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Mary57

Christmas river cruise, which river and line?

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My friend and I are interested in taking a 2020 Christmas river cruise.  We are new to river cruising, but not ocean cruising.  I know the ships are small, and that’s not a problem BUT we need a bed that splits into two.  We like AMA and Avalon so far but are open to other options.  We will spend most of our time visiting the markets but have no problem walking or keeping up with others on a tour!

 

We don’t know much about the various rivers and really want to make sure we see as much as possible, especially the markets.  We hope to travel in mid November.

 

Any help or direction would be greatly appreciated.

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Hello Mary57,

 

What struck me immediately in your post is the planned date. Expect the earliest markets to open around 20 November but the traditional time is actually after Sunday of the Dead.

 

You need to choose carefully and also remember that you can see less in the reduced daylight. Markets are best after sunset but you might be required to be back on the ship for cruising by dinner time.

 

notamermaid

 

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I went November 20th - 30th last year on the Danube RT Vienna. Only half of the Christmas Markets were open in Vienna when we arrived. They were all open on our last days there. In every German port, we were told the markets were opening the next day after we visited. 

 

I would aim for later in November or more preferable December.

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I have enjoyed the Christmas Markets on both the Danube and the Rhine. I have traveled on Uniworld (queen beds) and Grand Circle (twin beds) and they both do a great job though very different in pricing. Grand Circle’s prices in mid November are lowest because not all the markets are open. Why go then? Anytime after Thanksgiving will work better.

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And don't forget that they are really Advent Markets, not Christmas Markets.  They close on December 23 at the latest.

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Hi Mary57,

My family of four (college aged sons) actually went on a Rhine Christmas week cruise 12/23/15 on the  Ama Serena from Basel Switzerland to Amsterdam. We stayed two nights pre-cruise in Basel and enjoyed both a day trip to Lucern and the night Christmas market in Basel. Even though some of the Christmas markets are closed up by Christmas, we still got to visit a half dozen - I collected the different Gluwein mugs as we visited each one. This was a great trip and I highly recommend Ama for river cruising. They have nice included tours tailored to slow, regular and more active paces. There are bikes on board if you want to use them to ride around towns at your own pace too. The service and food and wine served was excellent. We are booked with Ama again next month on a Danube River cruise-can't wait!!!

Whichever line you choose- you probably can't go wrong-enjoy!

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As others have written, you really need to book this trip later in November. For instance, this year the market in Bad Kreuznach, where I lived for two years, will not open until the 23rd. The market in Rudesheim, which is actually on the Rhine (BK is not), does not open until the 21st, Frankfurt on the 25th, and so on.

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6 hours ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

And don't forget that they are really Advent Markets, not Christmas Markets.  They close on December 23 at the latest.

Vienna had something that lasted until the 26th and then some New Years markets.

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Posted (edited)

Viking will split their king sized beds.  We have been on 8 river cruises and simply ask for that option when booking.  If you forget they are happy to do it after you are boarded as well.  We have done three winter/holiday cruises and the only one where the markets were in full swing was one we boarded on the 20th of December.  Most shut down a day or two before the 25th ... but some in the larger cities might stay open later ... Vienna and Prague and Budapest are ones I remember.  Mid-November will likely be too early for the markets.

Edited by molymoo

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As others stated, mid November is too early for Xmas markets if that’s your main focus. Regarding river cruises, different companies and itineraries, essentially they all offer very similar products, it all boils down to your taste and price.  I think you’ll find all cabins will be able to have twin beds, whichever line.  

 

We’ve not done river cruises with AMA but have used Viking, Uniworld, Avalon and Grand Circle, again all offer nearly the same but some have better food if that’s important to you, some better accommodations, again, first I’d find an itinerary I like, then decide which fits your needs and wants the most.

 

Enjoy your travels.  Tho crowded, we enjoy the European Christmas markets, hope you and your friend will also.

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Posted (edited)

Thank you all for the input. I understand now that November is not the optimal time to travel. So we will be looking at early December.   I am curious to learn which river and which cruise line you all think would be best for us. Two women in our 60’s, travel frequently but river cruising is new to us.

 

i am gluten free and would need a line that could accommodate my issues.

