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Keeping the attention of the little ones is far more challenging aboard river ships than it is on large ocean liners.

On ocean vessels, there is a plethora of activities like waterslides, kids’ clubs, entertainment and more to keep them occupied.

But river lines are upping the ante and offering a range of activities for multigenerational families.

Exploring Europe has never been more fun for families with kids who can take off on a bicycle to learn how to make Venetian masks in Italy, indulge in a fairytale dinner in a century-old castle along the Rhine River,  hop on hot air balloons in Paris or play petanque in Provence.

The immersive experience on board river ships mean families can learn how to cook together, master the complexity of speaking a foreign language or play a game of chess on the sundeck.

Most river ships can accommodate about 200 guests, paving the way for a more personal holiday for multigenerational families. Smaller ships also mean less queues embarking or disembarking the ships at various ports.

Here are some of the best European river cruises which are kids friendly.

Adventures by Disney/AmaWaterways/Apt

Exploring some of Europe’s most magnificent destinations as you sail along the Rhone, Seine, Rhine and Danube Rivers on an Adventures by Disney River cruise vacation with AmaWaterways/APT, has never been more exciting. You can zip-line above the Black Forest, visit a local apricot farm, tour a medieval castle or watch a cheese demonstration in Holland or simply enjoy a Disney movie on board the ship, there’s always something for everyone. There are Disney Adventure Guides on each sailing to help families connect to the local people, culture and traditions of the places you visit. There are also specially designed activities for children and teens including a baking class for kids. Adjoining staterooms are available to accommodate up to four people.

Visit: www.adventuresbydisney.com

Uniworld

The boutique river line has been targeting multigenerational families with discounted prices, special kid-friendly menus, dedicated family hosts and special excursions and activities for young travellers. Junior and teen cruisers aged between four and 17 will get a 25 per cent discount on the cruise fare when travelling with an adult. Kids will enjoy a dessert-making sessions with the ship’s pastry chef, a ship’s tour with the Captain or hotel manager and an exclusive kids lounge stocked with snacks and games. Itineraries include Castles along the Rhine, Delightful Danube and Prague, Gems of Northern Italy, Christmas Markets and Parisian Royal Holiday.

Visit www.uniworld.com.au

A-Rosa Cruises

All children up to the age of 15 travel free on A-Rosa. The line’s family cruises have spacious family cabins and adjoining staterooms. Excursions include visits to the Comic Worlds in Antwerp. There is also a kids’ club with an experienced children’s entertainer and lots of activities such as treasure hunts, face painting, design your own t-shirt and theme days including a creative atelier or pirate day. Restaurants have special kid’s menu. The line offers seven-night, family itineraries along the Rhine, Maine, Moselle, Danube, Rhine and Seine Rivers.

Visit: www.arosa-cruises.com

Tauck River Cruising

The line’s family vacations are designed “to spark a passion, inspire a sense of wonder and bring families closer together.”  Families also get to make friends with other families who travel on the ship. Itineraries feature cruises on the Danube, Rhone, Rhine and Seine. The kid-friendly fun includes a scavenger hunt in the Louvre, Bratislava Devin Castle jousting in Slovakia, French cooking class in Valance and a private dinner tour of Reichenstein Castle on the Rhine. Tauck has also waived the single supplement, ideal for single parent or single grandparent travelling with the family.

Visit: www.tauck.com.au