All In The Family

Adventures by Disney® created quite a buzz amongst our clients when it was announced that they were entering the popular river cruise market through a partnership with AmaWaterways in 2016. A river cruise vacation has, for the most part, been geared toward culturally curious adults who enjoy the ease of travel, inclusive pricing, and uncrowded authentic experiences. Yet, for the last few years both Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection® and Tauck Bridges® have offered designated family-friendly departures complete with kid-oriented onboard and on shore activities. Can a river cruise be the right venue for a family vacation? Let’s consider the pluses and minuses.

• Education. Today’s parents and grandparents view travel as a supplement to the children’s schooling and a way to help them learn about the world in an empirical way.
• Unpack once. The less moving from place to place, the less stress.
• Intimate, safe confined space.
• Heritage. Parents and grandparents can explore their own family’s significant religious and cultural sites with the children.
• Convenience. Travel arrangements, accommodations, meals, excursions and activities can be handled in one transaction saving planning time and hassle.

On the other hand, a river cruise ~ even a designated multigenerational cruise ~ may not be right for every family.
• Accommodations. While the newest river vessels are being designed to accommodate three, even four people, most ship cabins are small, intended for just two and do not have connecting inner doors. This means most families will need to book at least two cabins adding to the cost.
• Amenities. Families accustomed to sailing on large ocean ships have come to expect large pools and sophisticated play areas along with babysitting services. River cruise lines are just beginning to respond with family features such as children’s theme nights, karaoke, youth counselors and children’s menu options. Still, a river cruise may not be suitable for children under age eight.
• Touring Tolerance. Parents and grandparents must know their child’s patience for sightseeing and ability to entertain themselves. They should include the kids in the itinerary discussions using books and maps it the children are old enough to understand them. But, some children need effervescent stimuli or they get restless and a river cruise would not be a good fit.

A multigenerational family vacation on a river cruise is a magnificent way for grandparents and parents to share the gift of enriching travel with the special young people in their lives. It offers the opportunity for families to explore extraordinary countries, gain worthwhile insights, and learn firsthand about different cultures personally as a family. Because the history, culture, art, architecture of Europe comes alive, families create lasting memories and share astonishing experiences together.

Uniworld Family River Cruise

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

If you are considering a family river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • Cruising For Families With Autism

    Royal Caribbean now offers special programs for families with autism and is the first cruise line to earn “Autism Friendly” certification.

    Royal Caribbean is the first cruise line to offer Autism Friendly  sailings
    Royal Caribbean is the first cruise line to offer Autism Friendly sailings

    Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability, considered to be the result of a neurological condition that affects normal brain function, development and social interaction.

    Autism is characterized by:
    • Impaired social interaction
    • Problems with communication, both verbal and non-verbal
    • Unusual, repetitive or multiple limited activities and interests
    These behaviors can range from mild to severe.

    Family at the Beach

    Autism Friendly means being aware of social engagement and environmental factors affecting people on the autism spectrum, adapting communication methods and physical space to better suit an individual’s unique needs.

    Autism Friendly Cruise Line
    • Royal Caribbean International® is the first cruise line to be certified as “Autism Friendly” by Autism on the SeasTM.
    • Autism Friendly Certification recognizes efforts to make sure products and services are accessible for autistic guests.
    • In addition to existing services, they have added new Autism Friendly features including Autism Friendly Films and Activities, Toy Lending and a Cruising Social Story.

    There are no fees associated with these features.

    They currently provide a wide range of Autism Friendly products and services, including:

    • Priority check-in, boarding and departure
    • Special dietary offerings including gluten-free options
    • Adventure Ocean flexible age grouping
    • Adventure Ocean toilet-trained policy exception
    • Pagers for parents of children in Adventure Ocean

    Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Logo

    Key Features of the Program

    • Royal Caribbean provides a true family vacation experience – an option that families with autism may not have considered because of their specific needs.
    • Families with autism sailing on Autism Friendly Certified ships can be confident that they have products and services that will help accommodate their family members with autism.
    • Children with autism can enjoy our Adventure Ocean Program with Autism Friendly features such as films, toys, and activities. Soon, they will also be able to provide staff who are specially trained to work with autism.
    • Caregivers can enjoy a break, as the Adventure Ocean Program offers an opportunity for respite care.
    • Royal Caribbean’s unique products provide an opportunity for families to do things together, with Autism Friendly products and services for kids, teens and adults alike.

    Do you know a family that would appreciate this service? Contact us for details.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

  • Benefits Of Using A Travel Agent

    Planning a river cruise vacation? Demand for the comfort, convenience, and cultural diversity that can only be found along the world’s most famous waterways is growing exponentially. But which one? Mark Murphy talks to Steve Sanders of WGN Chicago about using a travel professional versus online booking. Mark discusses how in most circumstances using a travel agent costs no money and some of the benefits of seeking help from a travel professional.

    If you are considering a river cruise, please feel free to send me an email or call me so we can discuss your vacation plans in detail.

    Need more information? We service many of our clients entirely through email:

  • Click Here To Email Us

  • or by phone – 800-372-1963

    Follow VacationBuzz on Twitter

    Also. . .I have a New Facebook Page. Please check it out, and “like” it if you do.

  • 6 Emerging Vacation Trends for 2011

    The results are in. Surveys and market reports conducted at the end of 2010 reveals some interesting trends for vacationers this year.

    1. Travelocity®’s annual “Traveler Confidence Report” finds that an overwhelming majority of travelers (89 percent) will spend as much or more on travel in 2011 as they did in 2010 particularly by upgrading to a higher rated resort or cruise line.

    2. Even though travelers are planning to spend more, they’re also planning to spend more carefully by watching their budget. Many intend to book a vacation package (flight and hotel) as a way to save money.

    3. Travel agencies across the country are reporting an increase in bookings to Europe, especially river cruising, the Mediterranean and the Baltic. Prices are more affordable than in recent years because of the stronger dollar against the Euro and other currencies.

    4. Special interest travel—culinary tours, golf vacations, photography opportunities, music and art themed tours, diving vacations—are increasingly sought by travelers.

    5. Small ship and river cruises are exploding in popularity. Destination oriented and seasoned travelers enjoy the immersion into the location. As one client said, “The larger the ship the smaller the experience.”

    6. “Staycations” and “nearcations” have run their course. Vacation plans include flights, in spite of the hassles of flying.

    So what does this mean for you? Cruise lines and tour operators are anxious to rebuild their businesses after the economic meltdown of the last few years. Take advantage of 2-for1 and early booking discounts, packages with reduced airfare specials, extra amenities and upgrades, and special interest theme cruises and tours.

    And, do it now. Because there is one more trend: 7. Travelers are booking earlier—6 to 9 months before departure and not waiting until the last minute as in recent years. That means the vacation you want, when you want it, may be sold out.

    Scooter Tessari, MCC
    Vacation Specialist