Your Essential Guide to River Cruising

A comprehensive guide for first-time river cruisers on what to expect

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Many rivers are steeped in history, having one time or another been the method for the transportation of goods and people. Such history makes these waterways of constant intrigue to worldwide travelers and, a result, creates the perfect platform for an exciting adventure.
This page is here to guide first-time river cruisers through their journey on the water. What can you expect from your luxury floating hotel? How will you explore the culture and heritage of each wonderful location? And how will it differ from that of an ocean cruise?
Guests riding Scenic e-bikes

Who should take a river cruise?

You’ll meet a range of like-minded people on board a Scenic cruise; those who are interested in discovering the many artistic, historical, culinary and cultural aspects of our destinations. They enjoy the laid-back pace of river cruising and its appreciation for individual choice and exploration.

A mix of independent travelers, couples and small groups, they are looking for diverse, culturally enriching experiences, and like to take their time exploring each layer of the countries we visit, rather than rushing through a busy itinerary. An appreciation for the finer things in life – great food, music, knowledge and a thirst for new experiences – drives their journey.
A Scenic ship travelling past a castle

Why Scenic?

Our Journey Designers are experts in the destinations we travel to. They know the hidden gems that will turn your cruise with Scenic into a truly memorable experience, and they are always on the lookout for new inclusions that will add more value to your time with us. With our wholly-owned fleet traversing the waterways of Europe and Southeast Asia, Scenic’s innovative, custom-designed ships have set the benchmark in 5-star luxury river cruising.

With our wholly-owned fleet traversing the waterways of Europe and Southeast Asia, Scenic’s innovative, custom-designed ships have set the benchmark in 5-star luxury river cruising.

Each balcony suite features creative technology, which transforms your balcony into a Sun Lounge at the touch of a button; while in 2017, we became the first river cruise line to offer a Salt Therapy Lounge.

A Scenic river cruise is a truly all-inclusive experience. All your meals, drinks, shore excursions, return flights and even all gratuities, transfers and taxes are included.

A butler carrying Champagne on a Scenic ship

All-inclusive Luxury is exactly what you get

When you book a river cruise with us, you can be confident that we’ve taken care of everything to offer you the highest quality experience, and the best value.

Embark on the journey of a lifetime from the spacious surrounds of your stylish suite and contemplate which exclusive, included once-in-a-lifetime experience to enjoy next. Savor world-class dining and top shelf beverages in one of the elegant lounges, or relax in your private Scenic Sun Lounge, as your butler brings your lunch and a complimentary cocktail, before collecting your laundry.

With Scenic’s signature all-inclusive commitment, you can enjoy multiple dining venues – instead of one, unlimited beverages – instead of just wine or beer with lunch and dinner, butler service, transfers, tipping – even bottled water – everything is included in the price you pay upfront.

The river cruise checklist

Before you embark on a cruise along one of the beautiful rivers of Europe or Southeast Asia, you should ask:
  • Does the ship have a choice of dining venues?
  • Are all my drinks included or just during lunch and dinner?
  • Is it house wine, or top-shelf beer, wine and spirits?
  • Are cocktails included?
  • Is my mini-bar included?
On a Scenic River Cruise all meals are included, even during shore excursions. 
  • Do I have to pay for room service?
  • Do I have to pay for shore excursions?
  • Is there a range of tour options or just the one?
  • Can I tailor my excursions to meet my needs and interests?
  • Are there options for self-guided touring?
  • Do I have to tip my guide?

What to Expect On Board

With Scenic the perks and privileges are part of your all-inclusive on board experience.
  • Largest balcony suites
  • Scenic Sun Lounge, your private outdoor balcony
  • Butler service
  • Dining options, from casual to fine dining
  • Complimentary beverages all day, every day
  • Complimentary mini-bar, restocked daily
  • On board entertainment
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • Wellness and fitness areas
  • All tipping and gratuities included

What to Expect Onshore

An exclusive range of handcrafted experiences are all included when you disembark along the cruise route. With group numbers kept small to ensure a personal experience, we take care of everything, even tipping. So you can simply relax and enjoy the journey.

