TUI River Cruise Ships Compared

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When planning a river cruise, much of your adventure will take place ashore. Your cruise will drop you right in the heart of some of Europe and Africa’s best destinations, giving you ample time to explore and enjoy the culture.

TUI Alma Ship

However, don’t disregard the other half of your cruise – the time spent onboard. You can look forward to exceptional comfort, great dining and the fantastic service that TUI is renowned for.

Yet the ships aren’t identical, so let’s look at the full fleet of TUI River Cruises ships and the differences between them, as it may influence your decision on which one to book.

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How Many TUI River Cruises Ships Are There?

There are five ships in the TUI fleet, all of which are adults-only. Three of those are currently sailing in Europe, with a brand new ship to join them in 2025. The final ship sails the Nile in Africa.

The ships are:

  • TUI Isla – Europe
  • TUI Maya – Europe
  • TUI Skyla – Europe
  • TUI Al Horeya – Africa
  • TUI Alma – Europe, brand new for 2025

Most of the fleet has been taken on by TUI and given extensive renovation to offer the best cruises possible, but TUI Alma will be the first brand-new ship built exclusively for the fleet.

TUI River Cruise Ships Accommodation

There are several different cabin options available across the TUI fleet, including standard cabins, cabins with a French Balcony, some with a full balcony, and some suite options.

Here’s a breakdown of all the different accommodation types by ship:

Cabin TypeTypeTUI AlmaTUI IslaTUI MayaTUI SkylaTUI Al Horeya
Balcony Suite CabinSuiteNoNoNoNoYES
French Balcony Suite CabinSuiteYESYESYESYESYES
Balcony CabinBalconyYESNoNoNoNo
Superior French Balcony CabinFrench BalconyNoYESYESYESYES
French Balcony Single CabinFrench BalconyNoYESYESYESNo
French Balcony CabinFrench BalconyYESYESYESYESNo
Superior CabinOutside ViewNoYESYESYESNo
Single CabinOutside ViewYESYESYESYESYES
Standard CabinOutside ViewYESYESYESYESNo

There are no cabins on any of the TUI ships that are Insides – you will always have at least a view from a large window – Superior Cabins have two windows for even more light.

Most of the rooms on the ships have a French Balcony, so you don’t actually get an outdoor space you can step out onto, but you do get to have an open air view and soak in the sights and smells of your destinations.

There are a handful of cabins with a Balcony, including the option of a Balcony Suite if you cruise on TUI Al Horeya.

TUI River Cruise Ships Dining

While river cruise ships don’t have the space to have the same number of restaurants as ocean-faring vessels, you aren’t stuck with just one choice, regardless of the ship you choose. Each has at least two dining options to enjoy, and most have three.

RestaurantTypeTUI AlmaTUI IslaTUI MayaTUI SkylaTUI Al Horeya
Main Restaurant*Buffet/table serviceYESYESYESYESYES
Al FrescoBBQ/snacks (weather dependent) NoYESYESYESYES
BistroBuffet/table serviceNoYESYESYESNo
CinderBuffet lunchYESNoNoNoNo
VinhaTable service dinnersYESNoNoNoNo

Each ship has a main restaurant. On Al Horeya, that’s its name, while TUI Alma has Sorriso while the other three ships have Verdastro. It offers a range of meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a mix of buffet and a la carte options.

Verdastro Restaurant on TUI Ship

Al Fresco is an outdoor bar area on the top deck that, when the weather permits, will serve BBQ food and snacks. Cinder, on TUI Alma, is similar but it’s designed to be open on all itineraries and has self-serve lunches every day.

The Bistro is an alternative dining venue and offers a more relaxed environment. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and again offers a range of buffet and a la carte options.

While Vinha, exclusive to TUI Alma, is designed to showcase the best of local flavours. It is only open for dinner.

TUI River Cruise Ships Entertainment

The leisure facilities and entertainment across the ships are relatively similar, though there are a couple of key differences to watch out for.

FacilityTUI AlmaTUI IslaTUI MayaTUI SkylaTUI Al Horeya
Top Deck With ActivitiesYESYESYESYESYES
Shallow PoolYESNoNoNoYES

Each of the river cruise ships has a main lounge – it’s called the Observatory on most of the fleet, although TUI Alma’s lounge is called the Novo Lounge. Here, you’ll be able to grab a relaxed drink during the day, while in the evening you can enjoy the varied entertainment provided by the ship, including live music, quizzes and more.

Prefer a quieter cocktail or coffee? TUI Isla, TUI Maya and TUI Skyla all have the Club Lounge, perfect for pre- or post-dinner drinks in a more peaceful spot, with a roaring digital fireplace setting the mood.

TUI Alma has a similar spot, but it’s called The Retreat. By day, it serves as the wellness centre, with exercise equipment, classes and more along with a juice bar. It then transforms at night into an intimate location for a post-dinner cocktail.

Each of the other ships has its own Wellness Centre too, with a sauna available on TUI Isla, TUI Maya and TUI Skyla. TUI Al Horeya offers spa treatments including massages, as well.

TUI Al Horeya Pool

All ships also have a top deck where you can relax and enjoy a range of activities, including cornhole and even mini golf. Only TUI Alma and TUI Al Horeya have a pool, though.

TUI River Cruise Ships Destinations

The main differences between the TUI River Cruises ships are the destinations where they sail – so if you’re planning your cruise based on your itinerary, that’s more likely to be the deciding factor on which ship you book.

RiverTUI AlmaTUI IslaTUI MayaTUI SkylaTUI Al Horeya
Dutch & Belgian WaterwaysNoYESNoNoNo

Final Word

Honestly, the onboard experience doesn’t vary too much between the TUI ships – you’re going to have an amazing time regardless. There are subtle differences in the accommodation options and some of the onboard dining and entertainment, but it’s mainly the destination choices that separate these ships.

Remember that all your dining is included, along with drinks during meals and the tips – not a penny extra to pay across the fleet. So whichever ship you sail on, you’ll enjoy fantastic value.

Book your river cruise now for big savings

Up to £200 extra off on summer 2024 sailings!

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Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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