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Is it better value to sail with an all-inclusive cruise line, or use a lower priced line and simply purchase all the extras?

It’s an age old debate. And, of course, it isn’t always about maths. You might want to consider ships, staff ratios and service.

But if price is your most important criteria, we’ve done the hard yards for you. What would happen if you took a standard 15-day journey from Amsterdam to Budapest – and costed in all the extras so every line, from ultra luxe to contemporary, was roughly the same?

While we don’t pretend this is exact or precise, it is a rough and ready reckoner to try and help resolve the dilemma. See the foot of our story on how we worked out the numbers.

We compiled the prices on sailings from March and April 2021 sailings.

So here’s our list of prices per day per person on Australia’s favourite lines. The results are something of a surprise – and are almost certain to spark debate.

The list

River cruise linePrice per person, per day
Viking River Cruises$430
Evergreen$439
AmaWaterways/APT$439
APT$446
CroisiEurope$450
Teeming$451
Scenic$466
Riviera Travel River Cruises$476
Avalon Waterways$518
Crystal River Cruises*
$702
Uniworld $731

*Crystal price worked on 7-day cruise 

What does this mean for best value?

Firstly, the difference between ultra luxe lines and those which claim to offer best value is quite stark.

Second, the average all-inclusive price per day is $506.63, though that is skewed by the top prices. More interestingly, there is only $21 per day difference between the top six, making all of them good value.

At the other end of the scale, for the no-frills and even premium lines that have optional extras, the end price isn’t far off the all-inclusive – but these lines strongly argue that they give their passengers choice to leave additional features off – something you can’t do with an all inclusive brand.

Here’s what each of the lines offer you in detail:

All inclusive: APT

An APT journey is all-inclusive. APT’s fully-inclusive Magnificent Europe 15 day river cruise best price for 2021 departures is $6,695 per person twin share, including flights from Australia and an early booking discount of $300. The cruise sails from Amsterdam to Budapest.

Wine and dine:

There are a number of dining options on APT’s ships. The Verde Fine Dining Restaurant offers a European dining experience for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The River Bistro offers more casual dining. In warmer weather, head to the Sun Deck for lunch, taking in the best views from the ship. On the Concerto River Ships, guests get a group of friends together for private dining in the Wine Room.

A wide range of complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available all day, including tea and coffee. A selection of premium wines are also served with dinner each evening, with some of France’s best-known wines from Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône and the Loire Valley.

Shore excursions:

Shore excursions are included in the price of APT’s sailings. All APT guests receive an audio headset to use during excursions. These lightweight headsets allow guests to hear every word of their local guide’s commentary.

The Grand Empress Steam Train – an imperial train journey with lunch served on board, then a glass of sparkling awaits at Budapest Station’s Royal Waiting Room.

Vienna’s City Palace – Owned by the princely family of Liechtenstein, guests are welcomed into Vienna’s City Palace for a cocktail party. Guests then enjoy a private concert of arias, an orchestral performance of Mozart and Strauss masterpieces, plus music from members of the Mozart Boys’ Choir.

Namedy Castle; Princess Heide von Hohenzollern graciously welcomes APT guests into her home, Namedy Castle, a royal escape set near the Rhine River in Germany.

Accommodation:

APT’s Concerto River Ships are the only fleet in Europe to boast APT’s custom-designed Twin Balcony Suites, which allow guests to enjoy the passing views from both inside and out.

All cabins have a flat-screen TV with English language programs, box office movies, classic films and the ship’s information channel.

Presentations, cooking demonstrations, trivia quizzes, dancing the night away – it’s all included. For the entirety of your journey, entertainment hosts arrange for local artists such as Hungarian gypsy violinists and members of a Bavarian band to join guests on board.

In selected suites, room service, butler service and complimentary laundry service is available. Bottled water is supplied and replenished each day and each cabin has a mini bar.

Onboard:

APT has modern Concerto River Ships that feature heated a swimming pool on the Sun Deck and swim-up bars. The main lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows and an expansive bar.The observation lounge is an ideal indoor space to watch the views. Entertainment onboard– including lectures, presentations, demonstrations and performances are provided in the front lounge which transforms into an ambient Showroom at night. Access the tea & coffee bar 24 hours a day as well as the on-board wellness centre. There’s also a live pianist in the Observation Lounge.

