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River Cruising: You Can Bring the Family

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

River cruising is having a moment, and with good reason. You visit a new destination most days, enjoy upscale “floating hotel” accommodations, have access to a range of on-shore activities, are treated to fine food and wine, and enjoy an overall more VIP-feeling experience than on a mega ship, thanks to the much smaller number of passengers.

But, you may wonder, isn’t river cruising for a more mature generation? Not so. River cruising today is ideal for families and multigenerational trips that are seeking a peaceful getaway in a new destination, with just enough activities for all ages and interests, but without feeling overwhelmed by choice or flashy entertainment.

Most river cruise lines require children to be at least four years old, and don’t typically recommend it for those under eight years old, but for families with older-elementary-aged kids on up, it’s definitely a vacation to consider! Here’s why river cruises can be just what your family needs.

1. It’s Hassle-Free

Small-ship, family-oriented river cruises are a relaxing way for all ages to hang out together and perhaps even learn a little something along the way. It’s an ideal way to introduce kids to Europe, for example, where you are literally gliding through history. Generally speaking, a river cruise provides a more authentic destination-specific experience than a massive, ocean cruise ship thanks to numerous, and more intimate shore excursion options, including local cuisine, culture and adventures. Plus, it’s hassle free - most lines include everything from meals to shipboard programming to shore activities.

2. Interesting Destinations

From the storied rivers of Europe - think the Danube, the Rhine, the Moselle, the Seine - to the waterways of Asia, the western United States, Africa and South America, river cruise opportunities are popping up all over the globe. Delve into the rain forests of the Peruvian Amazon River basin. Sail the Mekong, Southeast Asia’s longest river. Or cruise through pioneer country on the Pacific Northwest’s Snake and Columbia rivers.

3. Family-Friendly Amenities

With an eye on family river cruisers, several top lines are increasing their number of family-centric activities and benefits. You can expect engaging activities for a range of ages, including behind-the-scenes tours and exclusive after-hours experiences. Ships may include a modest cinema and/or libraries with books and games, as well as adult and child-size bikes for use onshore. Teens might be treated to low-key karaoke evenings or chess lessons. Imagine your tweens’ faces when they take in an evening of medieval games in Bratislava and have a grand banquet dinner in a 12th-century castle - complete with moat!

4. Flexible Accommodations

Families come in all shapes and sizes, and river cruise lines understand this. Many offer single-, triple- and even quad-occupancy cabins to accommodate for uneven numbers of family members. Adjacent, though not connecting, rooms are typically available.

If your family can forego the water parks and climbing walls and can settle for one smallish pool as opposed to three expansive ones, a river cruise might be right for you. The lack of long lines to get on and off the ship is a perk all on its own. You’ll undoubtedly have a more intimate and personal experience, wherever you choose to take your river cruise, and with all-inclusive fares, everything is as easy as could be. If we’ve piqued your family’s interest, let’s chat. There’s bound to be a family-friendly river cruise that’s perfect for your crowd.

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