2021 Danube Christmas Markets Cruise (Revised)
The most popular of all the tours we offer, everywhere in the world, is our European Christmas Markets Cruise.
The cruise takes you to a mix of major cities and lovely smaller towns and villages, with the Danube river as a peaceful and beautiful pathway for our travels to proceed along.
The comfort and luxury of our “traveling hotel” – the boutique-style river cruise ship – means we avoid the pesky process of constant packing and unpacking, and can relax and get comfortable while onboard the ship.
Every day sees us visiting lovely towns and villages in Austria and Germany, all full with history, amazing architecture and, wonderfully at this time of year – beautiful Christmas markets.
If you’d like to see and do more, come early, and either spend more time in Austria or perhaps in wonderful Prague (or do anything else you wish). And if you’re in no hurry to go home, stay on afterwards and continue exploring in Germany and elsewhere.
This page tells you what you need to know about the tour in general. We also have a detailed day by day itinerary so you can understand everything that you’ll get to see and do during your lovely Danube Christmas Markets Cruise.
Start Date & Options
The cruise starts on Saturday 11 December in Vienna.
You can board the ship any time from lunchtime, and our cabins will be available from 3pm.
Firstly, we always recommend you should arrive at least a day early when joining tours internationally. This gives you a day to unwind after the flights, and also gives you an “emergency” day in case of problems with flights en-route. So, if nothing else, we urge you to arrive in Vienna a day or two before the cruise.
We suggest you arrive two or three days early if possible. We’ll coordinate an optional visit to Salzburg on Friday 10th, so arrive on Thursday or, better still, Wednesday.
Another option is to visit ever-popular Prague, one of our favorite European cities, then take a train to Vienna on Saturday.
End Date & Options
The cruise finishes on Saturday 18 December, in Nuremberg.
We arrive into Nuremberg on Friday, so you can leave at any time on Saturday morning if you’ve an early flight to catch.
If you have extra time, then you’ve an abundance of choices. Maybe go down to Munich, or up to Berlin, or anywhere else you wish. Dresden is another choice to consider – as are so many other places too!
We can help you with anything you might be interested in.
If there’s somewhere else you’d like to go, either instead or as well, please ask. I’m pleased to help you plan whatever else you might want to do.
We can also arrange the Amawaterways post-cruise three night extension on to Prague if you wish.
All About River Cruising
Maybe you’ve cruised on a gigantic cruise ship before. River cruising is very different. Our lovely river cruiser, Amacerto, has only 81 cabins, making for a more personal and less institutional experience.
The crew quickly get to know you by name and remember your preferences, and because you’re on board for a week, you also get to know fellow cruisers, making the experience more social and pleasurable in every respect.
Similar to a regular cruise, all your meals are included, with three great meals a day and various other snacks too.
Meals are multi-course and dinners are commonly 5 or more courses, with choices of food for most of the courses. If you’ve special dietary requirements, they can usually be catered to without any problems.
And if you like the wonderful food, you can always ask for seconds!
There’s also a premium restaurant on board, but – unlike a regular cruise – you’re welcome to dine there at no extra cost.
A nice bonus is free and unlimited wine, beer or soda included with your lunches and dinners.
If you like to have a “pick me up” in the morning, there’s sparkling white wine, also free, offered with breakfast.
There are gourmet espresso coffee drinks available all day that put Starbucks to shame. It too is free. Plus assorted other drinks, special health-giving waters, and an assortment of teas.
If you’d enjoy some other type of alcoholic beverage, a well-stocked bar has just about everything you could wish, at reasonable prices.
And if you’d like to celebrate with a bottle of something privately, you’ll love the prices for wine in the stores in the towns you’ll visit. Unlike many larger cruise ships, there are no restrictions on bringing drinks back on board with you.
Some people want to simply relax and do as little as possible. If so, you’ll love the cruise, because everything is optional. Some people will even never go off the ship for the entire week.
There’s a small library and collection of games on board for your enjoyment.
Other people want to be entertained – either to passively enjoy other performers, or to actively participate. Some wish to be educated. There are assorted presentations, lectures, and even practical classes during the cruise to give you a better understanding of where we’re going and what we’re seeing.
Most evenings feature performers and groups brought onto the ship from the various places we visit, giving regional and international entertainment.
The evenings also see a chance to get up on the dance floor for a while, with the ship’s musician playing a range of favorites that you’re sure to remember and love.
Talking about entertainment, Amacerto has Wi-Fi throughout so you can keep connected with back home and can send lots of photos of your wonderful experiences back to your friends every day! Try not to boast too much about the wonderful time you’re enjoying….
