My #2 Top Trip for 2017 was August’s Tauck Danube River Cruise. While #2 on the whole, it wins #1 in the family category.
For those “in the know” of group set departure companies, Tauck is consistently ranked at the top. It perennially wins awards doled out both by the travel industry and travelers themselves, which is a feat achieved by few companies. So, when space opened up for me to hop on board the Tauck Bridges Blue Danube River Cruise in August with my 7 year old daughter I jumped at the opportunity.
As “non-cruiser” and “non-group tour” traveler, I was skeptical…big time. But, boy – did Tauck prove me wrong. After just 7 short days, I become both of those things, as well as an avid disciple of the Tauck way. I now spend my days hoping I get one of Tauck’s many catalogs, plotting my next trip. It’s no wonder that they have such a high rate of return clients. Full scoop below:
River Cruising is NOT just for “oldies” anymore! Regardless of the age, there are active things to do throughout. Tauck Bridges is Tauck’s family-oriented line, and they currently have family-centric cruises (designed NOT just for kids, but to interest the kids, their parents, and grandparents) on the Rhine, Rhone, Danube, and Seine.
Where we went:
The Danube is the perfect first River Cruise. We started in Munich and ended in Budapest, visiting Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava, Linz, the Wachau Valley, and more along the way.
The crew. There are less than 100 guests on board the small ship, and the crew is like family. By day 2, they all knew my daughter’s name, her whereabouts on the ship, and recruited her for the extra activities (flying kites on the deck, water gun fights, trivia nights, karaoke) to earn the coveted “Tauck Bucks” that left her pining for another trip.
Bratislava, Slovakia. Even 10 years ago, this was a cold, depressing city stuck in its Communist past. Now it is vibrant, charming, walkable, and just a ~1.5 dr drive (or short river cruise jaunt!) from Vienna! A must see.
There are many river cruise companies, and many do a good job – like most things, there are different companies that are the right fit for different clients. In my opinion, Tauck is #1 for family activities. Other ships have tried to mimic (and Disney has even added a few on the river), but Tauck has really achieved the balance between kid-friendly without being cheesy.
As a result, instead of obsessing over video games/ipads/Disney characters, kids are obsessing over medieval jousting matches, singing Do Re Mi in the Miraval Gardens in Salzburg, or learning the waltz in a true Viennese palace….with genuine excitement.
Remember that rivers are living, breathing bodies of water…so be flexible with the itinerary! If the water is too high or low, the lock schedule may change, and destinations may adjust slightly. Don’t stress over it – the crew will make sure the experience is fantastic.
Know Before You Go:
While Tauck’s included tours are wonderful, it’s worth considering a splurge on a private tour at least one day to maximize time…we recommend in Vienna or Salzburg on this itinerary.
Only that you will only have to unpack once….which for a family, is AMAZING!
Who Would Like This Trip?
~The family that is itching to go to Europe, but overwhelmed at the planes, trains, and automobiles it often requires.
~ Parents who want to see their kids be excited about simpler things/rich culture, and aren’t sure how to achieve it.
~Ideal ages are ~7-14, though there were children older and younger than this on the trip who had a great time.
~ Mother-Daughter / Father-Son trips – I can’t stress this enough. Going with a another friend and their child would make this the PERFECT trip. This trip changed my relationship with my daughter.