Sporting equipment:

Each ship’s Wellness Centre boasts a range of cardiovascular equipment and most also have a sauna. All ships have either a whirlpool or swimming pool including a swim-up bar, some have both. All ships are equipped with bicycles which are free to borrow. Several ships also store electronic bikes on board.

Others:

All APT river ships offer complimentary Wi-Fi in staterooms, suites and public areas. The line also includes airport transfers on the first and last day of the holiday package. These are prearranged at the time of booking flights. Gratuities are included in the trip price and covers the cruise director, tour director, cruise staff, local guides and drivers. Port charges are included in the trip price.

All inclusive: Avalon Waterways

Avalon’s point of difference comes in what they call their ‘relaxed luxury’ and Avalon Choice’ offerings. Avalon is all-inclusive, with access to specialty shore excursions, where you can choose what best suits you. An Avalon 15 day itinerary from Amsterdam to Budapest is $6,367, not including flights.

Wine and dine:

Avalon includes welcome & farewell cocktails with sparkling wine & canapés, plus daily choices of regional recipes, familiar favourites, and Avalon Fresh vegetarian and healthy cuisine including fresh, local ingredients at every meal.

There’s a daily full breakfast buffet with made-to-order egg station, hot and cold menu items, and complimentary sparkling wine & juices. Or choose the daily early-riser & late-riser continental breakfasts. Complimentary room service available for Continental breakfast.

There’s a choice of alternative fare at the Sky Grill on the Sky Deck (weather permitting) or light lunch in the Panorama Lounge. The Panorama Bistro offers a casual dinner option with a buffet of selected dishes and beverages. Daily Afternoon Tea featuring tea, coffee, sweet treats & sandwiches is included also.

Daily four-course à la carte dinners are offered in the main Panorama Dining Room with choice of starters, soups, salads, entrées, desserts or cheese, after-dinner premium coffees or tea, and complimentary wine (including from the region), beer, and soft drinks.

FlexDining is available with flexible seating-times to better accommodate passengers schedules. Avalon’s exclusive cocktails are designed by award winning mixologist, Martin Hudak.

Shore excursions:

In Europe, you can see the world your way with Avalon Choice which has an array of activities from active excursions to history lessons.

Classic: With expert Local Guides, guests get preferred access to the famous sites, insider information on local legends and lore, and the true heritage behind the history.

Discovery: From Vienna waltz concerts, art classes Van Gogh style, or cooking classes. These excursions are about grand artistry, from famous galleries to farmhouse kitchens.

Active: Bike rides, a hike to a hilltop castle, or a kayak excursion through the Gorges de l’Ardėche.

Guests can personalise their river cruise experience with optional excursions. Options for free time to explore without getting lost with the Adventure Host who can point guests in the right direction for active exploring with gear from the Adventure Centre. The AvalonGO mobile app is also included.

Accommodation:

An Avalon cabin includes the Comfort Collection Beds, featuring premium memory foam mattress toppers with special construction for increased air flow and ventilation and a choice of four firmness selections—from extra firm to pillow-top soft. There is also an evening turn-down service.

Bathrooms are stocked with L’Occitane bath products and the cabins come with flatscreen TVs, a minibar as well as in-room safe.Cabins also feature 11 inch Wall-to-Wall Panoramic Windows which create an open air balcony.

On board:

The line offers port talks, subject matter presentations, cooking classes, wine tastings, and evening entertainment are all included.

Sporting equipment:

The onboard Fitness centre is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. Adventure Centre is the source for active gear, including bicycles, Nordic walking sticks, maps and more for active pursuits on ship and off. The Adventure Host can offer onboard stretching and yoga classes.

Others:

Avalon offers complimentary WiFi throughout the ship. Transfers are available for purchase. If you are staying at an Avalon hotel prior to the cruise, the hotel to embarkation dock is included. The estimated cost of a return airport to cruise terminal transfer in Amsterdam is $144 for two people. Gratuities are all included.

Not all inclusive: CroisiEurope

CroisiEurope has a combination of included features and optional extras available (at an extra charge). CroisiEurope has a 15 day itinerary from Amsterdam to Vienna for $4,587 per person.

