River Cruise Travel Guide

Frequently Asked Questions



What river cruise lines does Road Scholar work with?

Road Scholar works with a number of cruise lines to provide an authentic regional experience, using regional companies with a local crew whenever possible. These cruise lines include Amazon Clipper, American Queen, CF Mekong, CroisiEurope, G Adventures, Iberostar, Lernidee and Vodohod. 

How many passengers will be on board?

The number of passengers range by region and cruise line but usually accommodates from 30 passengers up to 180 passengers. Two notable exceptions are the Mstislav Rostropovich, which sails in Russia and accommodates up to 212 passengers; the American Queen, which sails the Mississippi River and accommodates up to 436 passengers. Riverboats in Southeast Asia and the Amazon tend to be a smaller size in order to navigate smaller, shallower waterways.

Do all cabins have windows or balconies?

While ships vary from cruise line to cruise line, almost every riverboat cabin has outside views. The only two riverboats Road Scholar sails that have inside cabins are the American Queen and all-suite American Duchess. European riverboats tend to be narrower, longer and sleeker, with lower-deck cabins being at or just above river’s view. These cabins range from porthole windows to full-size windows that span the width of the cabin. Mid- and upper-deck cabins feature large, panoramic windows at a minimum with some cabins featuring small balconies. For some cruise lines, every cabin has a smaller French balcony or full balcony. 

Will there be entertainment on board?

Local, authentic entertainment may be offered during the cruise but can’t be counted on each evening while you are aboard. When there are performances, they often feature local artists or musicians who entertain in the ship’s bar or lounge area as opposed to stage productions that are becoming more common on larger ships. The smaller, intimate performances are a great representation of the relaxed vibe of the river cruise experience.  

What type of restaurants are on board?

Riverboats typically only have one restaurant on board in addition to a lounge that serves snacks, coffee and tea through the day. Breakfast is served as a buffet while dinner is a multi-course meal served in a single sitting. Lunches will vary between buffet and plated table service depending on the cruise line and the activities planned for the day. 

Can the chef accommodate meal restrictions?

The chefs aboard riverboats are flexible and will do their best to accommodate dietary restrictions. The course menu will be posted ahead of time so passengers can ask for a substitution if they would like. To understand the options available, talk to the group leader or the maître d′. 

How many passengers are on my excursion?

The number of passengers on excursions can range from 24 to 40 people. Most of the time, when possible, Road Scholar offers exclusive excursions with our own local experts and transportation. When Road Scholar operates a full-ship charter, passengers will be divided into smaller groups, each with their own leader.  

Is Wi-Fi available on board the riverboat? How much does it cost?

The availability of onboard Wi-Fi varies by cruise line. Wi-Fi is often available on riverboats across the United States and Europe, though it may not be too reliable except when in port. When Wi-Fi is available, it may be complimentary but you should check your program materials for details. Even when Wi-Fi is available, the bandwidth will often be limited — ideal for a quick email or check-in, but not suited for browsing the web or uploading photos. 

Are shuttle services provided in each ship?

One of the best parts about riverboats is they can dock in the center of town. Many of the ports they visit — especially in Europe — are historic towns built on the river, since they were the primary form of transportation. The American Queen provides complimentary hop-on, hop-off shuttles from the docking location to the town. 

Can I pay with cash and credit card on board?

Riverboats will accept cash and credit cards while on board. Many cruise lines accept U.S. dollars while on board, as well as the local currency, and some may offer services converting currencies. More often than not, most European cities do not accept U.S. dollars. When in Asia, U.S. dollars are widely accepted in most major cities. It is always a good idea to carry small bills in the local currency for when you are in port; there may be a minimum purchase amount required to use your credit card. 

Does the ship sail at night?

Sometimes. Most ships will sail both during the day and during the night, but it depends on the region and local navigation standards. Sailing during the day is one of the highlights of river cruising because it allows for the opportunity to admire the towns and countryside along the riverbanks between ports of call. 

Educational River Cruises