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Christmas Market Danube River Cruise?

I hope this is on the correct thread. My mother has expressed a interest to go on a Viking Christmas Market River Cruise December 2021. These trips sell out so you need to book early so if this is something we want to do we would book in a few months.

We would do the Viking extension either 2 nights pre-trip in Budapest (would this make too many days in Budapest?) or 3 nights in Prague, depending on itinerary.

I was wondering what has the best Markets? Not all the stops take the Euro correct?

I would book my flight through Viking and would hope a direct flight from New England or a connection in Dublin

Which would be better?

Romantic Danube.
OR Nuremberg to Budapest

2 Parliament Building in Budapest. Budapest, Hungary
Riverside beauty, a vibrant cultural scene and elegant Art Nouveau architecture converge in Budapest.

3 Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
Vienna, Austria
The capital city of Austria, Vienna is filled with green parks, upscale stores, theaters and gracious boulevards.

  1. Wachau by the Danube, Austria Krems, Austria One of the crown jewels of the Wachau Valley is the splendid Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig, a working monastery for more than 900 years.

5 Danube river, Passau Germany Passau, Germany
Set at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers, enchanting Passau is home to elegant colored buildings and graceful arcades.

6 Regensburg Cathedral, Germany
Regensburg, Germany
Having escaped major damage during World War II, the picturesque town of Regensburg is one of Europe’s best preserved medieval cities and the oldest city along the Danube.

7 River in Nuremberg. Nuremberg, Germany
One of Germany’s most renowned and intriguing cities, Nuremberg is surrounded by 13th-century walls that have many fully intact gates and watchtowers.

8 Schöner Brunnen, Nuremberg
Nuremberg, Germany
A center of Bavarian culture, Nuremberg is filled with traditional half-timbered houses, Gothic churches and World War II history.

or

Danube Waltz - or

Budapest to Passau

2 Parliament Building in Budapest. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is aptly called “Paris of the East” for its beautiful evening illumination and reflected lights in the Danube’s waters.

3 Bratislava River by night. Bratislava, Slovakia
The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava is filled with lovingly restored baroque city palaces and dominated by an enormous castle 300 feet above the Danube.

4 Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
Vienna, Austria
The capital city of Austria, Vienna is filled with green parks, upscale stores, theaters and gracious boulevards.

5 Wachau by the Danube, Austria Krems, Austria
The crown jewel of the Wachau Valley is the splendid Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig, a working monastery for more than 900 years.

6 Town of Linz by sunset ~ Linz, Austria
Originally known as Lentia in its days as a 1st-century Roman castle-settlement, Linz is today's provincial capital of Upper Austria.

7 Viking longship docks at Passau ~ Passau, Germany
Founded by the Celts more than 2,000 years ago, Passau is one of Bavaria's oldest cities.

8 Danube river, Passau Germany ~ Passau, Germany
Set at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers, enchanting Passau is home to elegant colored buildings and graceful arcades.

Posted by
3280 posts

I did a Rhine tour and enjoyed it. A Christmas market river cruise sounds fun. I can't answer your specific question, but I want to share a couple things. We did extensions on both ends of our cruise, but we arranged them on our own. MUCH CHEAPER, but then of course you are responsible for your own logistics. I think the extension on the front end is very important, especially in winter when air travel can really be an issue due to weather. Without the extension on the front end you could end up missing the start of your cruise. Plus a couple days before the start of the tour allows you some time to adjust from jet lag. In terms of an extension at the end, well it just extends your vacation and the fun!

Posted by
10703 posts

Which would be better is tough. So subjective. I guess I would go with the one that ends in Passau as its a bit more interesting than Nuremberg and you can hang around for another day. Google each of the stops and see if one or the other speaks to you. The one thing I can add is that, for my taste, they dont spend enough time in any one location... especially Budapest. Arrive 3 nights early if you can.

Posted by
448 posts

We've done 4 River cruises (Tauck not Viking - whole other discussion of pros and cons to those competitors). Last summer we took one from Budapest to Amsterdam which included most of the stops you listed. Haven't done Christmas markets. I'd expect you'd enjoy either itinerary.

The only country on either of those itineraries that doesn't use the euro is Hungary where the official monetary unit is the Florint. We were going to be there three days so we got currency from an ATM (any we had left over we traded one of our tour directors for on the ship). I did notice that in the Great Market Hall most vendors listed prices in both euros and florints.

I'm general you can use your credit cards easily in those countries for most restaurants, stores,.etc. However many small vendors at markets want cash as they don't have the ability to take credit cards.

