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River cruising is not usually perceived as a family-friendly holiday but with the growing popularity of multi-generational travel across all sectors, a handful of lines are getting onboard in Europe.

Why would you take your kids (or grandchildren) on a river cruise? There aren’t any kids’ clubs or high-octane onboard activities – but if they’re interested in food (eating and cooking regional goodies), history (torture implements and dungeons in medieval castles are particularly fascinating to curious young minds), meeting people from other cultures and doing things like cycling, youngsters will find plenty to explore and enjoy. And the adults who are giving them this amazing learning experience will be equally well rewarded.

Tauck Bridges cruises are exclusively for families and in 2019 and 2020 there are two itineraries in France plus one on the Danube and one on the Rhine, with several departure dates in June and July. Itineraries are designed to appeal to all age groups with a good balance of shared activities and downtime; suites are equipped with a sofa bed to accommodate families and there’s no single supplement for solo travellers, which makes it easier for a single family member to travel with a larger group. The minimum age for children is four.

Uniworld’s Generations Collection offers similar itineraries to Tauck’s, with the addition of a cruise-tour in Italy and Christmas cruises in France and Germany. Two Family Hosts oversee all activities for Juniors (four to 12 years old) and Teens (13 to 17). Highlights for youthful cruisers include a dedicated lounge and game room, kids-only movie nights and the Young Travellers’ Table, reserved for kids and Family Hosts. There is 25 per cent off fares for four- to 17-year-olds when travelling with an adult. 

Adventures by Disney River Cruises also sail the Seine, Rhine and Danube, on AmaWaterways’ ships – in 2020 it will add a Rhône itinerary. Disney’s Adventure Guides accompany the family-friendly cruises and onboard and onshore experiences are designed for all ages, with an emphasis on cultural immersion and being active – ziplining over the Black Forest sounds lots more fun than driving for hours to see a cuckoo-clock demonstration. Contact your travel agent for bookings.