In early days, rivers were the heart of regional economies, and towns grew up on the banks of the rivers. So, today, usually where we stop is right in the historic heart of the towns we’re visiting. Simply walk off the ship and you’re in the middle of the lovely town.
In addition to exploring on your own, every day sees at least one, and sometimes two or more off-ship touring opportunities, with all but three of them being free and available for you to select and participate in as you wish.
Tours are designed to fit around the ship’s meal times, but of course, you can eat ashore if you wish – just make sure you’re back on board before the ship sails! (Although if you miss the ship, that’s not necessarily a big deal – just take a taxi a few miles along the river to meet the ship at the next lock or other suitable point).
The three extra cost tours are an evening concert in Vienna, a visit to Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, and the all-day tour to Salzburg (do the Salzburg tour while in Vienna before the cruise, then you can do one of the other two tours that day on the ship and save money).
More InformationThere’s so much to love about a river cruise – an easy concept that perhaps doesn’t need a lot of explanation, but we’d like you to understand everything you’ll enjoy. For example, you never have rough seas, and you’re always treated to beautiful views of the passing scenery directly outside your (typically) floor-to-ceiling windows, never empty ocean. The river cruise ships are small, so you never have seemingly endless miles of corridors to walk and stairs to climb to get anywhere. If there’s something we’ve not answered on that page or this page, or if you’ve any other question and need more clarification, please go ahead and ask. Feel free to send us an email.
Look at Everything that's Included
Food and Drink inclusions
- Three cooked meals every day, served plated at your table (ie no long lines at buffets with slowly stewing hot items and wilting cold items)
- Morning, afternoon, and evening snacks
- Special gourmet “Chef’s Table” restaurant also available for dinner at no extra cost
- Captain’s welcome ceremony with canapes and drinks the first night
- Farewell ceremony with canapes and drinks the last night
- A return-cruiser function one afternoon, also with drinks and nibbles
- Unlimited free wine, beer, and/or soft drinks with every lunch and dinner
- Sparking wine with breakfast
- Gourmet coffee and tea available 24/7
- Special “health waters” featured daily
Travel Insider Extras
- An exclusive Travel Insider function prior to dinner one night with drinks and nibbles
- An alumni/supporters function prior to dinner one night with drinks and nibbles
- Assistance with pre-cruise touring in Vienna, Prague, or elsewhere
- Assistance with post-cruise touring too if you wish
- (if sufficient demand) An exclusive Travel Insider excursion to a Viennese concert
- A pair of handwarmers for each person
- A small Travel Insider gift
- Special Travel Insider $25 per person shipboard credit
- Personal assistance from David Rowell during the tour and cruise to help with any extra needs or requirements you have
Other Inclusions and Features
- Daily off-ship excursions every day at no extra cost
- Free bike rentals from the ship if you want to explore on your own
- Gym and wellness program on board
- Evening entertainment most nights
- We also stay in some ports until late evening giving you a chance to enjoy your choice of shore-side entertainments
- Some special Christmas season events and even gifts
Responding to Covid-19
At present – early October (we will update this section any time there are significant changes) it seems that new virus case numbers are declining everywhere in Europe and North America. Plus, most of us have had a chance to be vaccinated if we wish, and probably everyone else will have a similar chance between now and the cruise. Amawaterways require all guests be vaccinated, for all the obvious reasons.
Amawaterways has a fastidious approach to hygiene, and is the only US based river cruise operator to have successfully operated a four month season of cruises during the worst of the pandemic in 2020.
The cruises all fully comply with “best practices” and exceed host country guidelines. All cabins have their own independent air conditioning units.
It is hard to know exactly what to expect in December. Currently, masking is only required while moving around on board the ship, and might be eliminated entirely by December. Enhanced cleaning, plenty of hand sanitizing stations, a change from buffet to individually served plated meals, reducing the number of people per cruise, and social distancing in smaller sides groups for shore excursions, plus assorted other measures, all combine to give you a high level of safety at minimum impact to your wonderful cruise experience.
Amawaterways also offer you the ability to change your sailing date, at no cost, any time up until 48 hours prior to the start of your journey. Their Travel Waiver Plus travel insurance gives you further flexibility and options.
Please ask if you have additional questions or concerns.
Cabin Types and Tour Cost
Amacerto has 81 cabins on three decks. Their cabins are among the largest of any Danube cruise ship.
Cabins are typically either 210 sq ft or 235 sq ft in size, and with outside balconies as well as floor to ceiling windows. There are some smaller 170 sq ft cabins that appeal to the budget-conscious travelers, and some smaller cabins on the lowest deck that have large portholes rather than floor to ceiling windows. Suites are an enormous 300 sq ft in size.
