Multigenerational travel and river cruising are two of today’s most popular travel trends. In recent Virtuoso surveys, river cruising ranked as the peak dream trip of a lifetime and topped multigenerational travel as 2015’s leading travel trend. River cruising used to be viewed as exclusively for the senior set, but that is changing. River cruising and families aren’t mutually exclusive, as Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection has successfully shown. When done right, merging these two niches can make a winning combination.
Today’s grandparents want to make lasting memories and share enriching new experiences with their families. The nature of river cruising makes it a perfect vehicle for achieving those goals. “Multigenerational family travel is a segment that we believe has huge growth potential,” says Uniworld’s President, Guy Young. “Parents and grandparents are keen to expose their children to the wonderful cultures of Europe and a river cruise is a fun and intimate way to do this.”
Ann and Bill Troiano, grandparents from Virginia, wholeheartedly agree. The couple brought a total of ten family members from three generations on a Uniworld Rhine River cruise aboard the River Empress this summer. “The whole thing was so perfect,” said Ann, who has taken eight river cruises with Uniworld and several with other cruise lines. “It was very exciting to get the whole family together on this cruise and it was definitely quite the trip.”
Uniworld’s “Castles Along The Rhine” river cruise through the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland is an excellent choice for multigenerational cruising. On this enchanting cruise from Amsterdam to Basel, families can explore and view dozens of authentic medieval castles along the Upper Middle Rhine River Valley, walk along the wing of a Boeing 747 airplane at Speyer’s Technik Museum, take a thrilling aerial tram ride up the mountainside to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, climb the towering spire of a Gothic cathedral, and enjoy hands-on exhibits and tasty treats at Cologne’s Chocolate Museum. “Cultural experiences such as these are as educational as they are enjoyable,” says Uniworld Senior Vice President Wesley Bosnic. “Uniworld’s multigenerational river cruises in Europe provide young guests with mind-expanding travel experiences in which the history, culture, art and architecture of Europe comes alive.”
Making Memories Together
Spending time together is one of the most treasured parts of multigenerational vacations. The intimate environment on Uniworld’s river cruises allows families to bond in a relaxing atmosphere. Uniworld’s modern river cruise ships hold an average of 130 guests, eliminating the crowds found on large ocean-going vessels. The company’s all-inclusive approach to river cruising makes the experience hassle-free, with all transfers, meals, tips, unlimited beverages of all kinds, bike access, and almost all excursions included in the cruise price. In addition, Uniworld’s river cruise ships generally dock in the heart of their destinations, making it easy for families to simply walk or bike into town. Guests just unpack once and some of Europe’s most charming small towns and mid-sized cities arrive at their gangway each day.
Uniworld’s special family tours and onboard programming help make the river cruise experience unique and stress-free for multigenerational families. Experiences are designed to be fun for both kids and adults. Two Family Hosts, Cathleen Wagner and Tatiana Karst, were onboard the River Empress to oversee children’s and family events. In addition to supervising the children and accompanying exclusive family shore excursions, they designed innovative onboard activities that would engage families and enable participation by all generations.
Family activities included interactive cooking and culinary demonstrations, canal boat and mini train rides, a trip to an authentic Germany bakery and “Crazy Waffling” with the ship’s Executive Chef, wheelhouse tours with the Captain, and a dedicated family excursion to Germany’s Marksburg Castle. Castles, cuisine, and genuine local experiences were definitely some of the highlights on this cruise. “Through these hands-on excursions to castles, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and authentic storybook little villages, kids can immerse themselves in a fairytale world,” said Cruise Manager Kerstin Taschke.
The opportunity to explore new places together was one of the things the Troiano family enjoyed most about their Uniworld Rhine River cruise. This culturally-rich itinerary is filled with romantic castles and charming centuries-old towns with meandering canals, cobblestone streets and flower-bedecked half-timbered buildings. “We enjoyed doing the tours together and seeing the kids’ faces light up when they saw the castles,” said Ann Troiano. “It was so great to see Europe through their eyes.” The family also liked the freedom to ride bikes in every town, which they felt was a unique experience.
Enjoying Camaraderie and Culinary Delights
There’s much more to a Uniworld European river cruise than just the captivating destinations. The onboard guest experience significantly adds to the enjoyment. Uniworld has the highest guest-to-staff ratio in the river cruise industry and the personalized attention provided on this cruise was phenomenal. Families enjoyed the opportunity for close interaction with personable staff members and other guests onboard the River Empress. Charismatic Captain Ferdy Savelkouls and talented Executive Chef Danny Scotland were an integral part of the family program and the entire staff worked together as a team. Cezar Bican, a waiter on the River Empress, even delighted kids with his break dancing at the Multigenerational Dance Night, emboldening guests of all ages to get out on the dance floor.
Families come together to share the day’s stories at mealtimes. Dining together is an important part of multigenerational vacations and Uniworld is known for its exceptional cuisine. The classically-trained culinary team aboard the River Empress successfully catered to the needs of all guests, from seasoned gourmets to young children. The ship’s special dining events and extraordinary desserts were always a treat. Traveling with food allergies can also be a major concern for families when traveling overseas and the restaurant staff was particularly attentive to meeting the needs of guests with these issues.
Ann Troiano and her family were thrilled with their Uniworld river cruise vacation. “Everyone, to a person, loved this experience,” exclaimed Ann. “It’s pretty hard to please 100% of the people, but Uniworld did it.” Other passengers echoed her views. “This was the best vacation we have been on, especially with our children,” said one pleased guest. “We were not sure what to expect from the family program and our expectations were exceeded.”
Travel + Leisure magazine has named Uniworld the “Top River Cruise for Families” for the last four years in a row. Given the cruise line’s many awards and accolades, it’s not surprising to hear families rave about their experience. “The guest ratings and comments about the family-friendly “Castles Along The Rhine” river cruise were overwhelmingly extremely positive,” said Uniworld Relief Hotel Manager Lorena Santana.
“The program has been so successful that we have now almost tripled the number of family friendly departures in 2016,” says Uniworld’s Guy Young. That news is music to Ann Troiano’s ears. Her family is already asking where they’re going on their next multigenerational river cruise.
If You Go:
For more information about Uniworld and its family-friendly river cruises, visit http://uniworld.com.