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The magic of the Christmas Markets sparkle both day and night on this lovely pre-Christmas Danube river cruise.

To give you more of a feeling about this experience, and the sights you'll see, here's a photo journal taken from my 2007 cruise.

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Danube River Christmas Markets Cruise

Part 1 :  Munich, Bavaria and the Amadagio

A Photo Journal of the 2007 Travel Insider Cruise

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Our 2007 cruise started with an optional pre-cruise tour in Munich and through Bavaria then up to Nuremberg where we joined our ship, the Amadagio.

Part 1 of a four part Photo Journal of the 2007 Travel Insider Christmas Markets Tour.  Click the links for other pages in this series.

Part 1 :  Munich, Bavaria and the Amadagio
Part 2 :  Along the Danube in Germany
Part 3 :  Beautiful Austria
Part 4 :  Hungary, Slovakia and The Czech Republic

Partially for my own pleasure and memories, and of course, partially to help you understand what to expect on a Christmas Markets cruise, here's a 'photo journal' of memories from my 2007 cruise along the Danube from Nuremberg to Budapest, with pre-cruise touring in Bavaria and post-cruise touring in the Czech Republic.

I've tried to make this different to a typical travelogue by concentrating on sights and impressions that are either quirky or of particular interest to Christmas Market cruises.

I hope it may encourage you to come join me on one of these cruises.  After reading through these remembrances and perusing the images, I hope you'll better understand why it is that these cruises are my absolute favorite of all the many different cruises I do.

Chances are you'll enjoy one of these enchanting cruises too.

Note that the pre and post cruise optional extensions vary from year to year.

Click here for details of the amazing bargain prices now available for this year's Christmas cruise.

Photojournal Part 1 - Munich, Bavaria, and the Ship

Note - the small images below can all be clicked on and this will open a larger image, sometimes showing more of the picture, too, in a new window.  Simply close the window after enjoying the image to return back to this page.

Precruise - Munich

The first of many mugs of Gluhwein (a warmed up spiced wine mixture - great for the cool days and evenings) at the Munich Christmas markets on our first evening in town.
Christmas gifts and trinkets and decorations galore in the many marketplace stalls
One of the recurring themes of this cruise was how so much of what we were experiencing felt like it was coming from a children's fairy tale, or in some other way, it felt like archetypal Christmas scenes quite unlike what I experience in Seattle.  One such example was this outdoor night skating rink in the center of Munich.
The famous Augustiner restaurant (spanning both the left and right buildings in this picture) in central Munich where we had a group dinner - good food and great beer.

Munich is a compact and easily experienced city.  The main railway station is close to the very center of the city, and many hotels are close to the railway station, allowing you to walk from the train to your hotel, and from your hotel into the city.

It has a lovely main Christmas market in the square in front of its Town Hall.

Munich also has a much larger airport than Nuremberg - if you're flying in or out of Nuremberg, you might choose to fly to Munich instead, then take the train between Munich and Nuremberg - a quick and easy 1 hour journey.


Pre-cruise Bavarian Coach Touring

A view out the coach window across fields that were sometimes snowy and to the mountains not far away, as we traveled south into Bavaria and almost to the Austrian border.
From the outside, this appears to be a fairly ordinary church building.  But - please go in, and be prepared for the stunning rococo beauty inside Wieskirche, now a World Heritage site.
A stunningly beautiful and wonderfully airy and light rococo interior in excellent condition make Wieskirche a 'must visit' if you're in Bavaria.
And then, slowly emerging from the mist, we saw Neuschwanstein, the best known of Mad King Ludwig's castles.
I've deliberately chosen to show this unclear image rather than Photoshop it to make it clear, because it captures most accurately the mystery and magic of this castle as it appeared out of the mist in the distance ahead.  I think it is nicer this way than starkly defined on a bright clear day.
Directly across from Neuschwanstein is another castle - Hohenschwangau, built by Ludwig's father, Maximilian II.  Ludwig lived most of his life here.
If you're traveling down to see either of these two castles, consider allowing enough time to see both.

A special bonus for people doing the Munich pre-tour option in 2007 was our day of touring down into southern Bavaria before then driving north up to Nuremberg to meet our ship, the Amadagio.

We had wonderful winter weather, with some occasional light snow, giving gorgeous vistas with fresh white snow around us and on the lovely hills and mountains.

The two main destinations for the day are shown in the images on the left.

