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On a recent Tauck cruise with my mother, I was reminded of just how much I learned about sailing from taking cruises with my parents over the course of my childhood. To say that it was an invaluable education on par with my schooling would be an understatement.
In many cases, I gained many more life lessons from my cruises abroad than I ever did in a classroom, and I’m thrilled to see cruise lines — in this case, river brands — focus even more on youth sailings.
While most riverboats have very little to offer in the way of kids’ facilities, several lines make up for it with family-friendly programming. So, let’s take a look.
AmaWaterwaysAmaWaterways provides hardware conducive to groups and multiple generations — think not only parents and children, but also grandparents — due to connecting cabins as well as staterooms with triple occupancy on select ships.
Plus, AmaWaterways partners with Adventures by Disney on several departure dates for an added touch of family magic. On these sailings, shore excursions and onboard experiences — from wood carving to ice cream tasting — are often geared more toward children with interactive elements that are anything but boring.
Avalon WaterwaysAvalon Waterways recognizes that children under the age of 8 are generally too young to fully appreciate a river cruise and thus does not accommodate them, but its Avalon YourWay program does make customizing its cruises easier for groups and older families alike. Guests can choose from a range of passive to active sightseeing and even extend their journeys with sister companies Monograms and Globus.
CroisiEuropeAnother family-friendly line is CroisiEurope, which goes as far as to offer a special Family Cruise program with free rates for children up to 16 years old on sailings to Portugal, Spain and Italy. The line can accommodate kids in an adjacent cabin (must be at least 5 years old) and offers dining menus tailored to children.
TauckAs part of its Tauck Bridges brand of family vacations, Tauck presents river cruises ideal for multiple generations along the Danube, Rhine, Rhone, Seine and Douro rivers. These trips offer opportunities to actively bike ashore or enjoy fun activities onboard such as interacting with regional dancers, musicians and artists; and crafting local treats with chefs.
Ships also feature putting greens and plunge pools, plus everything from educational language lessons to playful dancing and group games. Shoreside, Tauck exclusives encompass a private after-hours visit to Louvre Museum for a fun scavenger hunt.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise CollectionConsidering its youthful U River Cruises brand, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection aims younger than most mainstream lines. As such, it similarly offers its Generations Collection, complete with 25% savings for children ages 4 to 17 when traveling with an adult.
Also on the docket are its own child-friendly shore excursions and onboard activities; kids’ menus; a special Young Travelers’ Table; dedicated Family Hosts for kids and teens; youthful lounge and game room; special ship tours with the captain or hotel manager; nightly pillow gifts; and more.