Q – We have been following your reviews on the riverboat site, www.riverboatratings.com  It seems that since Crystal went bankrupt, the leading lines are AMA Waterways and Tauck, both, according to you, rock-solid Americasn companies with outstanding leadership and services. Now, I am on one of the “critic” sites and we see that AMA was recently sold. There are four of us going on this trip. It will be our first riverboat experience and we want it to be amongthebest available. Should we wait and see what devlops at AMA and iof the product changes for the worst? How are you ranking the top riverboats at thios time? Really appreciate your efforts and no BS approach. 

A –   No worries. AMA was bought by L Catterton, a leading French investment firm with approximastely $35 Billion currentloy under investment. The founders of AMA will remain in place but the line now has investment potential that surpasses that of any of its competitors.L Catterton is a partner equity brand of BernardArnault, reportedly the world’s richest man. This is quite a wonderful break for everyone connected with AMA and its loyal customer base. Look for an acceleration in the ordering of new ships and new destinations. 

After Crystal’s riverboats were pulled fromservice and sold, we feel that there is a bunching at the top in terms of overall quality. Currently, our CSI Inspection Reports place AMA, Tauck, and Scenic at the very top of the lisitings of riverboatings very best brands. Uniworld is extyremely close and there are several smaller firms in South America and Asia that currently operate top-tier products.

Some points of differenciation between the Top Three Riverboat brands:

Scenic edges out the others in overall service. The line is Australian-owned and Americans are normally a minority of guests aboard. 

Tauck operates excellent riverboats which they lease and do not own.

AMA Waterways caters to a primarily American clientele and is known for the variety of its shore excursions and partnershipos with major travel suppliers like Disney and Backroads.