Sneak Preview : 2014 Christmas Markets Cruise

One of Germany's exquisitely beautiful Christmas markets.
One of Germany’s exquisitely beautiful Christmas markets.

Yes, we’ve not yet even started the 2013 Christmas Market Cruise, and we already have dates for 2014 (and one couple has even joined the tour, too).

The 2014 cruise promises to be different to our standard cruise, thereby offering some new experiences for repeat cruisers, while retaining the core essential experiences for first-time participants.

The cruise itself remains the cruise we know and love so much, although in 2014 we’ll go down the river from Nuremberg to Budapest rather than up the river from Budapest to Nuremberg, as we are about to do this year.

The special extra features added to the 2014 experience will be before the cruise.  These are in the form of two optional extensions, giving you a chance to see more of Germany and optionally, some of Switzerland, too.

We also have our always popular Prague option, which in 2014 will be after the cruise rather than before.

Christmas onboard the ship.
Christmas onboard the ship.

The cruise itself commences on Wednesday 10 December in Nuremberg, and we’ll disembark on Wednesday 17 December in Budapest.  In 2014 we’ll be on the brand new luxury ship, Amasonata (it doesn’t even launch until early 2014).

Bottom line :  Clear your calendar, ideally for the whole period from 3 December through 20 December, and at the barest minimum, for the cruise from 9 December (the date you’d fly from the US) through to 17 December (the date you’d get back home again).

Here’s what happens before and after the cruise.  In large part, this is essentially the itinerary we did way back in 2007, although the Switzerland part is a further refinement this year.  You can see a lovely photo journal of our 2007 cruise, together with the Munich and Prague adds-on, here.

We will have pricing and the ability for you to sign up for the cruise/tour online next week.

We visit the beautiful Wieskirche church when we travel from Munich to Nuremberg.
We visit the beautiful Wieskirche church when we travel from Munich to Nuremberg.

First Pre-Cruise Option – Munich

Saturday 6 December (or sooner) – Fly from the US (or wherever else) to Munich.

Sunday 7 December – Arrive into Munich.  Refresh at the hotel.  Perhaps wander in to the Christmas markets later in the afternoon.

Monday 8 December – We offer a half day city sights tour around Munich in the morning, and you have the afternoon free to enjoy as you wish.

Tuesday 9 December – We have several touring options today, including a sobering visit to Dachau and a tour of Nazi remnants around Munich, and of course a ‘behind the scenes’ beer tour.

Talking about beer, this evening we’ll enjoy a group welcome dinner at the famous Hofbrauhaus.

Wednesday 10 December – We take a roundabout way to join the ship in Nuremberg, traveling first south down to the stunningly exquisite rococo beauty of Wieskirche, now a World Heritage site.  Then down to the more heavy-handed splendor of one of ‘Mad King’ Ludwig’s castles, the one beloved of calendars and kitchen towels, Neuschwanstein.

After lunch at the castle, we then travel up to board the ship in time to prepare for the Captain’s Welcome Reception and the lovely cruise ahead.

Zurich has Europe's largest indoor Christmas market.
Zurich has Europe’s largest indoor Christmas market.

Second Pre-Cruise Option – Zurich (before Munich)

Wednesday 3 December (or sooner) – Fly from the US (or wherever else) to Zurich.

Thursday 4 December – Arrive Zurich.  Maybe after checking into the hotel, you might enjoy a visit to Zurich Christmas Markets.

Friday 5 December – We have a half day city sights tour around Zurich this morning, and you have the afternoon free to explore and enjoy as you wish.

Saturday 6 December – A lot of options available to you today, including a chance to visit Liechtenstein, or a chance to go to ‘The Top of Europe’ – Jungfraujoch at 11,333 ft.

Sunday 7 December – We’ll travel by comfortable fast train from Zurich to Munich this morning, and join up with those people arriving into Munich for the Munich pre-tour option.

Part of Prague's Old Town Square, just a few minutes from our hotel.  The scale of this can be appreciated when you see how tiny the performers are on stage (bottom of picture).
Part of Prague’s Old Town Square, just a few minutes from our hotel. The scale of this can be appreciated when you see how tiny the performers are on stage (bottom of picture).

Post-Cruise Option – Prague Plus

We call this ‘Prague Plus’ because it is a lot more than ‘just’ Prague, and also because Prague is everyone’s favorite on every Christmas Market tour (this year, 59 of the 62 of us are including Prague on our itinerary).

Wednesday 17 December – After leaving the ship, we’ll travel by coach to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, for a quick city tour and time for lunch.  Then we’ll take a lovely fast train from Bratislava the rest of the way on to Prague, transferring from the train station to our wonderful friendly private small hotel in the heart of ‘Old’ Prague.

Thursday 18 December – A half day city sights tour this morning, then the balance of the day free to explore and enjoy Prague.

Friday 19 December – Your choice of a day tour either to the medieval town of Ceske Krumlov or the spa resort of Karlovy Vary today, each with an additional stop on the way to add to the day’s experiences.

This evening we’ll enjoy a group farewell dinner in a lovely underground cellar restaurant, complete with lashings of beer and lots of gypsy music.  It will be an evening to remember at the end of an experience to remember.

Saturday 20 December – Most of us will choose to return home today.

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