We use local guides as we believe nobody knows a place like the people who live there. As a result, our tours will not only make sure you see all the highlights, but we’ll also take you in search of the hidden gems known only to locals. The best local food, entertainment and culture - we even invite you into homes so that you can experience true local hospitality.

Our River Cruising Destinations

a view of a large mountain in the background

Rhine, Main, Danube and Moselle rivers

Experience Europe from a luxurious new perspective as you cruise the magnificent waterways of the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. The sheer wealth of beautiful and historic sites on Europe’s grand rivers is unequaled anywhere in the world.

a bridge over a body of water

Waterways of France

Scenic are the France specialists. In the north of France, the iconic Seine River winds its way through Paris, east towards Honfleur and the English Channel. Whilst our cruises along the Rhone and Saone offer numerous culinary delights.

a large waterfall over a body of water

Portugal's Douro River

Portugal is wonder in waiting. With its authentic traditions and warm local hospitality, not to mention its world-class port wines and tantalizing local fare, you’ll be in awe of a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for centuries.

a large bridge over a body of water with Moscow Kremlin in the background

Russian Waterways

Russia is as vast as it is magnificent. Opulent palaces and cathedrals, where the history is as fascinating as the architectural design, recall the grandeur of a bygone era, while smaller towns along Russia’s great waterways appear as if in a fairytale.

Discover Southeast Asia

Gain a new perspective on life as you cruise along the Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers – two of Southeast Asia’s most fascinating and important waterways.
Mekong River: Traveling nearly 3,200 miles through China Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, the Mekong River carries with it many stories of these complex and beautiful lands. One of the most biologically diverse rivers in the world, second only to the Amazon, the mighty Mekong will capture your imagination and sense of wonder. From floating markets to traditional sampans, it is mesmerizing to see how so many cultures live in harmony with this giant waterway.

Irrawaddy River: Flowing north to south from its source high in the Himalayas, the Irrawaddy River is the lifeblood of Myanmar and its timeless allure captivates all who sail its waters. Embark on a voyage of discovery and allow yourself to be enthralled by all the country’s many charms, including one of the most remarkable collections of temples in the world on the wide plains of Bagan.

A journey along the Irrawaddy is the perfect way to reveal Myanmar’s hidden treasures – its people and culture – which for years were only known to the most intrepid of travelers.

When and where to travel
Irrawaddy River Cruises
Year round except mid April to late August
Make the most of the wonderful climate in Southeast Asia and cruise anytime of the year that suits you. We have scheduled our departures to ensure we avoid the wet season, leaving you with plenty of options to explore the mystical wonderland that is the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar. 
Mekong River Cruises
Year round except May to mid June
We scheduled our cruises around the wet season, so the times we cruise Southeast Asia are well-planned. With a consistently temperate climate and a host of festivals and events year round, there's always something wondrous happening on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. 
Europe River Cruises
March to October
There's nothing more beautiful than watching Europe transition through the seasons. No matter what time you cruise you'll come across moments of wonder. From French fields of summer sunflowers and lavender to snow-white mountains and misty autumn mornings, you'll always have something to immerse your senses.
Christmas Market Europe River Cruises
November & December
Europe in the lead-up to Christmas transforms into a glittering kaleidoscope of activity as markets spring to life in every town. Rug up and enjoy a hot mug of Gluhwein, or sample delicious gingerbread and freshly roasted chestnuts as you shop for the perfect handmade decoration to add to your tree at home.
Christmas Mekong and Irrawaddy River Cruises
Indulge your tropical Christmas as you cruise along the sultry Mekong or the mystical Irrawaddy. A great time of year to experience Southeast Asia. Warm your bones, avoid the Christmas crowds and treat yourself. Make it a holiday season you'll look back on with joy.
National Geographic River Cruises
Year Round
Our National Geographic river cruises combine Scenic’s all-inclusive luxury experience with National Geographic’s unique brand of inspiring and educational expert-led travel, creating memories to last a lifetime.