River Cruises for Families

Danube River Cruise

Sailing the Danube River aboard AmaWaterways AmaLyra. Photo courtesy of Aaron Saunders of FromTheDeckChair.com.

The Family Day holiday this past Monday in British Columbia got me thinking about river cruising for families. In case you’re not aware, Family Day is a statutory holiday in some Canadian provinces. It’s a day to rest and intended for families to spend time together. The provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan observe this a week later, which is this approaching Monday.

In general, river cruise ships aren’t designed with the typical family in mind. Although they do do boast unique experiences onboard, there are no water slides or children’s programs  and some don’t even have pools. That doesn’t mean your family won’t enjoy this type of vacation, though.

Do you and your children want to be immersed in the culture of the destination? Try new cuisine? Explore quaint historic towns as well as the big bustling cities?  If you’re a definite yes to all these, and enlightening travel trumps the bells and whistles of ocean going cruise ships, then certainly consider a river cruise vacation for your family.

Note, however, there are age restrictions regarding the minimum age of minors permitted to travel aboard these vessels. There also must be an adult in the same stateroom as the minor.

River Cruising Minimum Age


AmaWaterways does not allow any children under 4 years old to sail with them. Children between 4 to 7 years are not recommended either. If you have children 11 years old or younger, you and your family won’t find yourselves sailing the Chobe River in Africa. The cruise line does note though “unless otherwise agreed upon by AmaWaterways.”

Avalon Waterways

Children under 8 years old are not permitted to sail aboard any Avalon vacation.


Uniworld‘s policy doesn’t note a minimum age but instead points out that their “long-term experience is that most young children (especially those under 8 years of age) do not enjoy or appreciate the river cruise experience.” They do have a program, however, for multigenerational families. More on this below.


Viking doesn’t indicate any minimum age except to say that minors must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 21 and they “reserve the right to limit the number of minors under the age of 18 years on board.”

Multigenerational Family-Friendly Cruise Program

Uniworld offers a program available during the summer and winter holiday months on select itineraries. In fact, the cruise line was voted #1 river cruise line for families by Travel + Liesure. The multigenerational family-friendly cruise program includes special shore excrusions for families, family special pricing, and kid-friendly food options like pizza, chicken wings, and cheeseburgers. Families also have the option to enjoy a ship tour with the Captain or the Hotel Manager and there’s even a PlayStation® 2 or Wii®-equipped game room. And why not take your family out on your very own bike tour with complimentary use of bicycles?

Choose from three itineraries this year:

July 13 or 27, 2014 – 8 days Paris and Normandy

family river cruise with Uniworld

July 18, 2014 – 8 days Castles along the Rhine

Uniworld family river cruises

December 14, 2014 – 8days Classic Christmas Markets

Uniworld Christmas market cruise

Interested in learning more? Leave us a comment below or contact a River Cruise Specialist today at 1-800-565-2784.

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