Friday, April 27, 2012

Sigh. No European River Cruising for us. Yet!

In my 30s, most of my European travels were on two wheels.  I loved the freedom to explore all the small villages and stop whenever I wanted.  I have enjoyed island-hopping in Denmark, beautiful towns in the Czech Republic and eaten more cakes and pastries than I care to admit in Austria.  Thank goodness I covered enough distance to work those off!

I must admit, now that I'm older and with a toddler-in-tow, I am not quite as gung ho on independent bike touring.  Plenty of families do it and have a great time, but honestly, I am feeling less ambitious these days and am looking for more relaxation on vacation.  I love Europe and a river cruise sounds like a good trade-off.  The ability to discover a new place each day (and most river cruises have bikes available for use), without having to pack and unpack numerous times or live out of a panier. 

Traveling so much with B, I am starting to feel as if there are no limits (bike touring aside) to the places we can travel with him.  So I was a little surprised to find traditional river cruising off the table.  Here are four of the largest and longest-running European river cruise companies, and the minimum ages for travel:

AMAWaterways - 4 years and up
Avalon Waterways - 8 years and up
Uniworld - 4 years and up
Viking River Cruises - 8 years and up

I guess I shouldn't really be surprised... the traditional demographic of river cruisers tends to be empty-nesters and seniors, and they probably don't want to be surrounded by a bunch of noisy kids.  Frankly neither do I.  I should also note that none of these lines caters to kids, so if child care, kids meals and kid-specific activities are on your agenda, it would be best to steer towards more traditional cruises.  Another thing to keep in mind if you are considering a European river cruise, is none of these companies allow more than two people in a cabin.  For many families this means having to book multiple cabins which can be a costly proposition.

Read about Cruising with a Baby and Frommer's Best Cruise Ships for Kids.

So I guess a European Christmas Market cruise will have to wait until B is in college.  In the meantime, we DO have a bike and barge adventure planned for this coming fall.  More on that later...

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