Extra costs would apply for drinks (from the special lists), or drinks ordered during excursions or transfers – cancellation and baggage insurance – visits, guides and entrances fees in Strasbourg on Day 7 – lunch on Day 7 – optional excursions (you can book and pay on board or at your travel agency) – personal expenses.

Wine and dine:

All meals are included on board: buffet breakfast and three-course lunch and dinner. Soft and alcohol drinks are included during meals and at the bar whilst on board.

According to a reader, the bar is open all day and drinks are included. Guests are greeted with a drink of the day upon arrival back to their ships. At lunch and dinner, three bottles of wine are provided (white, red and rose) and the line will top up the table if a bottle is finished.

Shore excursions:

A classic excursions package – giving guests access to 13 shore excursions – costs $821 per person if you book before departure. The total for the cruise, plus the class shore excursions package is $5,408. Flights are not included.

Accommodation:

Cabin feature air-conditioning, central heating, shower/toilet, satellite TV, safe, hairdryer. The following ships do have cabins with a balcony (Indochine II, African Dream, Zimbabwean Dream, La Belle des Océans, Loire Princesse).

Onboard:

Evening entertainment and a gala dinner are provided for guests on the last evening. They boast three decks and have a main restaurant, lounge bar (that converts into a dancefloor) and reception area. The upper deck is a popular place to lounge at the terrace or chill at the Pianorama Bar.

Sporting equipment:

All the canal barges have bikes available on board. The Cruise ‘n Bike river cruises along the Loire, the Rhône and Saone, the Danube and the Rhine are popular for guests.

Others:

There is free WiFi on board and in the cabins. Transfers are not included on most destinations. Tips are included on the exotic cruises in Southern Africa, on the Mekong, on the Ganges and on the Nile. All port fees are included.

All inclusive: Crystal River Cruises

Crystal has an all-inclusive policy. Crystal’s Amsterdam to Budapest cruise for seven-nights as the line has not advertised 15-night sailings for 2021, is priced from $702 per person. Price does not include flights. 

Wine and dine:

The ships have open bars & lounges with complimentary select fine wines, champagnes, spirits and specialty coffees, plus Michelin-inspired cuisine in two dining venues plus 24-hour in-suite dining. There’s a flexible, open-seating dining. Wine sommeliers share educational insight and an endless pour of acclaimed vintages.

The Waterside Restaurant prepares continental favourites and regionally-inspired menus sourced locally, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. A European Bistro aboard serves coffees, pastries and charcuterie by day, and wines and tapas by night. The Pantry offers 24-hour self-service venue offering specialty coffees, teas, wines and non-alcoholic beverages

There’s a “pop-up” bar on the open-air top deck of each ship. There’s 24-hour in-suite dining with options from the Waterside menu.

Shore excursions:

Crystal offers a selection of complimentary shore excursions in every port and a Crystal Signature Event on select itineraries. Crystal offers luxury motor coaches in each destination, featuring complimentary WiFi and spacious seating.

Accommodation:

European butler service is offered for every suite category. They have king-size beds, Egyptian cotton linens and pillow menu. There’s a bedside iPad directory; interactive TV with on-demand movies and music; welcome bottle of sparkling wine; two bottles of wine and stocked mini-refrigerator; unlimited soft drinks and bottled water in-suite; Inspresso coffee machine; Spacious bathrooms; ETRO Italian Fashion house amenities and 24-hour in-suite dining.

On board:

Visiting regional entertainers, ranging from a trio of violinists or jazz artists to tenors singing operettas join guests on board. Piano bar and cabaret-like performances, under the guidance of Crystal’s Onboard Entertainer are also offered. Local historians and noted professors also share insights, both cultural and contemporary.

Sporting equipment:

There’s a fitness centre on board with state-of-the-art equipment, a swimming pool on board and Trek Bikes are available on request.

Others:

The line offers, complimentary, unlimited WiFi. Complimentary transfers are available between the airport and the ship on embarkation and disembarkation days. Gratuities are included for all guides, drivers and shipboard staff. Port charges are included.

Not all inclusive: Emerald Waterways/Evergreen:

Emerald Waterways and Evergreen have an all-inclusive policy – with additional bespoke experiences available to book at an extra charge on board with their DiscoverMORE program. The 15 days itinerary from Budapest to Amsterdam is $6585 per person, including flights.

