Viking River Cruises vs Avalon Waterways - Tour Companies Compared

Compare details and see what other travelers are saying.

Rating Breakdown
Overall — 5
Value — 4.8
Guide — 4.8
Activities — 4.9
Lodging — 4.8
Transportation — 4.8
Meals — 4.8
Overall — 5
Value — 4.8
Guide — 4.8
Activities — 4.8
Lodging — 4.8
Transportation — 4.8
Meals — 4.8
Recent Reviews
Tours 19 Trips 649 Trips
Average Trip Price Per Day $ 280 $ 396
Operator Type River Cruise Line River Cruise Line
Size Global Operator Global Operator
Trip Styles
  • Small Ship & Expedition Cruises
  • River Cruises
  • Small Ship & Expedition Cruises
  • River Cruises
Service Level Luxury Luxury
Regions
  • Rivers & Seas
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • South America
  • Asia
  • Africa
  • Europe
Known For
  • 50+
  • 18 - 35
  • Luxury
  • 50+
  • 18 - 35
  • Adventure
Headquarters Woodland Hills, California, USA Littleton, Colorado, United States
Year Established 1997 2003
Solo Friendly N/A N/A
Tour Languages N/A N/A
Top Trips
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About Viking River Cruises

Founded in 1997 as a line offering Russian river cruises to Europeans, Viking expanded to the North American market in 2000. 

What Makes Them Stand Out?

Since 2007, Viking River Cruises has zoomed from carrying one-fifth to one-half of all passengers in the fast-growing European river cruise market. Not only is Viking the world’s largest river cruise line with some 66 ships now in service around the globe, but the line is operating at near full capacity in Europe, with many itineraries sold out months in advance.

Who Travels With Them?

They cater primarily to “culturally curious” English-speaking Americans, Canadians, British, Australians, and New Zealanders aged 55-plus. (Think sophisticated viewers of PBS’ “Downton Abbey,” which its helps to sponsor.)

Where Do They Operate?

Besides European rivers such as the Rhine, Danube, Moselle, Seine, Duoro, and the waterways of Russia between Moscow and St. Petersburg, Viking now cruises three rivers in Southeast Asia -- the Yangtze, Mekong, and Irrawaddy -- and along the Nile in Egypt.

Why Travel With Them?

While they may not rank as the most luxurious river ships, many of Viking’s vessels are sleek, innovative, and freshly minted: the line has added 18 new ships in 2014 alone. Overall, Viking has established a reputation for offering an incredible value - high-quality service, food, and guided shore excursions at competitive prices, all adding up to strong repeat customer loyalty rates.

About Avalon Waterways

Part of the Globus family of travel brands since 2003, Avalon Waterways has proven to be one of the more innovative of the many river cruise companies now in operation.

Its newest “Suite” ships feature “open-air balconies” with floor-to-ceiling windows that open up to serve as indoor-outdoor seating areas, which don’t cut into cabin space as do normal balconies -- meaning you have more room to move around. Bathrooms are also roomy.

What Makes Avalon Waterways Stand Out?

While global in scale, Avalon Waterways is best known for offering high-end cruises on brand new ships on European rivers. The oldest of the 15 Europe-based ships dates from just 2008, which makes it the youngest fleet of any size on European rivers.

Newer ships generally mean that staterooms are larger and amenities are enhanced.

Who Will Enjoy Traveling with Avalon Waterways?

While the majority of river cruise travelers are in the 50-plus range, more and more middle aged couples have been enjoying river cruises as well. Avalon is a good place to start, particularly for the more exotic destinations like the Mekong in Asia or the Amazon in South America.

Travelers seeking a luxury minded cruise experience, without an overly pomp and circumstance feel, will love cruising the world’s rivers with Avalon.

If you’re wary of river cruising as an extension of the “floating hotel”, Avalon makes sure that a focus on the region itself is felt onboard as well as through the port excursions. Local ingredients are used to make traditional dishes, and beer, wine, and spirits of the area are also showcased.

Casual and comfortable, combining a relaxed atmosphere with a fine dining calibur food and wine, Avalon presents a quiet elegance without being stuffy.

Travelers who like choice will appreciate Avalon’s numerous options when it comes to port excursion activities. Starting in 2019 and unlike many cruises, a majority of these excursions will be included in the price.  

Top Destinations

Avalon is well known for their Europe cruises, but they travel all over the world as well.  They have five ships in Asia (sailing the Yangtze, Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers), and one ship each in the United States (the American Queen, which sails the Mississippi) and South America (the Aria, which plies the Amazon). Avalon runs small-ship cruises through the Galapagos Islands as well.

Avalon Waterways Travel Style

The comfort of their passengers is top of mind for Avalon. Whether this means the spacious viewing deck or numerous excursions available to satisfy different interests.

There is a sense of casual elegance that Avalon portrays. The culture on board is professional while still friendly, and the furnishings are not overly opulent.

Another thing that makes Avalon stand out is their attention to staying active and healthy. They have been a frontrunner in river cruises providing bikes and other ways to be active in each port stop.

Why Choose a Cruise with Avalon Waterways?

Avalon Cruises are comfortable, fun, and active. This is the perfect choice of cruise company for older affluent travelers seeking top notch river cruise experiences around the world.

Considering the spaciousness and innovativeness of its cabins, the fact that shore excursions and multiple dining options are included in the rates, and a chance to take advantage of some attractive early-booking discounts, Avalon can offer excellent value.

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"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware."
Martin Buber
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