, oatmeal, fruit and eggs — and/or order off of the day’s menu (buttermilk pancakes, eggs Benedict and extra).

Lunch is comparable, with buffet picks out there in addition to a menu with day by day picks (soup, salad and two major choices) plus always-available dishes (reminiscent of salad Nicoise and burgers). The lunch menu doesn’t at all times have a regionally impressed dish, however Viking visitors can take pleasure in their noon meal whereas surveying native environment by opting to dine alfresco on the Aquavit Terrace. This aft house is in style on days when the climate is nice and provides a lot of the identical menu because the Essential Restaurant.

It is at dinner that Viking’s cooks inject extra native flavors into the menu, with a advised three-course Regional Specialties Tasting Menu (rooster paprikash as the principle in Hungary, as an example). These choices are complemented by a day by day collection of two starters, two mains (at all times with a vegetarian choice) and one dessert. As well as, visitors can select from a Classics menu with always-available favorites.

Viking additionally serves limitless complimentary wine and beer with each lunch and dinner, however the choice is a bit restricted. Passengers wanting extra choices should buy a Silver Spirits drinks package deal to take pleasure in a wider selection, together with the sommelier’s collection of wines, which are sometimes glorious native varietals. The package deal additionally contains cocktails and different drinks, which could be loved at any time.

Viking doesn’t host a complimentary night cocktail hour, however on sure days it does provide free wine tastings on the Aquavit Terrace.

What’s on board

Pool on AmaPrima. AMAWATERWAYS

A lot of the actual property aboard river cruise ships is taken up by visitor lodging, the principle restaurant and the lounge, leaving little room for any fancy points of interest past a small reward store.

However AmaWaterways has managed so as to add a perk: a heated pool or sizzling tub on the Solar Deck of most of its ships. Nonetheless, passengers who require an elevator can solely entry the 2 major decks, not the Solar Deck or the bottom deck.

Along with their cache of bicycles, AmaWaterways ships additionally provide a wellness program, led by an onboard Wellness Host. Lessons on the Solar Deck or within the Lounge include morning yoga, meditation or core strengthening and afternoon stretching or energetic walks. Each ship additionally has a small health middle and a therapeutic massage room. AmaMagna additionally has a full-size pickleball court docket.

Leisure-wise, visitors can count on nightly music by a piano participant/DJ in addition to visitor performances by locals that vary from folkloric tune and dance to up to date music.

Shipwide Wi-Fi is complimentary, however there isn’t any web middle.

Viking’s Longships do not characteristic swimming pools or any wellness/health actions past a strolling monitor and small placing inexperienced, however they do have a library with a wide variety of books and an web nook with laptops visitors can use (shipwide Wi-Fi is free as nicely) and a small reward store.

Associated: Reserving your first river cruise? Here is what it’s essential know.

The Solar Deck includes a shaded sitting space, in addition to photo voltaic panels and an herb backyard that enables cooks anytime entry to contemporary elements. Elevators on Viking ships additionally provide entry to the center decks however not the Solar Deck.

Viking’s leisure is just like most river cruise lineups and includes a musician or DJ in addition to native performers with a folkloric, classical or up to date fashion.

AmaWaterways and Viking itineraries

Viking Hlin in Koblenz, Germany. M. WOLLSDORF/VIKING

River cruise itineraries, particularly in Europe, do not differ that a lot from line to line. The cruise season is principally from late March to mid-December. Sure rivers are extra in style — particularly the Danube, Rhine and Rhone — and most cruise traces, together with AmaWaterways and Viking, go to the identical key ports.

AmaWaterways provides 33 totally different itineraries in Europe on the Danube, Rhine, Rhone, Seine, Garonne and Dordogne, Douro, Essential and Moselle rivers, in addition to the waterways of Belgium and Holland. Cruises final 5 to 14 nights.

As of 2024, the corporate is providing February and March sailings aboard AmaMagna (“Magna on the Danube”) on the Danube and AmaLucia (“Charming Rhine”) on the Rhine. Sure, the climate will probably be a bit nippy, however there will probably be fewer crowds, and the cruise fares will probably be tons of of {dollars} decrease than in hotter months.

The river cruise line doesn’t solely sail in Europe. In Egypt, the corporate options one Nile River cruise itinerary, “Secrets and techniques of Egypt & the Nile.” It features a three-night lodge keep in Cairo and a seven-night cruise.

It additionally provides two seven-night itineraries on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia.

AmaWaterway’s seven itinerary choices in Africa all mix a three- or four-night cruise on the Chobe River in Botswana with land stays in South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe or Tanzania for a complete of 10 to 17 nights.

In late 2024, AmaWaterways will develop into the primary upscale river cruise firm to sail the Magdalena River in Colombia. Its two new seven-night itineraries embrace the “Magic of Colombia” itinerary from Barranquilla to Cartagena and the “Wonders of Colombia” cruise from Cartagena to Barranquilla.

Associated: River cruise packing checklist: What to pack when touring by riverboat

Viking provides 29 totally different itineraries in Europe on the Danube, Rhine, Rhone, Seine, Garonne & Dordogne, Douro and Elbe rivers, in addition to the waterways of Belgium and Holland. Whereas most sailings, lasting seven to 16 nights, are from early March to mid-December, Viking has added a 10-night “Treasures of the Rhine” itinerary between Amsterdam and Basel for 2024, with dates in January and February.

Viking additionally provides river cruises past Europe. In Egypt, Viking provides one itinerary, the 10-night “Pharaohs & Pyramids,” that includes 4 nights in Cairo and a seven-night Nile cruise. Its itinerary by means of Vietnam and Cambodia is the 14-night “Magnificent Mekong” from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh Metropolis, which incorporates an eight-day river cruise and lodge stays in Hanoi, Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh Metropolis.

Lastly, the brand new Viking Mississippi cruises 5 itineraries in America’s Heartland. These vary from seven-night roundtrips from New Orleans to 21-night journeys that cowl the mighty Mississippi’s total 2,350-mile size from New Orleans to St. Paul, Minnesota.

Backside line

Whereas each AmaWaterways and Viking do have loads in widespread — related itineraries and pricing, glorious delicacies and a typically informal costume code — their variations will matter to sure vacationers, particularly those that prioritize energetic wellness or a number of included tour choices … or maybe even each.

Select AmaWaterways if you need a barely extra inclusive cruise fare, a wide variety of regional wines and a passenger combine that is a bit youthful and extra worldwide. Select Viking if you happen to recognize ethereal, fashionable design and revel in conventional guided excursions targeted on historical past, tradition and delicacies.

Planning a cruise? Begin with these tales:


Supply hyperlink