Want to immerse into the holiday spirit where many of our beloved Christmas traditions originated? You’ll love Amawaterways Christmas market river cruises.
Overview of Christmas Markets
Amawaterways river cruises just happen to stop in these cities with fantastic Christmas celebrations. If you love Christmas, lights, decorations, and spirit, and would like to experience them in places where many of our holiday traditions originated.
Overview of River Cruising
• The Water (vs. Ocean)
• The Ships (vs ocean, train, bus, car)
• The Cabins (vs. Ocean cabins or hotel rooms)
• The Ports (vs. sailing or driving between cities)
Question: Where is your favorite Christmas market?
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Episode 82 Transcripts
Ryan: Hello, and welcome to All Things Travel. Do you. Love the lights, festivities, food, and drinks during the holidays? How about experiencing the holidays while immersed in the history and culture of the places where many of our beloved Christmas traditions originated? Today we’re talking Amawaterways Christmas market river cruises. You’re listening to All Things Travel, episode 82 original air date, November 24th, 2021. Well, Shayne, I know that you have been talking about doing this episode for a long time. You have a love affair with the idea of river cruising. Don’t you?
Shayne: I do have a love affair with the idea of river cruising. I’ll also have a love affair with the idea of holidays, the lights, the food, the parties, everything. Yeah. So this seems like a great culmination of those two very happy things.
Ryan: we’re recording this episode on a Sunday night. Several weeks before it comes out. And yesterday we actually put up all of our Christmas decorations.
Ryan: So our house, other than the tree, cause my wife is getting a different tree this year. Other than that, everything on the inside of the house is Christmasfied.
Shayne: very nice. I’d like to see the Hedstrom home Christmas decoration extravaganza.
Ryan: you go. Maybe I maybe, maybe I’ll put on a cheesy holiday sweater and, and do some sort of, wishing you happy holidays from our home to your Shayne.
Shayne: Can you make it in the form of a Reel you know, how much I love Reels.
Ryan: I can’t, I’m not, I’m not that cool. I’m not that.
Shayne: I appreciate that.
Ryan: Well, I’m excited to talk about everything that.
the Christmas markets in Europe and river cruising has to offer. But first I want to know where in the world is all Things Travel.
Shayne: Where in the world? I hope I’m pronouncing this correctly. Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Ryan: Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Welcome.
Shayne: Yeah. Right on the Chippewa River, it looks like there is a lot to do a really fun place to go and have some fun. And I thought you and I would go hang out at the Stones Throw and have a few drinks while watching some live music.
Ryan: I like it.
Shayne: And I’ll keep in mind this. Is known for its paranormal activities. So if we’re not comfortable with that, we can always go down to the Chippewa river distillery and try some of their house-made whiskeys.
Ryan: After being in someplace with paranormal activity, I may need to head down and try some whiskey. Calm me down a little bit.
Shayne: maybe we should have the whiskeys first and then go chase ghosts,
Ryan: There’s never a bad time to have a whiskey.
Shayne: Dateline Frankfurt, Germany.
Ryan: All right. Welcome, Germany.
Shayne: I thought that one was appropriate for tonight. Since this is pretty, that’s pretty much where the Christmas markets originated.
Ryan: Well, maybe this listener can, help us out with, their experience or welcoming us to Frankfurt to experience the Christmas markets for ourselves.
Shayne, today, we’re talking about a very specific type of river cruising the Christmas markets. So before we get into what river cruising is, let’s talk specifically about Christmas market.
Shayne: Yes. What is a Christmas market? It is pretty much a street market to celebrate Christmas. And they originated in Germany. There were December markets throughout Europe and earliest known one started in Vienna and the year 1298. And the first official Christmas market was in Dresden Germany in the year 1434.
They’re usually held around the time of advent, but they can last longer and they’re usually in the town square. So I guess, I guess why, why my fascination with this is some of the same reasons why I’m fascinated with these small towns in the Hallmark Christmas movies, because the celebrations on the town square
Ryan: and these are actual markets, correct?
Shayne: their actual markets.
And, and while I was looking at. The markets. I found one, I found several in the area. So now there’s one in Arlington, Texas in the right outside the stadium where the Rangers play. Yeah, there’s one there. That’s going to be during that time. It’s going to start around the middle of November and go through January 2nd so he can find them anywhere, but they originated in Germany.
Ryan: And what type of things am I going to find at our Christmas market? What, why is it so appealing for the Christmas season?
