Is River Cruising for Families?

This is a question that we are hearing more and more of late.  The answer to depends on what you are looking for in a vacation.
In this writer’s humble opinion, a river cruise is the ultimate stress free vacation.  I have taken countless ocean cruises and always have had a great time, but the cruises that stand out in my memory are the river cruises.  Why is this?  The ships don’t have six restaurants, there are no casinos, waterslides or shopping decks and the staterooms are more compact.

When I stop and think about it, its not so much the bells and whistles it is the experience.  River cruise ships because of their size are intimate and the crew and staff are trained to immerse one in the culture of the river you are traversing.  There are no long lines to get into a venue or waiting for a table, the atmosphere onboard is relaxed and welcoming. 

Of course it helps that on most river cruises the wine and beer are free flowing and you are not getting your pocket picked every time you pop a cork or cap.  And that’s the fantastic thing about a river cruise for the most part they are all inclusive, meals, wine & beer, shore excursions and gratuities are included as part of your package.  I recall from our last river cruise our stateroom bill at the end of the cruise was $23.00 unbelievable! My stateroom bill on some ocean cruises has been $1000.00 or more.

But I digress, are river cruises a good family vacation?   I believe that they are and to answer the question you have to understand what I want for my kids. Travel is a wonderful education for both the young and old but especially the young.  A river cruise is the perfect opportunity to expose your kids to different cultures, history and people.

I often think about some of the excursions we took along the Rhine river and learning the history, for example Alsace, France the little town that changed nationality many times in the last 100 years: the residents could speak three languages.  Or drifting by the remains of the Ludendorff Bridge also known as the Bridge at Remagen where so may of our boys gave their lives in 1945.   Exposing one’s children to history up close and personal leaves an indelible and lasting impression.

As I mentioned earlier river cruise ships do not have waterslides, arcades or rock climbing walls and that is a good thing.  After an adventure filled day of excursions your family can relax in the spacious onboard lounges and meet their fellow travelers.  I am still in touch with children of one young family we met aboard a cruise seventeen years ago.  Meeting and interacting with fellow travelers broadens the minds of our youth.

And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t put in a word for multi generational travel. A river cruise is perfect for Mom, Dad, the kids and Granddad and Gramma.  Most river cruise nowadays offer fast paced and slower paced excursions and activities.  Plus, with the relaxed pace and evenings on the river there is plenty of time to re connect and do the one thing that seems to be a lost art these days: “Talk”

So what is the best river cruise for a family? Well that is where your travel professional is invaluable. They will work with you to determine, destination, activities to partake of, and time of year is best to travel.  With this information at hand they can make a solid recommendation on a river vacation that will truly tick all the boxes for your family.