River Christmas Markets Cruise
A magical European Christmas cruise experience
Join a small group of 'Travel Insiders' and share the
enjoyment of a very different style of vacation on a custom
built river boat.
Glide by picture postcard scenes during the magic of the
pre-Christmas season in Germany, Austria, Hungary, and
optionally Slovakia and the Czech Republic too.
Maybe you've cruised on a
gigantic cruise ship before. Our Christmas Markets river
cruise is very different.
The nearly brand new (launched in 2014) river super-cruiser,
Amasonata, has only 82 cabins,
making for a much more personal and less institutional
The river cruise experience is
also very different to a traditional ocean cruise. You
never have rough seas, and you're always treated to beautiful
views out your cabin window, never just empty ocean.
skip down to the booking form
Start Date and Options
You should leave the US
on or before Tuesday 9 December 2013, so as to arrive into
Nuremberg on or
before Wednesday 10 December. You board the ship that
Many people choose to arrive a day before the
start of the cruise. This means if you - or your luggage -
should miss a connecting flight, or if anything else goes wrong,
you still have a day up your sleeve before the start of the
It also gives you a day to
'de-jetlag' before the cruise gets underway.
We are offering a pre-cruise
option in Munich, and a pre-pre-cruise option in Zurich then
Munich - leave the US on or before Saturday
6 December to arrive into Munich on or before Sunday 7
December and enjoy three nights in Munich; or leave the US
on/before Thursday 4 December to add a couple more nights in
Zurich, too. More details in the next section.
End Date and Options
The cruise ends in Budapest on the morning of
Wednesday, 17 December.
At this point you're free to either fly home or to extend your
vacation as you wish, and we're offering a wonderful extension
on to Prague (see below).
In most cases, if you fly home that
day, you will arrive back in the US the same day. You've
still a week to finish any Christmas shopping!
Pre and Post Cruise Optional
You are welcome to fly into
Europe any time you wish, of course, and to return home at any
time, too, and similarly you don't need to limit yourself to
simply flying in to Nuremberg and out of Budapest.
We offer two Travel Insider
exclusive extensions to enhance your overall tour experience.
Pre-Cruise Option 1 - Munich and
Mad King Ludwig
Thanks to Bob Bestor,
publisher of the excellent
travel newsletter, for his helpful advice in selecting a hotel
and putting together this pre-cruise itinerary.
We strongly recommend you
should arrive in Europe at least one day before the cruise
starts, for two reasons. Firstly, this gives you an
'emergency day' in case you - or your bags - miss flights or
have any other types of problems en route.
Secondly, it gives you a day
to adjust to the new time zone and to relax after your flight(s).
Turning this (ie arriving
early) into a positive feature, we're offering an
interesting extension of three nights in Bavaria, which would have you fly to
Munich rather than Nuremberg. This is actually a benefit
- more airlines fly with better schedules and lower
fares to the larger airport in Munich than fly to the smaller
airport in Nuremberg.
You'd leave the US on (or
before) Saturday 6 December, so as to arrive into Munich on (or
before) Sunday 7
In addition to the day you
arrive into Munich, this gives you two full days to enjoy the
city and surrounding areas.
We'll arrange a half day
city sights tour on the first day, and you're free to add
whatever additional activities you wish on the second day.
We also include a memorable
dinner on the last evening at a place that Bob describes as 'for
my money the best beer, and the best room(s) to drink it in, in
Munich' (yes, dinner and drinks included).
On Wednesday 10 December we've
arranged an interesting all day tour and transfer on our own
luxury coach and with an expert local guide. We will be collected
from our hotel in Munich and then will travel through Bavaria to
visit Neuschwanstein (one
of 'mad' King Ludwig II's amazing castles), a small Bavarian
village and a baroque church
that receives Michelin's highest rating (Wieskirche), before continuing on
to Nuremberg and joining the ship in time for the welcome
cocktail reception and dinner on board.
This will be a fascinating
opportunity to see an incredible castle and a gorgeous church, and to learn about the
fascinating history and life of this eccentric king before
conveniently being taken to Amasonata, adding a
extra dimension to our total touring experience.
Pre-Cruise Option 2 - Add
If you've some more spare
time to enjoy Europe, why not visit Switzerland too. Our
pre-pre-cruise option would have you arriving into Zurich
on/before Friday 5 December (ie leave the US on/before Thursday
4 Dec) and spending two nights in Switzerland's largest city.
We include a half day city
sights tour, and then we have a transfer by train to Munich to
arrive at the start of the Munich option.
