Consider an itinerary with a visit to the lavender fields in Provence
for a once-in-lifetime family experience!
As you reach a stage in life when you have more time to relax, more weeks of the year to travel and more time to spend with family, it’s natural to want to gather your nearest and dearest for a vacation together. Multigenerational trips are magical in the way they connect grandparents, grandkids and cousins near and far, but what can you do that will satisfy all ages, interests and activity levels?
River cruising, wherever you choose to sail, can be one of the best multigenerational options out there for families wanting to reconnect and experience a new part of the world together. There are varying choices of cabins, some with connecting staterooms, and a whole slew of activity options, from biking for the active family members to gentle walking for the not-quite-so-active family members. And that’s not all - here I’ll give my top 6 reasons why your extended family may want to consider a river cruise for your next out-of-this-world vacation.
Working with families on bucket list adventures is one of my favorite trips to create!
1) Depending on the Cruise Line, River Cruises Are Age-Inclusive
That means that even the preschool set is welcome aboard (often age four and up). With connecting staterooms available on many ships, parents can easily keep an eye on younger kiddos and spread out with any kid gear they may need to bring along
2) There Are Options for Different Budgets
Within the various stateroom choices, members of your family will find an accommodation that meets their budget. Some may want to be a bit extravagant and treat themselves to a suite with an open-air balcony, while others may prefer a window stateroom that is friendlier on the budget, but still offers every creature comfort.
3) Play Together, But Have Privacy, Too
Of course, the main purpose of your multigenerational river cruise is to spend as much time together as possible. But everyone needs a break sometimes. On a river cruise vessel, there’s plenty of room to spread out, while still retaining the intimate, exclusive feel of a private yacht. Whether on a shore excursion, lounging on the sun deck or slipping away to the library with a good book, there’s a space for everyone and then plenty of time later to reconvene over dinner and drinks.
4) Menus that Cater to All Tastes
The foodies among you, and even the less-than-adventuresome children - will find much to love on a river cruise, where the menu typically changes daily and is reflective of the local cuisine. If it’s not perfect for a kiddo palate, there’s always standard North American fare like steak, fries, pizza and salad. Dietary accommodations are easy to meet as well, whether vegan, gluten-free, low sodium or allergen-free.
A family river cruise in France with a visit to the Eiffel Tower
is an unforgettable experience!
5) Activities for All Ages and Interests
We all have our own way of experiencing a new destination. Whether your group prefers to ride bikes through the countryside, take a cooking class or spend an afternoon in an art or history museum, river cruises typically offer numerous options throughout the week. Everyone in your family is bound to find several activities that speak to them and, who knows, they may even find a new passion!
6) Explore at Your Own Pace
As with activity choice, river cruise shore excursions are categorized by easy, regular or active, so that all ability and energy levels have a perfect fit. If mobility is a challenge, there will still be an immersive way to experience a city. No one will miss out!
Convinced? I truly believe a river cruise is one of the best multigenerational vacation options out there today. What’s more, you can sail just about anywhere your heart desires, from the Rhine River to the Peruvian Amazon. Let’s chat about your own wonderful family and what might work best for you.
Travel during the holidays and visit the Vienna Christmas markets.
Shopping in Vienna: Where to Go and What to Buy
Vienna. One of the most popular river cruise destinations when sailing on the Danube. Whether you’ve arrived in time for its traditional Christmas markets or are enjoying the warm days of summer, if you love to shop, be sure to bring along an extra bag for all the goodies you will find. From luxury shops to independent boutiques that come and go, from the famous Sacher torte to Swarovski crystal, there’s enough variety here to woo even the most unenthusiastic of shoppers. Here’s where to go and what to buy while you’re in this fabulous Austrian city.
Where to Shop for Luxury Goods in Vienna
Head to the pedestrian-friendly Vienna old town and you’ll find all manner of upscale boutiques, from Lagerfeld to Cartier, Gucci to Armani. Along the Graben and Kohlmarkt, look for Jimmy Choo and Longchamp; on the Kärntner Strasse, which leads to the Hofburg, check out Swarovski and the Steffl department store. Hungry? Pop into Meinl am Graben, where you can pick up gourmet food items - including truffles and champagne for an impromptu celebration back on board your river cruise ship. Love porcelain? Don’t miss Augarten’s flagship store on Spiegelgasse. Expand your shopping tour and visit the nearby Golden Quarter, located around Bognergasse, Tuchlauben and Seitzergasse. Oooh and aaah over the sleek fashions at Alexander McQueen, Louis Vuitton, Valentino and more celebrated designers.
