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PHOTO: Families will be able to enjoy scenic Budapest during their Adventures by Disney river cruise sailing. (All photos courtesy Adventures by Disney)
Family escorted tour specialist Adventures by Disney, in a surprise announcement in New York City on April 13, said it would debut its first-ever family river cruising itineraries starting in 2016 in a new partnership with AmaWaterways, the upscale river cruise line.
Adventures by Disney, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year, will offer four river cruise departures in July 2016 and one holiday-themed sailing in December 2016 by chartering AmaWaterways' new 170-passenger Ama Viola, which will debut next year.
All departures will be seven-night sailings on the Danube River visiting eight destinations in four countries-Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary-with an optional pre- or post-excursion to Prague in the Czech Republic. Bookings open for past Disney guests on April 14 and to the general public on April 15 (for more details or reservations, call 866-543-0865).
River cruising is one of the fastest growing segments in the travel industry, but until now it has focused largely on a client base of baby boomers age 55 plus, with few cruises targeting the family market. Only Tauck, through its Tauck Bridges family-focused subsidiary, and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, on only a few selected departures, have previously offered dedicated family-focused river cruise sailings.
Adventures by Disney exclusive sailings on Ama Viola will take place July 7-14, July 14-21, July 21-28 and July 28-Aug. 4, 2016. River cruises departing on July 14 and July 28 will begin in Vilshofen and end in Budapest. River cruises departing on July 7, July 21 and Dec. 22 will sail in the reverse order. Cruises depart Vilshofen, Germany, or Budapest, Hungary, and visit Passau, Germany; Linz, Austria; Melk and Krems, Austria (including Durnstein); Vienna, Austria; and Bratislava, Slovakia.
The seven-night cruises will include a tour of Mirabell Gardens and adventures through a salt mine (Austria); a nighttime illuminations cruise (Budapest); a horse show at Lazar Equestrian Park (Hungary); a medieval experience at Devin Castle in Bratislava (Slovakia); a private marionette performance and strudel making demo at Schonbrunn Palace (Austria); a falconry show at Hohenwerfen castle (Austria); a walk along the tree tops at a unique outdoor adventure center in Kopfing (Germany); Oktoberfest event at a local brewery (Germany); themed meals and culinary activities, such as interactive goulash and strudel making; and biking in every port.
PHOTO: Families onboard Adventures by Disney's new AmaWaterways river cruise will be able to bike together between ports of call.
A special holiday themed sailing, departing Dec. 22, 2016, will include visits to Christmas markets in Budapest and Vienna, a Vienna Boys Choir Christmas performance in the Hofburg Palace Chapel and a special holiday menu lunch.
Guests also can add an Adventures by Disney three-day, two-night pre- or post-stay experience in Prague, including a cultural immersion tour of the city with a local guide, dinner at Folklore Garden with traditional music and dance, a Prague river cruise featuring monuments and architectural highlights, and a guided walking tour of the medieval UNESCO World Heritage site Ceský Krumlov.
Adventures by Disney river cruises will focus on offering maximum port time in each city, arriving at dawn and departing late night, providing guests with more time for guided activities and individual exploration. Eight Adventures by Disney adventure guides will be on each sailing to support guests. These guides serve as hosts in each destination and onboard the ship. Local experts also will be on hand at each port to expose guests to authentic local culture.
AmaViola is being custom built by AmaWaterways with families in mind. The ship will feature larger staterooms and suites (160-350 square feet), including 12 staterooms that can accommodate up to three family members each; six sets of adjoining cabins that can be connected via internal doorway to accommodate families of up to five; four suites with convertible sofa-beds that can accommodate families of up to four; staterooms with twin balconies (a French balcony and an outside balcony); a complimentary in-room entertainment-on-demand system with Internet, music, TV and newly released movies; outdoor pool on the sun deck with swim-up bar, fitness room, hair salon and massage services.
In addition, shipboard spaces are being recast to provide for specially designed activities geared towards kids, teens and adults. The ship's alternative restaurant and parts of its main restaurant will be used during the day for kids' activities and the sun deck will feature even more space for kids.
While onboard, adults can enjoy wine tasting, music, dancing and a fitness center. Special Adventures by Disney activities for Junior Adventurers include activity nights, movies, karaoke, relay games, life-size chess lessons and video games. Teens also will have activities and themed nights created specifically for them.
Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Adventures by Disney, said Disney has been working for more than a year with AmaWaterways to develop the new family river cruise product. "Our guests are very interested in exploring the world. Many are traveling with multigenerational families…and are looking for a seamless way to travel," he said. "River cruising offers a perfect way to do that."
Said Kristin Karst, co-owner and executive vice president of AmaWaterways: "We couldn't be more excited to sail with Adventures by Disney and bring river cruising to the family market."
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