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.