River Christmas Markets Cruise
A magical European Christmas cruise experience
Travel Insider Discount - Save 5% off published rate
Join a small group of 'Travel Insiders' and share the
enjoyment of a very different style of vacation on a custom
built river boat.
Glide by picture postcard scenes during the magic of the
pre-Christmas season in Switzerland, France, Germany and the
optionally Belgium too.
Maybe you've cruised on a
gigantic cruise ship before. Our Christmas Markets river
cruise is very different.
The nearly new deluxe river cruiser,
Amalegro, has only 73 cabins,
making for a much more personal and less institutional
The river cruise itinerary is
also very different to a traditional ocean cruise. You
never have rough seas, and you're always treated to beautiful
views out your cabin window, never just empty ocean.
Note : We can offer you
an across the board 5% discount on all cruises operated by
Amawaterways. So if this special
escorted tour doesn't suit,
have us arrange whichever other cruise you'd prefer.
skip down to the booking form
Start Date and Options
You should leave the US
on or before Thursday 2 December 2010, so as to arrive into
Basel on or
before Friday 3 December. You board the ship on Friday
afternoon, 3 December, 2010.
Many people choose to arrive a day before the
start of the cruise. This means if you - or your luggage -
should miss a connecting flight, or if anything else goes wrong,
you still have a day up your sleeve before the start of the
It also gives you a day to
'de-jetlag' before the cruise gets underway.
We are offering a very
flexible pre-cruise extension in Switzerland for one, two, three
or four nights, and you can of course fly from the US even
earlier and add more time in Europe as you wish prior to the
cruise any way you want. One thought is to fly to Paris,
spend time in Paris, then take an easy fast comfortable train to
Geneva and join our pre-cruise option there. More details in the
End Date and Options
The cruise ends in Amsterdam on the morning of
Friday, 10 December.
The ship arrived into
Amsterdam the previous afternoon, so you can leave as early as
you like to make a flight home on Friday. In most cases, if you fly home that
day, you will arrive back in the US the same day.
We are offering another
flexible post-cruise extension to Belgium, and of course you are
free to add to this further or do anything else you may wish to
do. More details immediately below.
Pre and Post Cruise Optional
You are welcome to fly into
Europe any time you wish, of course, and to return home at any
time, too, and similarly you don't need to limit yourself to
simply flying in to Basel and out of Amsterdam.
We offer a Travel Insider
exclusive extension to enhance your overall tour experience.
Pre-Cruise Options - Zurich,
Geneva, and more
We strongly recommend you
should arrive in Europe at least one day before the cruise
starts, for two reasons. Firstly, this gives you an
'emergency day' in case you - or your bags - miss flights or
have any other types of problems en route.
Secondly, it gives you a day
to adjust to the new time zone and to relax after your flight(s).
We are offering you the
chance to spend one or two preliminary nights in Zurich, and if
your schedule allows, a third and optionally fourth preliminary
night in Geneva. In addition to touring in these two
cities, we also have touring in Lausanne and Bern on the day we
travel between Geneva and Zurich, and Lucerne and
Basel on the day we travel from Zurich to Basel (no Basel touring is included on our cruise).
Day by day details of this
pre-cruise option can be seen
Post-Cruise Options - Touring
Here's a great way to see a
lot more of The Netherlands and Belgium.
On Friday 10 December we'll
travel by coach on a lovely day of sightseeing. We'll stop
for morning tea in The Hague (seat of government for The
Netherlands and home of the International Court of Justice),
lunch in Rotterdam (The Netherlands' second largest city and
Europe's largest port), and afternoon tea in Antwerp (famed for
its diamond trade) before arriving into Brussels late that
For those of us spending a
second night in Brussels (Sat 11 Dec), we include a city tour in
the morning, leaving you the afternoon free to enjoy the area as
Day by day details of this
post-cruise option can be seen
This cruise is offered to
you with a special discount of 5%, making the price less than the regular rate published on the
official Amawaterways site.
