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“Mom, you need to check out the AmaWaterways’ Zambezi Queen—it’s so cool!” shouted my 14-year-old as he rushed through the connecting door between our cabins. We are two days into a week-long cruise down the Rhine River on AmaWaterways’ AmaKristina. And with my son reading brochures and talking about our next cruise in Africa, I have a feeling we will be exploring more of the world with AmaWaterways. 

I was attracted to river cruising almost a decade ago when I walked past the sleek ships docked near Budapest’s Chain Bridge. I imagined the ease of boarding a river cruise with my husband and children, unpacking once, and sailing to numerous countries. But at that time, the industry catered to retirees and sedentary travelers. Fortunately, river cruise offerings have become more inclusive—it’s not just your grandparent’s vacation anymore. At the forefront, is family-owned and -operated AmaWaterways. This award-winning company fully embraces families with school-age children—as well as their grandparents—through a new generation of river cruises. Here’s how they do it. 

The author’s child having fun on board AmaKristina. (Photo courtesy: Nancy Besharah)

Interconnecting Staterooms
The ability to book interconnecting staterooms on AmaWaterways’ river cruises was the first sign that this company understands families like ours. During the school year, we barely have time to sit down for a family dinner, and one of the reasons we vacation is to re-connect. I love that families can choose to stay together on AmaWaterways.

Outstanding Crew
“Ama” is derived from the Latin word for love, and the entire family felt catered to by the AmaKristina crew. It’s the little things that often make a significant impact. On the third day, my son’s eyebrows shot up when he realized that a server brought him a Sprite before he ordered his favorite drink. This is a teenager that has experienced some of the best hospitality in the world. It’s just one example of how the AmaKristina crew know how to care for travelers of all ages.

Families can be as active as they want to be. (Photo courtesy: Nancy Besharah)

A Variety of Excursions
While it’s tempting to stay on the 443-ft. AmaKristina, the choice of three or four daily guided excursions entices most passengers off of the ship. Small-group tours, designated as active, regular, and gentle, provide guests with the option to do as little or as much as they want. We are an athletic family and cycled through vineyards, hiked to castles, and joined the faster walking tours. 

Diverse Menu Options
I could write paragraphs about the all-inclusive food and thirst-quenching drinks, but that is for another story. On the AmaKristina, midday and evening menu options include kid-pleasing burgers, pizza, and pasta. For adults and adventurous eaters, the destination-inspired chef’s recommendations and regional menu selections supplement an expansive buffet, including an eye-popping ice-cream station. Snacks and drinks are available outside of mealtimes. 

“Is there WiFi?” is a question most parents have heard more than once. The answer is affirmative aboard AmaWaterways, where complimentary WiFi ensures everyone is connected. And in our staterooms, a full-size Apple Mac came with free high-speed internet plus on-demand movies and music.

Sailing with AmaWaterways was unlike any other family travel experience. We unpacked once and visited multiple countries with zero stress. All of the details were handled with precision—meals, excursions, house-keeping, and onboard activities—leaving us with ample time to re-connect, experience life on the river, and explore numerous destinations. 

For more information, visit For more 4-1-1 on river cruising with kids, click here.

Recommend magazine has partnered with the Family Travel Association to bring you monthly columns to help travel agents sell family travel. This column was written by Nancy Besharah, a travel writer, founder of Luxe Travel Family, and a Family Travel Association Media Center member.