Over the past few years, river cruising has become a very popular way to travel. In general, however, it’s not particularly suited to families with children, especially young children. This is partly due to the fact that river cruising has long been associated with an older crowd, and river cruise companies tend to cater to those travelers.
Another reason river cruising is less family friendly is because the river cruise ships are smaller than their ocean counterparts, which leaves much less room to set up areas for children's programs and activities.
There are some companies, though, that have decided to add some family or multi-generational cruises to their portfolio. These sailings are usually limited to the summer months and around the Christmas holidays when children are out of school. So there aren't a lot of options.
There is one company that offers family cruises year-round. And unlike the other river cruise lines, this company will accept children as young as two years old. That's not to say that it's the best travel choice for toddlers, though.
Most suppliers do not recommend river cruising for children who are younger than eight years old, which is probably a good rule of thumb to follow. Although, the cruises might be considered family-friendly, young children are likely to get bored easily.
Let’s take a look at some of the river cruises that are available for families.
Rhine River in Basel, Switzerland
Tauck has been named the "Top River Cruise Line for Families" twice by Travel + Leisure magazine. The company feature three seasonal family river cruises. All of them take place during the summer months from June through August.
The "Castles on the Rhine: Family Riverboat Adventure" is an 8-day cruise on the Rhine River between Basel and Amsterdam. Destinations along the way include cities in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. Prices start at $3,990 per person.
The next itinerary is the "Bon Voyage! France Family River Cruise", which includes 2 days in Paris followed by an 8-day cruise on the Rhône River between Lyon and Arles. Transportation from Paris to Lyon is by high-speed TGV train. Prices for this cruise begin at $4,990 per person.
The third package is the "Blue Danube: Family Riverboat Adventure". It's an 8-day cruise on the Danube River between Regensburg, Germany and Budapest, Hungary traveling through four countries - Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. The price per person for this cruise is $3,990.
* Tauck is an all-inclusive river cruise line.
Travel + Leisure named Uniworld the "Top River Cruise Line for Families" for three consecutive years - 2012, 2013 and 2014. The "Family" or "Multi-Generational" river cruises are also seasonal.
The first cruise "Castles along the Rhine" is an 8-day cruise on the Rhine River between Basel and Amsterdam through Switzerland, Germany, France and the Netherlands. Prices start at $3,799 per person.
The next family itinerary is "Paris & Normandy", which is also an 8-day cruise that travels on the Seine River round trip from Paris to Caudebec-en-Caux. Transportation to Honfleur and the Normandy Beaches is by motor coach. Pricing begins at $3,899 per person.
The Classic Christmas Markets is the third Uniworld family cruise. It takes place in December on the Main River and the Main-Danube-Canal in Germany between Frankfurt and Nuremberg. The price per person for this cruise is $2,899.
* Uniworld is an all-inclusive river cruise line.
A-ROSA welcomes families on all of its cruises. The company allows children as young as two years old. As mentioned before - even though, you can bring very young children, it might not be the best choice. You'll be on your own with regard to taking your child or children with you for shore excursions. And there probably won't be many (if any) families with very small children on the cruise.
Cruises are available year-round on the Rhine, Main, Moselle, Danube, Rhône and Saône rivers. Packages range in length from five to twelve days. Package prices start between $1,426 and $3,718 per person.
For 2015 A-ROSA is allowing children to travel for free. This can really make a difference in the overall pricing. Even with one child, that's a pretty nice savings!
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