In addition, you may quality
for an extra $50 saving if you are an AARP member, and another
$100 if you've traveled on a previous Amawaterways/Amadeus
Waterways cruise. You could end up saving another $150 per person
- $300 for the two of you! The cruise savings will go a
long way to paying your airfare.
Plus, there's still more.
You'll get extra values from The Travel Insider - great values
on the pre and post cruise options (compare our four night
pre-cruise option that goes to Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Zurich
and Lucerne and includes more touring, priced at $975, with that offered by Amawaterways,
which goes only to Zurich and Lucerne at a $920 cost), two private cocktail reception parties on
board (all drinks included), as well as The Travel Insider himself (David Rowell)
traveling with you all the way as your personal escort.
And there's also the Travel
Insider exclusive optional extension on to Brussels via The
Hague, Rotterdam and Antwerp at the end of the cruise.
About the Cruise/Tour
Like a traditional cruise,
this is a fully meal inclusive cruise, and - better than a
traditional cruise - it includes a generous amount of shore
touring as well. You won't have to pay extra for your
shore touring when visiting the lovely towns and cities as you
cruise through Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
The cruise of course
includes three great meals a day, plus various other snacks,
on-board entertainment, as well as generous opportunities to
sightsee, both from the boat as it cruises the river, and while
ashore during the many stops. You typically have time to
both participate in a provided tour and also to sightsee and
shop on your own.
Indeed, the shopping is part
of the experience on this tour, as you visit various local craft
Christmas markets in the different towns and cities.
You'll be able to buy distinctive gifts for all your friends and
family this year!
A nice extra feature is free
wine, beer or soda with every dinner. And if you wish to
drink more wine, you'll be delighted at the bargain prices that
wine sells for ashore.
While all meals are available on the vessel, you'll also be able
to experience other dining opportunities ashore if you wish.
Similarly, the on-board entertainment can be supplemented with
visits to clubs and bars and shows ashore - the vessel
will sometimes stay in port until late at night, allowing you a chance to
experience each town by day and by night.
Because the ship carries a maximum of
passengers, everything is more personal. The crew will
remember you by name, and you have a chance to meet other people on board and
to create new friendships. Most people on these cruises
seem to be variously middle aged and older.
information about river cruising in Europe can be found here.
A day by day, town by town
journal of a Danube river Christmas Cruise can be found here.
We're of course going to different places on this Rhine river
cruise, but the overall experience and markets will be similar.
Why River Cruising
River cruising is simply and
absolutely the most comfortable and convenient way to travel
around Europe. You can unpack your bags and get
comfortable in your lovely cabin and not need to repack or
transfer until the end of the cruise - this in itself is
probably all the convincing you'll need!
In addition, European towns
have historically tended to be centered around the major rivers,
and so river cruising is a great way to get to the lovely
historic parts of Europe, at a sedate speed, and in luxurious
How else could you travel
around Europe? On a bus tour? Yuck! By train
or car - yes, but then you have an abundance of travel hassles
I've experienced every
possible type of travel, and I'm a 100% convert. River
cruising is the best way to see Europe. Try it,
and you'll be sure to agree.
Why Cruise 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.
sometimes as many as 20 cruise ships mooring in (and
small towns we visit, we may be the only one, or perhaps there might be
one other too.
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
Yes, the weather is cold, but nothing which several layers of warm
clothes can't combat, and our five previous Christmas Market
cruises have 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 five times I've done it, and the almost 200
Travel Insider readers who've accompanied me have been similarly
charmed by it.
Try it for yourself - you'll be delighted you did.
About the Amalegro
Our cruise ship for this
nearly new (it
was launched in 2007), having been custom designed to meet the special
needs of the Danube, enabling it to operate in less favorable
conditions than many of the other boats (ie when the water
levels are 'too high' or 'too low').
The boat is long but narrow.
It is 360' long and 37.4' wide, and cruises at 15.6 mph.
