Updated 06/07/2023

Think of river cruising and you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the domain of retired couples who like to relax and watch the scenery, or young active types who like to trek across cities, visiting museums and learning about history. However, the river cruise industry is evolving fast. Many river cruise lines have recognised that river cruising can be a fun and educational holiday for children. As such, they have developed a multitude of European river cruises which are perfect for families.

With family cabins that sleep four in one room, or adjoining cabins that sleep up to five, families are well accommodated on many river cruise ships. Whilst you won’t find waterslides, climbing walls and zip lines like you may do on large cruise ships, there are on-board facilities that children will love, from swimming pools to cinemas.

You’ll find an abundance of activities for children of all ages to enjoy once ashore as well, with a range of excursions which have been designed with young travellers in mind such as making Venetian masks in Venice or making marzipan in Germany.

The Best European River Cruises for Families


Family admiring the Danube on a bicycle excursion during an AmaWaterways cruise

AmaWaterways was the first river cruise line to design ships with families in mind. AmaStella and AmaViola debuted in 2016 with adjoining cabins that connected via an internal doorway, provining accommodation for families of up to five (or four plus a nanny). These ships also feature suites with sofa beds to accommodate families of four in comfort and style. Children under 11 are also permitted to share a bed with two adults if desired.

The real game-changer in the family river cruise industry, however, is new ship AmaMagna which launched in May 2019. This double-width ship is the world’s biggest river cruise ship and sails on the Danube, which is wider than other European rivers. On-board facilities that kids will love include the Theatre, where children can not only watch movies, but also play on the Playstation and Nintendo Switch, as well as a selection of board games and, importantly, a decent-sized swimming pool. Most of AmaWaterways’ ships have bicycles that guests can use ashore, and AmaMagna also has child-size bikes – perfect for exploring as a family!

AmaWaterways also has a partnership with Disney. The cruise line offers ‘Adventures by Disney cruises’ on the iconic Danube river, with activities including live falconry shows at ancient castles and magical carriage rides in Budapest.

Miniumum age to sail with AmaWaterways: Children must be 4 years old or over to sail, but AmaWaterways doesn’t recommend their river cruises for children under 8.

Discounted fares for children? No




Pastel-coloured houses and blossom trees in Passau, Germany, during spring

Uniworld is known for its opulent river cruise ships, but this luxury line isn’t just about adult-only indulgence. Uniworld also hosts family cruises as part of its Boutique River Cruise Collection. In fact, it is consistently voted number one in Travel + Leisure’s ‘World’s Best River Cruising for Families’ category year after year,

Uniworld’s family river cruises are all about helping you make new discoveries together: exploring exciting new destinations home to unforgettable experiences. On-board, guests can make desserts with the ship’s pastry chef and taste local soft drinks with a Soda Sommelier, indulge their creative side with craft workshops and brush up on their local lingo in language classes. Plus, there are culinary activities for adventurous diners, thrilling experiences for adrenaline junkies and exciting excursions designed to broaden inquisitive minds.

Uniworld also offers a Family Hosts service for Junior Cruisers (ages four to 12) and Young Cruisers (ages 13 to 17), where children can enjoy specially co-ordinated activities. They can also sit at the Young Traveller’s Table along with their friends and the Family Hosts, leaving parents to enjoy a romantic meal for two. Young travellers also receive surprise gifts on their pillow on each night of the cruise.

Miniumum age to sail with Uniworld: Children must be 4 years old or over to sail with Uniworld.

Discounted fares for children? Yes. Children aged 4 to 17 get a 25% discount when travelling with an adult (except in suites).


Would you like to embark on a family river cruise but aren’t sure which cruise line or itinerary to choose? Click the button below or call our Cruise Concierge team on 0800 197 0854 to find the best voyage for your clan of adventurers.

Share this:
(Visited 20,309 times, 1 visits today)

About Emma Smith

Emma has more than seven years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for nearly five years. She loves learning about new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Princess Cruises, Cunard, Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, Avalon Waterways and Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in her diary for 2024! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

2 Responses to “The best river cruises for families with children”

    • gravatar
      Emma Smith

      Hello Faye, it depends on the cruise line. In general, there are plenty of excursions exploring local cities, towns and landmarks. Uniworld offer their exclusive ‘Generations’ cruises which are designed for children and families, you can read all about our cruise expert, Sara Macefield, and her time on board here: Family fun aboard Uniworld’s ‘Generations’ river cruises. Thanks, Emma.


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)