River vessels can only be so high and so wide because of the locks and bridges they have to negotiate, and so there are limitations when building a river vessel. However, river cruise operators have responded to this challenge with an astounding level of innovation - it may be surprising but each river cruise line has its own unique characteristics.

Our beginner's guide to river cruising focuses on some of the river cruise operators who featured at the 2015 River Cruise Convention, which Amy and Rachel attended. We'll take a look here at A-Rosa.

A-Rosa

A little history: The German market is in fact the largest in river cruising, accounting for over a third of river cruisers (the UK's share is a little over 21%, making it the third biggest), and A-Rosa is a German-based company, although it was created as part of a joint venture with P & O. It has eleven vessels which all serve a specific river, and its fleet is divided into two to accommodate its increasingly international market, with five vessels adapted for the English-speaking market two years ago.

Each cruise starts with a red rose for the lady upon greeting, and A-Rosa focuses on fun. Like all of the A-Rosa fleet, A-Rosa Viva has a striking hull with smiling red lips and roses, and is vividly bright and orange inside. A-Rosa Viva is one of the vessels adapted for the English-speaking market, and has capacity for 204 guests. Its vibrant colours suit the fun atmosphere promoted onboard, and there is a lot of attention paid to entertainment, with a dance floor and DJ booth in the lounge, complete with multi-coloured disco lights. A-Rosa also feature a stand-up comedian, which is unique in river cruising.

The open dining and flexible dining times suit the laid-back atmosphere, with food served as a gourmet buffet with the chance to tuck into speciality a la carte dining about four times a week. There is a small waiter-service restaurant available for an extra charge.

The onboard 'Spa-Rosa' is ideal for relaxation and pampering, with a couple of massage rooms, an outside whirlpool bath, a relaxation area and a sanarium complete with a sauna.

A-Rosa is 'premium all-inclusive' with most things included in the price (some drinks are not included), except shore excursions - a recognition of the fact that most of their guests want choice and flexibility, and would largely prefer to either explore ashore independently or at least not have to be at a certain place at a certain time. Its fares are competitively priced, there are no single supplements on over 89 departures for 2016, and families can take advantage of A-Rosa's policy where children under 15 can travel free. This enables families with two children under 15 to have 2 cabins for the price of one! And there are even cabins designed specifically for families with connecting doors.

Ideal for: families, the young at heart, the cost-conscious, entertainment lovers, and those looking for a more informal, laid-back experience


  • A-Rosa Viva

    A-Rosa Viva

  • A-Rosa Silva - Cabin

    A-Rosa Silva - Cabin

  • A-Rosa Silva Dining

    A-Rosa Silva Dining

  • A-Rosa Silva Lounge

    A-Rosa Silva Lounge

  • A-Rosa Silva Pool

    A-Rosa Silva Pool

  • Golf on deck

    Golf on deck

  • Sun Deck

    Sun Deck

  • Spa-Rosa

    Spa-Rosa

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