Travel & Leisure World's Best - Top River Cruise Lines of 2018

By Samantha Scott
August 16, 2018

Each year, Travel and Leisure Magazine announces their much anticipated list of "Worlds Best Awards." 

Results are consumer based, compiled from a survey sent to Travel & Leisure readers, so this list of river cruise operators is truly a representation of what real travelers prefer. 

River cruising is one of fastest growing travel trends, particularly for the 50+ crowd. These vessels are smaller than ocean cruises, and therefore can travel on windier byways and visit smaller ports.

Especially popular in Europe, river cruising is a great option if you have an adventurous spirit and want to see a more "off the beaten path" view. Excursions are often focused on offering a culturally immersive glimpse into the local life. 

Here are the Top 5 River Cruise Lines of 2018:

1. Uniworld

River cruise in Europe

A consistently popular river cruise line, Uniworld claims the number 1 spot this year, after being in the number 2 spot in 2017. Uniworld travels all over the world and offers a variety of themed crusies, family cruises, and all within a relatively affordable price range.

See all Uniworld river cruises »

2. Viking River Cruises

European river cruise

Classic river cruising at its best. Viking has been a top name in river cruises for decades, and continues to provide top notch experiences. Known primarily for Europe, Viking also offers river cruises in Egypt and Asia, as well as ocean cruises. They've maintained a firm spot in the Top 5 year after year!

See all Viking River Cruises »

3. Tauck

Prague river cruise

Tauck tours provides luxury river cruising as well as land tours around the world. Like most well established river cruise companies, Europe is a main focus. Tauck is a great company for a wide age range to enjoy. They even have an entire group of "family friendly" European river cruises available.

See all Tauck river cruises »

4. Aqua Expeditions

Woman rowing small boat on the Mekong

Unlike the others on this list, Aqua Expeditions focuses exclusively on Asia and South America river cruising. Their destinations include Peru and the Amazon, and Cambodia and the Mekong.

These destinations feature a wide range of travel styles, often more on the value side, however Aqua Expeditions sets themselves apart with their strong emphasis on luxury.

See all Aqua Expeditions river cruises »

5. Grand Circle Cruise Line

River cruise vessel open water sunset

A fixture on both the River Cruise list and the Small Ship list this year, Grand Circle crusies travel around the world, and they a great choice if you are trying to find a budget option.

They may be a bit less "boutique" feeling from a brand persepctive, but Grand Circle provides solid itineraries in a variety of destinations.

See all Grand Circle river cruises » 

Read reviews for these and more top River Cruise lines » 

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