Wine and dine

All meals are included in the price of your trip, as well as complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner. From a hearty buffet breakfast to a five-course à la carte menu.

Shore excursions

The EmeraldPLUS experience takes you right to the heart of the culture of each destination, helping you experience what day-to-day life is like for the locals. These authentic adventures seek to avoid typical tourist hotspots. Excursions include an invitation to afternoon tea with a Slovakian family in their home in Bratislava, a traditional German cooking presentation in the Black Forest, or a glass top canal boat cruise for a unique view of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

In addition to included excursions, EmeraldPLUS experiences and activities, the selection of DiscoverMORE optional excursions are bookable on-board or through the reservations team.

On board

The Pool and Cinema at the back of the Star-Ships are an innovative feature. The indoor heated pool is located on the Horizon Deck of most vessels. This features a retractable roof. Floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding the entire area bring the outside in. At night on-board ships sailing the Rhine, Main, Danube and Rhone rivers, the indoor heated pool area transforms into a cinema. At the Horizon Bar and Lounge there’s evening entertainment, which changes daily, organised by the Activity Manager.

Accommodation

All suites and staterooms boast luxurious toiletries and a shower in the bathrooms, with a queen size or twin hotel-style bed, with luxurious linens. There’s a flat screen HDTV and infotainment system, as well as free Wi-Fi.

Sporting equipment:

The on-board Activity Manager on all seven Star-Ships sailing the Rhine, Main, Danube, Moselle, Rhône and Douro rivers in Europe arrange everything from on board fitness classes and active onshore excursions, to organising the evening’s entertainment.

Others:

Gratuities, port charges and WiFi is included in the price with Emerald.  

Not all inclusive: Riviera Travel River Cruises

Not everything is included with a Riviera cruise. A 15 day cruise from Cologne to Budapest is $5339 per person. Flights are not included. A 14 night drinks package costs $389 per person. Transfers of $88 per person have been added as well as average cost of tips. With this included, the total cost would be $7153.

Here’s what they offer.

Wine and dine:

Fares include a welcome aboard cocktail, early risers’ breakfast, full buffet breakfast,  lunches, afternoon teas, world-class, four-course dinners and midnight snacks.  Complimentary coffee, tea and biscuits are available all day. Soft drinks and alcohol are available for purchase or as part of drinks packages available for $199 per person for an eight-day cruise.

Shore excursions:

A guided shore excursion is included every day in every port conducted by a Riviera Travel Cruise Director or a local guide with headsets available for every guest. 

Onboard:

Local entertainment is provided complimentary onboard – for example a string quartet in Vienna or a Hungarian folk show in Budapest. For 2020 Riviera are increasing their onboard entertainment with the introduction of complimentary language lessons and lectures relevant to the itinerary.

Accommodation:

All cabins and suites feature individually controlled air conditioning, hairdryer, safe, minibar, flat screen TV with satellite channels, telephone, complimentary bathrobes and slippers and the convenience of tea and coffee-making facilities. 

Sporting equipment:

Complimentary bikes are available for guests to use during free time. (They are not available on the Douro ships and are subject to availability.) 

A fitness centre is available free of charge for guests. The fitness centre includes treadmill, bikes and small weights. (These may vary)

Others:

WiFi is complimentary across the entire fleet.. Transfers are not available with Riviera. Riviera believes that giving a gratuity should be at guests discretion and that is why they do not include tips in the holiday cost. An envelope is left in guests cabins on the final evening. Port charges are included.

All inclusive: Scenic Luxury River Cruises

Scenic sailings are all-inclusive. A 15 night cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest is $6,995 per person, and also includes flights.

Wine and dine: 

Diverse food experiences are one of the highlights of a Scenic tour. Chefs draw inspiration from the regions they travel through so all food is seasonal and regional as well as freshly prepared. French Champagne, and regional wines are selected by a sommelier – or a local beer at all dining venues.

All food and beverages are included in the price of the cruise (with the exception of top shelf whiskies).

Shore excursions: 

The line has the Scenic Tailormade App, which can help you explore on your own. The app includes a tailormade device, an audio guide system, as well as a river view commentary.  

