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 Hungary, Austria and Germany.
Maybe you've cruised on a
gigantic cruise ship before. Our Christmas Markets river
cruise is very different.
The nearly new (launched in Feb 2006) river cruiser, Amadagio, has only 73 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
About the Cruise/Tour
You'll depart the US on or
before Saturday 8 December, to join the vessel in Nuremberg on
Sunday 9 December. The cruise ends on Sunday 16 December
in Budapest. See below for the pre and post tour options.
Like a traditional cruise,
this is a fully inclusive cruise, and - better than a
traditional cruise - it includes a generous amount of shore
touring as well, at no extra cost. You won't have to pay extra for your
shore touring as we visit the lovely towns and cities along the
The cruise of course
includes three great meals a day, plus various other snacks,
on-board entertainment, as well as generous opportunities to
sightsee, both from the boat as it cruises the Danube, and while
ashore during the many stops. Each day you typically have time to
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.
Similarly, the on-board entertainment can be supplemented with
visits to clubs and bars and shows ashore when the vessel
stays in port until late at night, allowing you a chance to
experience towns by day and by night.
information about river cruising in Europe can be found here.
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 - 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).
We're offering an
interesting extension of one or two 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 Friday
7 December, so as to arrive into Munich on Saturday 8
December for the one night extension, or leave the US on Thursday 6
December (or earlier) to arrive on Friday 7 December for the two
or more night extension.
If you take the two night
extension, the Saturday is a day at leisure to sightsee around
Munich. And whenever you arrive - Saturday, Friday, or
earlier, there will be an optional and memorable dinner on
Saturday 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'
(dinner and drink costs not included).
On Sunday 9 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 Amadagio, adding a
extra dimension to our total touring experience.
You can arrive into Munich
on Saturday and take our tour/transfer on Sunday, or if you
prefer, you can arrive into Munich on Friday or earlier, to give
you more time to sightsee in the city and around the Munich
Post-Cruise Option - Prague
Prague is one of the most
beautiful and best preserved historical cities in all of Europe.
It 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 16 December we'll be taken by luxury coach and with
expert local guide from
Budapest to Prague, where we spend two nights 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. 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 will enjoy a 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 Wednesday
19 December your three night Prague visit would come to an end.
Why Cruise in Winter?
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
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 which several layers of warm
clothes can't combat, and both our two previous Christmas Market
cruises have been blessed with good weather (ie no rain or snow
and not uncomfortably cold).
I recommend this winter cruise.
I've loved it the two times I've done it, and the more than 50
Travel Insider readers who've accompanied me have been similarly
charmed by it.
Try it for yourself - you'll be delighted you did.
Information about Amadeus
Our 2004 cruise was with Viking
River Cruises, and the experience was excellent in almost all
respects. In 2006, we used Amadeus Waterways, both for our
Russian River Cruise in July
and for our Christmas Markets cruise in December. This was not because we dislike
Viking at all, but simply because we believe Amadeus offers a
better itinerary and better value cruise.
This perception isn't just a
coincidence. The founder and head of Amadeus, Rudi
Schreiner, first worked for Uniworld (another fine cruise
company) and then was President of Viking River Cruises from
2000 until the end of 2002, when he left to found Amadeus, with
Amadeus first appearing on the market in 2003, and growing
steadily every year since then. Rudi was largely
responsible for the excellent operations at both Uniworld and
Viking, and now he is taking everything he has learned and
applying it in his own company, with outstanding
His ships are as good or better
than any others you'll find on the rivers and canals of Europe,
and are (of course) also very new. As the newest company in
the market, he is having to work harder to win business, and is
doing so by offering great itineraries, lots of inclusions, and
great values. I've spoken with Rudi and he impresses as a
sensible and perceptive gentleman.
Our expectations have been borne out
in reality. Amadeus provided an excellent quality product,
with wonderful ships and friendly helpful crew on both our 2006
featured cruises. They are
an excellent company and we're pleased to confidently continue
our partnership with them again for this cruise, our
Russian River cruise, and our
Black Sea cruise in 2007.
In 2004, Amadeus was still new
and largely unproven, so we chose the safer option of Viking. Now, in 2007,
Amadeus is a proven quality
operator, both in the marketplace as a whole, and with us in
particular. We are
confident you'll agree that Amadeus Waterways is an
Because Amadeus is still relatively
new, there are few independent reviews of their cruises. Here
are three :
on this site (scroll down a bit to get to the review)
...the Amadagio exceeded our
highest expectations. Amadeus Waterways claims that the
Amadagio is the most luxurious ship on the European
waterways today and this is true.
