Cruising has a way of taking the complications out of family travel planning. Round-the-clock activities offer something for everyone, including parents. Traditionally, cruising families have set sail to warm ocean waters and sandy beaches, but cruising with kids is preparing to make big waves in Europe with Adventures by Disney and AmaWaterways.
River cruising and the travel perks that come with it have long been enjoyed by adults and retirees, but few families have tried it. The unique partnership between family vacation guru Disney and luxury river cruise line AmaWaterways has the potential to rewrite river cruising rules and start a new tradition on the Danube.
The fun begins next summer with five Adventures by Disney exclusive sailings. The 8-day, 7-night adventures will visit four countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.
Along with the crew of AmaWaterways, Adventures by Disney Adventure Guides will be on each sailing, and local experts will be waiting at each port. Sightseeing won’t be limited to walking tours — activities such as Austrian folk dancing lessons, strudel making and biking will expose families to the traditions and customs of each port they visit.
In addition to the summer dates, there are also two December sailings to Christmas markets along the Danube. The itineraries include activities such as a private performance and cocktail reception at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, and a Vienna Boys’ Choir Christmas performance.
One of the biggest complaints about ocean cruises is the limited hours in port. River cruises can offer more time at destinations, arriving at breakfast and departing long after dinner. They can also deliver guests to off-the-beaten-path destinations that tend to be missed when traveling by train or by car. Tiny, little-known Vilshofen, Germany, part of AmaWaterways’ Melodies of the Danube itinerary, was one of my favorite places to wander when I was invited to sail on the christening cruise of their newest ship, the AmaSerena.
Special Adventures by Disney onboard activities are also being designed for younger cruisers setting sail. School-age kids can participate in life-size chess lessons, karaoke and relay games. Parents of teenagers will appreciate that older kids aren’t left to fend for themselves; activities and theme nights are in the works exclusively for them.
The family-friendly activities and options are a great addition to Europe’s river cruising market, but AmaWaterways makes it a point to pamper parents as well. Aboard the ship, adults can enjoy wine tasting, live music and dancing, a fitness center and massage services.
Understanding that different families have different needs, AmaWaterways is building a new river cruise ship for the Adventures by Disney partnership. The 170-passenger AmaViola will offer connecting staterooms, along with rooms and suites that can accommodate families three and four strong. Although family-friendly rooms like this are common in ocean cruising, they are hard to come by on river cruise ships.
The cruises are recommended for kids ages 8 and up. The minimum age to sail is 4.
CB! Vacation Consultants specialize in helping families book travel to top destinations around the world. For more information and to request assistance, go to the CB! Vacation Consultants page.
Editor’s Note: Dana was a guest of AmaWaterways on the christening cruise of AmaSerena. As always, her thoughts and opinions are her own. Photos by AmaWaterways and Adventures by Disney.
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