Q – Hello. My family and I are interested in taking a river boat vacation in Europe (May 2016). I will be traveling with my husband and a toddler (who will be shy of 2 years old by the time of cruising), as well as two sets of grandparents. I am looking for a family friendly, but sophisticated (if one exists) line. My husband and I have been on the Paul Gauguin and the Aranui, and greatly preferred the latter (to give you a basis of our travel preferences). We have also used the Holland America line and disliked it immensely. We mostly prefer self-guided adventures but feel that a river boat cruise would be best for an extended family vacation.
A – River boats are small and, given the target audience, it is safe to say that toddlers are not welcome. In fact, they are not allowed on-board. Tauck allows children 6 or older on their river boat itineraries. If it is a special Bridges family sailing then 3 years of age is the youngest allowed.
AmaWaterways and Uniworld require children to be at least 4 years of age. Even if allowed on-board, parents will need to endure glances and outright glares from some of the other guests. Riverboats are intentionally designed to discourage children by severely restricting the number of accommodations that will accommodate tykes. They claim it is an insurance thing but we think it has a lot more to do with an older clientele that feels that small children will detract from the calm on-board. Based on some of the river boats we’ve sailed, young kids running around the ship screaming would be a major upgrade of the current quality of the evening entertainment.
After some time researching, we think we have found a river boat that will, indeed, accept young children: