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  #1  
Old July 26th, 2014, 12:01 PM
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Marian Paroo Marian Paroo is online now
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Question Christmas Market River Cruises 12/2014

My BFF and I thought it might be time for something completely different - a Christmas market cruise!

How do we start researching? We are very open on any European location.

Thanks.


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  #2  
Old July 26th, 2014, 12:20 PM
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Do you work with a travel agent? That might be a good place to start. You could also go to the individual web sites for the different river cruise lines to find out about price and itinerary. Also, just scroll down this board to find out about the different lines, and read a few reviews.

My own experience was I had seen the commercials for Viking, and had received a number of brochures in the mail. My parents booked the Eastern Passage cruise for this August and it got me thinking very seriously about the Christmas Markets, so image my dismay when I looked up "Heart of Germany" and saw that all the cruises were sold out (Maybe a few of the most expensive cabins left). I called Viking to see what other options there were, and am now booked on "Romantic Danube" for the week of December 13, 2014, and I have been assured that there are Christmas Markets that we will have the opportunity to go to.

If you are really serious about going this year you probably need to get a move on it as I'm sure many are sold out, or close to it.

And don't be afraid to ask for any special offers if you call a line directly. When I was speaking to the lady at Viking I just mentioned that my parents were sailing in August. Once she confirmed, I got $200 off and my parents are getting a $200 refund because they "referred" us.
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  #3  
Old July 26th, 2014, 12:23 PM
Floridiana Floridiana is offline
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Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have many, many Christmas markets. Rhine, Main and Danube cruises are your best bet. France has a few markets.
Markets are open in December, weather is usually grey and cold. There is a reason why market visitors drink grog and mulled wine.

Viking is certainly not the only river cruise line in Europe. I can't imagine that everything is sold out on all lines.

Last edited by Floridiana; July 26th, 2014 at 12:25 PM.
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  #4  
Old July 26th, 2014, 12:42 PM
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Hello Marian Paroo,

as you are from a different part of the world to almost all posters on CC there might be other companies we do not know much about marketing in your area. Therefore, I also think a travel agent might be your best bet. Independently, you can look at the companies ARosa, CroisiEurope, Phoenix, Plantours and Transocean. All of them European. They have websites and might be able to cater for English-speaking guests on a Christmas market cruise. If you speak German then the companies are definitely an option.

Alternatively Riviera Travel which is UK-Based is another one to look into.

Best time for the markets is a cruise starting after 24th November and ending before 23rd December. Christmas markets end on the 23rd December. Just a very few are on between Christmas and New Year.

It is possible to do a land based trip with day trips on either the Danube or the Rhine, by the way. Those you can combine with visits to the Christmas markets in the towns along the rivers.

Have fun planning.

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  #5  
Old July 26th, 2014, 03:38 PM
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Thanks for all the info guys. I do know a very good travel agent, so i will consult her, too. From what I can see, Viking has the biggest variety.

We can handle the cold, often travel to the UK in December.
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Old July 27th, 2014, 08:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marian Paroo View Post
Viking has the biggest variety.
Variety of what? They are building ships like mad and therefore outnumber other lines on the rivers...

You'll find there are many fewer boats doing Christmas Market cruises than other times of the year which is why it could be difficult to find a cabin for this year. We booked our cruise in August 2013 (our first river cruise) and our category of cabin was already close to being sold out.

When I was researching, I looked at itineraries of all the lines who market to English speaking groups, made a matrix so I could compare specifics (including a per diem price as I was comparing cruises of different lengths) and noted what the fare includes, size of the cabin I was looking at, number of passengers, etc.

We chose Avalon, based on itinerary (we are on a combo itinerary that combines the Main & Rhine - my husband wants Germany and I didn't want to go on the Danube as I have been to Vienna, Budapest & Prague in the winter already) and I liked the size of Avalon's cabins as well as the fridge in the cabin.

Everyone has different priorities, so do yourself a favor and LOOK at all the different lines while you're making your decision
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  #7  
Old July 27th, 2014, 08:15 PM
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I've traveled on Viking twice in the last 13 months and just purchased a Christmas Markets tour on the Romantic Danube cruise on the Viking Freya in December. Viking does a wonderful job of making everyone feel welcome. Every detail is taken care of so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the sights.


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  #8  
Old July 28th, 2014, 04:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoyaheel View Post

We chose Avalon, based on itinerary (we are on a combo itinerary that combines the Main & Rhine - my husband wants Germany and I didn't want to go on the Danube as I have been to Vienna, Budapest & Prague in the winter already) and I liked the size of Avalon's cabins as well as the fridge in the cabin.

thanks, I'll check them out.
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  #9  
Old July 28th, 2014, 06:05 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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I certainly would look beyond Viking. They have more of a marketing presence and advertise a lot but there are certainly other options out there.

