River Christmas Markets Cruise
A magical European Christmas cruise experience
NOW ON SALE - SAVE $500 OFF REGULAR RATES
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 almost brand new (launched earlier this year) river cruiser,
Amalyra, 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.
Note : We can offer you
an across the board 5% discount on all cruises operated by
Amawaterways. So if this special
escorted tour doesn't suit,
have us arrange whichever other cruise you'd prefer.
skip down to the booking form
Start Date and Options
You should leave the US
on or before Sunday 13 December 2009, so as to arrive into
Budapest on or
before Monday 14 December. You board the ship on Monday
afternoon, 14 December, 2009.
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 mini
pre-cruise package in Prague - leave the US on or before Friday
11 December to arrive into Prague on or before Saturday 12
December. More details in the next section.
End Date and Options
The cruise ends in Nuremberg on the morning of
Monday, 21 December.
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.
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 Budapest and out of Nuremberg.
We offer a Travel Insider
exclusive extension to enhance your overall tour experience.
Pre-Cruise Options - Prague
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 are offering you the
chance to spend a preliminary night or longer in Prague, with a
coach transfer via Bratislava to meet the ship in Budapest on
Monday 14 December.
You can choose from making
your own accommodation arrangements and simply meeting us on
Monday morning for the transfer and included Bratislava tour, or
you can stay one or more nights at our official Travel Insider
hotel in the heart of historic Prague.
If you stay one night, we
include a feature dinner in one of our favorite traditional
Czech cellar restaurants, also right in the heart of Prague.
If you stay two or more nights, we also include a half day city
tour of this beautiful city. Most people will choose to
stay two or three nights, although you can of course stay any
length of time you wish.
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
lovely start to our Christmas Markets experience, and we
strongly urge you to include Prague as a wonderful way to begin
your Christmas Markets experience.
This cruise is offered to
you for $500 less than the regular rate published on the
official Amawaterways site. And that is $500 per person
- two of you traveling together will save $1000!
In addition, you may quality
for an extra $50 saving if you are an AARP member, and another
$100 if you've traveled on a previous Amawaterways/Amadeus
Waterways cruise. You could end up saving $650 per person
- $1300 for the two of you! The cruise savings will go a
long way to paying your airfare.
Plus, there's still more.
You'll get extra values from The Travel Insider - a free tour to
Salzburg ($110 value) and two free cocktail reception parties on
board, as well as The Travel Insider himself (David Rowell)
traveling with you all the way as your personal escort.
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, 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 was on this ship in
June/July, and the same crew will be with us again in December.
I was very impressed with the ship and its crew, and felt the
chef to be the best I've yet encountered in my many river
cruises to date, and it was in large part because of the
outstandingly positive cruise in June/July that I'm now offering
this December cruise on the same ship.
information about river cruising in Europe can be found here.
A day by day, town by town
journal of a Christmas Cruise 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
one other too.
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 our four previous Christmas Market
cruises have been blessed with good weather (ie usually no rain,
very little snow
and not uncomfortably cold).
I heartily recommend this cruise,
and at this time of year.
I've loved it the four times I've done it, and the more than 150
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 Amalyra
Our cruise ship for this
brand new (it
was launched in March 2009), 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. Amawaterways even provides a generous amount
wine, beer and soft drinks 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 Amalyra are
some of the largest of
any Danube river 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 Amalyra are even more marvelously roomy and
The cruise is offered in
five cabin grades plus there are three suites as well.
There are 70 cabins and
three 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
Amalyra. 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.
Special Exception - Rear
cabins on top deck
Some passengers have found
the rear-most cabins on the top deck to be noisier than cabins
further forward on that deck (extra engine noise). I've
stayed in those cabins myself and haven't been troubled by the
engine noise, although it is appreciably louder than further
As a result, Amawaterways
have downgraded the category of eight of the cabins, making four
of them B and four of them C category cabins.
If you don't think you'd be
troubled by the engine noise while the vessel is cruising at
night, these would be tremendously good value cabins to choose -
giving you the upper most deck and all its advantages, but at a
lower cost than the otherwise identical A cabins a bit further
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.
Per person pricing for the
cruise is shown in the table below and includes a $500 per
person discount off the regular Amawaterways fares.
Note - save up to $150
If you are an AARP member,
you can take an extra $50 off these prices.
If you have sailed with
Amawaterways (formerly Amadeus Waterways) before, you can
take another $100 off these prices.
(All rates are $500 lower than Amawaterways' regular
Prague to Budapest Transfer &
Prague per person per night for
one or two nights
Prague per person per night for
Extras and Inclusions
Port Taxes are $98 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 (a $110 value) as a special Travel
Rates include two Travel
Insider cocktail parties on board Amalyra
Rates can be discounted by an
extra $50 if you are an AARP member, and/or $100 if you are a
past Amawaterways customer (ie you can get as much as $150
extra discount if both apply)
You can pay for your cruise using a
credit card with no credit card surcharge.
A $400 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, Amawaterways 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 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 Nuremberg, 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
out to Munich and taking a short 1¾ hour
train ride from Nuremberg to Munich. There is an easy
rail connection between Munich Airport and the central city train station.
Similarly, 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.
Amawaterways offer a
policy that covers you for trip cancellation and interruption
costs, medical costs, trip delay, and baggage delay or loss.
This is $229 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 $40. 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.
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. Click for Live
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send us an email, or feel free to call us at (206)337-2317.
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registration number 602 036 247.
10 July 2009, last update
28 May 2011