Scenic Freechoice offers a diverse range of sightseeing, activities and dining for you to choose from. And of course, they’re all included. Scenic has divided its list of Freechoice excursions into Active, Moderate and Relaxed pace so you can choose those which best suit your requirements and interests.

The line also has a program called Scenic Enrich which include visits to cultural and historical places like private rooms of castles and châteaux, we’ll give you exclusive concerts and mouth-watering feasts, we’ll open the door on village life and take you back generations.

On board:

Scenic has onboard activities like the Scenic Culinaire on its French river cruise ships feature their own on board cooking schools. Scenic Culinaire will allow our guests to participate in an on board cooking class, taught by experts, featuring the finest local ingredients. 

Cabin features: 

Luxuriously appointed, they are among the largest on board any European cruising vessel, and amongst the largest in the world. They boast elegant lounge areas, spacious bathrooms (stocked with luxury bath products) and queen size Scenic Slumber Beds.

The balcony suites are larger than the standard river cruise cabins on Europe’s rivers and offer modern and elegant furnishings; HDTV, individual climate control and pillow menu. There’s also a safe for your valuables, a nightly turndown service and of course a complimentary mini-bar and Wi-Fi.

There are butlers who will perform duties like shoe shine service to providing complimentary refreshment. They will also stock up the mini bar with your drink of choices. The line also provides laundry services.

Others:

With unrivalled inclusions, your all-inclusive European river cruise only requires you to reach for your wallet for personal expenses. We’ve thought about every single detail of your European river cruise including all tips and gratuities, personal airport transfers, first-class transport and local guides.

Not all inclusive: Teeming River Cruises

Teeming prides itself on being an affordable cruise line that doesn’t charge passengers for all the extras they may not want. Multiple packages are available for extra costs. A 14 day cruise from Cologne to Vienna starts at $2,301.

Most services are already included. However, there are some optional services or amenities on board  for an extra charge. These include shore excursions [varying prices per port], meals & drinks purchased while on shore.

Drinks on board are charged as you go, on an à la carte basis. The standard drink menu on the MS Botticelli offers a variety of reasonably priced drinks. For example, wine by the glass, whiskey, gin, & vodka are $6.90 each. A premium drinks package is $25 per day, or $375 for the total cruise.

An average shore excursion costs $150 per excursion. The total cost of 14 excursions would be $2,100.

The total combined cost of the cruise with the drinks and excursions, plus taxes would be $4,976. Flights are not included.

Wine and dine:

We have multiple options for drink packages and reloadable drink cards on board our various ships. The Basic Drink Package – house wine, beer (draft only) and sodas for lunch and dinner in The Restaurant. ($12-15 per day). The Premium Drink Package includes house wine, beer (draft only), soft drinks, juices, bottles of mineral water (still and sparkling) and long drinks (house whiskey, gin and vodka). Available in The Restaurant and The Lounge. ($25 per day).

Shore excursions:

Each passenger will receive complimentary access to the Teeming River Cruises’ City Walking Tour App. This innovative app is a first class guide for all the ports we visit. Along with detailed information such as opening/closing times of sites and entry prices; this app is an online map (with no roaming costs) and allows for off-line navigation between the points of interest and a “get me home” button for finding your way back to the ship. With Teeming River Cruises, you can explore on your own and at your own pace.

As each specific cruise nears we will send out an email that will give you the credentials so you are able to download the app containing all the ports for your cruise. Included are Points of Interest with a brief summary, a map to direct you to each point of interest, the scheduled Teeming Docking location of the ship, and Star Points which will highlight bars, eateries, Christmas Markets, special shops (no, we don’t get anything from any of these places for having them on our app), interesting points of interest or unique places

On board:

Select cruises will have various entertainment options such as live entertainment, guest speakers, non-denominational Sunday services, wine experts/ educators and more! Attentive crew members, a diverse team of associates with fluency in multiple languages; Laundry; Gift Shop; Library; Giant chess set; Concierge services; Bicycles; 24/7 Business Centre.

