All About Europe River Cruising for Families

a river cruise ship sailing in a river in Europe

When it comes to planning Europe vacations, many families choose to join a guided tour, an ocean cruise, or a custom-tailored independent trip. River cruises are usually popular but reserved for couples or adults only. But it’s a fantastic travel product that every family should be able to enjoy. Some river cruise lines have offered a few summer sailings to allow families with little kids to travel on a smaller vessel, gliding down the Danube or the Rhine, and visiting iconic cities and smaller villages, without packing and unpacking.


A river cruise ship sailing on the river in Europe                                                          ( photo courtesy: AmaWaterways )

First, let me show you why River Cruising is a great idea. Here are just 10 benefits to start.

  1. Unpack only once. It’s like a floating hotel.
  2. Visit new places every day. You don’t get at sea days. You’re sailing down different cities along the river which are of close distances. More to see!
  3. A slow, relaxing pace. You enjoy a panoramic view on the deck while you sail along the river.
  4. Small, intimate ships. No need to navigate 15 decks and wait for elevators and long lines.
  5. Easy and more time to explore. You’re usually docked right in the city and can just walk off and get to a café, or the cathedral a block or two away.
  6. Enjoy more local flavor. Chef onboard can go shopping for fresh, local produce and serve them onboard. Same for entertainment from local performers too.
  7. Casual dress code. There are usually no formal nights, allowing you to travel light.
  8. All-inclusive makes it easy. Your cabin, meals, some drinks, and shore tours are included in the price. Often, there are great promotions for airfares too.
  9. Fine dining and service. Because of the smaller ships, there is no mass production of food. There is more crew to serve fewer guests and chefs can be more creative with the menu.
  10. Many itineraries to choose from. There are multiple rivers and themed cruises allowing more choices.

If you like ocean cruising and guided tours, I highly recommend giving river cruises a try. Cruisers are often very satisfied with the experience and often repeat on different rivers.

This is a particularly great option for multi-generational travel. I can’t wait for you to share and experience this together as a family.

What are family experiences like onboard a river cruise?  a mother and 2 sons taking a photo while traveling in Europe

While each cruise lines operate differently, most will have children’s programming for sailings that cater to families.
Children’s club, cooking and baking in the ships’ kitchen, craft workshops, pajama parties, kids movies, and just hanging out at the pool are some of the many options. There are no big slides and splash pads, but kids and teens will enjoy spending time with peers and polish their social skills 😊

What are experiences like on shore?

Often time, cruises dock at the city center. You can walk off or use the bikes offered by the cruise line or join family-friendly included guided tours. They can be city orientation tours by bikes or attend a chocolate workshop in Vienna.

What are cabins like and how do they accommodate families?

Some cruise cabins can sleep up to 5 guests. Some cruise lines offer connecting cabins. They are not large cabins, so you do want to pack light.

What is the minimum age for kids to sail?

Some cruises allow children from 2 years old. Some are 5 years old. I do think parents will enjoy the cruise more when traveling with school-aged children and above. It’s a great educational and fun experience for all.

Best time to travel?

A few cruise lines allow families year-round, but many offer special family-friendly sailing in the summer only. Because there are not too many cabins per ship, an early reservation is always highly recommended.

Here are a few offers for summer 2023:

Check out Castles along the Rhine on this page: https://www.uniworld.com/us/themed-cruises/family-friendly-cruises

Tauck is a well-loved guided tour company, but they also have multiple adventures on the rivereven in December for the Holiday Christmas Markets. See them all here:


We know you’ll get a fun and magical time when Disney is involved. Adventures by Disney partners with AmaWaterways to provide many family-friendly river cruises all summer.


Just like there are many ocean cruise lines, there are also many river cruise lines to choose from. Each with different personality and inclusions. Click Plan a Trip and book a complimentary Vacation Planning Consultation with me and I can match you up with the right line and the right experience. Of course, offer our signature service to take care of you from planning to the time you have to pack and come home. Ready? Let’s Go!

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