Post-Cruise Option - Prague via
Prague is one of the most
beautiful and best preserved historical cities in all of Europe,
and our Prague options are our most popular.
Prague has a lovely Christmas market, and is alive with culture,
music, and the arts. Spending time in Prague makes for a
lovely conclusion to our Christmas Markets experience, and so we
strongly urge you to include Prague as a wonderful way to end
your Christmas Markets experience.
At the conclusion of the
cruise on 17 December we'll be taken by luxury coach and with
an expert local guide from
Budapest to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, where we enjoy a
city tour and time for lunch, then we travel the rest of the way
to Prague by comfortable convenient train. We spend two or
three nights (your choice) at a lovely
right in the very center of the city and just around the corner
from the Old Town Square.
We include a half day city tour
the next day, giving you an afternoon at leisure to enjoy the
markets and anything else in Prague, and add a group dinner that
evening in one of Prague's wonderful historic restaurants. If you chose the two
night option, the next day sees you leaving Prague, but if you
choose the three day option, then on Tuesday we offer an
optional day tour to
the glorious medieval castle town of Cesky Krumlov, now
protected and preserved as a World Heritage site.
You can of course extend
your stay further in Prague if you wish; otherwise, on Saturday
20 December your three night Prague visit would come to an end.
If you choose to join the
cruise prior to the end of January 2014, you'll get a
wonderful 30% discount
off the cruise (suites excluded), making an already good value
experience become extraordinarily high value.
You may qualify
for an extra
$100 saving if you've traveled on a previous Amawaterways cruise.
Note - we also have a
limited supply of a very special value deal for previous
ask for details if you've ever been on any previous
Plus, there's still more.
You'll get extra values from The Travel Insider - a free tour to
Salzburg ($100 value), a tour to and admission into our favorite
Christmas Market in all of Europe, and a free cocktail reception party on
board, as well as The Travel Insider himself (David Rowell)
traveling with you all the way as your personal escort.
Add this all up and you get an
amazing value, and yours if you take advantage of it quickly!
About the Cruise/Tour
Like a traditional cruise,
this is a fully meal inclusive cruise, and - better than a
traditional cruise - it includes a generous amount of shore
touring as well. You won't have to pay extra for your
shore touring when visiting the lovely towns and cities as you
cruise through Germany, Austria and Hungary.
The cruise of course
includes three great meals a day, plus various other snacks,
on-board entertainment most evenings, as well as generous opportunities to
sightsee, both from the boat as it cruises the river, and while
ashore during the many stops. You typically have time to
both participate in a provided tour and also to sightsee and
shop on your own.
Indeed, the shopping is part
of the experience on this tour, as you visit various local craft
Christmas markets in the different towns and cities.
You'll be able to buy distinctive gifts for all your friends and
family this year! And while all meals are available on the
vessel, you'll also be able to experience other dining
opportunities ashore if you wish.
A nice extra feature is free
wine, beer or soda with every dinner. And if you wish to
drink more wine, you'll be delighted at the bargain prices that
wine sells for ashore.
While all meals are available on the vessel, you'll also be able
to experience other dining opportunities ashore if you wish.
Similarly, the on-board entertainment can be supplemented with
visits to clubs and bars and shows ashore - the vessel
will sometimes stay in port until late at night, allowing you a chance to
experience each town by day and by night.
Because the ship carries a maximum of
passengers, everything is more personal. The crew will
remember you by name, and you have a chance to meet other people on board and
to create new friendships. Most people on these cruises
seem to be variously middle aged and older.
I have done the exact same
cruise, as well as similar Christmas cruises
times before and almost always with Amawaterways.
I have been consistently impressed with Amawaterways in general,
their ships and their crews; and feel this to be undoubtedly the best value,
best itinerary, and overall
best experience for Christmas cruises in 2014.
information about river cruising in Europe can be found here.
A day by day, town by town
journal of a similar Christmas Cruise we took in a previous year can be found here.
Why River Cruising
River cruising is simply and
absolutely the most comfortable and convenient way to travel
around Europe. You can unpack your bags and get
comfortable in your lovely cabin and not need to repack or
transfer until the end of the cruise - this in itself is
probably all the convincing you'll need!
In addition, European towns
have historically tended to be centered around the major rivers,
and so river cruising is a great way to get to the lovely
historic parts of Europe, at a sedate speed, and in luxurious
How else could you travel
around Europe? On a bus tour? Yuck! By train
or car - yes, but then you have an abundance of travel hassles
I've experienced every
possible type of travel, and I'm a 100% convert. River
cruising is the best way to see Europe. Try it,
and you'll be sure to agree.