An early morning look at Mariahilfer Strasse before shoppers arrive.
Where to Shop Like a Local in Vienna
If your tastes run a bit more mainstream and you’d like to feel like a part of the local Viennese population, head to Mariahilfer Strasse, the city’s best-known shopping mile. This is where the average Vienna resident heads for clothing, gifts, homegoods and the like. This mainly pedestrian-only area is convenient to the Museumsquartier cultural complex, making it a great add-on after a day of cultural exploration. You’ll find everything from H&M to Jack Wolfskin, Pull & Bear to Puma. Don’t miss the Gerngross department store, which has been around since 1879. There’s a massive electronics selection, a huge sporting goods section and a great foodie area for refueling. On Neubaugasse, about halfway up the Mariahilfer Strasse, as well as Lindengasse, Kirchengasse and Burggasse, you’ll find a number of independent boutiques run by up-and-coming designers - an excellent place to pick up a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
What to Buy in Vienna
Consider picking up some of our favorite souvenirs and only-in-Vienna items (in addition to the Swarovski crystal, porcelain treasures and Sacher tortes we know you already have your eye on):
Artisanal chocolates: Check out Bonbons Anzinger for truffles, confectioneries and handmade chocolates. Be sure to pick up a lot of individual Mozart Kueglens, a chocolate sweet famously made for Mozart and a fantastic surprise to bring home for grandkids or nieces and nephews.
Museum Gift Shop Trinkets: With some of the best museums in the world come some of the best museum gift shops in the world. If you’re into great design, stop by the Architekturzentrum’s shop for cool portable porta-folios, or if you’re looking for conversation pieces for your home, visit the Museum of Applied Arts and pick up colorful vases or tableware by austriandesign.at, founded by Karin Merkl.
Lobmeyr Glass: This family business dating back to 1823 has created chandeliers for the Vienna State Opera and co-founded the above-mentioned Museum of Applied Arts. Come see their unique and limited-edition lighting, crystal and jewelry items, perhaps picking up a cool set of striped glass tumblers.
Traditional Dirndl Dresses: Do you regularly host Oktoberfest gatherings at your home? Do you want to? Choose from classic dirndls, festive wear for kids and adults, silk scarves from Viennese silk weaver Flemich, hats from Bittner and more to play the part at your next brews-and-brats neighborhood party.
Camile Boyer Goodies: Choose from the chic eyewear on display at Camile Boyer, which showcases locally made products from Austrian fashion and accessory designers. From sunglasses to everyday eyewear, all pieces are designed and manufactured in Austria - we love the Andy Wolf line, with its fun names such as “Pepper,” “Oregano” and “Miss Marple.”
I took a break and had Sacher torte (not-to-be-missed Austrian cake) and cappuccino at an
outside cafe after viewing the magnificent St. Stephan Cathedral.
Now that I’ve whet your appetite for shopping in Vienna, let’s chat about how to fit in perusing and purchasing during your river cruise. I’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to buying and even more excited to see what you bring back! Click or tap the button below and schedule a consult!
Siegried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Cabinet is a not-to-be-missed unique museum.
In a half-timbered, storybook building that was once home to medieval knights, music lovers will find more than 350 mechanical musical instruments, ranging in size from tiny to bus-sized and dating from the 18th to 20th century. Set in Germany’s Rhineland, Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Cabinet is a delightful stop of sights and sounds during your river cruise. You’ll not only hear the sound of music from these unbelievable instruments, but see it as well, as you marvel at the intricacies of each piece.
The Rüdesheim museum is housed in Brömserhof, a 15th-century knight’s manor tucked amongst other impressive homes. In addition to the music boxes, pipe organs and more, you’ll find a Gothic chapel and frescoed walls, which speak to the residence’s aristocratic past. Look for musical tools, machines that were used to craft instruments, perforated discs, and sheet music on cardboard and in rolls. Many of the instruments are manually operated, while others are charged with a winding key or are electrical.
A Rhineland music enthusiast named Siegfried Wendel first had the thought to open this eclectic museum in his hometown in 1969. He started with his personal collection of instruments that he repaired, including hand-cranked carnival machines, jukeboxes and gramophones.
What’s Not to Miss?
You’ll surely want to explore the museum in its entirety, but one really cannot miss the mini bus-sized Orchestrion. The fantastical instrument, with myriad mechanical components, will play 15 different instruments that are found in a traditional orchestra.
