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  • Alicia at Evening Star Travel

Viking River Cruises vs. Avalon Waterways

How do they compare?

As a travel agent specializing in river cruises, I know that choosing the right river cruise can make all the difference in your vacation experiences. Two of the most popular river cruise lines are Viking River Cruises and Avalon Waterways. Both offer exceptional experiences, but they cater to slightly different tastes and preferences and include different things. Let's delve into the similarities and differences between these two renowned cruise lines.


Viking River Cruises:

  • Founded: 1997

  • Fleet: Over 70 ships

  • Regions: Europe, Asia, Egypt

  • Target Audience: Mature travelers (50+), history and culture enthusiasts

Avalon Waterways:

  • Founded: 2004 (their parent company Globus was founded in 1928)

  • Fleet: Around 20 ships

  • Regions: Europe, Asia, South America, Galápagos Islands

  • Target Audience: Active Mature Travellers (45+), adventure seekers, and first-time river cruisers


  1. Destinations: Both Viking and Avalon offer extensive itineraries across Europe, including popular rivers like the Danube, Rhine, Seine, and Douro. They also venture into exotic locales in Asia and Egypt.

  2. Luxury and Comfort: Both cruise lines provide luxurious accommodations, with state-of-the-art ships, comfortable cabins, and top-notch amenities. Expect spacious staterooms, modern decor, and attentive service.

  3. All-Inclusive Experience: Both lines include all onboard meals, at least one shore excursion per port, Wi-Fi, and some included beverages (coffee, tea, soda, as well as wine and beer for lunch and supper). This all-inclusive approach ensures a hassle-free experience for travelers. ***Note - what is included does vary between the lines - see below for a more thorough comparison.

  4. Cultural Enrichment: Viking and Avalon emphasize cultural immersion with guided shore excursions, onboard lectures, and local performances. These activities help passengers connect with the destinations on a deeper level.

  5. Dining: Both cruise lines offer gourmet dining experiences featuring regional cuisine and wines. Their chefs use fresh, local ingredients to prepare delicious meals that reflect the culinary traditions of the regions visited.


Ship Design and Cabins:

  • Viking: Known for its longships, Viking focuses on sleek, Scandinavian design. Staterooms, including the popular Veranda and Explorer suites, are elegantly designed but can be smaller compared to Avalon’s.

  • Avalon: Avalon boasts its unique Panorama Suites with wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows that turn the entire suite into an open-air balcony. Their ships often feature larger cabin spaces, providing more room for relaxation.

Avalon Waterways

Viking River Cruises

Panorama Balcony Suite

Veranda Suite

Deluxe Stateroom

Standard Cabin

Excursions and Activities:

  • Viking: Provides one included excursion per port - typically a walking tour. They offer more traditional excursions focusing on history, culture, and architecture. They include a variety of optional tours (at an additional expense), often led by knowledgeable local guides.

  • Avalon: Typically provides two included options per port, and if you are on an Active and Discovery cruise - there are typically more included options. Caters to more active and inquisitive travellers. They include activities like hiking, biking, canoeing, and more interactive immersive experiences like cooking classes and painting workshops. Avalon also does have some optional excursions at an additional cost.

Onboard Atmosphere:

  • Viking: Generally quieter and more relaxed, ideal for those looking to unwind and enjoy the scenery. Evening entertainment is often low-key, including piano music and lectures.

  • Avalon: A bit more lively and social, with a focus on creating a casual and fun atmosphere. Their smaller ships often foster a closer-knit community among passengers.

Passengers Onboard

  • Viking: On their longships in Europe, they typically have a maximum amount of passengers onboard of around 188.

  • Avalon: There are two different style of ships, one which is longer than the other. On the longer ships (the same length as the Viking longships), they have a maximum amount of passengers of 164. On the shorter ships, they sail with a maximum of 128 passengers onboard.

Avalon Waterways

Viking River Cruises

River Cruise Line Comparison (this would be for their average size ships and a standard itinerary sailing central Europe - exact details may vary between ships and itineraries)

Avalon Waterways

Viking River Cruises

Max Passengers Onboard



Standard Cabin Size (standard balcony cabin)

200 sq ft.

175 sqft (if you include the balcony, the cabin is 205 sqft)

Standard Cabin Size (standard outside window cabin)

172 sq ft.

150 sq ft.

Alcoholic Beverages Included

Wine and Beer with lunch and supper. Also, Happy Hour selection prior to dinner.

Wine and Beer with lunch and supper.

Excursions Included (additional excursions available for an add on cost)

One to Two per port (for their Active and Discovery cruises, it is typically two-three per port.

One per port

Average Crew Onboard



Final Thoughts

Choosing between Viking River Cruises and Avalon Waterways depends largely on your preferences and travel style. Viking is perfect for mature travelers seeking a serene, culturally rich experience with a focus on history and tradition. Avalon, on the other hand, appeals to slightly younger, a bit more active travelers who appreciate larger cabins, adventurous excursions, and a casual, sociable onboard atmosphere.

Both cruise lines provide exceptional experiences that ensure your will have a memorable river cruise vacation. However, even with these details, it's still difficult to know if this is the right river cruise line for you. For expert help in choosing the best trip for your needs, speak with a river cruise specialist like me, Alicia with Evening Star Travel!


To book your next dream vacation - when the time is right to travel - reach out to me through email at, or by calling 587 772 2525. I am located in Sherwood Park, Alberta (a suburb of Edmonton), and am a Travel Advisor specializing in River Cruising, Beach Escapes, and Custom Vacations. I am the owner/operator of Evening Star Travel, and I book travel for clients all across Canada.

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