Overall, river cruises are not set up for young children. Most river cruise lines will not allow children on board or highly discourage it. In general, river cruising attracts a more mature clientele and rarely has facilities or
counselors for young children. However, there are some exceptions.
Uniworld offers three family-friendly departures in 2013, with four scheduled for 2014. These sailings are especially aimed for multi-generational groups, specifically for parents and grandparents wishing to travel with young people. Uniworld offers a chaperone who participates in daily children’s activities. The shore excursions are designed for the whole family. One cabin turns into a game room equipped with PlayStation2 or Wii. There are also tours of the ship with the captain, French or German language classes, chess and shuttle board on the sun deck. Kids can take a cooking class and make their own desserts. There is even a special kids menu with options such as hamburgers and pizza.
Tauck offers seven family-friendly cruises through it’s Tauck Bridges division, with options on the Rhone and Danube rivers. The activities during the cruise include a picnic in Tuileries Gardens, a lesson in petanque in
Viviers, a bull show in the Camargue, and a chocolate-making demonstration and a family cooking demonstration at the cooking school of Michelin three-starred chef.
With the exception of the family sailings, here are the general guidelines for families and river cruising:
-Uniworld strongly discourages children under 10
-Tauck does not allow children under 3, and strongly recommends 8 and up
-AmaWaterways does not allow children under the age of 4, and strongly recommends 8 and up
-Viking allows children under the age of 18
In general, I do not recommend river cruising to my family clients if their children are 12 and under. There are just many other options for vacations where the whole family can be more entertained. But, if your children are well
traveled and have a particular taste for museums, culture, and history, then a river cruise on a family sailing could be a very enriching experience.
Bliss Travel Service - a travel agency specializing in cruises, all-inclusive vacations, honeymoons, weddings, group travel
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Dominique Barba, CTC, ECC