Of course, the better/bigger/higher up your cabin is, the more it costs. We’ve written a detailed article on choosing a cabin on a river cruise ship, here. Most people generally choose an AA/AB or BA/BB cabin, and others will choose a C/D/E cabin. There’s no wrong answer, and you’ll love your cruise, whichever you choose.
The cabin choices and prices for the cruise is shown immediately below.
Note these rates include a $1000 per cabin ($500 per person) discount.
|Cabin Type||Net Cruise Price per person||Single Supplement|
|Suite (currently sold out)|
300 sq ft
($6998 before discount)
|AA+ (only 1 remaining)|
290 sq ft
($6198 before discount)
|AA (only 4 remaining)|
235 sq ft
($5598 before discount)
235 sq ft
($5398 before discount)
|BA (only 2 remaining)|
210 sq ft
($5198 before discount)
210 sq ft
($4998 before discount)
|C (only 1 remaining!)|
170 sq ft – no outside balcony
mid and top decks
($4398 before discount)
160 sq ft – fixed windows
($3698 before discount)
|E (possibly all sold)|
160 sq ft – fixed windows
($3399 before discount)
Rates are per person, share twin. Single supplements (at a special discount – normally 50%) are shown if you are traveling alone.
We will help to match together singles if you’d like to share with a compatible fellow single traveler but can not guarantee this.
In addition to the cruise (and pre/post tour options) rates, there is a $196 per person port charge.
Passengers are invited to offer a voluntary gratuity to the ship’s crew and to the ship’s Tour Manager at the end of the cruise.
Other Price Comments
The cruise can be paid for with credit card and no surcharge. The pre/post cruise options reflect a 3% discount for cash/check.
Due to the closeness to sailing, full payment will be required within seven days of confirming your cabin request.
Tour does not include the costs of travel to and from the tour start and end points, or anything not specified as included.
Amawaterways Return Cruisers
If you’ve been on a previous Amawaterways cruise, you are probably entitled to return cruiser loyalty benefits. These range from $100 per person discounts up to cabin upgrades. We’ll explain these to you if you qualify.
Special Travel Insider Savings
Why not bring a friend or two with you, for more shared fun and fellowship.
To encourage you to do this, and your friends to travel with you, we’ll offer a 1% discount for each extra person you bring with you (other than anyone you are already sharing your room with).
Bring another couple, and they get a 2% discount – and you get the same 2% discount too! Bring two couples and all of you get a 4% discount, and so on (up to a maximum of 10%).
Singles Save Too!
Travel Insider tours always have a large number of singles – our groups are friendly, inclusive, and welcoming, making them ideal for singles as well as couples and larger groups.
We do our best to make our tours not only as friendly as possible, but also affordable and fair for singles, too.
Amawaterways are offering reduced single supplements for singles on this cruise. This has been shown in the table above.
The Christmas Markets
One of the absolute highlights of a Christmas Markets tour is of course the Christmas Markets we visit.
From late November through to Christmas, just about every village and town has a Christmas Market. Larger cities might have two or three or even many more spread around the city. Smaller villages have their markets open only weekends, larger places are open every day.
The markets are a wonderful and colorful kaleidoscope of gifts, arts and crafts, ornaments, clothing, and assorted other items.
In addition, there’s food galore. Local food specialties to take away, food to eat on site, and refreshments too, including the famous hot spiced mulled wine, “gluhwein”.
While the markets are very popular with visitors, they are also enjoyed by the locals too. It is a place to visit, to socialize, to eat and drink, and to “hang out” after work and on weekends for the locals, adding to their authenticity.
I made a “photo journal” of the 2007 Danube Christmas Markets cruise. Sure, that’s 14 years ago, but Europe being Europe, very little has changed, and you might find it interesting. (Apologies for the poor page formatting, while nothing much has happened in Europe in the last 14 years, a lot has happened on the internet!)
Register Your Interest Now
More Helpful Information
Usually you will save money and gain flexible convenience if you arrange your own air travel.
You can choose whichever carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and you can also choose the airline you wish to earn miles with. You can even cash in miles and fly on frequent flier awards and/or upgrade to premium cabins.
Amawaterways can arrange air if you prefer. If you buy the Amawaterways airfare, they include transfers from the airport to the cruise ship when you arrive into Vienna and leave from Nuremberg. These transfers are convenient, but require you to arrive and depart on the exact days the cruise starts and finishes.
