At first glance, it might seem as though river cruising isn’t the best vacation choice for families with children. After all, a river cruise ship doesn’t have the same amenities that many mega-cruise ships do, not to mention the choice of four different waterslides. But scratch beneath the surface, and you’ll discover that many river cruise lines actually go out of their way to cater to families of all ages.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has gone out of its way to make families feel welcome onboard its ships, through its Multigenerational Family Friendly Programs offered on select sailings for 2012 and 2013, including Burgundy & Provence; Paris & Normandy; and in 2013, the Classic Christmas Markets from Frankfurt to Nuremberg.
Onboard these select family friendly sailings, children will enjoy a menu designed specifically for kids, along with complimentary soft drinks during lunch and dinner. Guests can choose to partake in cooking classes while onboard, and even take part in the creation of their very own dessert. A private tour of the ship, escorted by the Captain or Hotel Manager, is also available, and kids of all ages (even those fully grown ones!) can indulge in board games, movies, or the ship’s PlayStation and Nintendo Wii-equipped games room.
Perhaps more importantly, Uniworld’s family friendly sailings include special shore excursions tailored for tastes of all ages, and all transfers on arrival and departure days — making those trips to and from the airport just a little easier.
But Uniworld isn’t the only line offering families a way to experience the waterways of Europe. Tauck also offers Tauck Bridges, a specially designed 8-day trip along the magnificent “Blue Danube.”
Sailing from Budapest to Regensburg in 2012 and 2013, Tauck has designed a series of unique adventures ashore that are designed to please the entire family. In Bratislava, set out on a scavenger hunt through this beautifully preserved medieval town before going white-water rafting on one of the world’s best artificial water channels, used to train Olympic athletes.
Other unique destination experiences include a visit to Vienna’s Prater amusement park, featuring more than 250 rides and attractions. But parents aren’t left out either, with a chance to enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through Vienna’s old town quarter to spend an afternoon at their leisure wandering this historic city.
Best of all, these sailings aboard Swiss Jewel will be filled with other families, allowing guests of all ages to make new friends from around the world.
Even if a river cruise line doesn’t specifically offer family itineraries as such, some destinations and seasons lend themselves naturally to family travel, and few are more special than a Christmas Markets river cruise in Europe.
The ideal fairytale Christmas, Europe’s Christmas Markets provide an amazing experience for the entire family, and make for a whimsical way to see Europe together that will remain in your memories for years to come. Parents can sip hot mulled wine to take the chill out of the air, while kids can enjoy a hot glass of kinderpunsch — hot, spiced apple juice — while taking in the sights and sounds of France, Germany, Austria, or Hungary under snow.
For families, a river cruise may not be the most traditional vacation, but it will surely be one of the most memorable.