Delicious Dining On Viking Cruises All Included
Most cruises offer a lot of food, but we were impressed with the variety and quality of the dining experiences available to us on the Viking Star. Best of all, there were no assigned seatings, so we could eat when we chose and sit where we wanted.
The World Cafe offered an array of buffet-style options at every meal, but they also prepared daily seafood, pastas, and other specials à la minute. Fine dining at The Chefs Table and Manfredis, Norwegian specials at Mamsens, casual meals at the Pool Grill, lovely afternoon tea in the Wintergarden, and round-the-clock room service in our stateroom meant we were never bored with our choices. In fact, we had to be careful not to overindulge and gain our own freshman 15 during our trip.
Dont Bother Booking A Cruise If Youre Not Fully Vaccinated Heres Why
Well, that didnt take long. The first wave of unvaccinated and partially vaccinated passengers whove been denied boarding their cruise ships has washed ashore.
As the cruise industry begins to return to the waterways, mass confusion about the requirements for cruising has ensued. One of the first casualties of this chaos was Joshua Maxwell and his fiancee. They showed up at the dock earlier this month, planning to set sail on Celebrity CruisesEquinox. Unfortunately, they werent fully vaccinated, and the cruise line rejected the couple and sent them home.
Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Elite Travel Insurance
The twist? Maxwell says vaccination requirements confused cruise line employees, too. As a result, he says the duo were allowed to board the ship and settle into their cabin before being forcibly removed by security hours later.
So whats going on here?
Maxwells unpleasant tale should serve as a warning to would-be passengers everywhere. If youve got an upcoming cruise, make sure youre fully vaccinated, or you wont be cruising anywhere but back to your house.
Are River Cruises Right For Kids
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While major cruise lines are wowing families with mega-ships with cool features like bumper cars, rock-climbing walls, 10-story waterslides, surf simulators, iFly skydiving and more, river cruise lines are slower to catch up in that department. Especially popular in Europe, river cruises meander slowly down rivers like the Danube and the Rhine, stopping in intimate ports as well as larger cities to offer passengers an easy way to visit multiple countries without packing up bags, dealing with train transfers, flights, etc.
Some river cruises dont allow children at all, but a few river cruises lines such as Uniworld and AmaWaterways are teasing parents with family sailings on itineraries that take you through the fairy-tale castles of Germany or follow the Sound of Music in Austria. But, are river cruises actually a good vacation option for kids? Sadly not really.
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You May Not Get The Excursions You Want
When cruising with kids, fun and exciting excursions can make or break the experience. Yet paying for excursions can get pricey when you’re traveling with multiple family members, which is why the one included excursion Viking offers at every port is a major perk. Yet these excursions tend to be low-key walking or bus tours, which is why we always try to book some additional thrill-seeking adventures. A few days before we were to leave on our trip, we received a note from Viking saying we were free to explore Iceland on our own after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased travel advisory restrictions. But my husband and I were so focused on wrapping things up at home and at work that the thought of researching last-minute excursions on our own felt overwhelming. So sadly, our family never got to fully appreciate some of Iceland’s most iconic features we didn’t see a volcano or a frozen glacier or a Puffin but we did manage to book an ATV tour in Isafjordur, which was fabulous. As a side note, we had a one-night stopover at the end of our trip at The Retreat at the Blue Lagoon Iceland, where we swam in the silica-filled blue waters and slathered our skin in mud and clay masks. It elevated our whole trip in terms of doing something extraordinary and ended our journey on an adventurous note.
European River Cruises For Families
Europe is the ideal destination for family-friendly river cruises. Whilst you may be tempted by exotic in South America, the Nile in Africa and the Yangtze and Mekong in Asia, the waterways of Europe offer a much more child-friendly experience.
Those living in the United States might also want to consider US river cruises on the Mississippi.
If youre looking for the best river cruises in Europe for families, the most important thing to think about is the river cruise line you choose.
There are about 20 river cruise lines, but only five of them are really kid-friendly so these are the ones you should consider.
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Viking Makes It Official: Kids No Longer Welcome On Cruises
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Luxury line Viking Cruises has updated its age policy and limited river and ocean sailings to passengers who are 18 or older. Its a departure for the company that once allowed younger children onboard river cruises.
Now passengers must be at least 18 years old to sail on cruises booked after Aug. 1, the companys website says.
Vikings ocean cruises have been adult-only since the line launched in 2015. It previously accepted kids 12 and older on river cruises, media reports say.
A Viking statement sent by email said the age limit reflects what passengers wanted.
Viking has always offered experiences that are designed for travelers who are 50 and older, with interests in history, art, culture and exploration. Its what were known for. Previously, we had allowed a degree of flexibility in the minimum age for travel, but increasingly our guests have told us how much they appreciate an environment where they can travel without children.
