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Best river cruises for families in 2022 and why you should take one

Author: Jeannine Williamson

Published on:

Updated on:

Family river cruises are increasingly in popularity and becoming more doable as cruise lines branch out. This is why you should consider river cruises for families in 2022.

Once upon a time, you would never hear the words “river cruising” and “families” spoken in the same sentence.

However, river cruises are no longer aimed at mature travellers and the past few years have seen an increasing number of family-friendly sailings designed to keep everyone happy; irrespective of their age.

Exploring fairy-tale castles on the Rhine, meeting French ‘cowboys’ on the Camargue, tracking down clues on a scavenger hunt in the Louvre Museum in Paris and making local specialities such as apple strudel in Vienna and pasta in Italy are some of the fun activities organised on multigenerational cruises.

Read on to find out more.

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Why are river cruises fun for families?

Firstly, they enable families to spend quality time together. Unlike large ocean ships, where children can spend all day and evening in kids’ clubs while parents do their own thing, river vessels are much smaller.

Activities are designed to engage the whole family, be it going on a shore tour or heading off along the river bank on the fleet of bikes that are carried onboard. They’re also convenient and much less tiring than land tours.

- READ MORE: Top tips for taking a family cruise holiday - and surviving -

On a river cruise, families can explore multiple destinations and countries in the space of a week without constantly having to pack and unpack. Ships often sail in the night, with the thrill of waking up somewhere new the next day, and with the ever-changing scenery, there are no ‘boring’ days at sea.

Luxury river cruise lines such as Tauck and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection offer all-inclusive pricing covering meals, drinks, excursions and tips, so parents can easily budget and not have to worry about mounting expenses.

There are also some great family cruise deals on value-for-money line CroisiEurope.

A-Rosa Sena was created with families and multigenerational groups in mind. Credit: A-Rosa

European river cruises for families

A-Rosa family river cruises

In a first for river cruising A-ROSA is launching the first dedicated family river cruise vessel.

The line already has a reputation for relaxed family-friendly sailings and the 280-passenger A-ROSA SENA launching in May 2022 will take the concept to a new level. It will be the first European river cruise ship to have a dedicated family pool and a kids’ club.

- READ MORE: How to pick a river cruise cabin -

The pirate-themed Treasure Island includes a slide, climbing area, cave areas, craft and painting corners and a relaxation area with large cushions designed to look like stones.

The ship was created with families and multigenerational groups in mind and the entertainment programme will include treasure hunts, craft sessions, cocktail making and cinema experiences.

A-ROSA SENA will have 12 extra spacious family cabins that sleep up to five and mealtimes will feature a special children’s buffet for younger passengers while older children can put together their own favourite dishes at the main buffet if they prefer.

There is also a separate family area in the restaurant where families can eat together. The onboard experience will continue ashore with family-friendly excursions such as a trip to the Madurodam miniature park in the Netherlands and Chocolate Nation in Antwerp.

A-Rosa Sena: The pirate-themed Treasure Island includes a slide, climbing area, cave areas & more. Credit: A-Rosa

An added bonus for eco-conscious parents and children is that A-ROSA SENA is the first river vessel to feature ‘E-motion’ technology. The hybrid propulsion system enables the ship to switch to battery power when entering and leaving port, meaning arrivals and departures are silent and emission-free.

Lucia Rowe, Managing Director at A-ROSA River Cruises UK & Ireland said of the new ship: “We’ve been welcoming families onto our cruises since 2014, but with A-ROSA SENA we’ve moved things to a whole new level. We’ve taken the knowledge we’ve gained over the last few years on the needs and wants of families and incorporated it into the design of A-ROSA SENA from the outset.”

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“She features numerous innovations when it comes to families cruising on the rivers of Europe, with the first dedicated kids’ club room on a river cruise ship where kids can let off steam, play, relax and get to know each other.

"There is also the children’s pool on the sundeck in addition to the main swimming pool, plus the family area, all the ingredients needed for the perfect family holiday. We know that the children cruising today are the cruisers of the future, and if they have a great time cruising with their parents and grandparents, I am convinced they will be cruisers for life.”

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection offer all-inclusive pricing. Credit: Uniworld

Family-friendly river cruise lines

Tauck was the main pioneer of family river cruises back in 2010 when it first introduced the Tauck Bridges programme with a sailing on the Danube. These all-inclusive itineraries have since been extended to take in the Rhine, Rhone and Seine.

Highlights of the Rhone cruise include a private visit to a ranch in the Camargue where families can meet some of the region’s famous white horses and the guardians, or Provencal cowboys, that look after them before watching a spectacular riding display.

The Rhine sailing includes a visit to Strasbourg and the chance to become French for a day, learning French phrases, joining a sing-a-long and savouring a chocolate tasting.

- READ MORE: Full list of new river cruise ships 2022 -

Uniworld family river cruises come under the line’s Generations Collection and operate on the Rhine, Danube and Italy’s River Po.

Also all-inclusive, they include shore excursions tailor-made for families and hosted by local experts, special children’s menus and a young travellers’ dining table reserved on certain nights for children and the two family hosts that accompany each cruise and oversee activities.

In addition to a young travellers’ lounge and games room, there are kids-only film nights with popcorn and a VIP ship tour with the ship’s captain or hotel manager.

Uniworld family river cruises operate on the Rhine, Danube and Italy’s River Po. Credit: Uniworld

Keep an eye out for CroisiEurope’s special Family Club deals which offer free cruises for youngsters under 16 on selected sailings in Portugal, Spain and Italy.

Children over five can also sleep in a cabin next to their parents and there are no expensive solo supplements for single parents. Family Club sailings also feature a children’s menu and onboard entertainment with hosts.

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Away from designated family sailings, many lines accommodate children on their regular sailings. In particular, AmaWaterways' family river cruises can be found onboard the AmaStella and AmaViola which both feature connecting cabins providing accommodation for families of up to five.

The line’s striking ship AmaMagna, which is twice the width of mainstream river vessels, offers spacious accommodation and public facilities that are ideal for families, including a swimming pool and theatre where youngsters can watch films and play video games.

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