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Christmas River Cruises - Budapest to Amsterdam


foxland
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I am an experienced ocean cruiser but have never been on a river cruise. I am considering a Christmas River Cruise and favour a longer trip - say 14 days plus.

 

I naively imagined the boat pulling into a centrally located pier and walking off into a winter wonderland [snow, twinkling lights, mulled wine, beer and bratwurst] to experience the markets. However I have been reading reviews which talk about being tied up miles from anywhere, being bussed to town, and having very limited time to look around - sometimes as little as 60-90 minutes. None of which sounds very appealing.

 

So .. time to reach out to the CC Community and find out what their experiences have been.

 

Have you been on a Christmas River Cruise ? If so how was it ? Which company did you travel with ?

 

Many thanks 'Foxland' 🦊

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there are a couple of stickies at the top that would be worth while to look at. 

 

That said - what cruise lines have you taken and where did you go?  Helpful so that we know a frame of reference for advice

 

My experience with two river cruises (Crystal - fantastic) is that you generally dock in walking distance to town and bussing is at a minimum.  Docking time is generally all day to 5 pm or so so it is more than a quick look

 

I also dont know if I would take a two week river cruise, especially in winter as it is difficult to sit on deck and enjoy the view (cold) 

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Hello foxland,

welcome to the wonderful world of river cruising. There is so much detail to find out about the experience on the rivers (and some of it differs a lot from ocean cruising I have been told) that the stickies that tfred has recommended are definitely a good place to start.

 

8 hours ago, foxland said:

I naively imagined the boat pulling into a centrally located pier and walking off into a winter wonderland

That is not naive, especially coming from ocean cruising. The brochures and company videos are very eager to show the best, especially exactly this notion of in the heart of town - the worst understandably is pushed under the carpet. But I do not want to be pessimistic, You can certainly dock in many towns. Budapest, Würzburg, Rüdesheim, Koblenz, Cologne are right on the ship's doorstep. Others may be the same or further away - or indeed far out like Nuremberg.

 

As for the winter wonderland - some of the ports are so low lying that you do not get snow and you may be chasing the snow through the whole 14 days in the worst case scenario. It could be rainy and six degrees Celsius. But the twinkly lights are all there. It is magical in the evenings. You need a bit of luck, but a good place to see the winter wonderland well is often somewhere like on the Salzburg excursion, or hills higher than 200m.

 

I know that being in Australia you favour long holidays in Europe and the 14 day itinerary is a perfect one for that, but I do wonder like tfred if it will be to your liking to be in the cold in Europe for that long on a small ship. You may love it of course.

 

Really look at detailed itineraries and hints at overnight docking in the brochures. Some details can be had from daily itinerary sheets that people have posted in roll calls.

 

I assume you are looking at 2022. For 2021 - well, we cannot be sure what Christmas markets will look like this year.

 

Have you considered a shorter itinerary with pre- and post-cruise days? Those give you more time in cities. For example: Budapest to Vilshofen gives you Munich as a good add-on or Prague. If a Trier to Nuremberg one is available in winter that may be a nice one to consider. Many, many options. I would certainly look into adding some days on land. Another idea: end in Amsterdam and take the train to Brussels. Or fly to London and take the train to Amsterdam.

 

Look at cruise dates starting after 24 November so you get to see the markets that open later in the month and you have less daylight, makes the lights more atmospheric and not all decorations are up before Sunday of the Dead anyway.

 

Have fun planning.

 

I am sure others will answer you soon with their river cruise in winter experiences, mine are only land trips.

 

notamermaid

 

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Thankyou tfred and notamermaid .. your insights and comments are appreciated .. I will read and review the information being provided to see if I can crack the 'river cruising code' and get a better understanding of docking times and locations ..

 

As an ocean cruiser I have seldom encountered cold and wintry conditions .. so this trip has been selected intentionally .. what can I say - I used to be English .. and what better opportunity to buy a new sweater ..

 

'Foxland' 🦊

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On our 3 One-week river cruises on the Rhine, Danube, & Southern France, probably 5 of the 6 ports were right in the middle of town.

Most port stops were mostly all day.

We're booked on the 14 day Viking Grand European cruise, Amsterdam to Budapest, mid to end of Nov, so hopefully we may catch early part of Christmas markets...

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We were on the AMA Sonata for Christmas 2014. (12/17/14 - 1/2/15) It was the Magnificent Europe (Christmas Cruise) that went from Budapest to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, AMA does not offer this itinerary anymore which is a shame because it is so great to be on the ship and unpack once. New Years on the ship in Amsterdam was amazing as we were in the center of all of the fireworks and partying.

 

To your question, it alternated between sweater weather and below freezing temps but not often. It did snow several days, including while on the boat which was fun. The day it snowed most, we were in Werthiem which was magical as we walked right from the ship into town. Some stores were still closed (it was 12/27) but several, including the glass blowing store were open as were many of the cafes and restaurants. I guess it really depends as others have said.

