Babies on board

The Danube in Budapest

The Danube in Budapest

Junior sailors are taking to river cruising like ducklings to water.

River cruising has long been the domain of retirees rather than rug-rats, but demographic change is under way as several companies make changes to itineraries and lodgings to broaden their appeal across generations.

Launched last year, AmaWaterways' AmaViola has interconnecting cabins as well as triple and quad cabins aimed at families, and has boosted the number of dedicated family cruises.

Tauck, until recently the only name in the kids-on-rivers game, has several multigenerational itineraries, including one from Paris to Lyon and another from Budapest to Vilshofen in Germany.

Last year Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection tripled departures on nine family itineraries on European rivers, including its seasonal Classical Christmas Markets cruise between Nuremburg and Frankfurt, and a Grand European Discovery between Cologne and Vienna, which includes activities aimed at young passengers: kayaking, Segway rides and a spin on Vienna's famous Ferris wheel. On-board activities on such family cruises might include strudel baking, craftwork and language lessons. Uniworld assigns two on-board hosts to take care of its "junior cruisers" (aged four to 11) and "young cruisers" (aged 12 to 18).

Adventures by Disney teamed with AmaWaterways last year on seven Danube river cruises - so popular they'll be repeated this year, supplemented by a new Rhine itinerary. Shore excursions on the Rhine cruise include zip-lining in the Black Forest, canoeing in Alsace and a visit to Cologne's Chocolate Museum.

Children are sailing into Asia, too, with the introduction of family cruises on the Mekong and Irrawaddy rivers by Pandaw River Cruises, currently scheduled twice a year.


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