Going on a European Christmas Market River Cruise is my favorite way to enter into the Advent season. It’s a magical experience like nothing else, and once you go, you’ll want to go again.
But, the year 2018 was a rough one for river cruise lines. It’s not an unusual situation to have low or high water. When you live in a river city, as I do, you know this full well. And so, low water had plagued the Rhine and Danube rivers throughout the cruising season. It happens, and it puts the cruise lines in the position of creating a new plan. That’s okay because I was sailing AmaWaterways, and Ama knew how to handle this.
AmaWaterways had informed passengers before we left home that they might need to move to Plan B. And, in fact, the weather conditions and water levels continued to change. What we actually did was stay docked in Vienna, with side trips to Budapest and Bratislava by motorcoach.
What follows is a pictorial tour of my Christmas Market Cruise with my friend, Bonnie, on the Danube River. And oh my, it was cold. But when you travel prepared for cold weather, it is no problem. My favorite long underwear, Cuddl Duds, became my best friend. I was never too cold wearing layers.
Embarkation day on the beautiful AmaCerto, our home for the next seven days. What do you do when you board a ship? Run around and take pictures, of course.
A cocktail party to meet other travel professionals on board. And a surprise appearance by AmaWaterways co-owner Kristin Karst. Kristin looks fabulous; me not so much. Note to self: next time, dress up. You never know who might show up.
This was the first day for excursions away from the ship.
A full-day tour to Budapest or a half-day tour to Eisenstadt were the options, complimentary of course, as all excursions are. Budapest is about 3 ½ hours away from Vienna. Eisenstadt is about an hour by bus. Both were great options; neither city was on the original schedule.
But, as it turned out Bonnie, and I didn’t take either tour. She had not been feeling well, and needed a doctor. So what do you do when you need a doctor, and you’re on a ship? The cruise line has access to on call doctors 24/7 who will come to the ship. Of course, they can be expensive, but this is also one of the benefits of purchasing travel insurance. She submitted all her bills associated with her illness to her travel insurance provider and received a refund for everything.
After I made a quick trip to a pharmacy that was open on a Sunday with a taxi driver waiting for me, I was back at the ship in no time. My friend was on the road to recovery. I was in search of a great place in the lounge to put my feet up and relax. I found a comfy chair behind one of the Christmas trees.
With a cup of tea, my Kindle and my curiosity, I sat and watched what was going on around me. Did you ever wonder how supplies are loaded when ships are stacked up 3 across? Click the video below to see this time-tested method.
That evening, after dinner, our talented cruise director, Agnes, performed a Hungarian folk dance, as part of the entertainment.
Still docked in Vienna, this day a much recovered Bonnie and I went to Bratislava by motorcoach for an Old Town Walking Tour and to shop the Christmas Market. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. It’s only an hour’s ride away from Vienna.
Back from Bratislava, we set off cruising to Tulln, Austria. No special events were planned in Tulln, because they weren’t expecting us. But that was perfect since there was something very special planned on board: our La Chaines des Rotisseurs dinner. It was an outstanding meal, due to the ‘world class culinary acumen’ of the Chef. Check out the video below.
It was every bit as delicious as it looks. Foodies, this cruise line is for you!
That’s it for the first three nights of our Christmas Market river cruise. Click this link to read about the last four days of cruising on the Danube. I wish I could have brought you with me. Giving you a view of the fun of a river cruise, and particularly at Christmas, is the best I can do, for now. But, the best I could really do is book your on your own Christmas Market river cruise.
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