 

We are on back to back AMA Christmas cruises in December. AMA Lea Vilshofen to Budapest (12/10 - 12/20 with Prague Pre-Cruise) and AMA Lucia Basel to Amsterdam (12/21/21) We are taking the train from Budapest to Basel on 12/20 that goes through the Alps so very much looking forward to that as well. 

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Foxland,  do you want to see a number of Christmas markets, or do you want to be on a cruise ship on Christmas day? We did the 2 week Uniworld Grand Christmas cruise which started two days before Christmas and ended in the new year.  The only actual market was in Nuremberg on the 23rd.  We enjoyed the cruise so much we did it again two years later.

RB 

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On 9/23/2021 at 12:45 AM, foxland said:

I naively imagined the boat pulling into a centrally located pier and walking off into a winter wonderland [snow, twinkling lights, mulled wine, beer and bratwurst] to experience the markets. However I have been reading reviews which talk about being tied up miles from anywhere, being bussed to town, and having very limited time to look around - sometimes as little as 60-90 minutes. None of which sounds very appealing.

 

I don't know what lines or itineraries you've been looking at, but that has not been my experience on the 3 cruises I've taken on Uniworld. 

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We have been on 2 one week Christmas Market cruises, one on Viking and one on Avalon.  Both were wonderful.  We were supposed to do the Rhine in December, but it was cancelled, so we rescheduled to next year.  One year it was terribly cold and one year it was very mild.  Notamermaid has given you great advice.  My advice would also be to do a one week cruise and add extra days on each end.  That will also give you much more time to visit the markets as you will be on your own schedule.  Some of the markets are very close to the ship (Budapest, Passau, Cologne), while others are not.  On the ones close to the ship, you can walk yourself to the market in lieu of the ship planned activity as long as you know when to be back.   Salzburg was snowy and beautiful, but that was about the only snow we saw.  The days are short as it gets dark around 4:00.  The markets are really wonderful and the people are very friendly.  Happy to answer any questions you may have.

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On 9/24/2021 at 11:43 AM, NavyCruiser said:

On our 3 One-week river cruises on the Rhine, Danube, & Southern France, probably 5 of the 6 ports were right in the middle of town.

Most port stops were mostly all day.

We're booked on the 14 day Viking Grand European cruise, Amsterdam to Budapest, mid to end of Nov, so hopefully we may catch early part of Christmas markets...

 

Thankyou NavyCruiser .. I may take a look at that trip myself .. altho not this year .. 

 

Foxland 🦊

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12 hours ago, KLRDUKS said:

We were on the AMA Sonata for Christmas 2014. (12/17/14 - 1/2/15) It was the Magnificent Europe (Christmas Cruise) that went from Budapest to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, AMA does not offer this itinerary anymore which is a shame because it is so great to be on the ship and unpack once. New Years on the ship in Amsterdam was amazing as we were in the center of all of the fireworks and partying.

 

To your question, it alternated between sweater weather and below freezing temps but not often. It did snow several days, including while on the boat which was fun. The day it snowed most, we were in Werthiem which was magical as we walked right from the ship into town. Some stores were still closed (it was 12/27) but several, including the glass blowing store were open as were many of the cafes and restaurants. I guess it really depends as others have said.

 

We are on back to back AMA Christmas cruises in December. AMA Lea Vilshofen to Budapest (12/10 - 12/20 with Prague Pre-Cruise) and AMA Lucia Basel to Amsterdam (12/21/21) We are taking the train from Budapest to Basel on 12/20 that goes through the Alps so very much looking forward to that as well. 

 

Thankyou KLRDUKS that sounds like a wonderful trip ..

 

Foxland 🦊

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6 hours ago, Ritabob said:

Foxland,  do you want to see a number of Christmas markets, or do you want to be on a cruise ship on Christmas day? We did the 2 week Uniworld Grand Christmas cruise which started two days before Christmas and ended in the new year.  The only actual market was in Nuremberg on the 23rd.  We enjoyed the cruise so much we did it again two years later.

RB 

 

Hye Ritabob .. I plan to be back in Australia for Christmas itself .. Sun, sand and snow white boomers 🦘..

 

Foxland 🦊

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1 hour ago, QueenofEverything said:

We have been on 2 one week Christmas Market cruises, one on Viking and one on Avalon.  Both were wonderful.  We were supposed to do the Rhine in December, but it was cancelled, so we rescheduled to next year.  One year it was terribly cold and one year it was very mild.  Notamermaid has given you great advice.  My advice would also be to do a one week cruise and add extra days on each end.  That will also give you much more time to visit the markets as you will be on your own schedule.  Some of the markets are very close to the ship (Budapest, Passau, Cologne), while others are not.  On the ones close to the ship, you can walk yourself to the market in lieu of the ship planned activity as long as you know when to be back.   Salzburg was snowy and beautiful, but that was about the only snow we saw.  The days are short as it gets dark around 4:00.  The markets are really wonderful and the people are very friendly.  Happy to answer any questions you may have.

 

Thankyou QueenofEverything .. I appreciate your comments and with comments made by others I may well be reconsidering my approach to selecting the right voyage ..

 

Foxland 🦊

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