Accommodation:

Depending on the ship/cabin the guest books, various features include:

Large Windows Including ‘Sun Lounge,’ enjoy panoramic views of the breathtaking passing scenery through floor to ceiling windows across two walls of the cabin; Oversized Bathroom; Cabins with bathtubs; Individual thermostat for air conditioning & heating; Flat-screen TV with satellite; Minibar; Bathrooms include magnifying mirror, hairdryer, and daily towel service; Safe Deposit boxes.

Sporting equipment:

Bicycles are available on board for guests to use on some ships.

Others:

The line offers complimentary WiFI. Teeming River Cruises does not provided transportation to and from the airport/train station. The only transportation that is provided is when there is a Teeming River Cruises excursion that requires transportation (ie: Truffle Farm Tour). Tipping for the Cruise Director, and ship crew is already included in your checkout price. But guests can leave additional tips. Port Taxes are not included and are dependent on the cruise dates, ports visited, and vessel. They can range between $150-$250 per person.

Not all inclusive: Travelmarvel

Travelmarvel is all-inclusive. A 14-night European Gems cruise starts from $5,495 per person twin share, with flights included and the Bonus Early Payment Discount.

Wine and dine:

With Travelmarvel each meal will showcase local specialties with wine, beer and soft drink included with both lunch and dinner. Tea, coffee and water is available at all times. And if you want to order drinks outside of meal times, you will be charged.

Multiple dining options are available from four-course fine dining in Constellations Restaurant to healthy light options served in the True North Lounge and traditional pub classics, there’s plenty of choice.

Travelmarvel’s brand-new Contemporary Class Ships, the first of which is joining the fleet in 2020, will feature a more casual dining and social area, McGeary’s Bar. And finally, designed specifically for a coffee loving audience – a barista is available for a latte or espresso at breakfast

Shore excursions:

Travelmarvel includes the key sights in each destination along with a selection of Insider Experiences. Travelmarvel’s Insider Experiences have been carefully designed to immerse guests in the region being visited. Some examples include a visit to the former residence of the Archbishop, the World Heritage-listed Augustusburg Palace in Bruhl, and a Bavarian evening on board featuring local food, beer and entertainment.

All Travelmarvel guests receive an audio headset to use during excursions. These lightweight headsets allow guests to hear every word of their local guide’s commentary. Flexi tours are a feature of all European Gems cruises allowing guests to choose a shorter tour with more free time, or a more immersive tour and experience.

On board:

There are plenty of opportunities for guest to enjoy a range of entertainment and actives while aboard their river ship. From the services of resident entertainment and activities coordinators, fantastic local entertainers, to parties, games and dancing, each ship offers exciting ways to unwind. Inspiring guest speakers and entertaining commentary from the Cruise Director will add to the experience.

Accommodation:

Every stateroom and suite on board features a flat screen TV. The Travelmarvel Polaris, Vega and Capella feature an infotainment system which allows guests to watch port talks from their cabin if they wish along with a range of movies and destination information. These new ships also feature large slide down windows that form French-Balcony, eco-friendly water refill stations, a mini fridge in each cabin, self-closing cupboards and are fitted with sockets/points that are compatible with Australian/NZ plugs as well as plenty of storage. There are even USB charge stations in the lounge.

Sporting equipment:

Our brand new ship features an onboard fitness room, putting green, walking track and bicycles are available for those wanting to stretch their legs and keep up their fitness. A daily programme of guided walks, light stretching, dance classes are available throughout.

Others:

Travelmarvel helps guests stay connected by providing complimentary WiFi throughout the ship’s public areas as well as internet via onboard computers. Travelmarvel includes airport transfers on the first and last day of the holiday package. Gratuities are included in the trip price and covers the cruise director, tour director, cruise staff, local guides and drivers. Port charges are included in the trip price.

All inclusive: Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Uniworld is a boutique cruise line, with an all-inclusive policy. A 15 days cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest starts at $12,999 per person.

Wine and dine:

All meals are included onboard, 14 breakfasts, 12 lunches, 14 dinners. The Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions and Welcome and Farewell Gala Dinners are included. Unlimited beverages are included onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, specialty coffee and tea, soft drinks and mineral water.

Shore excursions:

12 days of excursions, including “Choice Is Yours” and “Village Day” options, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts.  The guided “Do as the Locals Do” program is included and state-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset systems are included on all excursions.

On board:

Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager are included onboard.

