Top 10 Reasons to Take a River Cruise
Premier River Cruises. America's best travel agency for river cruise vacations!
HOURS — Mon.–Fri. 6:00 am–5:00 pm PT | Sat. & Sun. Closed

Let us give you the benefit of our experience and expert advice before you choose!



Choosing the right cabin can be challenging.
Let our experts guide you through the process!

No doubt about it... for most first time river and small ship cruise buyers, the choice of what type of cabin to buy is often the most challenging purchase decision. Selecting your cabin type can be made a bit more confusing by two factors that may impact your decision:
The different generations of river ships and small ships;
The various types of cabins (also called staterooms) on each ship.

Those two primary differences, plus a number of other factors, must be considered before selecting your stateroom. But, relax and take solace in knowing cabin selection is really a pretty logical process. Even better, the process is made less stressful because other than the type of stateroom selected, almost every other element of a guest's shipboard and shore side experience is exactly the same. Why? Because every guest on a river or small ship cruise enjoys the same in-depth shore excursions, delightful cuisine, excellent personal service, wonderful cabin amenities, access to services such as free wifi, fitness center, the use of equipment such as bicycles, and more.

Let's get started with some basic river cruise stateroom information.

In Europe, there are two basic generations of river ships — older vessels (generally built before 2009) which are 361 feet or less in length, and more contemporary ships (generally built after 2010) that are 443 feet long. For the most part, the ship width is standardized at about 38 feet, as it is controlled by the river a ship cruises and the many canals, locks, and bridges it must pass through or under.

Inside cabin or outside cabin? First and of great importance... unlike ocean vessels, river ships do NOT have “inside” staterooms! ALL river ship staterooms are "outside" cabins, and feature either a fixed window(s) or a floor to ceiling window (opening) leading to a French balcony or a full balcony. Also, unlike large ocean ships that offer up to 20 decks or levels, a river ship traditionally has only three; a small ship typically 4 to 6 decks.

Okay, if all staterooms are outside, what side of the ship should I choose? Good question. For most cruise itineraries, it makes little difference as to what side of the ship your stateroom is located. While the view can sometimes vary, the best views on the river are had from either the sun deck or forward observation lounge. Your Premier expert can explain all about cabin locations for the ship you select.

What are the stateroom types? There are three types of accommodations on all river ships: riverview (fixed window) staterooms, balcony (French or full balcony) staterooms, and suites (French or full, private balcony). For the most part, riverview staterooms are on the lowest of the three decks; balcony staterooms occupy the middle and top passenger decks; suites are generally on the top deck. More on this topic below.

How big are the staterooms? While there are only three types of accommodations, stateroom sizes vary greatly by cruise line and even by ship within a cruise line’s fleet. For example, on one very well known cruise line a French balcony stateroom is only 135 square feet, as contrasted to other lines where the same style of French balcony cabin is a more spacious 172 to 200 square feet in size. Needless to say, size can influence your purchase decision, especially when both cruises cost about the same.

Generally speaking, amongst all the river cruise lines, riverview staterooms range from 125–170 square feet in size, balcony staterooms between 160–250 square feet, and suites from 295–600 square feet (Staterooms on both ocean and river ships tend to be of similar size, based on the category purchased.). This is how square footage translates to room size —
Typical Riverview Window
Averages 170sf, or 12ft x 14ft
Typical French Balcony
Averages 200sf, or 12ft x 17ft*
Typical, Larger French Balcony
Averages 250sf, or 14ft x 18ft
Typical Suite Full Balcony
Averages 295sf, or 14ft x 21ft

(*For comparison purposes, the typical balcony stateroom on an ocean going ship is 12 ft x 14 ft.)

The term, “one size does not fit all,” can aptly be applied when talking about river cruise staterooms. The age of a ship not only has a significant impact on stateroom size, but especially the number, size, and type of windows and balconies in a specific stateroom. Below are examples of the types of fixed window and balcony staterooms available on most of the river ships. To view more pictorial examples, click the button below each description.
Riverview Window Loft-style with Windows
French-style Balcony Dual Type Balcony Full Balcony

As a general rule, riverview staterooms feature one or two fixed windows which do not open. These staterooms are on the lower level of the ship and the windows are positioned above water level. The windows are usually about 5 feet above the cabin floor. Tauck's four newest ships feature an exciting “loft-style” cabin, and is the only cruise line to offer this design. These 225sf cabins not only offer a unique, spacious loft design, but also windows that actually open. Prices are very similar to their balcony staterooms so, while unique, there is little cost savings. A French-style balcony typically has floor to ceiling glass doors that either slide or accordion open, but have no outside seating area. There is a 40-43 inch high safety railing across the width of the full opening to prevent guests from accidentally falling out while the door is open. The private, dual/twin balcony design is split to afford guests the best of both worlds — a French balcony and an outside, sit-down balcony. Together, they provide a wonderful way to enjoy the sights along the river and to maximize the natural light coming in. Both can be used; windows open or close, independently of each other. Some river ships now offer private, full-sized outside sit-down balconies. These balconies are generally 3-4 feet deep and 10-16 feet in length depending on your stateroom size. Some suites offer more than one of these types of balconies.

