River Cruise Cabins: What to Expect in Terms of Cabin Choices

River Cruise Cabins: These days, 150 square feet on a river cruise is thought to be fairly small. That’s quite standard on a river cruise.

Let’s consider why it might be. A river vessel is much smaller than an ocean ship. It cannot be too big or too small to fit through the locks; it cannot be too high to pass under low-hanging bridges (most boats have a hydraulic wheelhouse that can be lowered to allow them to do so); nor can it have too much draught because the rivers can be fairly shallow.

Due to the inherent limitations of space, capacities vary greatly among rivers, ranging from minuscule (often as low as 20–30 on the more unusual rivers) to roughly 130 on the bigger rivers, 190 on the Viking longships, or even higher on the enormous Yangtze vessels.

Here’s all you need to know about river cruise cabins, from expectations for size to classifications of rooms and amenities to anticipate in your haven.

Ocean cruise cabins are typically larger than those on rivers

River Cruise

Because river vessels are often smaller than their ocean counterparts, their cabins tend to be slightly smaller. They have to be that way because most of the world’s river sailing occurs in Europe, where the boats need to be able to pass under low-slung bridges and squeeze through tiny locks and canals.

In Europe, typical river cruise cabins are 150–170 square feet in size, whereas suites are roughly 220 square feet. Additionally, some cruise lines offer single cabins, which are roughly 130 square feet in size. Strangely, the cabins are frequently larger (220 square feet) on river cruise ships in Asia, where the ships are typically relatively tiny, carrying 50 passengers or fewer. The largest cabins on Viking’s Longships are called Explorer Suites, and they are a massive 445 square feet (with a private veranda). Meanwhile, the largest suites on Uniworld’s premium river line are 409 square feet. To put things in perspective, the Oasis of the Seas entry-level suite at Royal Caribbean is 371 square feet.

Top 10 Best Hotels Near Vancouver Cruise Port for Your Alaskan Cruise Departure

On river ships, there are typically fewer cabin categories. Though there are minor differences, the majority of lines in Europe only provide the following four classes: window only or river view, French balcony, balcony, and suites.

What Are ‘Aquarium Class’ Cabins?

There’s a funny term for the lower deck staterooms that are below the waterline: aquarium class. These cabins have a window that lets light in even though it’s frequently high on the wall. But unless you’re standing on a chair or the bed, you shouldn’t expect to be able to see anything from it. These windows are also not openable by you. (If you do, you may discover that the cabin and you get really wet!)

It’s the closest thing to an underwater cabin you’ll find, but this entry-level cabin isn’t for those who seek views of the breeze.

What is a river cruise ship’s French balcony?

ship's French balcony

River cruise lines Viking, Avalon, Uniworld, AmaWaterways, Tauck, CroisiEurope, and Vantage are a few that provide accommodations with French balconies, which are sliding doors that open to let fresh air and natural light in. Although the cruise lines occasionally place chairs and tables in front of these balconies to give the impression that you are outside, you are not allowed to walk outside on them. To prevent you from falling into the lake, there is a railing as well.

Which Other Types of Balconies Are There on River Cruise Ships?

Open air balconies are an extended version of French balconies found in many Avalon cabins. Again, you are unable to go outside as a result of the door sliding the whole length of the space.

Similar features, known as panorama balconies, are found on the ships of sister company Scenic and Emerald River Cruises. Rather than opening and closing like doors, the windows descend with a touch of a button.

Do you desire a real balcony that you can go out onto? There are many in the world. AmaWaterways offers twin balcony staterooms that feature an outside balcony accessible from the bedroom as well as a French balcony off the sitting area.

Viking has a large assortment of balcony staterooms, also known as Veranda Staterooms, aboard its Longships, which include room for a table and chair. A few of Grand Circle’s ships also feature balconies. Some lines that have balcony cabins are Amadeus River Cruises, AmaWaterways, and A-Rosa.

Remember that on a river cruise ship, a true balcony may not necessarily be as desired as it is on an ocean liner. On a river ship, the balconies reduce the room’s square footage, so you are giving up valuable outdoor space. Furthermore, Europe’s weather can vary greatly, especially during the shoulder seasons. You won’t want a balcony at all for a Christmas cruise—it’s just too chilly!

Are There Suites on River Cruise Ships?

Top 7 River Cruise Itineraries, River Cruise
(Credit: TTG Asia)

Yes, but just like while traveling the ocean, be sure to thoroughly review the cabin arrangements to ensure that you’re getting a true two-room suite—many staterooms that are booked as suites are actually larger and lack distinct living and sleeping areas.

Every cabin on Avalon Waterways Suite Ships is a suite. Even the 300-square-foot Royal Suite lacks a distinct living space, though. Before committing, do your homework and review the floor plans of the cabin.

The sitting area and bedrooms of Scenic’s 360-square-foot Royal Balcony Suite and 475-square-foot Royal One Bedroom Suite are divided. The living and sleeping parts of all Scenic (and sister line Emerald) ship cabins feature glass-enclosed sitting spaces that open up to balconies, providing the seclusion you would expect from a suite.

The one-bedroom Owners Suite on Emerald’s Star Ships features a sliding door dividing the bedroom from the sitting area. A real Owners Suite (330 square feet) is also available at Vantage. Each Royal Suite aboard Uniworld’s Super Ships is 401 square feet and has a separate living area; the suites are simply one room, albeit they are 305 square feet pretty spacious. There are no separate living and sleeping rooms in any of the cabins on the line’s other ships.

The Explorer Suite, measuring 445 square feet, is one of the biggest river cruise ships in Europe and is available aboard Viking’s Longships. These staterooms include an opulent wraparound deck as well as a wall separating the bedroom from the sitting space.