We suggest you check to see if you can use any frequent flier miles you might have for this travel, and/or check to see what the best fare you can get on your favorite airline is, then compare it to the Amawaterways rate and make your decision then.
You are of course free to make your own arrangements, any way you wish, to travel to Prague or Vienna and then home again from wherever, and you can make extra stops, arrive earlier or stay longer.
Most people end up arranging their own air rather than booking through Amawaterways.
We’ll be pleased to answer any questions you might have about arranging your air transportation, of course. We’re here to help, every which way.
Getting to and from the Cruise
To join the cruise in Vienna, you’ll probably simply fly into Vienna itself. But you could fly to a number of other cities if you preferred, and then continue on to Vienna by train. Europe has wonderful, comfortable, and very fast train services.
If you’re enjoying a pre-tour experience in Prague, a similar concept of course applies. Both cities have major international airports and good train connections.
If you are returning home from Nuremberg, you’ll probably be able to get a flight from there. Otherwise, it is only a short train ride to Munich and a much larger airport with more options, or a slightly longer train journey direct to the airport in Frankfurt and even more choices.
Why would anyone want to go to Europe in winter?
Ha – tricked you. Early December is not yet winter – it is still late fall!
But, in any event, there are two good reasons to enjoy this cruise at this off-season time of year.
The first reason is simply because it is the off-season. The crowds of people aren’t as crushingly overpowering as they are in the busy season. For example, at the glorious abbey in Melk, during the summer there are tours departing every two minutes! When we visit, we’ll probably be the only group visiting and so our guides can slow down and show us more things and not rush to squeeze us in between the group immediately before and after. And instead of 20 cruise ships mooring in (and overwhelming) the small town, we may be the only one, or perhaps there might be one other.
The second reason is to experience the Christmas markets. Because of the strong Christian tradition in the towns we visit, Christmas is viewed more seriously to start with, and the Christmas markets are a delightful celebration of our shared Judeo-Christian and European heritage.
Yes, the weather is cold, but nothing that several layers of warm clothes can’t combat, and our dozen or more previous Christmas Market cruises have generally been blessed with good weather (ie usually no rain, very little snow and not uncomfortably cold).
I heartily recommend this cruise, and at this time of year. I’ve loved it the dozen times I’ve done it, and the 300 Travel Insider readers who’ve accompanied me have been similarly charmed by it.
In terms of specific weather, in Vienna in mid December most nights drop down to 31°, and daytime highs average around 39°. There’s a tiny chance of snow. In Nuremberg, at the other end of the cruise, it will be about a degree colder, and again, very little chance of snow.
Yes, not tropical weather. But not “winter in the midwest” type cold, either!
Pretty much every tour we operate sees someone potentially benefiting from travel insurance – either to offset cancellation costs prior to travel, or to assuage costs/losses while traveling. For that reason, we recommend you should at least consider travel insurance as prudent protection.
Rather than attempt to sell you some policy ourselves that may or may not suit your needs, we recommend you go to this insurance shopping site, which offers comparisons between something like 100 different policies offered by 18 different insurers, giving you all the options you need.
You might also be interested in Amawaterway’s insurance. In simple terms, it is 13% of the cruise cost, and there are options to add “cancel for any reason” type coverage too.
For more information about travel insurance than you probably ever thought you’d want to know, please click the link to read our three part series on the subject.
Please click here to visit our detailed day by day itinerary page.
If there’s something we’ve not answered on either that page or this page, or if you’ve any other question and need more clarification, please go ahead and ask. We’ve been on way more than a dozen different Amawaterways cruises, so there’s a good chance we know the answer and the best approach to all issues.
Feel free to send us an email.
As soon as your application is received, we will quickly respond to confirm your request.
Tour Terms and Conditions
Our standard terms and conditions apply to this tour.
In addition, please note these extra terms :
1. Due to the cruise being within two months, full payment is due within seven days of confirming your booking.
2. US, Canadian, and many other citizens require a current passport that will not expire until after the date of their planned return from the EU in order to be admitted to the Schengen zone and EU countries. A visa is not required. Citizens of other countries should check with the airline that will transport them to the UK to determine what passport and visa requirements may apply. Note that the EU requires a passport to be valid for at least three months after your planned departure from the EU.
3. The cruise price is unlikely to change unless there is a major change in exchange rates and won’t change once payment has been made. We will advise you if the exchange rate is materially changing and you can always lock in the price by sending in early full payment. Currently each Euro (€) is valued at about US$1.16.
4. Terms and conditions of Amawaterways also apply. In particular, please note that the itinerary can occasionally (very rarely) change if water levels are too high or too low to allow the boat to travel.