Two years ago, we wrote about the myriad of beverage policies that are present in the river cruise industry. Some lines offer complimentary beverages across all ships and destinations, while others include free beer and wine with lunch and dinner.
But fast forward two years, and things have changed substantially. Some lines, like CroisiEurope, Tauck and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection now offer inclusive onboard beverage policies that allow for all but premium wines and spirits to be enjoyed freely throughout the cruise. Others, like A-ROSA, have been all-inclusive from the start.
To help readers make sense of the many policies offered by each line, we’ve updated our handy chart of who-offers-what:
Should you chose a river cruise operator solely based on its beverage policies? Probably not, but if all things were created equal, the advantage of having most if not all beverages provided on a complimentary basis could be enough to tip the scales in favor of that particular line.
It’s also critically important that river cruisers do their homework; even if you’ve sailed with a particularly line before, don’t assume its offerings in, say, Russia will be identical to those on its European river vessels. Ships operating in areas like Russia, Portugal, Asia and South America are often owned and or operated by other companies and may have entirely different policies toward onboard beverages.
The good news, though, is that river cruise lines seem to be getting even more competitive where beverages are concerned. River cruising has always been more inclusive than many mainstream ocean-cruising products, and that trend looks like it will continue.