Last updated: 12:15 PM ET, Fri March 25 2016

Families Welcome!

River cruise lines respond to increased demand from families by adding new itineraries and amenities

Vacation Agent | Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Brian Major

Families Welcome!

PHOTO: Uniworld has tripled the number of its family programs from 2015 to 2016. (courtesy Uniworld Boutique River Cruises)

Traditionally, European river cruises have been anything but a take-the-whole-family-along kind of vacation. Recently, however, several river cruise lines have launched programs and departures designed specifically with the family market in mind.


AmaWaterways has established a comprehensive family program through a partnership with Adventures by Disney, which specializes in escorted family tours. Adventures by Disney is chartering AmaWaterways’ new 170-passenger AmaViola, set to debut later this year, for a series of voyages designed specifically for families.

The vessel will be equipped with family-friendly connecting staterooms and four suites with convertible sofa beds that accommodate up to four. The program will include five Danube River sailings this summer, calling at ports in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary, and two holiday cruises. Departure dates are July 7, 14, 21 and 28, Aug. 4 and Dec. 15 and 22. Cruise fares start at $4,669 for adults and $4,439 for children.


The upscale Tauck Bridges tour brand is offering eight-day “Blue Danube: Family Riverboat Adventure” departures priced from $3,690. Departure dates for 2016 are July 2, July 9, July 16, July 23 and July 30; and also July 1 and Aug. 5 in 2017.

READ MORE: How Hotels Are Catering More and More to Families 

Tauck is also offering “Castles on the Rhine: Family Riverboat Adventure” itineraries this year, with departure dates set for June 21 and July 10 and July 29; and, in 2017, June 22, June 29, July 18 and July 25. Rates start at $3,790. 


Due to popular demand, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises has nearly tripled the number of family-friendly programs from five in 2015 to 13 this year. Kids and teens ages 4 to 18 travel at half-price when with an adult. Fares for “Castles along the Rhine” cruises aboard River Empress start at $3,899 for the July 13 and July 20 departures.

The departures feature activities and resources geared to families, including visits to Cologne’s Chocolate Museum and German language classes.


The company offers an array of features and amenities that appeal to families. The A-Rosa Flora, which will offer Rhine River itineraries this year, features oversized family staterooms accommodating up to four people. An onboard entertainment program is available aboard select ships in July and August.

READ MORE: What You Should Know If You're Traveling to Europe Today

Under a special A-Rosa program, kids under 15 travel free. The A-Rosa Donna, A-Rosa Viva and A-Rosa Stella, which also offer European river cruises, feature special staterooms with extra space for families, but are not equipped with staterooms specifically designated for families. 


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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the March 2016 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.