Bringing Grandkids on a River Cruise

Don’t do it!  Well, there are some important exceptions, but let’s be clear: there are only a few situations where kids under 18 should be on a river cruise.   In some cases, such as with Viking,  they are not even allowed on board!   Mostly this is an adults only activity, with the following reasons as a start:

  • kids would be a distraction to other guests
  • children would not enjoy the entertainment on board
  • accommodations are not built for families
  • they would not likely have any peers to engage with
  • no children’s programs on board 
  • excursions are built and guided with adults in mind

However, there are a few exceptions to this with some purpose built ships and itineraries with families in mind.   Here are our favorites:

Tauck Bridges – the Bridges program is designed for families across all of their products.  This includes escorted land vacations, small ship cruising, and river cruises.   However if it doesn’t say Bridges, it’s not for kids!    Tauck’s take on Bridges River Cruises:  “Discover effortless vacationing at one all-inclusive price with our European river cruises for families. Unpack your bags once, then join the fun of exciting shore excursions, as well as engaging onboard activities planned by your Family Host. 100% child (and adult) friendly!”

Another outstanding option is to take an Adventures by Disney river cruise (in  partnership with AmaWaterways, on two of their purpose built ships that have connecting family friendly staterooms.  If you are not familiar with Adventures by Disney, it is a division of Disney that is not very well known, but is an amazing product for kids and families.  Their river cruises are no exception!

Uniworld Generations cruises are designed for families, and even offer a discount for guests aged 4-17.   Again make sure that the itinerary is clearly marked “Generations” and you will have a wonderful family vacation.   Here’s how Uniworld puts it “Every Uniworld Generations cruise includes special programs, events and excursions designed specifically for your world travelers in training.”

Fun Fact: In Between? For those adult kids that are in their twenties and thirties, consider a U River Cruise, also by Uniworld.  

Vantage also offers a kids sail free option, with some fine print.


Finally, for an extended family vacation, consider a Barge cruise.  These mini-riverships are perfect for bonding as it’s just you and your family!  Most barge cruises have a maximum capacity of 8-20 guests in total, so with a carefully negotiated charter, your family will be talking about this magical experience and shared memories for years to come.

Photo Information: Michael & Avery Graham in Berlin


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