Key to putting together a family river cruise is finding unique ways to present this classic product to a younger audience. Adventures by Disney has recently undertaken this responsibility with the launch of its river cruising adventures onboard AmaWaterways' AmaViola. So what has the tour company come up with in the way of family-friendly river cruise excursions? Here are five of the best according to my 7-year-old.
Treetop Walk in Passau
When sailing from Vilshofen, Germany, one of the first stops is in Passau, Germany, and here you have the option of visiting the Baumkronenweg where you can walk among the treetops. There are viewing platforms, suspension bridges, obstacle courses and sugary treats along the way. The kids are free to run around and explore, which is, of course, one of the best parts.
Devin Castle Experience
If you are starting in Budapest, Hungary, one of your first experiences is going to be at the Devin Castle in Bratislava, Slovakia. Here, Disney creates the perfect atmosphere for learning and experiencing medieval culture without boring the pants off children. There is a battle re-enactment, coin stamping, candle-making and archery lessons as well of a tour of the castle and it all culminates with ice cream. Yum.
All of the Dancing
When I asked my daughter what she loved the most, her first response was "the dancing." Our journey started off with Oktoberfest and the kids were all dancing with a giant blow-up pretzel, which was a total win but she also loved learning - and later practicing - traditional Austrian dances in Melk. And, for our farewell night in Slovakia, she loved the impromptu dance party in the lounge that had every junior adventurer onboard boogying on the dance floor.
Krems to Durnstein Bike Ride
In Krems, which is just past the Wachau Valley, there is an optional, on-your-own bike ride to Durnstein, just five miles away. It was definitely a highlight for parents and kids alike (it was my favorite activity of the cruise). We biked through vineyards and along the Danube River and it seemed that every age could appreciate the beauty of the bike ride along the way.
[READMORE]READ MORE: Inside Family River Cruising With Adventures by Disney [/READMORE]
It is worth noting that, while this experience was made available to us with the help of the staff, who rented child-size bikes, biking onboard is generally an activity reserved for older children. There are a couple of smaller bikes along with the adult-size ones, but smaller children are definitely not going to fit on these bikes. For safety reasons, Adventures by Disney doesn't want to have small children riding bikes. That being said, there are other, longer bike rides offered during the cruise and everyone we spoke to who did them with their older children raved about the experience.
Prater in Vienna
This was another on-your-own experience that was a huge win for families and is a testament to how Adventures by Disney provides ample opportunities for tours and a variety of experiences but also encourages guests to go out and explore on their own as well. We visited the Prater in Vienna, which is home to the world's oldest Ferris wheel as well as a variety of other rides and amusements.
While sprawling, it is easily tackled within one afternoon. The wheel is a slow experience but provides fabulous views of sprawling Vienna and the other rides are pay as you go, so there's no commitment to spend the day. My daughter and I both agreed that the merry-go-round swings across from the Ferris wheel was our favorite ride.
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