Christmas Markets Cruise 2016
A magical European Christmas cruise experience
with a special difference this year
to Travel Insiders :
Save 40% per person off published rate!
Save extra for past Amawaterways passengers
Insider exclusives - $25 gift certificate, cocktail reception,
and tour/transfer Vilshofen-Regensburg-Munich
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 brand new river super-cruiser,
Amaviola, (launched earlier this year) has only 79 cabins,
making for a much more personal and less institutional
The river cruise itinerary 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 Wednesday 7 December 2015, so as to arrive into
Budapest on or
before Thursday 8 December. You board the ship on
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 Prague - leave the US on or before Monday 5 December to arrive into Prague on or before
December and enjoy two or more nights in glorious Prague. More details in the next section.
End Date and Options
The cruise ends in Vilshofen
in Germany on the morning of
Thursday, 15 December.
Vilshofen is not far from
Munich or Nuremberg. At this point you're free to either fly home or to extend your
vacation as you wish. In most cases, if you fly home that
day, you will arrive back in the US the same day. You've
still ten days to finish any Christmas shopping!
Free Tour and Transfer to Munich!
We are offering a free day of
touring on the Thursday (15th), going first to the glorious World
Heritage site of Regensburg for a walking tour and free time for
lunch and their Christmas Markets - including David's absolutely
most favorite market in Europe, then continuing on to Munich,
where you could spend one or more nights and fly home
on/after Friday 16 December.
Changed Danube Cruise Itinerary
Until now, our Danube
river Christmas cruises have always been between Budapest and Nuremberg.
This cruise also starts in
Budapest, but has slightly different port stops and schedule,
allowing you to see a slightly different mix of towns and cities
along the Danube.
This is lovely for everyone,
and would be especially appealing if you have already done the
'regular' itinerary and would like to come back, and now
experience a mix of familiar favorites and some new things too.
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. Similarly you don't need to limit yourself to
simply flying in to Budapest and out of Munich, Nuremberg, or
any of various other airport choices.
We also offer a Travel Insider
exclusive extension to enhance your overall tour experience.
Most people choose to take advantage of this too, and everyone
who does agrees it adds greatly to their overall European
Pre-Cruise Option - Prague
We are offering you the
chance to spend two nights or longer in Prague, with a
rail transfer via Bratislava to meet the ship in Budapest on
Thursday 8 December.
This is a very popular
option, with probably 90% of all Travel Insiders choosing it.
We agree and highly recommend you add it to your Christmas
We include two (or more nights) at our official Travel Insider
hotel in the absolute heart of historic Prague, literally
just around the corner from the main Christmas Markets and Clock
Tower Square, in a quiet little courtyard reeking of
hundreds of years of history.
We include a feature dinner
in one of our favorite traditional Czech cellar restaurants,
serving great traditional Czech food, also right in the heart of
Prague (5 minutes walk from the hotel) and a half day city tour
of this beautiful city, plus breakfasts each morning.
Most people will choose to
stay three nights (ie leave the US on Sunday 4 Dec and arrive
on Monday 5 Dec), although you can of course stay any
length of time you wish, and there's plenty to do, both in
Prague and via day tours from Prague, to fill in plenty of
additional days. A three night stay gives you the day you
arrive, a full day for touring around the city, and an extra day
for touring out of the city, for example, to lovely Cesky
Krumlov, another Travel Insider favorite destination.
Our transfer to meet the
ship in Budapest on Monday is also a big plus. We take a
comfortable fast train for the longer and somewhat boring travel
between Prague and Bratislava, where we are then met by a coach
and guide. We have a walking tour of the heart of
Bratislava, time for lunch, and then an interesting coach
transfer on the short remaining distance to Budapest.
Prague is one of the most
beautiful and best preserved historical cities in all of Europe
(it avoided destruction in WW2).
It has a lovely Christmas market, and is alive with culture,
music, and the arts. Spending time in Prague makes for a
great start to our Christmas Markets experience, and we
strongly urge you to include Prague as a wonderful way to begin
your Christmas Markets experience.
