Q – A friend, who seems to be knowledgeable about all things travel-related, told us that the river boat lines, all of them but Viking River, do not hire their own crew because they don;t even own the boats. The boats are rented and the crew comes with the boat. Could this possibly be true. It is of some interest as we are looking to sail the Rhine on our first sailing and we are looking at Avalon and Uniworld on the advice of our same friend. 

A – Of the major river boat lines reviewed on this site, only three own and operate their own ships. They are: AMA Waterways – Crystal – and Viking River. The other companies lease their ships and at least portions of their crew. Under current lease agreements, lines can interview and be involved  in the hiring of some crew members. Technical staff usually comes with the boat so that insurance requirements can be met. We wouldn’t read too much into whether or not a particular line owns its ships. Tauck, for example,  leases their river boat and many of their crew members from a company called Scylla, a large Swiss shipping company. Tauck is  rated above each of the lines you are considering.