How Do River Cruise Costs Vary Across Different Destinations?

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Thinking about taking a cruise? Why not consider one that takes you through the interior of a country or region? After all, river cruises are increasing in popularity for good reasons. Smooth sailing, changing scenery, fascinating excursions, smaller vessels with ample spaces, an attentive crew, great food, and more motivate many travelers. When considering an experience like this, the first question that many people ask is how much a river cruise costs.

River cruise prices vary by destination, region, inclusions (services, amenities), and additional travel expenses (flights, ground transportation, gratuities, excursions, extensions). Understanding the cost of river cruises can help you choose the right one for your upcoming travel plans. In this blog, we’ll look at how the prices of a river cruise can vary across different destinations, and we’ll make a couple of recommendations on how to maximize your river cruise experience.


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Where do river cruises operate, and how much do they cost?

Europe is home to some of the most renowned river cruises in the world. Traveling along the Rhine or Danube Rivers, for example, river cruises cost anywhere from $250 to $1,500 (or more) per person per night, depending on the ship, itinerary, time of year, and degree of luxury. Here, competition between providers helps keep river cruise prices relatively affordable. One thing to note is that the availability of European river cruises is often quite limited during the winter months of January and February.

Europe, of course, is not the only notable destination. The United States and Canada host spectacular cruises along the Mississippi River (through the middle of the US) and the St. Lawrence through Quebec Province. The cost of river cruises can vary quite a bit but typically averages around $300 or $500 (or more) per person per night. That said, there are always some good promotions and offers where the price can decrease by 50% or more, especially if you are okay with booking an interior cabin.

Looking to other parts of the world, Egypt’s Nile River is a trendy river cruise destination with plenty of exciting itineraries. Travelers can enjoy many guided excursions through places like Cairo and Luxor. For an experience such as this, river cruises cost upwards of $500 or $600 per night or more. Meanwhile, the Mekong River, which flows through Cambodia and Vietnam, offers a unique river cruise experience, and depending on the cruise provider, your costs may range from $400 to $1000 or more per person per night.

One destination that is becoming increasingly popular among river cruise amateurs is South America. You, of course, have the expansive and sprawling Amazon to explore via cruises that embark in Brazil, Ecuador, and Peru. Still, you also have the stunning Magdelena River in Colombia, a river cruise experience like no other through one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, with plenty of history, culture, and natural beauty to match. Here, non-promotional rates can run around $500 per person per night, though there are often special deals to explore, especially if you book well in advance or last minute.

River Cruise In Magdalena, Colombia
River Cruise In Magdalena, Colombia

Traveling To and From Your Destination: Another Important Consideration

It is essential to consider not just the prices of a river cruise but the expenses you’ll incur getting to and from the port of departure and the time it may take you to get there. If you live in North America and want to travel to a different region to embark on a river cruise, for instance, Cambodia or Vietnam, your flights and hotels will run at least $2000 or more per person. A roundtrip flight to Cairo, Egypt, may cost around $1500, while one to Europe may run about $1000 or more. If you wish to travel to South America, flights from the US are still relatively affordable, often costing under $700 round trip—and even less if you live near a central hub like Miami, NYC, or Houston.

River Cruise Extensions

If you need to book hotels on either side of your river cruise dates, you’ll need to consider these costs as well. Many tour providers have special arrangements with partnering hotels and airlines, so you can always check with them about booking these additional components of your journey as part of a package. They are often called extensions, and you can undoubtedly book them to your advantage to enhance your travel experience. It may seem like you’re paying more, but the reality is that you are accessing convenience, comfort, and reliability; plus, you’re saving valuable time by enlisting the help of an agent or tapping into these strategic tourism partnerships that offer you a chance to see even more as part of your journey.

Magdalena River In Colombia
Magdalena River In Colombia

River Cruise Incidentals

When considering a river cruise’s cost, incidentals are where you’ll need to factor in additional expenses not included in your itinerary or package. For instance, while you can book a drinks or meal package that covers your daily food and essential beverage consumption, you may want to enjoy a cocktail in one of the ship’s lounges while chatting with friends and fellow passengers. Often, these expenses are charged separately to your account. This is an example of an incidental.

Similarly, an excursion may not be part of your itinerary but is offered at an additional cost. For instance, you’ll see this type of thing when cruising along the Nile. Sometimes, you will know ahead of time if you’ll be up for an additional adventure once you’re there. It’s nice to have these types of opportunities available for you to access at your discretion.

Another example of an incident may be the gratuities you’d like to leave for the ship’s crew. Perhaps you forgot to pack something like sunscreen or deodorant. Purchasing these aboard your ship may also incur an incidental charge. Think of incidentals as the as-yet-to-be-revealed expenses that you might have. Budgeting for this is always good so your river cruise experience can be as smooth and stress-free as possible.

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Conclusion: River Cruises Costs

River cruises cost more than ocean cruises on average, but they also have many features that can be advantageous, especially for those who enjoy smoother sailing. When booking a river cruise, it is worth exploring your options, researching your destination, analyzing your itinerary, and reviewing the costs. If you’re willing to put in a little time, enlist the assistance of a knowledgeable destination expert, and maintain some flexibility with your travel dates, you’re sure to find the right experience for you. Make it as fun as possible, and you’ll relieve stress. The idea is to experience something new, beautiful, memorable, and enjoyable, to see a different part of the world and explore it with comfort, style, and convenience.

Updated:June 12, 2024

Published:April 2, 2024

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