Updated: May 31
It’s true that most river cruises are primarily targeted to adults, based primarily on the areas of interest and activities, as well as the river ship's size and scope. Minimum age limitations vary a bit by cruise line, but 8 is generally the youngest recommended age. (Some cruise lines, such as Viking, make the minimum 12 years of age.)
River cruises can be wonderful for pre-teens or teens and those that don’t require a multitude of activities or other kids around to have fun and keep themselves engaged. Those that enjoy learning and sightseeing, and are comfortable around adults will get the most enjoyment out of their cruise. In others words, it depends very much on the individual child. While connecting cabins are available on some ships, there will not be child-specific sleeping accommodations in most cases.
There are, however, also river cruise itineraries and companies that offer fantastic kid-friendly programming woven into the itinerary and excursion options. So if you're thinking of taking along the kids or the grandchildren, here are my recommendations on the best of these child-friendly options:
Uniworld Boutique's "Generations Collection" River Cruises
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has thought of everything on its family-friendly cruises. They sail the Po River in Italy as well as other European rivers. Generations sailings include:
Exciting shore excursions tailor-made for families and hosted by local experts
Kid-friendly menus for each meal and unlimited beverages onboard
Young Travelers’ Table, a special dining table reserved on certain nights just for our younger guests and Family Hosts
Onboard activities just for kids, such as cooking classes and dessert-making with the ship’s chef and pastry chef
Hands-on craft workshops tailored to the destinations you visit
Young travelers’ lounge and game room, complete with PlayStation, games, movies, and local treats
Two dedicated Family Hosts to oversee all activities for Junior Cruisers (ages 4 to 12 years) and Teen Cruisers (ages 13 to 17 years)
Opportunities to “Live the Lingo” and learn words and phrases in other languages from our Family Hosts
Kids-only movie nights, where kids can enjoy popcorn-fueled screenings of family-friendly films along with their new onboard friends and Family Hosts
A special VIP ship tour with the Captain or Hotel Manager
Complimentary bicycles, helmets, and Nordic walking sticks for use onshore
Convenient departures are scheduled during summer and winter breaks
Take a look at their itineraries here.
Adventures by Disney River Cruises:
Disney partners with Ama Waterways and offers a variety of itineraries that integrate more kid-friendly food, sleeping accommodations, and excursions with a special twist for the younger set. While not intended as a “Disney” cruise (no character breakfasts here!), older kids will have a blast and enjoy spending time with more kids on board than your average river cruise.
Tauck Family River Cruises
Offering family-friendly river cruises on the Rhine, Danube, Douro, Seine, and Rhône, these river cruises also infuse kid-friendly amenities and excursions. Tauck is a high-end tour operator that has offered specialized “Tauck Bridges” tours for years which were some of the earliest multi-generational tour offerings out there and they have perfected this offering along the way.
Message me to learn more about organizing your own family's travel!