This might seem like a slow speed, but it is faster than most of
the other cruise boats, enabling the boat to get between towns
faster and giving you more time sightseeing.
Dining is single-seating and
with no pre-assigned tables, so you can move about as you wish
from meal to meal. Amawaterways even provides a generous amount
wine, beer and soft drinks with your evening meal each night.
Smoking is restricted to the
outside Sun Deck only.
Our cruise has been marketed
primarily to English speaking people and the language
on board is exclusively English. This means you won't have the
inconvenience of having to listen to every announcement being
repeated in four or five different languages, and you can
conveniently talk to your fellow guests (and likely soon to be
new friends) on board.
Cabins on the Amalegro are
some of the largest of
any Danube river cruise boat - a massive 170 sq ft each. The 154 sq ft
cabins on the earlier Viking cruise seemed spacious, but the 170
sq ft cabins on Amalegro are even more marvelously roomy and
The cruise is offered in
five cabin grades plus there are four suites as well.
There are 70 cabins and
four suites on
three decks, and all are well equipped with a/c, bathroom and
shower, phone, flat screen television, internet access,
hairdryer and safe. The television has both local and
satellite channels, a bridge-cam channel, and an evening
All five grades of cabin are
very similar in terms of size and amenities. The main
difference is the deck the cabins are situated on.
picture clearly shows the three accommodation decks on
Amalegro. The top deck and the middle deck have floor
to ceiling sliding doors and 'French balconies' (a very small
space outside the sliding door), but the lower deck just has
The most important
difference though is not the style of window, but rather the
height above the waterline. There is a big difference in
perspective and view between the top deck (suites and A category
cabins) and the middle deck (B and C category cabins), while on
the lowest deck (D and E category cabins) the floor is actually
below the waterline and your windows and eye level is only a
foot or so above the waterline. On this deck, with even
the slightest amount of bank on the sides of the river, you'll
not see anything other than the water and bank from the bottom
deck, and there may be a bit more water and machinery noise on
that level too.
When moored, if your cabin
is on the dockside rather than the outboard side, the lowest
deck cabins will have a view blocked by the dock, the middle
deck cabins may have a limited view, and the top deck cabins
will usually have a view above the dock level.
These differences are much
more profound than in a massive cruise ship where even the
lowest deck is still a long way above the waterline. Of
course, if you do choose a D or E category cabin, you can spend
the days in the public areas and enjoy the views from there, but
if you can justify the extra cost to go up a deck or two, the
chances are you'll be very pleased you did.
Special Exception - Rear
cabins on top deck
Some passengers have found
the rear-most cabins on the top deck to be noisier than cabins
further forward on that deck (extra engine noise). I've
stayed in those cabins myself and haven't been troubled by the
engine noise, although it is appreciably louder than further
As a result, Amawaterways
have downgraded the category of eight of the cabins, making four
of them B and four of them C category cabins.
If you don't think you'd be
troubled by the engine noise while the vessel is cruising at
night, these would be tremendously good value cabins to choose -
giving you the upper most deck and all its advantages, but at a
lower cost than the otherwise identical A cabins a bit further
Suites are 255 sq ft, cabins
are 170 sq ft.
Tip : Choose the
least expensive cabin type on the deck you'd rather be on.
There is no added value in choosing a D cabin in favor of an E
cabin, or a B cabin in favor of a C cabin.
Per person pricing for the
cruise and the pre/post cruise options is shown in the table below and includes a
special Travel Insider 5% per
person discount off the regular Amawaterways fares.
Prices on the optional pre
and post cruise extensions are currently slightly estimated and
may vary depending on exact costs and the number traveling.
Note - save up to $150
If you are an AARP member,
you can take an extra $50 off these prices.
If you have sailed with
Amawaterways (formerly Amadeus Waterways) before, you can
take another $100 off these prices.
