Dispatch: Inside Family River Cruising With Adventures by Disney
PHOTO: Biking on the Danube with Adventures by Disney (All photos by Janeen Christoff)
What happens when you put a bunch of families on a river cruise ship? A fun-filled adventure on Europe’s rivers, of course.
Adventures by Disney has just embarked on its fourth family river cruise onboard the AmaViola and the product is impressive and well thought out. The itinerary carefully orchestrates family time, adult time and time to be a kid — for adults and children alike.
Disney is sailing the Danube River between Germany and Hungary. Our sailing began in Vilshofen, Germany, and guests began their cruise experience either in Munich, or Prague if they did the optional extension.
While the river cruise itinerary doesn’t differ much from your average river cruise, what sets the Disney experience apart is its excursions. While there are guided walking tours through the city, each day includes hands-on activities and active adventures. While some seem more inclined to adults — wine tasting for example — there is always an element of participation included for the children.
Some experiences, however, are completely unique for kids and take a page from the Adventures by Disney playbook of their ground tour operation. For example, the Disney river cruise will take you to the marionette show at Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna or to a park in the treetops of Baumkronenweg, a park that is part obstacle course, part treetop climb and all fun.
PHOTO: Discovering the Prater and all of its amusements in Vienna is a lot of fun for families
Today's itinerary in Bratislava, Slovakia, has been one of the most impressive thus far for combining fun and culture. We began with a city tour of Bratislava, where everyone was given a scavenger hunt-like booklet to match photos of iconic attractions to pictures in the book that would decode a word — the original name of the city after World War II. The scavenger hunt provided incentive for the kids to keep their attention trained on what the guide was saying and they had fun running around looking for each attraction.
The next stop on the itinerary was the medieval Devin Castle, and again, a kid's attention could wander with a tour of the ruins of an old building but Disney has an exclusive program at the castle that includes archery lessons, coin stamping, candle making and the reenactment of a medieval battle. By giving the kids all of these activities, they hardly noticed as we parents absorbed the history of the ruins.
PHOTO: Adventures by Disney stages special activities like battle re-enactments at Devin Castle in Bratislava.
Onboard the stunning AmaWaterways’ AmaViola, there is equal attention paid to adults and children. While it’s different than a Disney cruise — there are no teen clubs or kids clubs — there are nightly junior adventurer dining activities onboard.
Each night a buffet is served in the lounge with a variety of kid-friendly foods and kids can choose to dine in the lounge without their parents and under the supervision of the adventure guides. This allows parents to enjoy long, leisurely gourmet dinners on their own and allows kids to have some free time from their grown-ups.
Rooms are also different on the AmaViola than most other river ships. There are connecting rooms onboard as well as staterooms that will sleep three with a comfy fold out chair, allowing more space to accommodate family groups.
Overall, the experience so far has been amazing. I had high hopes for my first family river cruise as it is something that I have wanted to experience with my children for almost 10 years. As we near the end of this journey, it has definitely met my expectations and I hope it is one of many to come in the future.
More by Janeen Christoff
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