Why Cruise in Winter?
Ha - tricked you. Early
December is not yet winter - it is still late fall. But,
in any event, there are two good reasons
to enjoy this cruise at this off-season time of year.
The first reason is simply
because it is the off-season. The crowds of people aren't
as crushingly overpowering as they are in the busy season.
at the glorious abbey in Melk, during the summer there are tours departing every two
minutes! When we visit, we'll probably be the only group visiting
and so our guides can slow down and show us more things and
not rush to squeeze us in between the group immediately before
and after. And instead of 20 cruise ships mooring in (and
small town, we may be the only one, or perhaps there might be
The second reason is to
experience the Christmas markets. Because of the strong
Christian tradition in the towns we visit, Christmas is viewed
more seriously to start with, and the Christmas markets are a
delightful celebration of our shared Judeo-Christian and
Yes, the weather is cold, but nothing
that a layer or two of warm
clothes can't combat, and our eight previous Christmas Market
cruises have generally been blessed with good weather (ie usually no rain,
very little snow
and not uncomfortably cold). As yet another Travel Insider
bonus, we provide some free handwarmers for you, too!
I heartily recommend this cruise,
and at this time of year.
I've loved it the eight times I've done it, and the 250+
Travel Insider readers who've accompanied me have been similarly
charmed by it.
Try it for yourself - you'll be delighted you did.
About the Amasonata
Our cruise ship for this
almost brand new (it
is being launched earlier in 2014), and has been been custom designed to meet the special
needs of the Danube, enabling it to operate in less favorable
conditions than many of the other boats (ie when the water
levels are 'too high' or 'too low').
The boat is what we call a
'super cruiser'. For a long time, construction techniques
and limitations restricted river cruisers to a maximum of about
350' in length, but now, new state of the art design has enabled
longer ships, and this ship is 443' long. This extra space
has been used not just to add more cabins, but also to increase
the size and spaciousness of the cabins, and to add extra public
areas too (like a second dining room, for example).
The boat is definitely long,
and also relatively narrow (to fit in the locks).
It is 38' wide, and cruises at 15.6 mph.
This might seem like a slow speed, but it is faster than most of
the other cruise boats, enabling the boat to get between towns
faster and giving you more time sightseeing.
Dining is single-seating and
with no pre-assigned tables, so you can move about as you wish
from meal to meal. Amawaterways even provides a generous amount
wine, beer and soft drinks with both lunch and your evening meal each night.
Smoking is restricted to the
outside Sun Deck only.
Our cruise has been marketed
primarily to English speaking people and the language
on board is exclusively English. This means you won't have the
inconvenience of having to listen to every announcement being
repeated in four or five different languages, and you can
conveniently talk to your fellow guests (and likely soon to be
new friends) on board.
Cabins on the
Amasonata are some of the largest of any Danube river cruise
Cabins are typically either 235 sq ft or 210 sq ft, with some
170 sq ft cabins and a few 160 sq ft cabins.
Suites are a huge 350 sq ft in size.
This cabin picture is of a BA category 210 sq ft cabin with both
internal and external sun deck/balconies.
There are a great variety of different cabin types to choose
from. We've written a
special article to help you decide which is best for you, which
you can see here.
And here is a deck plan of the
Amasonata so you understand exactly where the cabins are
located. Click the link then choose the Deck Plan tab.
Needless to say, feel free to ask if you'd like further help
choosing the best cabin option to suit your needs and
Per person pricing for the
cruise is shown in the table below. The crossed out prices
are the regular prices you'd pay directly to Amawaterways, the
prices below show the special 30% savings you get by joining our
Travel Insider group.
NOTE : If you have
sailed with Amawaterways any time in the past, ask us for an
extraordinarily special past passenger special deal.
Prague 2/3 nt option
Munich 3 nt option
Zurich 2 nt option
160 sq ft
160 sq ft
170 sq ft
mid & upper decks
210 sq ft
210 sq ft
235 sq ft
235 sq ft
320 sq ft
350 sq ft
Extras and Inclusions
Port Taxes are $161 per
Single rate is 150% of the
above per person share twin rates for cabins or 200% for a
Air can be arranged for you
by us through Amawaterways or you can make your own arrangements
as you wish.
Air fares can be quoted from most cities in the US.
