AmaWaterways vs. Viking: Which of these popular river cruise lines is right for you?

Among the cruise lines navigating the rivers of Europe, Southeast Asia, and Egypt, two of the best-known names in the industry are AmaWaterways and Viking. While both brands offer unique attractions, such as AmaWaterways’ complimentary excursions and Viking’s Scandinavian-inspired design, there are significant differences between them that impact the overall experience. In this article, we will provide a head-to-head comparison of AmaWaterways versus Viking to help you choose the right river cruise brand for your next adventure.

AmaWaterways, founded in 2002 by Rudi Schreiner, Kristin Karst, and the late Jimmy Murphy, offers a fleet of 26 ships, with three new vessels launching in 2024 and 2025. One of the brand’s standout features is its multiple complimentary excursions offered in each port, typically three or four per port. These excursions range from city walking tours to wine or culinary-focused experiences, as well as more challenging hikes or bike rides for fitness enthusiasts. AmaWaterways is also known for its custom-designed ships with destination-inspired contemporary decor and the introduction of the “twin balcony,” which combines a French balcony and a full-size step-out balcony for exceptional views and spaciousness.

On the other hand, Viking, launched in 1997 by Torstein Hagen, focuses on destination-focused and culturally immersive river cruises. The brand currently operates 69 river ships, with two more scheduled to launch in 2024 and 2025. Viking’s river cruise fares include one complimentary shore excursion in each port, usually a panoramic bus or guided walking tour, with additional fee-based tour options available. Viking gained significant recognition and growth with the introduction of its first Viking Longship in 2012 and its successful marketing campaign around the launch of the Longships. The brand’s 55 virtually identical Longships represent a standard of European river cruising, featuring light and airy Scandinavian design.

In terms of ship size, both AmaWaterways and Viking offer a range of vessels, from intimate to grand. AmaWaterways’ fleet consists of ships that are either 360 or 443 feet in length and carry 140 to 196 passengers. The flagship vessel, AmaMagna, stands out for its larger size, accommodating 196 guests with enhanced cabin sizes and additional dining venues. Viking’s Longships, at 443 feet in length, accommodate 190 passengers. While both brands offer excellent service, AmaWaterways has a slightly better crew-to-guest ratio on its core European river fleet.

Another factor to consider is the passenger mix aboard each brand’s ships. Viking’s ships are adults-only, while AmaWaterways welcomes multigenerational families. This means that AmaWaterways’ cruises may include parents and teens or grandparents and younger children, while Viking’s cruises cater exclusively to adults.

In conclusion, while both AmaWaterways and Viking offer exceptional river cruise experiences, there are distinct differences between the two brands. AmaWaterways stands out for its multiple complimentary excursions, custom-designed ships, and the innovative “twin balcony” feature. On the other hand, Viking focuses on destination immersion, Scandinavian design, and a consistent river cruise experience across its fleet. Ultimately, the choice between AmaWaterways and Viking depends on your preferences for excursions, onboard ambience, ship size, and passenger mix.

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