Disney river cruise starts with a party in a beer tent

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Disney Adventure Guides were resplendent in traditional German outfits and happily got many of the kids up and moving. Photo Credit: Paul Heney
 

This summer, Adventures by Disney is offering river cruises for the first time. Paul Heney and his son are on the AmaViola, experiencing the new product. 

VILSHOFEN, GERMANY — Adventures by Disney’s inaugural season of European river cruising is proceeding with the start of the company’s fourth river cruise today aboard the AmaViola.

The company, in partnership with AmaWaterways, is offering five cruises on the Danube between Vilshofen and Budapest, Hungary, this summer, plus a sixth holiday-themed cruise in December.

My son, Matthew, 9 and I spent a day in Prague on our own, adjusting to the time zone, before taking a luxury coach to this tiny southwestern German town this morning, along with 34 other adventurers. Most of the 140 passengers aboard the ship are from the U.S., with just a handful of Canadian guests and a couple from the U.K.

The cruise started off interestingly, with everyone getting OFF of the ship (after the mandatory safety drill) and enjoying what Disney called “Vilshofenfest,” an Oktoberfest-type celebration held in a small dockside tent.

The writer's son wearing a lederhosen apron. Photo Credit: Paul Heney
The writer’s son wearing a lederhosen apron.Photo Credit: Paul Heney

While a five-piece German band played, we snacked on beer, sodas and German pretzels. Four male dancers treated us to traditional dances, as well as a fascinating synchronized performance with whips. A young woman who was introduced as the local “beer queen” explained the cultural aspects of the evening.

Disney Adventure Guides were resplendent in traditional German outfits and happily got many of the kids up and moving. Children were given aprons to wear that made them appear to be dressed in similar German outfits — my son needed some convincing to keep his on!

Afterward, the Adventure Guides encouraged the children — there are roughly a couple dozen on board — to eat a more casual kids-only dinner upstairs in the lounge area, leaving us adults time to chat about destinations, politics, and other less-interesting-than-Pokemon topics. My son gladly complied, as did most of the kids I noticed.

While the ship, which I found bright and cheery, does not have “Disney” plastered on it literally or figuratively, there were touches to be found. Our welcome snacks included sandwiches in the familiar shape of Mickey Mouse’s head. I noticed “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” from the Lion King playing in the hallway. One young traveler who ventured to the adults’ dinner was referred to as “princess.”

Tomorrow, the ship docks in picturesque Passau, Germany, and excursions include a walking tour, a tree top adventure and a hike to a castle overlooking the city.

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