What If I’m Not a Musician?
No matter what your musical inclination (or not), you’ll marvel at the craftsmanship and engineering used to make the instruments found at the museum. The ornate instruments reveal an incredible intricacy. Some are open enough that you can watch their working parts as music is played.
How Can I Visit?
The museum is open daily from March through December. The only way to visit is by 45-minute guided tour, but you’ll appreciate the insider info on the instruments’ histories and even the chance to play some of them. Pro tip: If you have a group of four or more people and are arriving in Rüdesheim after 6 p.m., you can request a personal tour up until 10 p.m.
Intrigued by the sound of music?
I can help you arrange a visit to the spectacular Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Cabinet. If you are a true classical music lover, let’s also chat about the themed river cruises along the Rhine that take in the sights and sounds of Strasbourg, Amsterdam, Cochem and more. Click or tap the button below and schedule a consult!
The Plönlein or "Little Square" on a beautiful summer day!
Turrets? Towers? Taverns? Rothenberg, Germany, has it all. This impeccably preserved medieval town on the River Tauber is for anyone with a penchant for history, culture, ancient architecture and the timeless tastes of good food and wine.
Within the old Bavarian Imperial city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, you’ll find the 13th-century Town Hall, the 14th-century Council Tavern and buildings that appear as they did in the 16th century, both inside and out. Stroll along serpentine cobblestone streets past half-timbered homes that look like they leapt from the pages of a storybook. Pop into museums that reveal the town’s interesting history and marvel at ancient churches. Here are my favorite highlights in Rothenburg.
Start in history itself, feeling as if you’ve stepped into a Germany postcard. Rothenburg is located on the country’s famed Romantic Road, after all, and definitely plays the part with its charming gingerbread homes and facades, many of which have been converted into Old Town’s beguiling shops and pubs. If you visit the area around the holidays, you’ll find one of the best Christmas markets in Germany located here.
While you’re in Old Town, spend about 30 minutes walking the ancient walls. Start from the 16th-century Spitaltor (gatehouse) and stroll toward the Rödertor, the Klingentor (climb this tower for a great view of the Tauber Valley) and the 15th-century St. Wolfgang’s Church. Take longer if you need so you can fully appreciate the views and the 42 gatehouses and towers located along the walls.
Town Hall (Rathaus)
Photograph the imposing exterior of the Town Hall, which was built in the 13th century and faces Herrngasse in the Marktplatz. A newer (if you can call the 16th century newer) tower juts out of the building and allows for fine views of Old Town. The Imperial Hall section is still used for theater and musical performances. Notice, too, the former Council Tavern that was added to the complex in 1466 and its historic mechanical clock.
St. James's Church is absolutely gorgeous!
St. James’s Church
Continue your walk from Town Hall to St. James’s Church (also known as St. Jacobs because in German, the church is called Kirchengemeinde St. Jakob). Whatever you call it, this gorgeous church, completed in 1485, is a site to behold for its exquisitely carved, wooden Altar of the Holy Blood, which depicts the Last Supper, and the 700-year-old stained-glass window in the East Choir area.
Not to be outdone by Old Town’s fairytale ambiance, Plönlein (or “Little Square”) may be a small section of town, but it’s a decidedly perfect one. Two streets are divided by a stand of tall, skinny, colorful buildings - to one end is the Siebers Tower, to the other Koblozeller Tower, both from the early 13th century.
This medieval dunking cage was used during the witch trials in the Middle Ages.
Medieval Crime Museum
For those whose interest is piqued by (sometimes gruesome) medieval history, this fascinating museum is a must. Learn about more than 1,000 years of crime and the resulting punishment, and see artifacts that were intended to garner confessions (and read about how the logic behind the use of such instruments was often misguided). Discover the witch-hunts of Bavaria and other famous criminal cases, which are exhibited in woodcuts and copper etchings.
Round out your Rothenburg sightseeing with a visit to the Rothenburg Museum, located in a former Dominican convent. Learn about life in the convent and see the historic living quarters, peek at a well-preserved, 13th-century kitchen, marvel at 14th-century panels of the Rothenburg Passion, discover the town’s Jewish heritage in the Judaica Department and see weaponry spanning the years from the Stone Age all the way to the 19th century.
Rothenburg will woo you with its pretty-as-a-picture book appeal, its medieval history and its mix of Bavarian and Franconian cuisine. Click the button below and let’s chat about how to include a visit on your Europe river cruise.
Travel Advisor Specializing in River Cruising