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Taking the Kids: On a river cruise

By Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Take their three kids on a river cruise in Europe? "I don't want to be on vacation with a bunch of old people!" Josh Blumental told his wife, Amy Wolfe.

But she persisted -- the Salt Lake City mom had friends who had raved about their experience -- and in the end, Blumental was glad she had.

The couple and their three kids aged 15, 13 and 9, were all enjoying themselves on AmaWaterways' AmaStella cruise ship as it sailed up the Danube from Budapest to Vilshofen, Germany. They relaxed onboard playing board games and cards, and along the way stopped to ride bikes along the Danube. (Book by Sept, 30 and get AmaWaterways up to $1,500 off per stateroom for select Christmas Markets departures to explore Salzburg and Budapest.)

And rather than being surrounded by elderly seniors, the family, like other passengers, was enjoying the chance to meet and spend time with people from all over the world.

"It's a real melting pot," said Nilesh Meswani, from India. "Great fun," said his wife, Sita Meswani.

"You feel like you are traveling with family by the second or third day," added Preeti Khemlani, one of their traveling companions from Oregon. "And you don't have to wait in line, like on a big cruise."

"More relaxing than a regular cruise because there aren't so many people," added her husband, Ashok Khemlani.

The all-inclusive nature of these trips also seems to de-stress the experience -- just choose which shore excursion you like, borrow a bike, enjoy complimentary wine and beer and more on some ships.

AmaWaterways, for one, has made an effort to attract younger cruisers with a fleet of complimentary bikes onboard its European trips, as well as new escorted bike tours, hikes and other excursions designed for "gentle walkers" and others that might cover more ground on foot. There are also cabins that sleep three to encourage family travelers.

"I've signed up for every active one they have offered," Peter Laws, from southern England, told me on a bike ride around Linz. The beauty of such a trip, he said, was that his wife could enjoy less vigorous excursions.

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