We flew Delta to Amsterdam then a connecting flight to Budapest. Friends who live in NH i believe flew Boston to Amsterdam and we all met up on the flight to Budapest. Unless Viking is giving you a special .deal on airfare, do your own research and make sure you're getting the best price. Just make sure you inform them of your plans if they will be providing transfers.

If you can only extend plans on one end then the front end is best both to minimize the chance of delays causing problems and to get a head start on getting over jet lag. We normally extend on both since we want to get as much out of our airfare costs as possible.

Posted by
210 posts

In December 2012 I traveled on a Romantic Danube cruise with Viking. We flew into Budapest/out of Nuremberg. A few considerations for you:

  • Viking did a great job of arranging air for us, at a reasonable cost. If you plan your additional stays on your own, ask for a "Flight Deviation"; they will schedule you to arrive sevaral days early and/or to stay after the cruise ends (we srayed an extra week). At that time the additional cost was $100 r/t. Not sure if there's an additional air cost if you book extensions through Viking.
  • Plan to arrive at least two days before the cruise begins. We had only one night in Budapest; it is a city that deserves far more time! It was also my favorite city for Christmas markets.
  • You can definitely plan any extensions on your own, for a small fraction of the cost you would be charged by Viking. From what we saw, the extensions covered hotels and Viking concierge service but few (if any) city tours or other activities (this may have changed). Many travelers on this Forum will be happy to help you with specific questions once you have a general idea of your itinerary.
  • Yes, you will need Hungarian Forints, Euros, and Czech Korunas for this trip. We found it was easiest to have cash for the Christmas markets. You can get cash at an ATM-lots of info available on this Forum.

Have a wonderful time planning this trip!

Posted by
10703 posts

The only country on either of those itineraries that doesn't use the
euro is Hungary where the official monetary unit is the Florint. We
were going to be there three days so we got currency from an ATM (any
we had left over we traded one of our tour directors for on the ship).
I did notice that in the Great Market Hall most vendors listed prices
in both euros and florints.

A Florint is the International Florist Organization.

The Hungarian currency is FORINT, often indicated as HUF (Hungarian Forint) or Ft. Yes, you will often see things marked in Euro as well or instead of Forints. If you do, then know two things, first you are in a Tourist venue and second, paying in Euro will cost you quite a bit more. There are a few exceptions, one of them accommodations which often charge only in Euro.

Between 1868 and 1892 the forint was the name used in Hungarian for the currency of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The name was reintroduced in 1946. The name comes from the city of Florence, Italy ..... go figure....

Posted by
10703 posts

Plan to arrive at least two days before the cruise begins. We had only
one night in Budapest; it is a city that deserves far more time! It
was also my favorite city for Christmas markets.

I am not going to say the markets in Budapest are the best. To make such a statement would infer that I have been to most if not all of the Christmas markets. What I can tell you is that I go every couple of years and each time is better than the time before. All of the goods are Hungarian products and they are all preapproved by a committee to help ensure its all first quality arts, crafts.... Hard to go wrong. But yes, Budapest is a 4 night city.

Posted by
3280 posts

In regards to air arrangements, I was able to book my air on my own for much less than paying the deviation for the Viking arrangements. After we saw what happened with people that had air and ground transportation thru Viking, we decided unless there was a sale with free or almost free air, we'd always book the air on our own. They had most groups leaving on the last day before 7am and quite a few left the ship at 4:30am. Also, it depends on where you live, but for us, Viking was giving us about the worstoptions for air available, because they were the cheapest flights.

The Viking agents like to make it sound like its a big deal to do the air on your own. It just really isn't.

Posted by
448 posts

Oops, sorry for the typo James. Also I missed the Czech republic part too. Just looked at the itinerary listing.

I've also heard bad about Viking's air dept. I typically book mine with Tauck but only after I've researched the choices - airline, prices, times, etc. They don't just pick a flight for you. You work with their agent over the phone picking flights, seats, etc. They reserve the flights but don't require payment until the trip balance is due (90 days prior for river cruises). They also alert you to problems. When Delta canceled our flight home from SLC 2 weeks prior to the start of a tour they called us. Delta handed said a word even though I normally get email alerts for any changes. That's my main issue with Viking. When all goes well it's a great value cruise. Nice ships, good food, etc. But when things go wrong, good luck. Tauck always has gone the extra mile for us.

Posted by
5552 posts

Why are you choosing Viking? We took their Danube cruise and it didn’t compare well to AMAWaterways.