The hips don’t lie - one outstanding feature was the variety
of meals served for lunch and dinners with outstanding
desserts. The crew was very helpful, friendly and
Tom Ogg writes about his
experience with Amadeus on a different itinerary and says in his
conclusion (I agree with everything but wonder how they managed
to get 11 hours sleep a night!)
Joanie and I didn’t know if
we were going to like our river cruise or not. Many of our
friends told us that we wouldn’t for a variety of reasons.
They were too structured for us (we are well known for our
aversion to structured events), there is nothing but older
folks on a river cruise, or we would be bored out of our
minds. One friend that has taken several groups on river
cruises warned us against taking off on our own.
Here is the bottom line. We
liked it a lot….and here are the reasons. First, we went our
own way on purpose and no one said anything to us
whatsoever. We knew where the boat would be and when to be
there and that is all that counted. In fact, the cruise
manager would tell us special things we could do in some of
the towns that turned out great. Don’t discount river
cruises if you are the type that likes to go your own way.
Second, we loved the intimacy of the ship. With only 120
passengers we got to know quite a few people very well.
Joanie and I met a couple from Vail, Colorado that were
wonderful people that I am sure we will evolve a friendship
with. We were going to meet them for dinner in Paris, but
Joanie became ill and couldn’t make it. Folks that like
river cruising are well traveled, successful, bright and
interesting people and Joanie and I enjoyed the people we
met…all of them. I can’t say I have ever had the same
experience on a larger ship. Third, we loved the uniqueness
of the ports. About the only way to see the same ports would
be via a motor coach tour. Which would you rather do? Sit in
the sun on the river drinking a glass of wine while the
scenery drifts by, or sit in a motor coach trying to catch a
glimpse of that castle that is hiding behind the trees.
Finally, yes, it was boring.
There were no discos, no casino, no theme parties, no
production shows, no tender tickets, no lines, no bar
hopping, none of that. It was so boring that Joanie and I
got more rest than we have ever had. We averaged almost 11
hours of sleep a night. The entire cruise was so relaxing,
that we are having a hard time reentering our normal lives.
I will take boring any day! If you haven’t considered a
river cruise, take another look, you might just find it as
enjoyable as Joanie and I did.
Connie and Darwin write of their cruise on the same
itinerary with Amadeus
If you have never been to Europe, or even if you have, a
river cruise is the way to go. Your hotel travels with
you. It is so relaxing and you really get caught up in
the atmosphere and are intoxicated with the scenery, even
without beer or wine. We have been back a few weeks
now, and I still have vacation head. I would go back
in a heartbeat. During our cruise we celebrated our
anniversary and I whispered to my husband during the
fabulous sparkler-laden layer cake that paraded out, “How
are we ever going to top this?”
About the Amadagio
Our cruise ship for this
nearly new, having 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 long but narrow.
It is 360' long and 37.4' 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. Amadeus even provides a generous amount
wine with 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 Amadagio are the largest of
any cruise boat - a massive 170 sq ft each. The 154 sq ft
cabins on the earlier Viking cruise seemed spacious, but the 170
sq ft cabins on Amadagio are even more marvelously roomy and
The cruise is offered in
five cabin grades plus there are four suites as well.
There are 69 cabins and four suites on
three decks, and all are well equipped with a/c, bathroom and
shower, phone, flat screen television, internet access,
hairdryer and safe. The television has both local and
satellite channels, a bridge-cam channel, and an evening
All five grades of cabin are
very similar in terms of size and amenities. The main
difference is the deck the cabins are situated on.
picture clearly shows the three accommodation decks on
Amadagio. The top deck and the middle deck have floor
to ceiling sliding doors and 'French balconies' (a very small
space outside the sliding door), but the lower deck just has
The most important
difference though is not the style of window, but rather the
height above the waterline. There is a big difference in
perspective and view between the top deck (suites and A category
cabins) and the middle deck (B and C category cabins), while on
the lowest deck (D and E category cabins) the floor is actually
below the waterline and your windows and eye level is only a
foot or so above the waterline. On this deck, with even
the slightest amount of bank on the sides of the river, you'll
not see anything other than the water and bank from the bottom
deck, and there may be a bit more water and machinery noise on
that level too.