Benefits of a typical suite include complementary in-room breakfast, free laundry, private transportation, fruit, binoculars, a minibar stocked with wine, beer, and soft beverages, and champagne upon arrival.

Which Amenities Are Included in Regular River Cruise Cabins?

Suites on River Cruise Ships

River cruise rooms are equipped with a queen-size bed that can be converted into two twin beds, nightstands and bedside lamps, wardrobes and drawers for personal belongings, a vanity or mirror in the cabin, and a table and two chairs or a sofa. These features are similar to those found on ocean cruise ships. You may keep suitcases behind the bed. For amusement, flat-screen TVs are typically available with movies on demand or not. Although the quality of the signal in the cabins varies, the majority of river cruise lines include Wi-Fi in their tickets.

Grand Circle’s older river vessels do include fixed twin beds. Make sure to review the cabin layout prior to making a reservation. There are mini-fridges on some lines, and most lines (though not all) offer free bottled water.

Are All River Cruise Cabin Layouts Standard?

Anyone who has ever been in a hotel room or on a cruise ship will be familiar with the layout of most river cruise ships. The closets will be facing the beds, which will be parallel to the exterior wall, and the table and chairs (or sofa) will be close to the window, French balcony, or balcony. The bathroom door will probably be in the hallway as soon as you enter the room. The restroom and the bed may be on different ships.

Top 5 Party Cruise Lines for Wild and Fun-Filled Adventures

Notably, a few river cruise operators have modified this structure. Cabins by Avalon Waterways are especially great for scenic cruising because the beds face the windows. Some of Tauck’s ships feature a similar arrangement, especially the Loft cabins (which were previously described).

What About River Cruise Ships with Accessible Cabins?

Types of Balconies Are There on River Cruise Ships

Regretfully, there isn’t a universal response to this query. In general, river cruising isn’t the most accessible for travelers with restricted mobility, and some of the major players in the industry, like Avalon, Viking, and Uniworld, don’t have accessible staterooms (though the latter does provide grips in the bathrooms).

Even while elevators are a feature of most recent river cruise ships, they sometimes don’t reach the sun deck, which is a major inconvenience given that guests frequently have to join a nearby ship to exit. The gangway, which is frequently too narrow and steep for wheelchairs, is another contributing cause.

All of Scenic’s ships, as well as those of sister companies Emerald Waterways and CroisiEurope, include accessible accommodations. AmaWaterways has updated the restrooms and added bigger doors to some of its ships. At least one accessible cabin is available aboard Vantage’s more recent ships.

However, bear in mind that river cruise excursions can involve a lot of walking across cobblestone streets, even if you manage to find a stateroom that works. Passengers with limited mobility may need to have a companion on certain lines. See A Guide to Accessible River Cruises for additional information.

Can More than Two People Fit in a River Cruise Cabin?

Once upon a time, river cruises catered mostly to elderly couples and offered minimal options for families. This has changed as more lines are realizing that river sailing can provide kids and teenagers with an enjoyable and instructive holiday.

The first river cruise company to genuinely build a ship with groups and multigenerational passengers in mind is AmaWaterways. AmaStella and AmaViola, two family-friendly ships, made their debut in 2016. Twelve staterooms can sleep three family members apiece; six sets of adjoining cabins that can accommodate five families through an internal doorway; and four suites with convertible sofa beds that can accommodate four families.

Family life is a priority in the design of A-Rosa’s new E-Motion Sena, which is sailing on the Rhine. Adjacent to a kids club is a special family floor including twelve family cabins that can accommodate up to six travelers. These family cabins have tall windows, yet they’re roomy and contemporary at 300 square feet, complete with unique bunk beds.

Families can sleep in a stateroom with full-size sofa beds on Tauck’s more recent ships, accommodating up to four people. (The business is also adding couch beds to more cabins on its older ships through retrofitting.) Tauck also offers apartments that sleep two parents and a child, or up to three persons over the age of 18. For Tauck’s family river trips, eight is the suggested minimum age.

On most of its ships, Uniworld—which also provides family-friendly cruises—has cabins with sofa beds. Check before you book because there is a considerable variance in the ships on this line.

On Vantage’s ship, River Venture, standard rooms are too small to accommodate a third berth; however, the Owners Suite features a sofa that can be turned into a bed.

Single cabins

Single cabins

Accommodations: Deluxe Suite on a Cruise Ship on the Crystal River

Regretfully, single cabins on river cruise ships are hard to come by. Booking a double cabin for one person is far more typical among lone travelers.

When river cruising, single supplements are frequently expensive, so if you see any reduced single supplement offers, take advantage of them. If you have any questions, contact a member of the Cruise Concierge staff at RiverVoyages.com, and they would be pleased to help.

Do you usually choose a specific kind of cabin when making a river cruise reservation? Tell us in the comments section below.

Please contact our river cruise concierge staff at 0800 197 0854 if you have any questions about the various accommodation categories or would like additional information about any specific cabin. They can assist you with every step of organizing and reserving your ideal vacation, and they will be delighted to talk about anything related to river cruises.

Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Sinking: A Look Back at the Historic Disaster and Unique Features

Walk-out balconies

Not all ships have actual balconies that you can walk out on; in fact, they are somewhat uncommon. Should you find yourself needing a step-out balcony, Viking Longships and several of AmaWaterways’ newest ships provide these.

Remember that on a river cruise ship, a true balcony isn’t as desirable as it is on an ocean liner. One explanation for this is that occasionally ships moor next to one another, placing your balcony directly against the balcony of a neighboring ship. Barely a breathtaking vista! There is no privacy when the ship is moored against a bank since people may be walking right by it all day.

Except the summer, European weather may often be unpredictable, making it frequently too chilly to spend a lot of time outside on a balcony.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top