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Maybe you've cruised on a gigantic cruise ship before. A river cruise is very different. The custom built (in 2006) river cruiser, Amadagio, has only 75 cabins, making for a much more personal and less institutional experience.
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. And
nearly all shore touring is included at no extra charge.
You should leave the US on or before Saturday 29 November, so as to arrive into Trier on or before Sunday 30 November. You'll board the Amadagio that afternoon, and touring activities start the next morning.
The cruise ends in Amsterdam on the morning of Sunday 7 December.
At this point you're free to either fly home, to then come and join us on our Christmas Markets Danube cruise from Budapest to Nuremberg (and get a special $200 discount for doing so) and optionally onto Prague, or to extend your stay any other way you wish.
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 cruise.
It also gives you a day to 'de-jetlag' before the cruise gets underway.
Pre and Post Cruise Optional Extensions
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 Trier and out of Amsterdam.
We offer two very special Travel Insider extensions to enhance your overall tour experience.
Pre-Cruise Option - Paris and Luxemburg
Fly to Paris rather than Trier, and spend three nights there with included city touring and breakfasts, then travel by luxury coach to Trier to join the cruise, with a stop in Luxemburg on the way. $600 per person.
Post-Cruise Option - Another Christmas Markets Cruise
Yes, seriously. Consider adding our other Christmas Markets cruise to your cruise from Trier to Amsterdam. On the day this cruise ends, simply fly from Amsterdam to Budapest and then join the Amalegro and enjoy our traditional Danube Christmas markets cruise to Nuremburg (with optional extension on to Prague).
This is our most popular annual cruise/tour, and would make a lovely enhancement to your first cruise.
As a small incentive, if you choose both cruises, we can offer you a special $200 discount off the combined cruise price, too. The net extra price of the second cruise depends on the cabin category you choose, and ranges from $1499 upwards.
Which is the better Christmas Markets Cruise?
Maybe you've only time to do one of the two Christmas Market cruises, and you're wondering which is the 'better' of the two to choose.
This is a hard question to answer without knowing more about your particular interests, what parts of Europe you like the best, and where you may have traveled before.
However, as a broad rule of thumb, and if we had to choose, our feeling is that the Budapest to Nuremberg cruise on the Danube is probably very slightly more focused on Christmas Markets, whereas the Trier to Amsterdam cruise is a broader focused cruise. But the biggest difference is simply the different rivers and parts of Europe you travel through.
Either is wonderful. Both are even better!
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 along the way.
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.
A nice extra feature is free wine, beer, or soda provided with every dinner.
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.
These are great cruises for singles. Because the ship carries a maximum of 150 passengers, 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.
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 large 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 comfort.
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 every day.
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! We're not even in winter yet at this time of year, it is still late fall. 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. Paris and Amsterdam, in particular, are full to overflowing with tourists in the height of the summer season, making visits to places unpleasant, crowded, noisy, and generally nasty. At this time of year things are much emptier, calmer, and less crowded.
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 which several layers of warm clothes can't combat, and our previous Christmas Market cruises have been blessed with good weather (ie usually no rain, very little snow and not uncomfortably cold).
I recommend this cruise and this time of year. I've loved the three Christmas Cruises I've already done, and the more than 90 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 Amadagio
The cruise ship for this cruise, the Amadagio is nearly new (launched in 2006), having been custom designed to meet the special needs of the European waterways, 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 (so as to fit in the locks). 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 many 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. Amadeus even provides a generous amount of complimentary wine (or beer) with your evening meal each night.
Smoking is restricted to the outside Sun Deck only.
The 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 Amadagio are larger than most of the other cruise boats in Europe - a massive 170 sq ft each.
The cruise is offered in five cabin grades plus there are four suites as well.
There are 71 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 movie channel.
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.
This picture clearly shows the three accommodation decks on Amadagio. 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 windows.
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.
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 very little 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 is as follows :
What about the Air Fare?
If you buy the Amadeus airfare, they include transfers from the airport to the cruise ship when you arrive into Paris (if you buy the pre-cruise option, and back to the airport in Amsterdam too if you don't add the other cruise). These transfers are convenient, but require you to arrive on the exact day the tour starts and leave the exact day the cruise ends. They can easily be arranged by yourself when you arrive at the airport as well (ie taxi), so should not unduly influence your airfare planning.
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 Amadeus rate and make your decision then.
You are therefore free to make your own arrangements, any way you wish, to travel to Trier (or Paris for the pre-cruise option) and then home again from Amsterdam (or Nuremberg or Prague), 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 of
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.
Trier has only a small airport, which means few flight choices, and typically more expensive fares. You might find it preferable to fly to either Frankfurt (a major hub) or Luxemburg.
From Frankfurt, you could take a train to Trier - trains leave from the airport itself, and it is about a 3½ hour journey.
From Luxemburg, the easiest thing is to take a taxi from the airport. It is only a 36 mile journey from there to Trier.
You'll probably find it easy to get flights to Paris or from Amsterdam, but if you choose to travel to a different European city, remember that rail connections between cities in Europe are fast, comfortable, convenient, and usually fairly priced, too.
We generally recommend you should protect against the various types of losses that may occur while traveling.
Amadeus Waterways offer a policy that covers you for trip cancellation and interruption costs, medical costs, trip delay, and baggage delay or loss. This is $229 per person. The premium is payable with your deposit.
Good news - if you choose both cruises, you don't need to pay double insurance. The one policy will cover you during both cruises.
To add an extra trip cancellation premium that will allow you to cancel for any reason at all, add another $40. 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.
Click here for a new page with more information on the Amadeus travel insurance.
How to Extend or Vary this Tour
There are many ways you can extend or vary this tour. You're of course free to add anything you like, before or after the cruise. Alternatively, if you prefer, the cruise is a complete experience in itself without needing any extra time.
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 additional time (and money) then we'd recommend you consider adding the Christmas Markets cruise to this cruise.
If you have more questions, please don't hesitate to ask. We're here to help ensure your experience is as good as possible.
Need More Information?
Tour Terms and Conditions
Our standard terms and conditions apply to this tour.
In addition, please note these extra terms :
1. The 90 day payment due date is considered to be Friday 15 August 2008.
2. US citizens require a current passport that will not expire for at least six months after the date of their planned return back to the US in order to be admitted to Europe. They do not require any European visas. Citizens of other countries should check with the airline that will transport them to Europe to determine what passport and visa requirements may apply.
3. Tour price is subject to change prior to full payment being received.
4. Terms and conditions of the cruise line (Amadeus Waterways) also apply.