At the end of the day, the coach arrived in Nuremberg where we rendezvoused with our ship.  The ship had kindly delayed its schedule for the rest of the afternoon/evening to allow for our late arrival after our full day of touring.

And then, once aboard and settled into our cabins, we got all kitted up and went to enjoy the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Reception.


On Board the Amadagio (and Amalegro too)

Me with another souvenir mug of Gluhwein in hand (I ended the cruise with 15 different souvenir mugs to take home), the Amadagio, and Christine, Group Sales Manager from Amawaterways' Head Office in Los Angeles.
Amadagio's sister ship, the Amalegro, which we swapped to in Linz due to the Danube being impassable with high waters.

Okay, so this might not be the highlight of your stay on an Amawaterways vessel, but it definitely is one of the highlights for me!  In room computers, and free internet access.
Gorgeous teak flooring in the Aft lounge and wrap around windows on three sides make this one of my favorite places on board.  It was also the location of our two exclusive Travel Insider cocktail parties.
The main reception area on board the Amalegro.  To the left (port) is the shop, and to the right the entrance to the main lounge and bar areas (visible in the larger image if you click the small image).
The ships were very festively decorated inside, and extending the Christmas theme still further, one night we were told to leave shoes outside our cabins, in which we found gifts the next morning.
Note on the right of this picture of Amadagio's lobby is an elevator - a popular option for passengers who found the stairs not so convenient.
The interior of the ships is open and airy and light.  You can see the upper corridor for A cabins and junior suites and the lower corridor for B and C cabins both leading from the lobby area in this picture, D & E cabins are a further deck down.
One of my favorite parts of the Amalegro - its bar!
Here's a picture of the beds - all cabins can be configured either with a King size bed or two twin beds.
The Amawaterways boats have amazing showers.  Three different shower heads, great water pressure, and push button controls for where water comes from.

Being a young company, Amawaterways is blessed with nearly new ships.  Their oldest vessel, the Amadagio, was launched in 2006, so at the time of writing it is barely two years old.

Their ships are all very similar, with only minor design tweaks between each one.

The cabins are all the same size (a roomy 170 sq ft) and with the same amenities, the only difference being the cabins on the middle and upper decks have floor to ceiling windows and sliding doors onto 'French balconies', whereas the bottom deck cabins have smaller regular windows.

(Update - these days they have a newer generation of ships with even larger cabins and outside balconies, too.)

The public areas on board - two lounges, the restaurant, the outside decks, a shop, fitness center, beauty salon, and other sundry areas - are all finished to a very high standard and the general ambience is relaxed while exuding an aura of quality.

It is not possible to show in the photos one of the finest features of all the Amawaterways ships - their wonderful crews.  These people are friendly, hard-working, well trained, and a delight to interact with.  They add enormously to the pleasure of the cruise.

They are generally young people in their 20s, and seem to come in large part from Hungary or other Eastern European countries.  They all speak good English.

We had an unusual experience on our cruise.  Due to heavy rains, the Danube was at a moderately high level - so high, in fact, that none of the river cruisers could pass under a bridge that was between Passau and Linz.  Some ships from other cruise lines had been tied up on either side of the bridge for many days, bussing their passengers to and from each day's sightseeing (to the dismay and disappointment of the passengers).

Amawaterways had a more positive solution.  It had two ships doing mirror image cruises - our ship was going from Nuremberg to Budapest, and a second ship was going in the opposite direction.

So they simply swapped us from one ship to another, and it happened without us being at all inconvenienced, because on our day trip to Salzburg, we went from Passau (and the Amadagio) in the morning to Salzburg, and then to Linz (and the Amalegro) in the evening.

Because the ships are almost identical, we all ended up in the same cabin numbers as we'd had before.  It was a fun experience and everyone was very thankful to be with Amawaterways rather than one of the other cruiselines.

Part 1 of a four part Photo Journal of the 2007 Travel Insider Christmas Markets Tour.  Click the links for other pages in this series.

Part 1 :  Munich, Bavaria and the Amadagio
Part 2 :  Along the Danube in Germany
Part 3 :  Beautiful Austria
Part 4 :  Hungary, Slovakia and The Czech Republic


If this makes you wish to join us for this year's Christmas Markets Cruise along the Danube (and so it should), then have we got good news for you.

Please click the link to see the special deal currently available.

Click here for the full details of this cruise and the booking form to confirm your interest.

Originally published 26 Sep 2008, last update 20 Jul 2017

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