The statement said its policy clarification began last January as part of a marketing campaign called What Viking Is Not.
No casinos, no children under 18, no photographers, no umbrella drinks … and so on, the web page says. Its a way of differentiating the luxury line from those that market family-friendly features on mega-ships.
Other river cruise lines set their own age limits for passengers that can be found in their Terms and Conditions.
Shore Excursions Are Included
This is another big and rare benefit. Although there are lots of optional shore excursions that do have an extra charge, Viking offers one complimentary one at every port. This is a great way to get an overview of the destinations highlights without paying additional fees. We almost always choose the included shore excursion.
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What Is A Family River Cruise Like
River cruise ships are pretty small at least compared to ocean ships, anyway. Whilst an ocean ship might have anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 passengers on board, river cruise ships tend to accommodate about 200 people.
The relatively small size of river cruise ships means that theres obviously no room for things like water slides, rock climbing walls or any of the activities your kids would go crazy for on an ocean cruise.
However, there are some things theyll like, such as small swimming pools, Jacuzzis, cinemas, games consoles and giant noughts and crosses.
Each day youll stop at a different port of call. Your ship will often dock right in the heart of the city, so you can get off and explore on foot, on a coach or maybe on bikes if your ship has those to borrow.
You Will Need To Wear A Mask
Although there were no mask or social distancing restrictions in Iceland at the time of our sailing, we needed to wear a mask on the ship in public places . Once, I took inventory on a tour bus and noticed at least 20% of the passengers were not wearing masks at all. I was concerned my sons, who live in an area where masks were no longer mandatory, would be lax in their mask wearing or be called out at every turn if they didn’t have their masks on. But my boys got used to wearing their masks when necessary and staff members were polite when reminding passengers to mask up. There were times when I forgot to grab my mask from my room, but at every turn there was a crew member who would happily hand me an envelope with one inside.
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New Learning Every Day
As we worked our way through college tours, orientations, move-ins, and family weekends, we found ourselves feeling envious of all that new learning. Fortunately, our Romantic Mediterranean journey with Viking Ocean Cruises was the perfect envy antidote. We visited six ports in four countries and spent every day learning and seeing something new.
The complimentary port excursions gave us an excellent overview of each new destination, bolstered by on-board presentations, a lending library, and lots of time in port to explore on our own. Since Viking Cruises do not have casinos on board they have no urgency to get out to sea and instead they maximize time in port. We generally arrived by 8:00 am and departed after 8:00 pm, allowing the full day to explore on land or relax on board.
You And Your Family Will Relax
On the last day of our trip, the seas were too rough to tender in Heimaey and the captain made an announcement that we would be sailing straight to Reykjavik, basically creating our only day at sea. My boys lounged around the ship at times, I found them swimming in the pool, working out in the gym, and, of course, eating. Luke said he was content with doing pretty much nothing. “In a few weeks I’ll be back in college writing 20-page papers and wishing I had nothing to do,” he commented. I realized on this trip that my boys, albeit older, were still the same travelers who could make and find their own fun on a cruise ship. On this day, my husband went to a lecture to hear a historian reflect upon Norway’s role during WWII, and I finished a novel that had been sitting on my nightstand for six months. Despite all that was going on in the world, we were doing exactly what we’d been doing for years on cruises: relaxing, destressing, and bonding as a family.
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Viking Cruises Are Great Value And Inclusive Pricing
Viking Ocean Cruises are an exceptionally good value because nearly everything you will need is included in your booking price. Unlike most cruises, Viking packs a lot of extras into the booking fee including:
- free wifi throughout the ship
- an included excursion at every port
- wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
- alternative dining experiences and 24/7 room service
- unlimited use of the Nordic spa
- a free self-service laundry, detergent included
The only extras youll need to cover are tips and cocktails though optional excursions and spa treatments are available if you want them. With all those included services its easy to budget for your trip and youll never feel nickel-and-dimed. Viking Cruises offer many special promotions throughout the year, including free airfare and two-for-one pricing, so check the website for the latest deal.
A Gorgeous New View Everyday
All cabins on Viking Ocean Cruises ships are exterior, and they all have verandas with outdoor seating, so you can enjoy beautiful views throughout your journey. There is something magical about waking up, opening your curtain, and getting your first look at a new port, or a beautiful sunrise. The beautiful views extend throughout the ship, including in the dining area where sliding windows can be opened in warm weather. Viking offers more al fresco dining than any other cruise ship, and the indoor pool even features a retractable roof.
