Q – We are going to be joining some friends for a nice river boat vacation in May of 2018. We want to start planning right away and we need to know which of the lines serves, or rather includes, all alcohol as opposed to charging for drinks that we might order. It isn’t so much that we are boozers, rather that we just can’t stand to be charged for things once we are relaxed on vacation. Sure you understand what we mean. Better to pay for it and be done with it. Keep up the good work – this is the best river boat web information we’ve found.

A – The lines that include drinks for the entire cruise at all times are Crystal,Scenic, Tauck, and Uniworld. AMA, Viking, Avalon, and Emerald do not. Some lines, such as AMA, do serve beer and wine with lunch and dinner.  We frequently hear readers say they prefer a line that does not include alcohol because “I don;t want to be paying for other people’s drinks.” In fact, given the economy of scale and the fact that alcohol is purchased by the lines in bulk at wholesale prices, alcohol is really not a particularly significant cost of a line’s operation. Staffing, food, berthing and fuel are more important cost factors. The number of guests is also a major cost determinant. There are river boats that pack in 180 guests while other are in the 110-120 range.