 

  Advice will be greatly appreciated

Edited by Mary57

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I did Crystal on the Danube. They definitely can work around dietary issues. They are considered more inclusive - alcohol and drinks are always available and gratuities are included. Most tours are included. I thought the food was amazing.

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If you want Christmas markets, you have to go on the Rhine, Main, Moselle or the Danube. Advent/Christmas Markets are primarily a German thing. But you can also find them in Vienna, Austria and Strasbourg, France. Most close before Christmas Day because it is a family holiday the vendors spend at home.

The Elbe is another option but its water levels are very unreliable.

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I got scared off of Christmas cruises by reports on this board.  Cold, dark, continuous rain, and wearing layers of wool clothing.  

 

Roz

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You never know what the weather will be.

 

I have been thinking of a Christmas Market Cruise.  I am from Toronto, Canada.  We sometimes have very cold winds and sometimes snow in Nov and Dec.

 

I am curious for a Christmas Market Cruise, do people wear long winter coats and winter boots?

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   I’ve been on a Christmas Markets cruises twice on the Danube and twice on the Rhine. They both offer great stops. My favorites on the Danube are Vienna (multiple markets) and Regensberg (Thun and Taxis sp? market) and Favorites on the Rhine are Cologne (multiple markets) and Strasbourg (over the top decorating!) A side trip on the Danube is  usually to Salzburg and a side trip on the Rhine is usually Heidelberg and Alsace. I’ve traveled on Uniworld ($$$$) which is a 7 day trip and Grand Circle ($$) which is a 10 day trip. There is no best!

   Weather wise is, of course, to pack a coat. I ended up wearing my Gor-tek raincoat the most. Snow was unusual, twice had it in Koblenz. Long underwear was helpful most days. Really the winters seem to be getting milder in Europe.

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5 hours ago, Roz said:

I got scared off of Christmas cruises by reports on this board.  Cold, dark, continuous rain, and wearing layers of wool clothing.  

 

Roz

Didn't experience any of that.

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20 hours ago, Roz said:

I got scared off of Christmas cruises by reports on this board.  Cold, dark, continuous rain, and wearing layers of wool clothing.  

 

Roz

I have never done a Christmas cruise, but we have visited the England, Scotland, France, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic and Salzburg over the Christmas New Year period for the last few years.

Weather varies greatly, but we have never had that.  In fact, this past Christmas we had five days in London and four in Paris and had sunshine the entire time!  It was drizzly during our five days in Strasbourg, but not particularly cold.  We had snow one day and it was gorgeous.  And I agree with the decorations, Strasbourg and Colmar were simply stunning!

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We did Avalon, NUE-BSL (so, Main-Danube and a little of the Rhine) Nice length (9 days - there were multiple leg options on Avalon so we had people boarding/disembarking at a few ports). Our itinerary didn't have any evening stops at Markets so I'm glad we spent 2 nights in NUE before our cruise and 1 night in BSL at the end of the cruise - so we saw the nights at the markets on our own. Our weather was not very cold (to me - my MIL was cold all the time, but she also didn't pack as we warned her to a year in advance) It was in the 40s many days. One day with a little rain. Some days warmer. I wore ankle boots that are super comfortable for miles of walking on cobblestones for most days. 

 

If I did again, would like to do eastern Danube....Or just visit Vienna, Budapest & Prague on my own (I've been to Budapest & Prague in Nov/Dec but it's been forever).

 

[Avalon beds definitely can be split into twins - agree with previous posts that most cruise lines should be able to do this]

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On 7/28/2019 at 9:33 AM, phabric said:

You never know what the weather will be.

 

I have been thinking of a Christmas Market Cruise.  I am from Toronto, Canada.  We sometimes have very cold winds and sometimes snow in Nov and Dec.

 

I am curious for a Christmas Market Cruise, do people wear long winter coats and winter boots?

Everyone has a different level of cold tolerance,  so expect the worst.  Coats should be wind and waterproof or at least water resistant. 3 in ones work.  I usually wear a snow boarding coat with hood .  It covers my butt and has enough pockets for earmuffs, gloves, phone, etc.so my hands are free. I live about an hour away from you and don't wear boots in the winter, so my recommendation for anyone is wear waterproof and warm footwear. 