Cruise (after a 5% special Travel
Insider discount, before past pax and AARP discounts if
Zurich option for 1/2 nights
Zurich 2 nts and Geneva for 1/2
Brussels option for 1/2 nights
You save $105
You save $113
You save $130
You save $140
You save $145
You save $190
Extras and Inclusions
Port Taxes are $133 per
Single rate is 150% of the
above per person share twin rates for cabins or 200% for a
junior suite. A guaranteed single share program is
also available for category B cabins (see below).
Single rate for the pre and
post tour options varies depending on the number of days
Please ask for the applicable rate.
Air can be arranged for you
by us through Amawaterways or you can make your own arrangements
as you wish.
Air fares can be quoted from most cities in the US.
Rates have been reduced 5%
from the regular Amawaterways rates as a special Travel
Rates also include two Travel
Insider cocktail parties on board Amalegro
Rates can be discounted by an
extra $50 if you are an AARP member, and/or $100 if you are a
past Amawaterways customer (ie you can get as much as $150
extra discount if both apply)
You can pay for your cruise using a
credit card with no credit card surcharge.
A $400 per person
non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your participation
and to hold your preferred grade of cabin on
this cruise, and the balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
Single Guaranteed Share
If you are planning to
travel by yourself, but would prefer to avoid the single
surcharge, Amawaterways offer a guaranteed twin share program with
another person of the same gender, in their category B cabins.
Alternatively we will make a
best effort to connect you with another single Travel Insider
group member, but can't guarantee to find someone compatible.
What about the Air Fare?
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, and possibly use the
comparison service to see what the best airfares may be.
That's what we do, ourselves.
You are therefore free to make your
own arrangements, any way you wish, to travel to Basel (or
Zurich, Geneva, Paris, or anywhere else) and then
home again from Amsterdam (or Brussels, Paris, or anywhere else), and you can of course make extra
stops and arrive earlier or stay longer. You can choose whichever
carrier has the best fare and the best schedules for you, and
you can also choose a carrier that you wish to earn miles with.
We'll be pleased to answer
any questions you might have about arranging your air
transportation, of course.
Which cities to fly in and out
This might seem like an
obvious issue, but remember that Europe is very small and so if
you can't get convenient flights (or fares) on your preferred
airlines to and from the obvious cities at the start and end of
your tour, consider flying in or out of nearby airports and then
using a train to get between that airport and the city you need
to be in.
Amsterdam has a major
airport with good service for most airlines to most places, but
Basel is a secondary city, potentially costing more to fly into
and with fewer flight options.
A suggestion to consider
might be flying to a major airport and then taking a train to
Basel, or, if you are doing any of our pre-touring, to either
Zurich or Geneva.
In particular, you might
want to think about a simple roundtrip to/from Paris, and then
take fast comfortable convenient trains from Paris to Geneva for
the start of the optional pre-cruise touring, and back to Paris
from either Amsterdam or Brussels (if you're also doing the
We generally recommend you
should protect against the various types of losses that may
occur while traveling.
Amawaterways offer a
policy that covers you for trip cancellation and interruption
costs, medical costs, trip delay, and baggage delay or loss.
This is $245 per person. The premium is payable with your
To add an extra trip
cancellation premium that will allow you to cancel for any
reason at all, add another $50. With this add-on premium,
if you cancel for a reason not covered by the main policy,
Amadeus will refund you as much of your payment as is covered by
their usual policy, and give you a voucher to be redeemed
against future travel any time in the next year for the balance.
for a new page with more information on the Amawaterways travel
How to Extend or Vary this Tour
There are many ways you can
extend or vary this tour.
In addition to the
pre-packaged extensions we are offering (see above), you're of course free to add anything
you like, before or after the cruise.
We recommend you consider
arriving into Europe at least a day before the cruise starts, so
as to give yourself a day to resolve any problems that may occur
such as missing/delayed flights or losing luggage.
If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask.
We're here to help ensure your experience is as good as
Need More Information?
If you've a question or need
more clarification, go ahead and ask. Click for Live
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send us an email, or feel free to call us at (206)337-2317.
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16 Apr 2010, last update
28 May 2011