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AmaWaterways vs Viking: Which River Cruise Is Better?

Choosing between Viking and AmaWaterways for your next river cruise vacation can be challenging. The reason is that there are several similarities between the two river cruise lines.

The Viking Longship Odin near the city of Budapest on the Danube River.

For starters, both of these companies cruise through some of the biggest and most scenic rivers in the world. From the Nile River to the Magdalena River to the mighty Mekong, Viking and AmaWaterways offer guests a cruise of a lifetime.

Not to mention they stop at similar ports along the way and market to North American travelers. While there are similarities, there are also key differences between the two. Read on as we do an in-depth comparison of AmaWaterways vs Viking.

Viking Overview

Since Viking is the bigger of the two river cruise companies, we’ll start with them first. In total, Viking has 64 ship fleets and continues to grow year after year.

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Their fleet consists of Scandanavian longships that can accommodate up to 190 passengers. These award-winning river cruisers have a sleek design that is meant to navigate European waters.

The smaller Viking ships sail rivers in the Elbe River in France and the Douro River in Portugal. Their ships with different designs and styles sail rivers in Egypt, Russia, Vietnam, and China.

Once aboard, you will find that Viking ships are nothing less than extraordinary. Each offers spacious staterooms with private verandas and some of the largest suites in the industry all with unmatched comfort and amenities.

Outside of the rooms, you can expect fine dining restaurants, bars, lounges, sun decks, and more. Plus, Viking longships are more “green” friendly and equipped with solar panels and hybrid engines.

Viking river cruise itineraries last from 8 to 23 days, depending on the route, and guests can choose between a variety of destinations. In addition, Viking cruises now have combined ocean and river itineraries, giving you more ways to experience the world.

AmaWaterways Overview

AmaWaterways has a 25-ship fleet that sails through destinations in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and Africa. You will find that the 23 ships that sail in Europe’s waters are similarly designed and accommodate up to 164 passengers.

These ships feature spacious staterooms, with some having twin balconies and marble bathrooms. The suites have added features, including an expansive living area, bathtub, and shower.

Outside the rooms, passengers will find amenities such as spas, hair salons, cafes, and fine dining restaurants. The AmaManga is the mac-daddy of the fleet with more width offering bigger staterooms, a heated sun deck pool, and private balconies.

When it comes to cruising experience, you will find that AmaWaterways is renowned for its personalized approach. Not only are the itineraries authentic, but AmaWaterways has won several awards that boast their unprecedented customer service, world-class fine dining, and luxurious accommodations.

The typical cruise length for AmaWaterways is from 7 to 14 days, depending on the route. Plus, they were the first river cruise companies to offer bicycles for passengers so they could explore the ports on their own.

AmaWaterways vs Viking: Ships

While on the outside, there are some similarities to the vessels; there are some key differences when it comes to the Viking and AmaWaterways ship’s interior.

Viking ship cabins are modern with a minimalist style consisting of warm, neutral colors, giving them a sense of elegance. You will also notice the consistent touch of Scandinavian art in each stateroom and suite.

You will notice that AmaWaterways are not only bright and colorful, but the cabins will vary in decor depending on the ship. Viking ships, on the other hand, keep the same design throughout the interior.

Within the cabins, the amenities are very similar. You will find on-demand entertainment TVs, Wifi, robes, umbrellas, and daily stocked mini-fridges. In addition, passengers can choose from two twin beds or one king. However, AmaWaterways has cabins for single travelers looking to explore. 

You will also find that rooms will either have a room with a window or a private balcony. With that, AmaWaterways cabins are typically more spacious than Viking, so if you like to spread out, then this might be the better option.

It’s safe to say that you would want to choose AmaWaterways if you are a solo traveler or want more room for a family. In comparison, Viking cabins add special touches such as more storage, heated bathroom floors, and custom room lighting control.

AmaWaterways vs Viking: Food & Drink

Both river cruise lines have food that will please every pallet, including buffets, fine dining, and even off-the-menu dishes. For example, if you aren’t feeling the menu selection for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, then you can talk to the chef about a custom dish.

For dinner, passengers don’t have to worry about assigned seating. In addition, soft drinks, beer, and a selection of wine are included with every onboard meal.

