When 8 Days Is Really 7

Thanks to a long-time reader for this note regarding our pricing charts: The per-diem charts you provide are a great time saver when comparing which line to choose for a trip. There is just one thing to consider, however. An 8-day cruise is really 7 nights since you have to exit the ship early on the 8th day. It would be more fair to readers if you use the cost/night rather than per diem based on days since that changes the denominator. Keep up the good work, Al

Thank you Al. Clearly, Al’s reasoning is valid, and so we did go back to our spreadsheets to adapt all of our pricing charts to reflect what you’ll actually pay per night. After all, as Al suggests, on the final day of your river cruise you could be off the ship as early as 6 a.m. (or earlier) in order to transfer to the airport for flights home. For comparison purposes, if you were to calculate your average cost per day on board based on days instead of nights, you’d be off by quite a bit, and our feeling is that the methodology is important for those who want to know what they’re getting for what they pay.

Our charts reflect what we have termed the “true per diem” once all variables are factored in. What do we mean by variables? River cruise companies display their itineraries along with lead-in pricing. On some river cruises, however, you’ll pay extra for port charges, gratuities on ship, gratuities ashore and beverages. On the flip side, cruise companies may offer incentives, such as free or discounted air, complimentary land extensions and special savings.

Our 2025 Danube pricing charts are a good example of how these variables play out. Emerald shows a price of $8,590 per person for its 8-day Danube Delights river cruise. No other cruise company, except for Emerald’s sister Scenic, comes remotely close to this brochure price. But in fact, you’ll pay nothing near Emerald’s published rate once the variables are considered. That $17,000 river cruise for two turns out to be $6,600 once all incentives are factored in, as you’ll see in Emerald’s pricing below

Further adding to the confusion, some cruise companies list their itineraries by the number of days on board (CroisiEurope, Emerald, Riviera, Scenic, Tauck, Uniworld and Viking) while AmaWaterways and Avalon designate their itineraries by number of nights. Of course, not everyone is drilling down like we do in order to figure out how much we’re actually paying for each full day on board. That said, just keep in mind that 8 days is really 7 days when comparing costs. 

How are prices stacking up for 2025 on the Danube? When we run the numbers to derive the bottom line – our “true per diem” – prices range from US$420 per day to $713 per day for similar itineraries. We also look at what you’ll pay per square foot of living space. It’s important because no one wants a cramped stateroom. Lead-in pricing is typically for staterooms with windows as opposed to those with balconies. Stateroom sizes in our chart range from 120 square feet to 183 square feet. We find it interesting to consider what you’re paying per square food on daily (or nightly) basis, and those rates range from $2.73 to $4.75 per square foot.

We’re always looking to improve our pricing charts in order to stay true to our mission: to provide you with resources that help you with informed cruise travel choices. If, like Al, you see something that will help us improve, please let us know.