When moored, if your cabin
is on the dockside rather than the outboard side, the lowest
deck cabins will have a view blocked by the dock, the middle
deck cabins may have a limited view, and the top deck cabins
will usually have a view above the dock level.
These differences are much
more profound than in a massive cruise ship where even the
lowest deck is still a long way above the waterline. Of
course, if you do choose a D or E category cabin, you can spend
the days in the public areas and enjoy the views from there, but
if you can justify the extra cost to go up a deck or two, the
chances are you'll be very pleased you did.
Suites are 255 sq ft, cabins
are 170 sq ft.
Tip : Choose the
least expensive cabin type on the deck you'd rather be on.
There is no added value in choosing a D cabin in favor of an E
cabin, or a B cabin in favor of a C cabin.
Start Date and Options
The cruise commences in
Nuremberg on Sunday 9 December 2007. If you're traveling from the
US, you should leave on Saturday 8 December (or earlier) to
arrive into Nuremberg on the 9th.
If you choose the Travel
Insider pre-cruise Munich and Mad King Ludwig option, you'll
want to leave the US on or before Friday 7th, so as to arrive in
Munich on or before Saturday 8 December.
We do recommend arriving
into Europe a day early, whether it be into Nuremberg, into
Munich, or any other place. This gives you an 'emergency'
day in case of flight delays or luggage problems or anything
else, and also gives you a day to 'de-jetlag' before the cruise
End Date and Options
The cruise finishes in
Budapest on Sunday 16 December. You can then either return
home that day, add on the optional extension to Prague, or extend your stay in Europe as you wish.
If you add the Prague
extension, you can return back home on Tuesday 18th, Wednesday
19th, or any other day you wish.
Usually you arrive back into
the US the same day you start your homeward journey from Europe.
Per person pricing for the
cruise is as follows :
Munich 1/2 nt option
Prague 2/3 nt option
Extras and Inclusions
Port Taxes are $84 per
Single rate is 150% of the
above per person share twin rates for cabins or 200% for a
junior suite. A guaranteed single share program is
also available for category B cabins (see below).
Air can be arranged for you
by us through Amadeus 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 (an $85 value) as a special Travel
Rates include two Travel
Insider cocktail parties on board Amadagio
You can pay for your cruise using a
credit card with no credit card surcharge.
A $200 per person
non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your participation
and to hold your preferred grade of cabin on
this cruise, and the balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
Single Guaranteed Share
If you are planning to
travel by yourself, but would prefer to avoid the single
surcharge, Amadeus offer a guaranteed twin share program with
another person of the same gender, in their category B cabins.
Alternatively we will 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 Amadeus
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 Amadeus rate
and make your decision then.
You are therefore free to make your
own arrangements, any way you wish, to travel to Nuremberg or
Munich 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.
Tip : Ask for an
air included quote when you know your itinerary. Then with
that space held, see if you can get a better deal or more
convenient flights, or perhaps frequent flier tickets.
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. There is an easy
rail connection from Munich Airport to the central city train station.
Similarly, for your return,
it is only 2¾ hours by train between Budapest and Vienna - you
might find it easier to fly home from Vienna (if you're
continuing on to Prague).
We generally recommend you
should protect against the various types of losses that may
occur while traveling.
Amadeus Waterways offer a
policy that covers you for trip cancellation and interruption
costs, medical costs, trip delay, and baggage delay or loss.
This is $199 per person. The premium is payable with your
To add an extra trip
cancellation premium that will allow you to cancel for any
reason at all, add another $30. With this add-on premium,
if you cancel for a reason not covered by the main policy,
Amadeus will refund you as much of your payment as is covered by
their usual policy, and give you a voucher to be redeemed
against future travel any time in the next year for the balance.
for a new page with more information on the Amadeus travel
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.
are planning to arrive early, you might want to consider flying
in to Munich and spending extra time in Munich, then taking our
tour/transfer to Nuremberg to join the cruise on
Sunday 9 December.
If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
We're here to help ensure your experience is as good as
Tour Terms and Conditions
standard terms and conditions
apply to this tour.
In addition, please note
these extra terms :
1. The 90 day
payment due date is considered to be Friday 7 September.
2. 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.
3. Tour price is
subject to change prior to full payment being received.
4. Terms and
conditions of the cruise line (Amadeus
Waterways) also apply.
The Travel Insider is
licensed by the State of Washington as a seller of travel -
registration number 602 036 247.
23 Jan 2007, last update
28 May 2011