With just 190 passengers and around 115 crew members, a Viking river cruise on a longship guarantees a high level of service, attention, activities and culture — a perfect choice for a family with adult children.
Whether a repeat river cruiser or considering your first one, here are six reasons why you’ll want to consider it for your next family trip:
Dining arrangements let you catch up with your family large or small — or meet other ones. On a Viking cruise there is one seating for dinner, but no assigned seating. Table configurations range from four-tops and round tables for 8–10 guests, to long rectangular options for larger groups; no matter the size of your brood, Viking longships can accommodate. If you all just returned from a bunch of different excursions, you can regroup and regale each other over appetizers and entrees with stories about your day. Inspired to meet and hang out with another family you happen upon? Feel free to share a table and get to know one another.
The included tour at each port appeals to different generations and interests.
A walking and/or bus tour with historical, cultural and even culinary highlights is included in each itinerary. Tours are led by well-versed local experts offering cool facts and insider intel — listening devices, headphones and chargers in your stateroom let you easily keep up with running commentary. And all tours include a thorough description of what’s going to be covered as well as if light, moderate or heavy physical activity is required. For example, in Budapest you’ll see the 19th– and 20th-century mansions along Andrássy Avenue, the National Opera House, Parliament Building and the Castle District. Tours usually factor in some free time so you can all hit a coffee shop for apple strudel in Vienna, fromage and wine in Paris or split up for souvenir shopping or photo opps.
Optional excursions appeal to different interests.
In addition to the included tour at each stop are other activities, such as tapping the keg during a tasting at a local farm in Passau, Germany, or cycling through the grasslands to see the 19th-century historic windmills in Kinderdijk, The Netherlands, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Guests can book excursions before boarding, but if your group decides last minute to partake in an on-shore experience, you can still reserve on a space-available basis. Depending on the length of the excursion, you may be able to participate in the regular daily tour, too.
Cuisine and wines are tailored to your destinations.
Viking is known for its thoughtful, creative cuisine that extends to dishes inspired by the local flavor. Fancy chicken paprikash or goulash as you sail down the Danube in Hungary? How about Portuguese fisherman stew as you make your way down the terraced vineyards on the banks of the Douro Valley? Viking’s chefs have you covered. Wine and beer are included with every meal, so you’ll have ample time to explore crisp Grüner Veltliner in Austria or silky Chinon in France’s Loire Valley. (For those who want to explore more adult beverages, you can order them á la carte or purchase a beverage package with access to beers, wines available by the glass and all spirits and mixers.)
Only those over 18 are allowed on board, making for a most civilized family experience.
Nothing against babies, toddlers or school-aged kids, but sometimes it’s nice to have an adults-only experience. Viking river cruises are purposefully designed for the over-18 set. There is no pool or fitness center on the ship and admittedly there isn’t much else onboard to interest children. Lots of cruise lines are designed for families with small children; this isn’t one of them.
Onboard activities and amenities make for some great family bonding time.
A curated library offers titles for avid readers to crack open and curl up with a cup of tea. Photogs can take their equipment to the sundeck to capture the valleys, mountains and towns whirring by. A presentation each afternoon or evening lets history buffs learn more about the following day’s port. And evenings can be spent in the lounge, where in addition to drinks and convivial seating you’ll find live music and interactive activities courtesy of your affable cruise director like trivia and Name That Tune.
Tips for planning a Viking river cruise with your adult children:
- Shorter eight-day itineraries usually work best for those trying to accommodate various schedules, such as the eight-day Rhine Getaway from Basel to Amsterdam or the eight-day Romantic Danube from Nuremberg to Budapest. Both hit a mixture of the big iconic European cities like Amsterdam or Vienna that most think of when planning a European vacation along with smaller, off-the-beaten-path towns and villages.
- Peruse excursions ahead of time, figure out which of your family members are interested in what and book early. As mentioned above, you can book excursions last minute if there is still space available. But to avoid disappointment try to decide on them earlier.
- Consider adding on a day or two on the front or back end of the cruise. If you are all traveling from different parts of the country (or the globe) you may not arrive at the same time, so your opportunity for exploring a city might be limited. Adding on an extra night or two will let you really soak in the culture, check out the dining scene and do a little shopping or sightseeing.
- Think about the reason and season for your getaway. Family members who enjoy decorating and shopping for the holiday season will get their festive on during cruises that explore the charming Christmas markets in many European cities every November and December. Beer fans won’t want to miss Germany for Oktoberfest. And anyone who falls in love with spring should make a beeline to a cruise peeking at the blooming tulips in the Netherlands or the blossoming gardens in Paris in April.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Card recently launched BoldFamilyTravel.Chase.com, an interactive, online resource allowing families to plan future travel together. The launch followed the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Card Survey of parents and grandparents that revealed most parents believe children are important resources for planning family vacations and that one-third of parents don’t currently involve their children in planning but would like to.
Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit now offers a new, 90-minute Mexican Doll Workshop perfect for families. Children are invited to design their own Mexican rag doll using colored ribbons and fabrics. Offering a unique bonding experience for families, the workshop also supports the local community and honors the indigenous women who started the craft.
Valley Forge National Historical Park is a great place to bring your history-loving family. Located in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, the park is the site of the 1777–1778 winter encampment of the Continental army during the American Revolutionary War. Today, the 3,500-acre park boasts trails, replicas and other historical markers perfect for learning more about Valley Forge’s place in our nation’s history.