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Are River Cruises A Good Choice For Children
The answer to this question depends on the age of the children as well as their personalities or interests. Even though there are a few cruise lines that allow infants and toddlers, a river cruise or even a trip to Europe may not the best way to travel with them. Because most river cruise passengers will probably be without children, especially very young ones, bringing yours along could result in an awkward and frustrating experience. Other passengers might find it hard to relax and enjoy their vacation if children are crying or misbehaving.
River cruises can be a good option for older children who are interested in culture and history and who do not require a lot of physical activity or interaction with other children. And of course river cruises are also suited for children who are mature and interact well with adults.
The 5 Best European River Cruises For Families
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Years ago, cruising had a bit of a reputation as being just for old people. But boy, how times have changed! Virtual reality trampoline anyone? .
But what about river cruising? Are river cruises good forfamilies? The answer is a resounding YES! But, with some caveats. As with anycruise holiday, you need to pick your river cruise carefully to find one thatsuits your family.
First, lets make sure were all on the same page when it comes to knowing what to expect from family river cruises in Europe.
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Fact: You Must Prove Youre Fully Vaccinated To Cruise In 2021
Maxwell says he was stunned that the cruise line could kick them off the cruise and abandon them. But regular readers of our site know that he shouldnt have been surprised. Over the years, weve covered many cases where cruise lines have summarily removed passengers from their ships, with no follow-up.
Maxwell called Celebrity immediately and demanded an explanation and a guarantee of a refund. Then his shock turned to rage when the representative explained that there would be no refund.
The agent pointed out that all guests over age 12 must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before sailing. Partial vaccinations do not qualify for cruising on Celebrity.
Convinced that the cruise agent was wrong about the vaccination requirements and his refund eligibility, Maxwell next submitted his request for help to the Elliott Advocacy team.
Tauck Family River Cruises
Luxury river cruise line Tauck was one of the first river cruise lines to offer family-friendly cruises and has done so since 2010.
The Tauck Bridges range is available during the summer holidays in July and August each year. These river cruises include a variety of shore excursions that the whole family will love, such as walking in the footsteps of gladiators at the Colosseum, riding an ancient Ferris wheel in Vienna or learning how to make marzipan in Germany.
Tauck is an all-inclusive river cruise line. Holidays withthis company include everything, from flights, hotels and airport transfers, tounlimited food and drinks, as well as gratuities. Shore excursions are alsoincluded, which makes deciding what to do in each port really easy.
Minimum age to cruisewith Tauck: Children must be three years old or over to cruise. Shoreexcursions also have minimum ages assigned to them.
Accommodation: Cabins with sofa beds accommodate families of up to four people.
Child fares: Children pay the full adult fare.
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What Will It Be Like On Board
When the MSC Grandiosa returned to the waters last August, the voyage was characterized by COVID-19 testing, social distancing, hand sanitizing and temperature checks.
The ship was also operating at reduced capacity. Day trips were strictly moderated, and rule-breaking wasn’t tolerated.
Travelers and crew members were tested before boarding via a primary antigen test and a secondary molecular test.
On board, cleaning methods were enhanced, including hospital-grade disinfectant and the use of UV-C light technology.
CDC requirements, meanwhile, suggest future cruises will require on-board face coverings, hand hygiene and social distancing. Laboratory testing will also take place for all passengers and crew when they embark and disembark the ship.
The mock cruises that must take place before “official” cruises depart will test the efficacy of these preventative measures.
According to CDC guidelines, each cruise line will have to send a report after the mock cruise is complete, which the CDC will then review, give feedback and issue a COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificate, assuming all requirements have been met. It’s possible a series of mock cruises might need to take place.
The goal, according to the CDC conditional sail order, is “a return to passenger voyages in a manner that mitigates the risk of Covid-19 introduction, transmission, or spread among passengers and crew on board ships and ashore to communities.”
HOW SAFE ARE CRUSIES?
Vantage Deluxe World Travel
The newest entry into family river cruising, Vantage will start offering family river cruises in 2017, open to children ages 8 and up. The trips will be planned during summer and holidays and feature a family welcome reception arts and crafts workshops, and singing sessions for kids ages 8 to 12 activities for tweens, teens and 20-somethings a dedicated host to oversee family activities in the evenings special ship tours kid-friendly menus complimentary travel journals and language lessons and visits to schools if the cruise takes place when class is in session.
The current Family Journey offering for 2017 centers on Paris, Normandy and the Seine River. The itinerary, available July 2017, will take place on River Venture and visit Giverny, Honfleur, Rouen and the D-Day beaches. Activities on the ship will be adjusted to the age of the children who go.
For some categories, children between ages 8 and 21 can cruise for free however, they must be in the same cabin as a parent and are valid only for double occupancy rooms. Regular cabins on River Venture do not have room for a third berth the Owners Suite does have a sofa that converts to a bed and there are also single staterooms.
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