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Premium lines like Evergreen Tours and Travelmarvel are outshining their luxury sisters as Australians search for value over inclusions.

Four-star deluxe brand Evergreen Tours says that they have seen growth in their guest numbers over the past few years – despite an exceptionally competitive market.

In fact, 64 per cent of their Category E Emerald Staterooms on their best selling 15-day ‘Splendours of Europe’ itinerary in 2020 were snapped up one month after launch.

Well-travelled Aussies do a lot of research before booking their holidays, and more are finding the right fit on premium cruise lines, saving thousands on their holidays.

“There will always be a market for the luxury end of the river cruise market, but I think right now, the majority of enquiry we receive are looking for value over inclusions,” says Barry Downs, Sales and Marketing Manager of Bicton Travel, one of Australia’s leading cruise travel agency.

“Hence the likes of Evergreen, Travelmarvel and Viking are gaining market share from the big names in the luxury space.”

Lines like Riviera Travel also claim to offer five-star value on a five-star ship at price points closer to premium lines.

Mr Downs explains that some experienced cruises are finding that they don’t actually want or use all the bells and whistles luxury lines provide or have their hand held every step of the way.

First time cruisers, who are often younger, also prefer premium lines. They are more likely to question the inclusions and perceived value, especially when vessels and itineraries for European river cruising can be quite similar.

“It is hard for luxury lines to convey in a half page advert or thirty second commercial, what your extra dollars get you,” says Mr Downs.

“So when cruisers look at say an Evergreen advert side by side with a Scenic advert, they will very likely naturally sway to the lower price point of Evergreen.”

River Cruise Passenger compared luxury with premium lines and found that you could indeed save up to $3,000 in fares when sailing with premium lines.

However, luxury lines also often run free flight offers on their longer itineraries when you book early, which covers most of the savings to be had when you choose to sail with premium lines.

It is back to basics where consulting a good CLIA accredited cruise advisor would be able to help you find the best brand, ship and itinerary that suit your lifestyle, says Mr Downs.

See how the inclusions of similar itineraries on the Douro River across the lines stack up against each other.

Scenic Tours

Scenic Azure

Scenic Azure

Delightful Douro’ eight-day Porto roundtrip

Departs: Apr 30, 2020

Ship: Scenic Azure

Berlitz ship rating: 392/500

Price: from $6,090, book by August 31, 2019 to receive included flights.


  • All meals on board (up to five dining options)
  • Complimentary beverages all day, everyday
  • Airport transfers
  • Butler service for all guests
  • Access to Scenic Tailormade App which shows the cruise program and serves as a travel guide
  • All tipping and gratuities
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • One exclusive Scenic Enrich experience
  • Your choice of seven Scenic Freechoice activities

Evergreen Tours

Emerald Radiance

Secrets of the Douro’ eight-day Porto roundtrip

Departs: May 16, 2020

Ship: Emerald Radiance

Price: from $4,695

Berlitz ship rating: 378/500


  • All meals on board
  • Complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
  • Bottled water daily
  • Airport transfers to and from the ship
  • Port taxes and charges
  • All tipping and gratuities
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Five main excursions as well as six ‘You’re Invited’ local experiences and five EmeraldACTIVE excursions



Douro Delights’ nine-day Porto to Madrid

Departs: May 13, 2020

Ship: MS AmaVida

Berlitz ship rating: 389/500

Price: from $7,195, book by November 30, 2019 to fly for $995.


  • All meals on board
  • Complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages all day
  • Multiple on board dining experiences
  • Butler service for select suites
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Airport transfers
  • All gratuities
  • All-inclusive sightseeing in 9 destinations (with Freedom of Choice)
  • Two exclusive Signature Experiences


MS Douro Serenity

Douro Discovery’ eight-day Porto roundtrip

Departs: May 26, 2020

Ship: MS Douro Serenity

Berlitz ship rating: 365/500

Price: from $3,995


  • All meals on board
  • Daily bottled water, tea and coffee
  • Soft drink and local wine during lunch and dinner
  • Airport transfers
  • Port charges
  • Tipping
  • Three Insider Experiences (special excursions or events)
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi in public areas and available for a small charge in cabins

Riviera Travel

MS Douro Elegance

Douro Discovery’ eight-day Porto roundtrip

Departs: May 8, 2020

Ship: MS Douro Elegance

Berlitz ship rating: 363/500

Price: $3,929


  • All meals on board
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Seven excursions and experiences
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • All port charges and taxes