If you thought river cruising was an unattainable fantasy until you reach retirement age, it might be time to think again. Taking the kids with you on a river cruise can offer a traditional family holiday experience, taking the stress out of travelling, whilst treating all ages to the sights of old Europe and even the Far East. Offering a variety of week or fortnight-long breaks, a Viking River Cruise can provide a peaceful alternative to brash Mediterranean resorts and crowded seasides.
If you want to tour Europe with the kids in tow, there’s hardly a better way to do it, as cruising can be a lot less hassle than going by train or hire car. There’s no need to re-pack every few days, and everyone still gets to see the highlights of several countries in one trip.
In terms of destination, you can take your pick. You could make the classic Danube journey through Germany, Austria and Hungary with plenty of historic architecture and beautiful panoramas for the grown-ups while kids will be enthralled with the castles of Saxony and thermal swimming baths of Budapest.
Other itineraries start from Paris and travel all the way to Prague, and with the option of adding a hotel stay at either end, the kids could get that trip to Disneyland after all. For something a little more exotic, take a cruise through China along the Yangtze River and really give your kids something to talk about in their summer holiday report!
Though river cruising is more about watching the world go by, entertainment is provided by way of live music and local performers. There are also demonstrations and workshops about local crafts, food and games, which are worth getting the kids involved in as this can improve their understanding of the places they’re visiting.
With no long days at sea, there’s less time for your kids to get bored and more time to get out and about on shore. This said, the cabin facilities include all the electronic equipment that kids will expect, from hairdryers to cable TV. Catering is usually done buffet-style in the day, with no strict dress codes in the evening and a range of options to suit even the fussiest eaters.
Although river cruise ships are smaller than your average Caribbean ocean liner, fewer passengers promotes more of an intimate atmosphere, with everyone encouraged to spend time together. Think old-fashioned canal-boat holidays, but with more room and plenty of places for teens to escape Mum and Dad for a while!
Parents may also be surprised at how value they get from a river cruise. Unlike many ocean cruises, all excursions are usually included in the up-front price and there are often complimentary drinks – both alcoholic and otherwise – with meals.
By paying for travel and accommodation together, you can just sit back and let the sights and attractions come to you. Just taking some time out along the river can be great for re-connecting with your kids. With Viking’s Scandinavian liners improving in standards and facilities every year, it might be time to try a new type of family break.