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Rolling on the River: Family-Friendly River Cruises

by Elyse Glickman

Oct 6, 2017

Nikolay Sachkov | Dreamstime

Cruising

If you are an avid watcher of public television (especially Masterpiece Theater), you may have seen show sponsor Viking River Cruises’ lavish commercials documenting points of interest … and fashionable Baby Boomers drinking in winery bike tours, cooking lessons and jaunts through exotic markets. Indeed, what’s not to like for older travelers, especially with several “grown-ups only” offerings of a sophisticated nature.

 

There are parents and grandparents out there; however, who want to teach their children the right way to be well traveled and educated about what they’re about to see and do. Several river cruise lines are hearing the call with special offerings for families. While some of these trips won’t have an amusement park-like setting, they promise numerous teachable moments and historic exploration to amp kids’ interest in history, art and food.

 

Father and daughter on cruise

Photo: Alenmax | Dreamstime

All-inclusive Uniworld “Generations” cruises departing during the most common summer- and winter-break periods, offer young world travelers several on-board and off-shore classes, events and excursions that run the gamut from cooking classes and dessert-making with the ship’s chef and pastry chef to craft classes tailored to the traditional crafts of a certain port of call. There are also kid-friendly menus that complement the adult menus and a Young Travelers’ Table and kids-only movie nights where kids on board can share their experiences.

 

Although Uniworld makes it clear their cruises are a luxury product, they offer half-off, cruise-only fares for guests 4 to 17. Also, two dedicated Family Hosts oversee all activities for Junior Cruisers (ages 4 to 12) and Teen Cruisers (ages 13 to 17). Other perks include complimentary bicycles, helmets and Nordic walking sticks for use onshore, and special surprise pillow gifts for each night of the cruise.

 

Tauck “Bridges” River Cruises Families Only adventures bring several fairy-tale elements to the family-focused cruise experience that even seen-it-all adults can relate to. Consider its listing of immersive on-board and on-shore activities: Docking on the River Danube to learn medieval games at Devin Palace, and running a maze dating back to 1698; strudel-making in Vienna; an evening at Reichenstein Castle, complete with working drawbridge and bike rides by the river; and taking a cooking class in the heart of France. Kids more interested in modern history are offered tours such as a hands-on experience of the vehicles, radios and battle gear of World War II in Normandy.

 

While kids are having a blast and enhancing their future middle and high school studies in the process, parents and grandparents can enjoy their own together time with the assistance of the boat’s cruise and activities directors who can help refine itineraries shaped to the needs and interests of individual family members.

 

Global luxury river cruise line AMAWaterways, meanwhile, teams up with Disney to present Adventures by Disney. These journeys converge the AMA fleet’s sophisticated amenities (boutique hotel-styled stateroom, locally sourced cuisine and wine) with destinations and activities that bring the settings of some of Disney’s best-loved movies to life. Adventure guides lead tours through big cities and small villages of France, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland and The Netherlands while an engaging on-board crew keeps things lively aboard the boat.

#WhereverFamily

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