Christmas Market River Cruise

We are considering a Christmas market river tour in Dec. of 2013. We haven't decided on whether to take AmaWaterways or Uniworld, or if this trip is even for us. My questions to those of you who have taken one of these trips are: 1. Do you get tired of seeing one Christmas market after another? 2. Are the markets crowded? 3. Do you get to visit other sights when you are in the towns? I have heard that you don't get to do much more than drive or walk by most sights and if you try to book a tour on your own there isn't always enough time.
Thank you all for your expert advice.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9131 posts

I haven't taken either of the trips, but I'll try to answer some of your questions, based on general experiences at Christmas markets. "1. Do you get tired of seeing one Christmas market after another?" Spread out over the full month, not really, but I might get tired of seeing one market after another everyday. "2. Are the markets crowded?" Depends on the market, how it's arranged and what time of day you visit. For instance, I visited the Frankfurt market one year in the early evening on a Friday night. I had my dog with me, and I had to leave because we could barely make it through the raging sea of Glühwein-drinking revelers. But other times at other markets, no problems at all.

Posted by George
834 posts

Having been to markets in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Nürnberg I can say that they can be crowded BUT after a few glasses of glühwein or the feuerzangenbowle in Nürnberg, you won't much notice.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
749 posts

#1; I did not, but you might. No one can really predict your level of enjoyment. You are either a shopper or you are not. All the markets have some level of "sameness", but all seem to have their own unique flavour too. Since they all have gluhwein and wurst, that's enough to make each one enjoyable for me. #2: I didn't find them overly-crowded, but that is dependent on your tolerance level. I found the markets to be more crowded, and rowdy (in a fun way)later in the evening than early afternoons. #3: I took the Viking Christmas Market cruise down the Danube a couple of years ago. We were not herded to the Markets with no time for sights. Our cruise included all the regular excursions of that travel route. Christmas Markets were visited during the regularly-scheduled free time at each stop. Or you skip the excusrion and go straight to the Market. I would check the cruise line website for the Xmas market cruise-specific itinerary. It should detail each stop along the route with scheduled excursions, and which stops have Markets.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3511 posts

Usually the ship itineraries include the arrival and departure times for each stop. How much you can see would depend a lot on how much time you have in each town. I did a land tour of markets last December. My trip was 11 days, all by train. I went to markets in Frankfurt, Mainz, Wiesbaden, Bad Homburg, Buedingen, Esslingen, Stuttgart, Strasbourg, Colmar, Munich and Vienna. On some days, I went to markets in 2 towns. Here are some of my observations. In Germany, the markets don't get going until around noon (lunch crowd) and even then, many stall operators are just arriving, even on weekends. By around 8 p.m they are so crowded with revelers that it becomes extremely difficult to walk around. I didn't find that in France. There's plenty of time to see other sights. Churches, especially, offer a chance to sit for a few minutes and rest and warm up. In Alsace (France) there was less emphasis on drinking and eating, more on kids and shopping.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3511 posts

There isn't ONE market in any town. Every square and most pedestrian malls are crammed with stalls. I couldn't tell for sure, but it seemed that some streets were also closed off to vehicle traffic for the markets. Every market is different, some much more than others. Every town has a creche, a big tree, and a train for kids. All were different. The majority of the items for sale is mass-produced and omnipresent. There are also a lot of hand-made goods, some very beautiful. There are local foods and beverages for sale that are to die for. Even the gluewein is different from place to place. After 11 days of winter weather, I was not unhappy to board a plane for home. Also, since I'm not Christian, I was probably less emotionally attracted to the whole experience. But for 11 days I definitely did not "get tired of seeing one Christmas market after another." I guess if you're from Fargo, it will seem more like spring weather to you.

Posted by Leslie
Fargo, North Dako, United States
3 posts

Thank you all for your comments, they have helped open my mind to a Christmas market tour. Chani you are correct about the weather. Winter is still going strong here in Fargo, just got 8 more inches of snow last night and the temp was below zero.

Posted by camille
point pleasant beach, nj, usa
470 posts

Hi Leslie,
We did a Christmas Market cruise with Viking this past December. Always wanted to visit European Christmas markets so we decided on a river cruise. Started in Amsterdam and cruised the Rhine River. We are independent travelers so this was a real departure for us. I have to say I enjoyed the experience but probably would not do it again. Favorite stops along the way, Cologne, Strasbourg, Rudesheim, Colmar. I found the markets to be fun and authentic. The only disappointing experience was in Colmar. The reason being was the excursion was on a Saturday and it was wall to wall people. Not very emjoyable. I'm sure I would love Colmar without the crowds. If you would like additional details, please PM me.

Posted by Leslie
Fargo, North Dako, United States
3 posts

Thanks for sharing,Chani. Looks like fun!

Posted by Jackie
1 posts

Hi Leslie, I have taken two Christmas Market cruises on Grand Circle Travel. I did the Rhine River two years ago and the the Danube River the next. Each city had a different flavor. When you saw something you liked be sure to get it because you may never see it again. The markets were not overly crowded. The weekends are more crowded. Sometimes I was able to take pictures without people being in it! It was wonderful! We had plenty of time to go off on our own to explore or we could take tours. I never felt like I was missing anything or being rushed. We had plenty of time to take the train to Salzberg on our own. The shops were so beautifully decorated for Christmas