Rates include a free
excursion to Salzburg (a $100 value) as a special Travel
Rates include a Travel
Insider cocktail party on board Amasonata
You can pay for your cruise using a
credit card with no credit card surcharge. Prague payment
is requested by cash/check or with a 3% addition on credit card.
Deposit is required within
a week of your booking being confirmed; the balance of your
payment is due on or before 6 September, 2013.
If you are planning to
travel by yourself, but would prefer to avoid the single
surcharge, we can make a
best effort to connect you with another single Travel Insider
group member, but can't guarantee to find someone compatible.
What about the Air Fare?
If you buy the Amawaterways
airfare, they include transfers from the airport to the cruise
ship when you arrive into Nuremberg. These transfers are
convenient, but require you to arrive on the exact day the
cruise starts, and/or can easily be arranged by yourself when
you arrive at the airport as well, so should not unduly
influence your airfare planning.
We suggest you check to see
if you can use any frequent flier miles you might have for this
travel, and/or check to see what the best fare you can get on
your favorite airline is, then compare it to the Amawaterways rate
and make your decision then.
You are therefore free to make your
own arrangements, any way you wish, to travel to Nuremberg,
Munich or Zurich, and then
home again from Budapest or Prague, and you can of course make extra
stops and arrive earlier or stay longer. You can choose whichever
carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and
you can also choose a carrier that you wish to earn miles with.
We'll be pleased to answer
any questions you might have about arranging your air
transportation, of course.
Most people end up arranging
their own air rather than booking through Amawaterways.
Which cities to fly in and out
This might seem like an
obvious issue, but remember that Europe is very small and so if
you can't get convenient flights (or fares) on your preferred
airlines to and from the obvious cities at the start and end of
your tour, consider flying in or out of nearby airports and then
using a train to get between that airport and the city you need
to be in.
For example, consider flying
in to Munich and taking a short 1¾ hour
train ride from Munich to Nuremberg (or, better still, enjoy our
Munich pre-cruise add-on). There is an easy
rail connection between Munich Airport and the central city train station.
Similarly, for your
it is only 2¾ hours by train between Budapest and Vienna - you
might find it easier to fly out of Vienna (if you're not
choosing the Prague extension).
We generally recommend you
should protect against the various types of losses that may
occur while traveling, and also to provide medical coverage in
the event of illness, by purchasing some form of travel
insurance. We've seen enough times in the past either
where people have not had travel insurance and desperately
wished they had, or where people have had travel insurance and
needed to claim on it, to appreciate the value of this
Please see our
part series on travel insurance for more information, and in
particular, please see
the way down the second page which lists automated travel
insurance shopping/comparison/quoting services to help you get
the most appropriate travel insurance at the best rate.
offer travel insurance themselves, with two options, either a
'cancel for medical reasons only' type policy or a 'cancel/defer
for any reason' type policy. These cost $335 or $395 per
person respectively, and if you wish this insurance cover, you
simply choose it when signing up for the cruise, below. We
suspect you can get less expensive coverages through the
shopping service we link to above, but at least with
Amawaterways, it is all being handled through the one company.
link to a PDF with the
details of the Amawaterways coverages.
How to Extend or Vary this Tour
There are many ways you can
extend or vary this tour.
In addition to the
pre-packaged extensions we are offering (see above), you're of course free to add anything
you like, before or after the cruise.
We recommend you consider
arriving into Europe at least a day before the cruise starts, so
as to give yourself a day to resolve any problems that may occur
such as missing/delayed flights or losing luggage.
If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
We're here to help ensure your experience is as good as
Need More Information?
If you've a question or need
more clarification, go ahead and ask. Feel free to
send us an email, or call us at (206)337-2317.
As soon as your
application is accepted,
you will be asked to send in your payment within seven days.
Tour Terms and Conditions
standard terms and conditions
apply to this tour.
In addition, please note
these extra terms :
1. US citizens require a
current passport that will not expire for at least six months
after the date of their planned return back to the US in order
to be admitted to Europe. They do not require any European visas. Citizens of other countries should check with the
airline that will transport them to Europe to determine what
passport and visa requirements may apply.
2. Tour price is
subject to change prior to full payment being received.
Ground prices are based on a Euro cost of approx 1.30 - 1.35; if
this changes significantly, the price may change.
Rates are locked in place when full payment is received.
3. The 90 day
payment due date is considered to be Friday 12 September.
4. Terms and
conditions of the cruise line (AmaWaterways) also apply. In particular, please note that
the itinerary can occasionally (rarely) change if water levels
are too high or too low to allow the boat to travel.
20 Dec 2013, last update
14 May 2014