It’s your vacation, why not think about indulging and enjoying the benefits of a luxurious, large suite. It’s a great way to travel, especially if you're celebrating a special occasion. You'll be amazed how little it can cost to upgrade from a larger balcony stateroom to a luxurious suite. On most 7-night cruises, the cost is normally between $1500pp–$2000pp more, and you may find that the extra space and “perks” make it a great way to gain extra enjoyment from your river cruise.

Factoring in the physical and emotional intangibles is probably the hardest part of choosing the right stateroom. The actual selection, as it should, will come down to a cost-benefit analysis. During your analysis, you may want to factor in some important intangibles and discuss them with your Premier river cruise expert. They'll greatly aid you in the decision-making process and stateroom choice. Click the "Expand to Read More" button to see a few of the "intangibles" to consider...



If you're reading this article, you’ve probably never done business with Premier, so now is the perfect time to reach out to us, get acquainted, and experience first-hand our genuine personal service, our expert knowledge of all things river and small ship cruising, and of course, our great cruise values!


Unlike most travel agencies (and all the cruise lines) who just want to “make the sale," our team of expert travel planners constantly strive to ensure every customer buys the right stateroom on: the right cruise, the right date, the right ship, and so much more.

We make sure this level of care and service happens by interviewing you the good, old fashioned way: on the phone! After learning about your vacation goals, we'll match you with the cruise line that we feel BEST SATISFIES your NEEDS, WANTS, DESIRES, and... your LIFESTYLE. Our years of experience enable us to bring the dream of a fabulous river or small ship cruise to vibrant, exciting life better than any other travel agency in the world. (By the way, when you get a chance, please read our "The Premier Difference" article to learn more about our company!)

But, remember one more very important aspect when planning your river or small ship cruise vacation... this is YOUR vacation! What good does it do to save a few hundred dollars and be booked on the wrong cruise? Sure, you saved a bit of cash, but you know what you'll remember after you get home? How bad the vacation was, not a few dollars of savings.

However, that does not mean Premier doesn't consider every customer's budget when helping them determine the best cruise for their vacation! We are very respectful of everyone's budget considerations, whether expansive or somewhat restrictive. Everyone has a different financial position. For those who have a more restrictive budget, we believe that our experience and guidance will enable you to stay on budget without ever compromising the quality of your dream vacation. Even on a tight budget, when you book with Premier, we're confident that you’ll return from your cruise saying, “All I know is, this was one of my best vacations ever!”

If budgeting is truly critical, please take a moment and learn about Premier’s exclusive, free EASY PAY cruise layaway program. Simply put: it's just an old-fashioned lay-away plan that allows you to make timed payments as you see fit. Premier is the only travel agency to offer this service and it is absolutely FREE to our customers.

To help you formulate your vacation budget, here are a few points to keep in mind as you plan your river or small ship cruise and what type of stateroom to purchase.

The most in-demand, highest-priced travel months are May, June, and September
Plan to cruise during less in-demand times, and enjoy bigger savings. Cruising in April, July, August, and October would be your best choices
Going in the Fall? You can garner big savings on theme cruises such a wine cruise or a fun-filled, festive Holiday Markets cruise. Because of our booking volume, we get the best deals!
Book very early for maximum savings. Premier has a PRICE GUARANTEE and PRICE ASSURANCE PROGRAM to protect you if the price goes down!
On average, the cost difference between a riverview and entry level balcony stateroom is as little as $799 per person
Really want that balcony? Go for the least expensive balcony if you are on a tight budget
Always remember, the cabin type is less important than selecting the right cruise line and itinerary
Run the numbers: cost vs benefit. Always buy a riverview vs not going!
Don't decide amega-size ship ocean cruise is less expensive than a river cruise. They're NOT! Take a look at our river cruise vs ocean cruise comparison charts on our "How to Avoid Sticker Shock" page and discover the TRUE, EXCEPTIONAL VALUE of a river cruise.
We guarantee that they will NOT have a better price than we do! If by some miracle they should, we'll give you that price PLUS UP TO $500 MORE OFF per cabin when you book with Premier!
It’s your vacation, you want to get full value and enjoy your cruise, but please... do yourself a big favor and don’t buy on price alone.


You will always get the 'Inside Scoop' on all things cruising when you sign-up to get our great HOT DEALS, email Newsletters, Exclusive Offers, & More!