We are offering a free day
of touring and transfer to Munich on Thursday 15 December (see
You might wish to stay on
for the weekend in Munich, or sightsee elsewhere in Germany
You may qualify
for an extra
saving if you've traveled on a previous Amawaterways cruise
($100 past passenger discount, although reduced by the across
the board 40% discount).
Plus, there's still more.
You'll get a free Travel Insider cocktail reception party on
board, a special gift, as well as The Travel Insider himself (David Rowell)
traveling with you all the way as your personal escort.
We also include a $25 gift
voucher for everyone, which you can use on the ship - use it for
drinks, gift shop purchases, spa treatments, or anything else
that you would otherwise pay money for on board. In case
it gets cold, we even give you some handwarmers.
And we provide the
(optional) free transfer/tour from Vilshofen via Regensburg to
Munich on the day you leave the ship.
Add this all up and you get an
amazing value, and yours if you take advantage of it quickly!
David in front of a Christmas market
gluhwein stall in Munich
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 lunch and dinner (and sparkling
wine to have with the smoked salmon and other breakfast dishes
each morning too!). If you wish to
drink more wine, you'll be delighted at the bargain prices that
wine sells for ashore.
Unlimited 24/7 free gourmet
espresso is also offered.
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 2016.
It isn't only me who feels
this way. Amawaterways recently had their ships take
all top ten places in the
2016 Berlitz 310 European river ship evaluation/ranking.
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.
Almost identical (but two years
older) sister ship, the Amacerto, sailing
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 several layers 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).
Just in case it
does get cold, and 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 ten times I've done it, and the 275
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 Amaviola
Our cruise ship for this
brand new (it
was built earlier in 2016), 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 your lunches and dinners
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.
Note - here is
an interesting pictorial presentation with lots of pictures
of the ship, published by USA Today. During the summer
this year, the ship was chartered by Disney, but it is not
associated with Disney for the Christmas cruise.
Cabins on the
Amaviola 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 smaller cabins.
Suites are a huge 350 sq ft in size.
This cabin picture is of a midgrade 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
Amaviola 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 net pricing -
after your special 40% discount - for the cruise is shown in the
Note - save another $100 :
Net Cruise Price per person
Amawaterways optional insurance (add extra $60 for
'cancel for any reason' option)
Prague to Budapest Transfer &
Prague per person
two nights, city tour and breakfasts
Prague per person for Friday 6th
and earlier nights
160 sq ft
($2899 before discount)
160 sq ft
($3198 before discount)
155 sq ft
($3498 before discount)
170 sq ft
mid & top
($3798 before discount)
210 sq ft
($2579 before discount)
210 sq ft
($4498 before discount)
235 sq ft
($4698 before discount)
235 sq ft
($4898 before discount)
($6098 before discount)
Extras and Inclusions
Port Taxes are $168 per
Single is extra 50% for
cruise or 100% for suite; extra $100 for Prague.
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 selection of special Travel
Rates include an exclusive Travel
Insider cocktail party on board Amaviola
Rates can be discounted by an
extra $100 gross ($60 after 40% discount) if you are a
past Amawaterways customer
Prague two night rates include
two hot breakfasts, a feature dinner
and a half day city tour
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.
A $400 per person deposit is
due when booking confirmed, the balance 90 days prior to cruise
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 Budapest. 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 (taxis in Budapest are
brilliantly simple with a flat fare pricing system so there's no
danger of being cheated).
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 Amadeus rate
and make your decision then.
You are therefore free to make your
own arrangements, any way you wish, to travel to Prague or
Budapest and then
home again from wherever, 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, for your arrival,
it is only 2¾ hours by train between Budapest and Vienna - you
might find it easier to fly into 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 for the cruise, with two options, either a
'cancel for medical reasons only' type policy or a 'cancel/defer
for any reason' type policy. Rates are shown in the table,
above. There is an extra $60 payable in premium if you
wish the 'cancel for any reason' extended coverage. 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 deposit 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.
3. 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.
11 Aug 2016, last update
12 Aug 2016