River Cruising: It’s Not Just for Old People with $$

Oh gurl look! An episode of Downton Abbey is about to start!

If you were a super-fan (like moi) of the show “Downton Abbey,” then inevitably you caught the advertisement just before the episode started, which showed lots of well-accessorized old people sipping white wine on a Viking River Cruise while sailing past the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest. For a time, river cruise lines’ focus on the old-folks demographic made sense, since retired people with money were the only ones with the time and the cash handy to afford a river cruise.

But hallelujah(!) the times are a-changing and river cruising is becoming more affordable and generally more attractive to a wider audience! Yaaaay!

Why Does River Cruising Tend to Cost More??

Unlike the standard ocean cruise, most river cruises are truly all-inclusive with your cruise fare covering room, meals, drinks (including booze!), and daily excursions (although a few super luxe ocean cruises are truly all-inclusive, the more generally recognized brands tend to nickel-and-dime the crap out of you, which is one of the many reasons why I can’t stand them).

River cruises are also MUCH smaller with one hundred guests or less—barge cruises are even smaller with 20–30 people or less. That means a much more hands-on customer service experience and more personal attention.

So, yes, they cost more, but you’re getting WAY more value and bang for the buck! As I always like to say when I’ve dropped a ton of cash on a gorgeous sale—it’s not what I spent but what I saved!

River Cruising IS for Families!

For families looking for a slower paced vacation that focuses on culture and history, then a river cruise is gorgeous option! You just need to know which ones to take.

Several of the major European river cruise lines have family-focused cruise itineraries that add in more kid-friendly activities while also providing an upscale and experiential time for moms, dads, and grandparents. A multi-generational river cruise is also fabulous way to treat the whole family during a school break or over the summer.

To make it more budget friendly, the family-focused itineraries typically discount the children’s cruise fare down to as much as 50% of the adult fare. Importantly, because river cruises are so completely all-inclusive, you pay for almost everything in advance with U.S. dollars, which allows you to take the guess work out of foreign exchange rates.

One thing to note: the typical river cruise cabin is made for only two people, so a family of 4 will be split into two cabins, which is why children are often so heavily discounted on family-focused cruises.

River Cruising IS for Younger Folks!

The average river cruising adult is 45+. But, not only is that average coming down as river cruises gain in popularity and there is more competition, river cruises are starting to specifically target the age 21-40ish crowd.

This year, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises launched U by Uniworld, which caters to this younger demographic. The price point is lower and the schedule is more forgiving by starting excursions later in the day and with more evening events/excursions. There are fewer overall inclusions (for example, booze are pay-as-you-go), but there’s still a lot on offer, including a daily excursion or tour, which make it worthwhile and still a better value and experience than an ocean cruise.

Now, I’m going to be painfully honest with you, while I adore and applaud U by Uniworld’s concept, there are some aspects to “U” that seem as though they were never focus-grouped by actual younger people; instead, they feel more like some board room persona just Googled “what do millennials like to do?” That being said, “U” is a concept with great potential and the upsides vastly outweigh any hokeyness.

Whatcha waiting for gurlina? It’s time for a river cruise!

How to Digitally Detox on Your Vacation in 3 Easy Steps

If you’re reading this on your phone right now then stop, look up, and take note of the kink in your neck.  Yeah we need to work on that.  Our smartphones are indispensable parts of our lives but they’re also preventing us from living.  We experience less first hand in real time for ourselves in favor of second hand on a tiny screen.

Use a real camera rather than your phone to take pictures without social media distractions. Just be sure to look up from the camera as well and really enjoy your surroundings.

This will simply not do when on your vacation.  So let’s digitally detox you in preparation to live, experience, and enjoy your vacation (yes you can still Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram it later).

Step One: Use an actual camera to take pictures.  True this is substituting one digital device for another; however, the camera serves only one function – to take pictures/video – which greatly decreases its distraction value.  Focusing on capturing the moment, rather than snap – tag – upload, snap – tag – upload, will allow you to be in the moment and experience it with your travel companions in real time and make actual memories of seeing it first-hand rather than on a screen.  Just remember, in between taking pictures, to put the camera down and simply look at the scenery around you.  Take in the architecture, breath in the history that surrounds you, run your hands over the ancient façade and actually BE there.

Step Two: When heading out for the day, all but one of you leaves the smart phone in the hotel.  Smart phones and their connectivity are extremely helpful while traveling – the GPS alone is a life saver.  But not everyone needs to bring their phone.  Have a designated navigator who uses her phone for ONLY that reason – not social media!  You’re on vacation with your friends or family, so be with them and share the experience.

Each day have only one person bring their phone for any navigational issues or in case of emergency. NO social media time!

Step Three: Hair of the dog.  You’ve been away from social media all day long and your jonesin’ for it, I totally get it!  So do your social media posting in the evening.  Upload the camera pics to your laptop, ruminate on the perfect hashtag, and induce major jealousy back home.  You’re probably about 6 or 7 hours ahead of them which means all your posts will hit during social media prime time back home with plenty of opportunities for your peeps to share, retweet, like, and comment.

-Chad

Spring Break for Families – 2 Ideas That Benefit Parents and Kids

Spring break is coming up and you need to figure out what to do with the kids.  The typical choices are either A.) take time off from your job to babysit them yourself, or B.) pay someone else to babysit them for you.  As much as you like at-home family time, that’s either burning precious work leave or shelling out $$ for a babysitter.  Since either option has you taking leave time and spending money, I present to you option C.) take a family vacation where everyone gets to have fun!

The next issue is how to have a family vacation where the parentals actually get to have some fun AND find a little time to rest.  Fear not, I have the solutions!

A family all-inclusive beach vacation is the way to go to maximize fun and value.

Solution 1 – All-Inclusive Beach Vacation:  Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Jamaica have some amazing beaches, amenity-filled all-inclusive resorts, and value-for-your-money that can’t be beat!  Add to that regular charted flights from major U.S. gateways like Baltimore-Washington, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas, and the package savings and value are incredible.  There are a ton of family-friendly all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean that include activities for the kids so parents can spend time on their own to unwind and soak up some sun.  Everyone wins!

River cruises with Adventures By Disney take all the planning and guess work out of your overseas family vacation.

Solution 2 – Vacation Overseas with Adventures by Disney: Disney vacation options are so much more than Walt Disney World Resort in Florida or Disneyland in California.  And, let’s be honest, you don’t want to do the Disney parks scene during a major spring break when everyone and their cousin is there too.  Instead, take the family vacation overseas that you’ve always wanted but with none of the hassle.  Adventures by Disney include family-focused escorted tours all over the world and on the rivers of Europe.  Adventures by Disney takes care of all the details so the parentals can do their own thing and relax, the kids get some amazing culturally immersive activities, and the whole family will experience an international destination that will keep everyone smiling!

How are you going to spice up your family’s spring break?

-Chad