RB

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We did the Rhine from Basel to Amsterdam last year on AMA. Had a amazing time and really enjoyed the Markets. We did have one deviation due to the shooting in Strasbourg . We had just docked when that took place.  Woke up the next morning docked on the other side of the river and our day excursion went to Baden-Baden which we really liked.  We enjoyed it so much we are booking the Danube from Nuremburg to Budapest for 2020 ( we would go this year but 1st grandbaby is due on Thanksgiving).  We are from Colorado and did not find the weather to be bad at all, in fact the swiss were wear boots and down jackets in weather that we consider to be shirt sleeve weather in December.-its damper than Colorado and I did purchase an awesome wool hat in Heidelberg because of the wind- something I rarely wear at home except in very cold weather. It was drizzly some days but we generally found a sweater and fleece jacket to be adequate with a light weight rain slicker over when it was raining.

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On 7/29/2019 at 12:28 PM, Ritabob said:

Everyone has a different level of cold tolerance, 

Absolutely true, which is why when I report, I try to give examples of the actual temperatures I've experienced ;-) I run hot and I grew up in New England and lived in the mtns in Utah. Now I live in the South and I'm just pretty darn hot all the time ;-) My MIL (and now FIL) get cold REALLY easily so when it was 40 and I barely had a sweater on, she was shivering (and I gave her a merino baselayer and socks  and another scarf- she had gloves and a hood). 

 

Check the forecast the week before you leave. You'll know averages in advance to do most of the packing planning, but double check right at the last minute and make adjustments as needed. Layers always the best option ;-)

 

I should note - my in-laws had done river cruises and adored them. My husband REALLY wanted to go. My mom's husband wanted to go and convinced my mom to agree. I love Christmas markets so that's how my husband got me on the trip. It was a lovely trip. I'm still not convinced they're worth the price - I'm an independent traveler and love to research and come up with travel itineraries, so the excursions included in the fare are unnecessary to me (at the same time, I have certain desires for...if not "luxury", at least - very nice food & accommodations - so some of the cheaper more a la carte cruise options don't seem to be a good fit for me either). 

 

Anyway, everyone in our group got sick but me and I went to pharmacies in at least 4 of the ports, finding drugs for everyone else ;-) Had a great time. Don't feel compelled to do it again in the near future, but I'm going on a Mekong cruise in 2 weeks ;-) 

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On 7/28/2019 at 8:33 AM, phabric said:

You never know what the weather will be.

 

I have been thinking of a Christmas Market Cruise.  I am from Toronto, Canada.  We sometimes have very cold winds and sometimes snow in Nov and Dec.

 

I am curious for a Christmas Market Cruise, do people wear long winter coats and winter boots?

I wore a rubbery rain jacket I got from Lands End. I purchased it for my Alaska trips in May. It is probably 6" longer than my waist. I brought my Brooks athletic shoes that have Gore-tex. Most wore athletic shoes. 

 

I only wear boots at home (Midwest USA - snowy) when I am shoveling snow. Not to work or for shopping.

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13 hours ago, Coral said:

I only wear boots at home (Midwest USA - snowy) when I am shoveling snow. Not to work or for shopping.

 

My boots were NOT snow boots, but boots I wear for work etc. Keen "Bern", just a little higher than ankle, leather. I spray with silicone spray since they aren't goretex.....Keen have a great thick rubber sole - great traction & support for me on cobblestones ;-) 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Hoyaheel said:

 

My boots were NOT snow boots, but boots I wear for work etc. Keen "Bern", just a little higher than ankle, leather. I spray with silicone spray since they aren't goretex.....Keen have a great thick rubber sole - great traction & support for me on cobblestones ;-) 

My so called snow boots are very similar to yours. They are Keen but not leather, same heighth. They are waterproof or water resistant - can't remember model as they are several years old. I just only use them to shovel snow.

 

I guess living in a place where it snows a lot - I don't own real snow boots. I agree, they have a great sole and great traction. I just prefer athletic shoes when walking 10,000 plus steps per day.

Edited by Coral

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