Looking for a family holiday in Europe that ticks off a few destinations? You are probably not thinking about a river cruise but there are plenty of reasons why you should explore a European river cruise as a holiday option for your family. You all want to have a holiday, you all want to relax and enjoy some of Europe’s best destinations. More importantly you want logistics and planning to be easy and uncomplicated. Think river cruise.
When you imagine a river cruise you tend to think that it’s the holiday domain of the older generation, the retirees, or extended families where all members are adults. Those who want less pace or those who want the world to pass by without having to engage in it. This is why first impressions should always get a second chance!
River cruising is more and more becoming an option for family holidays. River cruise operators are designing itineraries for families with children and teens and even multi generational families. Your family from grandparents to grandchildren, if you like, could be cruising the Danube or the Rhine during the European summer or taking in the traditional Christmas Markets on a winter river cruise in December.
Demystifying the river cruise further, picture yourself boarding the river ship. Your bags are already in your stateroom, ready to be unpacked, just once, for the duration of the journey. A butler is there to cater to your every need, and family friendly cruise directors help your children settle and choose from the hands-on activities and fun things to do on board. At breakfast, lunch, dinner and anytime in between, snacks and beverages are available to keep your growing children and teens satisfied. You also have dining options, it doesn’t have to be a formal affair for every meal.
Each day you wake to a new destination, or you might cruise a scenic stretch of river where the banks are graced with the most amazing castles of bygone times. At each river port step out of your cabin and off the ship into the heart of the town or village you can’t wait to explore. With excursions already organised you set off on the tour of your choice, perhaps a local cooking class, a guided tour of the local castle, a leisurely paced walking tour of the town or maybe you all grab one of the ship’s bikes to take a family ride along the river and into quaint villages. It is all pre-arranged – you literally choose what you want to do and just go for the ride.
European river cruises are generally all-inclusive holidays. With most operators you pay your price and it covers all meals and beverages, excursions and on board activities and gratuities. All you need to budget for is spending costs when you are on shore. It couldn’t be easier. On the ship your children won’t need to ask you for money for that treat between meals. They can choose from onboard activities and entertainment curated with their interests in mind while you put your feet up on the top deck or in your suite and watch the world go by or take that opportunity to visit the onboard spa for that much needed massage. There is something for each family member and everyone is happy. Imagine!
A couple of points to consider when choosing a river cruise for your European family holiday. River cruise ships don’t usually have dedicated areas for children and there isn’t a lot of space for rowdy activity and running around – that’s something that needs to be saved for when you are on shore. In saying that, most days you will be on shore exploring, walking, or bike riding. Overnight you will be sleeping as the river cruise ship heads to its next destination. If you have super active young children who need to expend energy constantly in a way that may impact others, river cruise life might not be ideal for them. If you think this describes your children, don't despair, there are other options for touring Europe with children.
Another thing to bear in mind is that only some operators have dedicated family river cruise programs or family departures. This doesn’t mean you can’t take your family on a ‘regular’ river cruise, you can, but you need to be aware that there won’t be specific child friendly activities on the regular schedule and there may not be other families with young children.
If you are looking for a family river cruise take a look at Tauck, who have twice been voted 'Top River Cruise Line' for families by the readers of Travel + Leisure. Their all-inclusive family river cruises are curated under their Tauck Bridges program, specifically for multigenerational families. With a recommended minimum age of 4 years, Tauck’s larger suites can sleep up to four family members together. Tauck suites feature in-room movies, stocked minibar, roomy walk-in closets, marble baths, and luxurious toiletries for the whole family to enjoy. Pull out sofa beds in these suites also house three adults comfortably.
Family friendly entertainment and regional cooking demonstrations like the Become French themed day with fondue, chocolate, and French lessons; games and activities keep families entertained on board. Each cruise has a themed dress up party that children work together to create costumes for. With free wifi, several options for dining, a Jacuzzi or plunge pool on the sun deck, together with a putting green there are plenty of reasons your family will enjoy river cruise life.
Tauck offer four river cruises specifically for families. Enjoy the 8 Day Castles on the Rhine_ Family Riverboat Adventure Southbound or Northbound from Amsterdam to Basel. Cruise along the Rhine River between Amsterdam and Basel aboard MS Grace or MS Inspire, visiting The Netherlands, Germany, France, and Switzerland. River cruise through Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary on the 8 Day The Blue Danube_ Family Riverboat Adventure – Eastbound or Westbound.
Immerse your family in all things French on one of two river cruises through France. On the 8 day Bon Voyage! France Family River Cruise from Paris to Lyon for five nights after two days in Paris, that includes a scavenger hunt at the Louvre. Alternatively explore North France on the 8 day Family Fun Along the Seine_ Paris to Normandy that also starts with an action-packed two-night stay in Paris followed by five nights exploring Monet's gardens, D-Day Beaches, Rouen, and Versailles on the River Seine.
An alternative option is Uniworld who offer family friendly departures on their Generations Collection. This means that specific sailing dates are dedicated to families. These Generations cruises offer itineraries that have been curated to include special programs, events and excursions for the young travellers on board with their families. Family sailings are designed to be interactive and fun for your children. Whether your children are aspiring foodies, young art lovers, young travellers with curious minds, adventurers or thrill seekers, Uniworld designs activities to keep every type of child and teen engaged on holiday.
When you select your Uniworld itinerary be sure to check that you are booking your family onto a Generations Collection departure. There are specific dates for these. Most family river cruises run across the European summer but there is also a specific family programme departure for the Christmas market season in mid-December and the winter Parisian Royal Holiday River Cruise before and after Christmas.
You have more options to choose a family river cruise with Uniworld if you are plan to travel to Europe in June or July. Board the River Countess to explore the Gems of Northern Italy or with three family departures in July you can make the S.S.Beatrice your home for 10 days as you explore the Delightful Danube and Prague. If France is where your family want to travel, explore Paris and Normandy on the S.S. Joie de Vivre which has two July and one August departure. Or alternatively explore the world of fairytales and legends as you take in the Castles along the Rhine.
When it comes to a family holiday that has it all there is no doubt a European river cruise offers you quality time together, a different adventure each day and local culinary experiences on board that allow you to get a taste of the regions you travel through. You have a team around you to service your every need, be it entertainment or relaxation. When you look at touring Europe as a family, a river cruise will give you memories to last a lifetime.