We have done the markets a dozen times, 6 on DIY land trips and 4 Christmas Market cruises with Avalon and one with AMA.

We have two more Christmas market trips booked with AMA. AMA really celebrated the season on board and was very festive overall. Attention to detail was excellent and we love the small and special touches throughout our AMA Christmas market cruise, as well as on our other 2 cruises with AMA.

We love being in Europe for the holidays and find it a refreshing change from here in the states. Yes, the days are shorter but the markets are at their best in the evenings when the locals gather with their friends and enjoy them as well.
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  #10  
Old July 28th, 2014, 12:30 PM
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Originally Posted by caviargal View Post
I certainly would look beyond Viking. They have more of a marketing presence and advertise a lot but there are certainly other options out there.

We have done the markets a dozen times, 6 on DIY land trips and 4 Christmas Market cruises with Avalon and one with AMA.

We have two more Christmas market trips booked with AMA. AMA really celebrated the season on board and was very festive overall. Attention to detail was excellent and we love the small and special touches throughout our AMA Christmas market cruise, as well as on our other 2 cruises with AMA.

We love being in Europe for the holidays and find it a refreshing change from here in the states. Yes, the days are shorter but the markets are at their best in the evenings when the locals gather with their friends and enjoy them as well.

I have a question about the Christmas Marketa and AMA. Are there tours of the markets or does AMA just arrange drop off and pick up? How does AMA work the markets in to the regular tours that they would do on the same itinerary sailing other times of the year. I guess I'm asking if the markets are combined with the city tours or are the markets a separate tour?

Last Dec., we made a very quick trip to Frankfurt to visit their Christmas Market The local tourist office offered tours of the market. There was a cost but worth it because we learned about their customs and traditions, sampled various foods, rode the carousel and had a cup of Gluwein with the collector mug included. We would have missed out on so much had we not taken this tour thus my question about a tour vs drop off and pick up. Thanks
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Old July 28th, 2014, 01:01 PM
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In Vienna the CM took interested passengers to the market in the evening after dinner. In Bratislava, Nuremberg and Cologne, we were escorted by a local guide as part of the tour. They did speak about local customs and traditions on the tours.
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  #12  
Old July 28th, 2014, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by caviargal View Post
In Vienna the CM took interested passengers to the market in the evening after dinner. In Bratislava, Nuremberg and Cologne, we were escorted by a local guide as part of the tour. They did speak about local customs and traditions on the tours.
Thanks for the info. Our cruise on AMA is in early Nov. and not a Christmas Markets cruise but the Vienna Christmas markets open a few days before we arrive so I am wondering if AMA will include them with the tours or if we will have to DIY. I have researched the big one at Rathaus and the smaller one at St. Stephens. Any info about either of those you can share? Suggestions for others? The market at Schonbrunn Palace doesn't open until later in the month so we will miss that one.
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Old July 28th, 2014, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Space Cadet View Post
I've traveled on Viking twice in the last 13 months and just purchased a Christmas Markets tour on the Romantic Danube cruise on the Viking Freya in December. Viking does a wonderful job of making everyone feel welcome. Every detail is taken care of so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the sights.


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We came very close to be on the same cruise! We sail on the Odin, Romantic Danube sailing on the same dates. We start in Budapest, and I think you start your voyage in Nuremburg. Happy Voyage!
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Coral Princess-Panama Canal 2008
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Caribbean Princess-Canada/New England 2009
Ryndam (HAL)-Western Caribbean 2009
Golden Princess-Hawaii 2010
Carnival Ecstasy-Girls Cruise to Cozumel 2011
Norwegian Star-Pacific Coastal 2011
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Carnival Freedom-Western Caribbean 2012
Carnival Magic-Western Caribbean 2013
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  #14  
Old July 29th, 2014, 07:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by purduemom1 View Post
Thanks for the info. Our cruise on AMA is in early Nov. and not a Christmas Markets cruise but the Vienna Christmas markets open a few days before we arrive so I am wondering if AMA will include them with the tours or if we will have to DIY. I have researched the big one at Rathaus and the smaller one at St. Stephens. Any info about either of those you can share? Suggestions for others? The market at Schonbrunn Palace doesn't open until later in the month so we will miss that one.
We have been to the one at Rathaus several times over the years. You can take the metro from very near where the boat docks to the square. Easy. Or they will call a taxi for you.

I do not recall the one at St. Stephen's as being memorable.

