Q – I have read about Disney operating river cruises that might be perfect for my family of four (my boy is 13 my girl is 9). There is a certain wholesomeness about the Disney product that we love – I don’t want to worry about off-color comedians or R-rated on-board movies. Wondering how I might book such a trip. Is this a Disney cruise or are they renting someone else’s boat? Do I book with an agent or can Churchill & Turen handle this?
A – At the present time, wholesome Disney is partnering with AMA Waterways. But in a somewhat surprising move, The Mouse announced that “Adventures By Disney” is adding adults-only departures in its 2017 chartered sailings with AMA. The 2016 Disney partnership with AMA was clearly successful. AMA’s Disney programs uses the purpose built AmaViola, the first riverboat specifically designed for families with a considerable number of connecting cabins. Do note that the Viola uses connecting cabins – not larger cabins that will accommodate four. This dramatically increases the cost of such a venture for families.
Disney’s partnership with AMA in 2016 includes seven-night Danube itineraries son the Viola that began in Vilshofen ending in Budapest. They also offered a Christmas market sailing.
As to your larger question – will Disney be setting up its own riverboat line? Our guess is that that they will and we believe they are using the current partnership with AMA to get their feet wet is part of a long-term strategy. Disney would seem to have a clear path toward being the leader in multi-generational travel. But they face one major business hurdle. They would sail full when school is out, but how do you fill new ships when school is still in session in April, May, September and October? That is why the “Adults Only” Adventures by Disney is such an interesting experiment. The Mouse loves profits and Europe’s rivers seem ready to provide Minnie with the lifestyle to which she is accustomed.
Oh, and yes, we certainly handle Disney as we have for thirty years. But make certain you are traveling with kids. If you’re not, we think there are going to be better options.