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The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION AFLOAT -

Uni­world has a pro­gram of Gen­er­a­tions Fam­ily Cruises in Europe this year and next. Eight-day Cas­tles along the Rhine voy­ages be­tween Basel and Am­s­ter­dam, on SS An­toinette and River Em­press, de­part twice this month; chil­dren aged 4-17 sail for half price on select itin­er­ar­ies and de­par­tures. Uni­world fam­ily friendly cruises are also avail­able else­where in Europe. In 2018, a 10day Gems of North­ern Italy cruise on River Count­ess, for ex­am­ple, from Mi­lan to Venice, has half-price chil­dren’s of­fers on June 29 and July 6. More: uni­world.com/au/ themed-cruises/fam­i­lyfriendly-cruises. ow­ing to the im­pos­si­bly steep so-called Rider’s Stair­way to reach it, and which is by far the most in­ter­est­ing of the two cas­tles and one fortress we visit. I’ve seen plenty of cas­tles, but not one with a toi­let with an open door just off the great hall (so you could carry on your con­ver­sa­tion with oth­ers who were still din­ing), botanic gar­dens with hem­lock and bel­ladonna, and an in­ter­est­ing se­lec­tion of pun­ish­ment masks. The kids love it.

As they do our last ex­cur­sion, in Cologne. Here, in the per­fume shop Fa­rina 1709, a cos­tumed ac­tor fills us in on stenches of the past, ex­plains how cologne once cost the equiv­a­lent of thou­sands of dol­lars a bot­tle, and has us play­ing a sniff-and-guess game with his per­fumes.

Back on board the chil­dren go wild on their last af­ter­noon, with a mas­sive hide and seek game, en­joy­ing the in­de­pen­dence a small ship gives them to roam, as well as raid­ing the huge jars of sweets present on all Uni­world cruises (they work their way through 12kg of gummy bears alone dur­ing our week).

My son, who un­til now hasn’t wanted to sit on the kids’ ta­bles at meal­times, de­cides he wants to be with his new­found friends, par­tic­u­larly Wi­ley, who has joined us for the last cou­ple of ex­cur­sions. His grand­mother, who is trav­el­ling alone with him, joins my par­ents and me as we tuck into an amaz­ing meal of lob­ster bisque, scal­lops and beef tourne­dos.

We agree it has been a fan­tas­tic week, de­spite some nig­gles with the kids’ pro­gram (which needs more mo­ti­va­tional hosts) and with the older gen­er­a­tion (with more in­for­ma­tion needed on how much walk­ing each ex­cur­sion in­volves and per­haps the op­tion of eas­ier trans­fers to the buses). It’s far from cheap, but the qual­ity is top­notch, and I can see the for­mula work­ing well for fam­i­lies, al­though prob­a­bly in more ad­ven­tur­ous destinations.

Is it worth do­ing again? Ask Wi­ley — he’s al­ready beg­ging his grand­mother to book an­other cruise.

Jane Knight was a guest of Uni­world.

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