I think your cruise is quite early for the markets. They were setting up in Cologne and and a few larger cities when we have visited in mid to late November but not many open prior to Advent.

Are you extending?
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Last edited by caviargal; July 29th, 2014 at 07:43 AM.
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Old July 30th, 2014, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by caviargal View Post
We have been to the one at Rathaus several times over the years. You can take the metro from very near where the boat docks to the square. Easy. Or they will call a taxi for you.

I do not recall the one at St. Stephen's as being memorable.

I think your cruise is quite early for the markets. They were setting up in Cologne and and a few larger cities when we have visited in mid to late November but not many open prior to Advent.

Are you extending?
Thanks for your info on the Vienns markets. I know our cruise is a bit early for Christmas Markets and I believe we will only find some open in Vienna and I'm OK with that. We didn't intend this to be a markets cruise so will be happy to visit the ones in Vienna since they open so much earlier than most of the others in Europe.
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Old July 30th, 2014, 02:45 PM
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RoseThorn40, I believe we may be on the same cruise. We leave out of Budapest on December 13, 2014 on the VIking Delling. Is that the ship you are on?
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We came very close to be on the same cruise! We sail on the Odin, Romantic Danube sailing on the same dates. We start in Budapest, and I think you start your voyage in Nuremburg. Happy Voyage!
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Old July 30th, 2014, 08:28 PM
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RoseThorn40, I believe we may be on the same cruise. We leave out of Budapest on December 13, 2014 on the VIking Delling. Is that the ship you are on?
I think we are on the Odin. I know we fly out Friday and arrive Saturday. That's the 13th-right? And we are leaving from Budapest, and it's Romantic Danube. I think we may have had our choice of two ships and I picked "Odin" because that I knew I was pronouncing correctly. Maybe there are two ships leaving the same day and going in the same direction.
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Sun Princess-Alaska 2003 (Marty only)
Golden Princess-Southern Caribbean 2004
Sun Princess-Eastern Caribbean 2005
Sapphire Princess-Mexican Riviera 2006
Dawn Princess-Alaska-Inside Passage 2006
Sea Princess-Grand Caribbean Adventure 2007
Coral Princess-Panama Canal 2008
Emerald Princess-Eastern Caribbean 2009
Grandeur of the Seas (RCCL)-Bermuda 2009
Caribbean Princess-Canada/New England 2009
Ryndam (HAL)-Western Caribbean 2009
Golden Princess-Hawaii 2010
Carnival Ecstasy-Girls Cruise to Cozumel 2011
Norwegian Star-Pacific Coastal 2011
Carnival Fantasy-Bahamas/Key West 2012
Carnival Freedom-Western Caribbean 2012
Carnival Magic-Western Caribbean 2013
Ocean Princess-United Kingdom & Ireland 2013
Emerald Princess-Southern Caribbean 2014
American Queen-Mississippi River Cruise 2014
Caribbean Princess-Western Caribbean 2014







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Old July 31st, 2014, 11:08 AM
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Do Christmas Markets cruises take you to the same places as any other cruise during the day and Christmas Markets at night? I don't want to take a Christmas Markets cruise to find that is all we will see. DH would kill me, he's such a shopper NOT.
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Old July 31st, 2014, 03:30 PM
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floatinrocks ~ Great questions!! My main question/concern last year before the cruise!!!

All I can tell you about is Viking's Rhine River CM cruise since that's the one we took! I'd say that their regular intinerary was followed as much as possible in December and the CMs were added as an extra on your free time - hope that makes sense!!!

Example - in Strasbourg, France we had a morning bus/walking tour that ended at the Cathedral which was surrounded with CM stalls. At the end of the tour we could go with the guide back to the bus & ship for lunch or we had free time and given directions to where the bus would be when we wanted to return to the ship - there was a shuttle running back and forth all afternoon. I'm sure this was the same schedule they used all year but we had the advantage of the CMs!!

In Cologne we had a walking tour and then free time but we were docked so close in the city that we could just easily walk back to the ship. And the CMs were all along the way.

If DH isn't a shopper - no problem - he can sample the grog or enjoy some brats or sweets!! Most CMs are more than just buying!!!

And as for the itinerary - I didn't feel we missed anything by going to the CMs except maybe in Cologne - I would have loved to have spent some time in the Roman museum but I chose the CMs instead!!!!
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  #20  
Old August 1st, 2014, 06:01 AM
caviargal caviargal is offline
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We love the markets and do not shop much at all.

DH and I live the mulled wine, the food stalls, the entertainment and the overall spirit of the markets. Shopping really is not an issue.

And the CM cruises we have been on (4 so far) still offer the standard tours.
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