This was my first river cruise. We joined a group of ladies who wanted to see the Christmas Markets. This has been on my bucket list as long as I can remember, so a good friend and I decided this is the time to go!
We flew into Prague for a few nights first (we had both been there before but visiting this beautiful city at this time of year was thrilling.) We enjoyed seeing the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony to set off the season and the seven markets we found. Then we took a bus down to Nuremburg on a lightly snowing day, which added to the ambiance of the holiday season.
Boarding the AmaCerto was an easy and quick experience, there were some snacks set up in the public area. We met up with many people that I had met before who had joined this group. To summarize the meals and service (both room and table) for the week was wonderful. Very friendly staff and well organized when we got together to set off at the ports. Some markets were walking distance from the ship and some we needed to take a bus, all were wonderful ports!
I cannot say which Christmas Markets were our favorites, as all the cities were so beautifully decorated and each one had a different feel to it. Yes, they basically sell the same things but because the set up and festivities are all individualized, we never got tired of them. Each market sells their own souveniour mug (inexpensive, and if you give it back to them after you finish the gluwein, they will give you the deposit Euros back).
Besides Prague and Nuremberg, we saw markets at Regensberg, Vienna, Linz, Melk, Salzburg (special sign-up), and Budapest. We loved the evening cruise down the Danube to see the Parliament all lit up in Budapest, such a beautiful way to end the cruise. The AMA staff, tour director and guides, bus drivers were all great. We had special memories of leaving our shoes out the door one night so that a big chocolate bar was left in each upon waking in the morning, we were surprised with beautiful scarves (for ladies) wrapped in lovely boxes, festive gifts from Santa on our last night when he came on the ship, not to mention being greeted each day upon returning to the ship with a hot towel and gluwein to welcome us back.
We stayed a couple of more nights in Budapest on our own before returning back to the states, a very walkable city and one I would like to return one day. All in all, this was one cruise that more than exceeded any of my high expectations. We plan on participating in the Rhine Christmas Markets in 2020...I sure hope I can wait. Loved every second!
Oh, meanwhile, my husband and I are going to sail the Rhine and Moselle Fairytales cruise on the AmaPrima in a couple of weeks. I wanted him to experience this river cruise and I know it will be a great time, as well!
My friend and I decided the balcony would not be practical in the freezing cold so chose the cabin with the double windows. It was a good choice, as we never were in our cabin except to sleep and it was very, very cold outside! The upcoming cruise that my husband and I will be sailing on we will be trying the French Balcony since perhaps the sliding door will be open to enjoy the fresh air this time.
The biggest market that took us towards two hours to stroll through. It was wonderful!
We were near the Thurn and Taxis Palace and went there first. It seemed like it was in the middle of a forest (it wasn't totally, but it felt like it) and had very old world market set-up. This was another favorite. We walked back to the port via town and a couple of more commercialized markets were there to visit enroute.
Huge abbey and beautiful views.
We have been to Vienna before, as well as the palace. However, I wanted to see the market located on the palace grounds so we took an evening ride out there. It was freezing but the markets were very nice. The tour inside was not as informative as what I remember our summer tour was but considering I have done this before, my focus was on the market anyway.View All 179 Schonbrunn Palace Reviews