Cabin features:

A 14-night cruise in a river view stateroom on the regal River Princess includes lavishly appointed  handcrafted Savoir Beds of England, high thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, and a menu of pillow options.

Sporting equipment:

Use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks.

Others:

Free Internet and Wi-Fi access. All transfers on arrival and departure days. All gratuities, both onboard and onshore. Port charges are also included.

Not all inclusive: Viking River Cruises

Viking are premium river cruise line. While most of the Viking experience is included, guests can purchase a drinks package for $31 per person per day. A 15 day cruise from is $5,995 per person, including flights. With the drinks package, this is $6,460.

Wine and dine:

All meals are included in the fare, including special regional events/evenings such as ‘Taste of Germany’.

House beer, wine and soft drinks are served complimentary with lunch and dinner. There’s 24 hour specialty coffee, tea and bottled water. For premium beverages served all day, guests can upgrade to the Silver Spirits Beverage Package, priced at $31 per person per day.

Shore excursions:

There’s one included shore excursion in every port of call, usually with multiple departure times to suit your plans.

On board:

All onboard activities are included in the fare, including guest lectures and port talks; destination performances; craft and cooking demonstrations; classical and regional musicians; and Viking’s curated library.

Cabin features:

All staterooms have a river view; Hotel-style bed with optional twin-bed configuration; luxury linens & pillows; 40″ flat-screen LCD TV with complimentary Movies On Demand; Refrigerator; security safe; hair dryer; Spacious glass-enclosed shower; Heated bathroom floor & anti-fog mirror; Premium Freyja toiletries; plush robes & slippers; Stateroom steward & twice-daily housekeeping

Explorer Suites also include complimentary Silver Spirits Beverage Package; welcome bottle of French champagne; complimentary laundry service; mini-bar with wine, beer and soft drinks replenished daily; complimentary breakfast room service; daily fruit basket; coffee brewer in-room and early check-in.

Sporting equipment:

Every guest is provided with a QuietVox for shore excursions. There is a walking track onboard as well as a sports deck.

Others:

WiFi is included in room and throughout ship. Transfers from airport to ship and return are included with Viking Air purchase. Gratuities and port charges are also included.

How we compiled our table:

We took an average 15-day itinerary through Europe.  For the lines that didn’t offer all-inclusive, we took the website prices for additional amenities like drinks packages, Wi Fi, shore excursions etc.

We have estimated a return flight from Sydney to Amsterdam across several airlines is an average cost of $1337. We have added this to the total cost of all cruise lines, where flights are not included.

Two lines – Teeming and Crystal – offered 14 and 16 days respectively. So we calculated a daily rate and adjusted them to 15 days.

These calculations are notoriously difficult, so while we have made every effort to ensure we are comparing apples with apples, we accept a pear might have sneaked in somewhere.

*Our calculations

For the cruises that are not all-inclusive, this is how we’ve calculated the costs:

Included drinks: When drinks have not been included, we have provided the individual cruise line’s drinks package prices.

Flights: where flights aren’t included, we have researched the average cost of a return flight from Sydney to Amsterdam, across several airlines, flying economy. We have added this to the fares to make it a fair total price.

Transfers: When the cruise lines have not provided airport transfers to and from the ship  we have added the rate that a private transfer would cost, based on an average between several transfer companies, from Amsterdam airport to the Amsterdam Cruise Terminal.

Shore excursions:  We have added the quoted costs for an average daily shore excursion where this is offered.

Onboard facilities like butlers: Not all cabins are the same – and not all ships feature the same luxuries – like 24 hour room service, mini bar etc. While this isn’t a price point we can provide, it is handy information for passengers who want to understand what their onboard experience would look like.

WiFi: We have added the WiFi package prices where they are not all-inclusive.

Sporting equipment like bikes and Kayaks: While these are not additional costs – some cruise lines offer them and others simply don’t. One for consideration.

Gratuities: Even a seasoned traveller can find these confusing depending on which ship you’re on and which country you’re visiting. We point out the lines that choose not to include gratuities and have included the average prices of a daily gratuity rate.

Port charges: Whilst a majority of the lines do include port charges, some do not and these are the smaller add-ons that can come as a surprise unless you really know your stuff before you board. Again, we have added the average price on a daily basis for the port charges, where they are not already included.