2018 Price Comparisons on the Rhone and Saone Rivers


Looking for a taste of Provence on your next river cruise? Try the Rhône and Saône rivers in France. Home to some of the best wine-producing areas in Europe, the Rhône and Saône also are graced the beauty of Provence, multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites and historic cities like Lyon, Avignon and Arles.

CroisiEurope Avignon

Pont d’Avignon. © 2016 Ralph Grizzle

A few things that we appreciate most bout Rhône river cruises.

  • Provencal and Bourgogne Beauty. Rhône River cruises typically sail between Lyon and Avignon or Arles, taking in the gorgeous landscapes of Burgundy and Provence.
  • Pont du Gard. The iconic bridge crossing the Gardon River is one of the best-preserved legacies of ancient Roman architecture in France.
  • Bicycling. We’ve enjoyed cycling along the Rhône and Saône rivers though the wine-producing region of Beaujolais and along the Île de la Barthelasse across from the city of Avignon.
  • Arles. Perhaps best-known for its incredible Roman monuments and the fact that the impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh lived here from 1888 to 1889.
  • Wonderful Wines.  Rhône River cruises typically visit the wine-producing regions of Beaujolais and Chateauneuf du Pape.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the Pope’s Palace in Avignon and Pont du Gard.

Check out our video featuring experiences ashore on Rhône/Saône river cruises.

Many cruise lines will tack on a few days of exploration in Paris, while a few venture down to the Cote d’Azur to include evenings in either Nice, Villefranche or even a post-cruise stay in Barcelona, Spain.

The big players here are AmaWaterways, CroisiEurope, Emerald Waterways, Scenic, Tauck, Uniworld, and Viking River Cruises. In the accompanying table, we extrapolate the data to arrive at true per diems once all incentives and inclusions are factored in to the base prices. Air incentives and other special, limited-time offers can help reduce the overall per diem substantially. Some of these offers, like Scenic’s “Up to Fly for Free” offer, may only apply on certain departure dates, sailings and months. We noticed that, when you dig deeper into Scenic’s offer, air on the particular sailing we selected for this chart was offered for $995 for economy class, and $1,395 for Premium Economy.

CroisiEurope Mistral

CroisiEurope’s Mistral in Avignon, France. © 2016 Ralph Grizzle

Prices for 2018 Rhône/Saône river cruises are on par with what you might pay on the Seine.

  AmaWaterways CroisiEurope Emerald Waterways Scenic Tauck Uniworld Viking River Cruises
Ship AmaCello ms Camargue Emerald Liberte Scenic Sapphire ms Emerald S.S. Catherine Viking Delling
Rate $4,348 $2,891 $5,490 $6,290 $6,390 $5,399 $3,849
Sailing Date June 14, 2018 June 11, 2018 June 7, 2018 September 5, 2018^^ July 8, 2018^ June 10, 2018 June 13, 2018
Number of days 8 8 10 9 10 8 8
Cabin Category Category C Standard Cabin Vista Deck Balcony A Balcony Suite C Category 3 Category 3 Veranda Cat B
Square Footage 155 108 180 205 150 194 205
Balcony French None French None French French Step-out
Per diem/per person $543 $361 $549 $698 $639 $674 $481
Port Charges $168 ($21 per day) Included Included Included Included Included Included
Gratuities (on ship – non-compulsory) $136 ($17 per day) $90 ($11.25 per day) Included Included Included Included $127 ($15.87 per day)
Gratuities (on shore – non-compulsory) $20 ($2.50 per day) $20 ($2.50 per day) $20 ($2.50 per day) Included Included Included $20 ($2.50 per day
Beverages $80 ($10 per day) Included $80 ($10 per day) Included Included Included $80 ($10 per day)
Laundry $24 ($3 per day) n/a $24 ($3 per day); included for suites. Included* $24 ($3 per day) Included* $24 ($3 per day)
Optional Shore Excursions all excursions included all excursions included $100 ($12.50 per day)* all excursions included all excursions included all excursions included $100 ($12.50 per day)*
Incentive (links may have expired depending on end date of promotion) n/a n/a Fly to Europe for $495pp. Source: Emerald Waterways Fly from $995 ($174 per day); Book and pay in full by October 31, 2017 and save $1000 per couple. Source: Scenic n/a n/a Economy air from $695 per person
Our Estimated Value of Incentive $0 $0 $990 ($123 per day) $1100 ($122 per day) $0 n/a $1,390 ($174 per day)
True Per Diem $596 $375 $454 $576 $642 $674 $351

Comparative summer 2018 pricing for river cruises sailing the Rhone/Saone Rivers. We looked for staterooms of equivalent size and features, namely those with French balconies or step-out balconies. Prices were obtained from cruise company websites and may not reflect current incentives. Additional charges were estimated in some cases, such as for laundry and beverages, and obtained from the cruise company websites. * Emerald Waterways and Viking River Cruises include at least one shore excursion in each port of call, with optional excursions for a fee. ** To calculate the value of included roundtrip economy air, we used Viking’s $1,595 per person published rate from select gateways in North America. ^The majority of Tauck’s June 2018 Rhone/Saone departures have limited availability and are nearly sold out; a July departure has been selected instead. ^^ On its website, Scenic only offers Rhone/Saone departures in May and September of 2018; May itineraries are almost completely sold out as of this writing.

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