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The Anatomy of River Cruise Staterooms

river cruise staterooms

River cruise staterooms can be quite different from than those found on ocean cruise ships. One common element on a river cruise is that most guests can expect enormous windows, usually floor to ceiling, so you can watch the world go by. Balconies, whether “French,” (floor-to-ceiling windows that open, but don’t actually extend out to allow passengers to step out) or full, complete with a table and chairs, are pretty standard. The best way to get an idea of what a river cruise stateroom is like is to look at cabins on a few different river cruise lines.

Typical river cruise staterooms


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AmaWaterways, which offers cruises in Europe, Asia and Africa, has generously sized standard cabins, with at least 160 square feet of space. On one of its typical ships, such as the AmaCello, there are 73 standard staterooms with 170 square feet; four suites, which are 225 square feet; and two single cabins, with 140 square feet. Most have French balconies, which basically means you can open the windows so you can watch the passing countryside and get some fresh air. The marble bathrooms feel quite luxurious, with multi-jet showerheads and high-end bath amenities. High-speed internet access, with movies on demand, and bottled water, is complimentary. Suites have a sitting area with a sofa and two chairs, a stocked minibar and a full bathroom, with a bathtub and a separate shower.


Book a trip on one of Scenic’s innovative “Space Ships,” so named for the way the cruise line makes excellent use of the space it has, and enjoy cabins which all have river views (there are no inside staterooms). Scenic has what it calls “sun lounge” balconies (every cruises line seems to coin a different name) found in its balcony and deluxe suites. These lounges are simply a glass-enclosed portion of the cabin with two wicker chairs and a table. Push a button and the top part of the glass wall comes down and suddenly your cabin is a balcony. All cabins include still and sparkling water, iPod docking station and a complimentary mini bar stocked with drinks and snacks. Beds feature Egyptian cotton sheets and duvets, bathrooms are stocked with L’Occitane bath products, and perhaps best of all, every cabin gets butler service.

river cruise staterooms
Avalon Amazon Discovery Estuary Suite. (Photo: Avalon Waterways)

Avalon Waterways

On Avalon’s “Suite Ships,” the Panorama Suites, which are the majority of the cabins, have 11-foot-wide and seven-foot-tall wall-to-wall windows that open all the way, with a protective horizontal rail across the lower half. The line calls these “open-air balconies” and they are quite amazing. It’s essentially like having an entire wall roll back so you can take in the views with nothing in the way. In addition, the cabins are cleverly designed so that the beds face the windows, something that is surprisingly not a common feature on river cruise ships. There are also a handful of cruise staterooms with regular windows and two large suites. Amenities in all cabins include orthopedic mattresses, Egyptian cotton linens, free bottled water, complimentary Wi-Fi, and marble bathrooms with L’Occitane toiletries.

Emerald Waterways

Emerald Waterways’ “Star-Ship” class ships can accommodate 182 passengers and feature 72 suites and 20 staterooms. The majority of the cabin types are the Panorama Balcony Suites, which boast wall-size windows that open half-way. Emerald calls these “private balconies” and they make the 180-square-foot cabins seem much larger, especially when wide open. Amenities in all cabins include complimentary water, Wi-Fi and a stocked mini fridge (for a fee). Bathrooms have full showers, stocked with Italian Prija bath amenities. There are a few higher-end suites, which come with actual walk-out balconies and lots of perks, such as canapes before dinner, free minibar and more. The cruise staterooms, found on the lower decks, have picture windows which do not open, but are certainly a great deal for those who are just as happy taking in the views from the public spaces. There are also two single cabins, a nice option for solo travelers.

Viking Longship Class Cabins

 Viking’s signature “Longships” offer a variety of room categories, from standard staterooms with picture windows to expansive suites with living rooms, full verandahs (most ships call these balconies) and French balconies in the bedrooms. There are no interior rooms at all, so every passenger at least gets a view. The décor is Scandinavian with lots of blond woods and white accents. In every category, the bathrooms have glass-enclosed showers, L’Occitane toiletries and heated floors. A nice touch is that fresh fruit and bottled water are replenished daily. Free on-demand movies and Wi-Fi are also included.

Of course, on all lines, when it comes to cruise staterooms, more space means a larger ticket price. Is it worth it to you to pay for a larger cabin or does the size of your sleeping quarters not matter? Tell us in the comments.

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