River cruising in the past has been primarily associated as a holiday strictly for adults, namely couples. This notion has recently begun to change with the arrival of family friendly river cruises.
Several companies are now offering cruises that finally give the whole family a good reason to try a river cruise.
The general manager of Australasia Cruise Lines International Association, Brett Jardine stated recently, “As the number of river-cruise ships and itineraries grows, it’s only natural that some cruise lines may seek to broaden their offering. Attracting more family groups would be one way of doing this.”
WHEN TO GO
One of the many reasons as to why river cruising has gained popularity amongst families is due to the time period. Most river cruises take place during the summer; which is the perfect time for a family holiday, as the children are off from school.
In addition, winter river cruises in Europe are popular because the whole family will get the chance to visit an authentic Christmas market.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES?
River cruise holidays have several advantages over those taken at sea. They allow a more in depth look at smaller towns and villages. In port, besides sightseeing, there are many activities that can be tailored to please every member of the family.
Many intriguing activities for people of all ages can be found; some of these activities consist of medieval games, dinners at unique castles such as Heidelberg Castle, Strasbourg and Koln Cathedral, chocolate tastings, and cooking classes. In addition, private tours can be booked to allow a complete customisation of the holiday to fit your family’s preferences.
Typical options for the active, thrilling adventure type include zip lining above the Black Forest, to more thought provoking pursuits such as attending a concert at Schönbrunn Palace.
RIVER CRUISE LINES THAT CATER FOR FAMILIES
Popular destinations for family river cruising include the Danube, the Rhine and Rhone as well as the Seine. Out of the various river cruise lines, the lines that are presently appropriate for families to consider are:
Designed with families in mind and accepting children as young as four, the AmaWaterways AmaViola and AmaStella offer triple and quad cabins, a rarity in the river cruise market. Plus there are a limited number of interconnecting cabins.
Cabins contain two balconies with one that you can sit in and the other a traditional French balcony. These ships offer a heated pool, complimentary Internet, entertainment on demand and an onboard fitness centre and spa. Certain sailings also offer a childrens menu to please the little one’s fussy palate!
Prague to Budapest and everything in between are the highlighted destinations of the AmaViola, whilst the AmaStella concentrates on the Danube and Christmas Market cruises.
With no age limit, CroisiEurope operates 50 vessels with some capable of accommodating more than two to a cabin. With a decidedly French flavour, the line warmly welcomes children on board and provides child friendly menus during their summer family cruises.
On the sailings that are designated for families, children up to 16 years travel free or for a greatly reduced fare when travelling with a parent, even with an adjourning cabin.
This French river cruise line offers several destinations that cannot be found with other river cruise companies. Consider sailing between Berlin and the centre of Prague on the Elbe or on the French canals past Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, or on Spain and Portugal’s Guadalquivir and Guadiana rivers.
Offering selective all inclusive holidays that allows children as young as three to travel, the line has been offering family river cruises for many years. Some of Tauck’s cabins can accommodate up to four passengers. Besides traditional dining, there’s a casual dining venue that younger people appreciate as an alternative.
Castles on the Rhine will enable your family to get up close to real life fairytale land with stops in Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Other popular choices include their latest addition which is an immersive family trip along the River Rhône or venturing to Hungary through Slovakia and Austria to Germany along the Danube.
As Winner of Travel + Leisure’s “#1 River Cruise Line for Families” Uniworld has an excellent reputation because of its attentive staff, excellent dining, plush decor and comprehensive guided tours. Currently the cabins serve two people but can be adjoined to accommodate up to four.
The minimum age accepted for sailings is four years and the line is gearing towards more interactive activities onboard its vessels with their youth counsellors. Examples include taste testing with the Soda Sommelier and arts and craft workshops. Child friendly tours can also be arranged.
Adults can venture ashore for their own tours without the entire family and can be assured that the kids are left in good hands with the ‘Family Hosts’.
Uniworld has an extensive number of summer family sailings on the Rhine, Danube, Seine and Po Rivers.
CONSIDERING A RIVER CRUISE FOR 2018?
Many sailings for 2017 are already filled to capacity and that includes those for the Christmas Markets. Now is the time to take a look at what is available towards the summer of 2018.
The most important factor in choosing a river cruise isn’t just the cruise line itself but the destinations and available tours that will be of the most interest to the entire family. As the trend towards family cruising on the rivers of Europe increases, more lines and vessels will change their demographics of passengers to include families.
In comparison to ocean cruising, river cruising is always more about the destination than the onboard activities. Whether it’s a leisurely bike ride along the Danube or connecting to Venice on the Po River or even escalating up one of the oldest Ferris Wheels, the Weiner Reisenrad in Vienna, choose the holiday that will be the ideal fit for your entire family.
Written by Veronica Shine