Passengers are welcome to bring their own alcohol aboard the ships, so there is no need to sneak your own alcohol. Viking does offer a drink package at a daily cost which allows you to drink an unlimited amount of alcoholic drinks, whereas AmaWaterways does not.

If you choose AmaWaterways, you will receive one dinner per cruise at The Chef’s Table. Each cruise isn’t strict about the dress code, so no need to worry about having to pack a formal outfit.

AmaWaterways vs Viking: Itineraries

AmaWaterways and Viking cruises have similarities and some differences in cruise itineraries. For starters, they both sail and have itineraries in the Danube, Rhine, Moselle, Main, Rhone, Seine, Garonne, Elbe, Dordogne, and Douro in Europe. In addition, both companies offer Christmas market cruises for those looking for a unique experience.

In addition, passengers can book a river cruise in Vietnam and Cambodia to explore the mighty Mekong River. You can also choose either for an experience of a lifetime on the Nile River. AmaWaterways also sails the Chobe River in Africa, whereas, with Viking, you can explore Russia and the Mississippi River.

AmaWaterways also has a big series launch in 2023 with a 46-night cruise through Europe. Then, in 2024 AmaWaterways will be the first cruise line to adventure through Colombia’s Magdalena River.

As you can see, both cruise lines have exotic itineraries that feature land excursions and scenic cruise experiences. With that said, it really comes down to where you want to go.

AmaWaterways vs Viking: Cost

Cost is usually a big part of the decision-making process when it comes to booking a cruise. With either cruise, you can expect to pay between $1,500 and $5,000+ per person.

The costs will vary greatly depending on the cruise you choose, the time of year, the room type, and if you add extra amenities. Your best bet is to shop for special deals and track price changes for the cruise you are interested in.

AmaWaterways vs Viking: Activities

Both cruise lines offer one included excursion at each port. These excursions are typically guided by a local expert to give you insight into the history and culture. Passengers will be offered excursion options at each port and can opt out and go solo if they wish.

There are also premium excursions to enjoy at an extra cost. These activities are usually with smaller groups giving you a better chance to learn more about the area you are visiting.

AmaWaterways has different excursion levels depending on how active you want to be. For example, if someone has mobility issues, then they can do most of the sightseeing with little to no walking. Then, more active passengers can borrow bikes for the day to explore on their own.

Viking, on the other hand, will have more off-the-beaten-path excursion options. However, there are still more slow-paced excursions to choose from.

AmaWaterways vs Viking: For Kids

Depending on the cruise AmaWaterways has exciting itineraries for kids. However, be sure to check the age requirement before booking.

It is also important to note that AmaWaterways doesn’t cater activities towards children and doesn’t offer child care. So, while your children may be entertained at the ports, they may drive you crazy during the cruise itself. Instead, ocean cruises with lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian Cruise Lines are better choices for family entertainment.

In comparison, Viking doesn’t allow anyone under the age of 18 years old on their cruises.

AmaWaterways vs Viking: Entertainment

It’s important to understand that river cruises are a lot different than ocean cruises. On river cruises, the entertainment revolves around the experiences at the ports. While onboard, you will still be able to hang out at the bars and lounges, or visit the libraries, play giant chess, and listen to live music.

Nonetheless, AmaWaterways will have more onboard amenities such as spas, hair salons, and swim-up bars. On the other hand, Viking has more deck space for indoor and outdoor lounging. One of the most popular areas is the indoor/outdoor cafe called Aquavit Terrace.

Since you spend most of your daylight hours on land at the ports, don’t expect extravagant entertainment. If you are looking for waterslides, go-kart tracks, casinos, or even broadway shows, then an ocean cruise is a better fit for you.

AmaWaterways vs Viking: Typical Clients

In general, both river cruise lines are geared toward an older demographic. Expect to see a mild atmosphere with people looking to relax and explore the world.

However, they both do attract younger couples who are on a honeymoon or romantic getaway. As mentioned, you won’t see children on Viking cruises, but AmaWaterways does have cruises more suitable for families.


AmaWaterways vs Viking: Final Thoughts

Overall, AmaWaterways and Viking offer a variety of river cruises that will yield unique experiences. AmaWaterways will be a better fit for those who want to travel with children. Viking, on the other hand, is for those who want an adult-only cruise with a more laid-back atmosphere.

Not sure if a river cruise is right for you?

We have articles on ocean cruises, including