Shayne: Are you going to have all of the people making the holiday food holiday drink, seasonal
Ryan: wine or something
Shayne: Oh yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, depending on where you are, you’ll find food and drinks that come from that region. Now, though, this one here in Arlington, Texas, it’s based on it’s Arlington’s sister city in Germany. So there’s going to be a lot of German based food here instead
Ryan: a connection there.
Shayne: Yeah. But you can, you’ll be able, you could probably find some wherever you are.
You can find some Christmas markets not far from you. And then there’ll be entertainment, music, singing choirs, a lot of arts and crafts that you can watch being made and watch, you know, and then purchase just lots of fun holiday related
Ryan: It sounds like it gets you into an amazing Christmas spirit.
Shayne: Yeah. And that’s I think so . Christmas parties, tree lighting, ceremony is anything like that, where you can go and hang out with other people like the tree light, whatever, the, whatever you’re lighting up, the town square, the Christmas tree, the bounce and
Ryan: hope it’s a Christmas tree or you could light up other things.
Shayne: but maybe a Festivus Pole,
Ryan: okay. All right.
Shayne: Yeah. So, that’s pretty much what a Christmas market is. And then it just so happens that where these Christmas markets that, where the concept originated in Germany, in, in Austria, there happens to be some pretty famous rivers
Ryan: Yeah. So here’s the connection with river cruising.
Shayne: Yeah. And then they just take advantage of, okay. We were already in these places that these markets are going to be happening while we’re cruising through here. We might as well make the most of it.
Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. So talk to me about these rivers that make good Christmas market cruises.
Shayne: Well, the two primary rivers running through Germany are going to be the Danube river and the Rhine River. then, you know, on the Danube River, you’re going to have Nuremberg Germany, which is where the largest and oldest of the Christmas markets in Germany is located.
It’s a 400 year old tradition and there there’s the live music that we talked about. Handcrafted souvenirs. They’ve got a carousel and then a children’s steam train. So all kinds of fun you can have at the market in
Ryan: I just, I want to go there, get some spiced wine and some ginger bread and just soak it all in
Shayne: Just look at the lights, the decorations, and watch the people enjoying themselves.
Shayne: And then another stop and along the Danube river is the, is Regensburg Germany, which is one of the oldest medieval cities in Germany, the largest medieval town north of the Alps. And they have a Christmas market among others. One of the Thurn and Taxis Castle Castle, which is considered what of Bravaria’s most beautiful and romantic Christmas markets,
Ryan: Very cool.
Shayne: Another stop on the day. News is Vienna, Austria, which was where the first recorded December market happened in 19 in the year 1298. And Vienna has just a lot of Christmas markets. One of the best of which is in front of the SchÃ¶nbrunn palace, and you’ll have lots of music and food there.
Also another stop along the Danube is in Budapest. And there is the, my pronunciation on some of these might not be the best, but in Hungary, the VÃ¶rÃ¶smarty square, where you can buy some traditional handmade products. And apparently this market has a very strict policy about handcrafted items so that you can be sure you’re getting authentic.
One of a kind. Items. Yeah. You’re not getting anything massive produced.
Ryan: Well, you know, you think about this river cruise on the Danube and, and you know, you’re going to Germany, you’re going to Austria and you’re ending up in Hungary I mean, what amazing experience.
Shayne: Yeah, no doubt. And that’s not all the stops and that’s not all
Ryan: Sure. Those are. Those are the larger ones.
Shayne: highlights. Those are the biggies
Ryan: What about the.
Shayne: Ryan river. Yeah. What are the stops along? The Rhine river is cologne, Germany, where there are seven markets throughout the city. One of them is located in front of a UNESCO, designated Gothic cathedral, which has the Rhinelands largest tree decorated with 70,000 led lights.
Clark Griswold would be proud if not amazed. No, I have somewhere notes on how many lights his Christmas display ads, but I don’t remember what that is. And then even one of the markets in Cologne is pirate theme. So I would definitely enjoy that.
Ryan: There you go.
Shayne: Another big Christmas market city along the Rhine is Strasbourg France. Which they call copied tower of Noel, the capital of Christmas. And it is the oldest and largest market in France. And it dates back to 1570. And then in Strasbourg there’s 11 other Christmas markets and Strasbourg I found out is home of the world’s first documented Christmas tree, which was put up in the Strasbourg cathedral back in 1539
Ryan: so Shayne, we’ve talked about what Christmas markets are and some of, kind of the, the biggies in Europe. Why river cruising. Let’s talk a little bit about what it is about river cruising that really connects with this type of trip. So, first of all, when you, when you’re comparing an ocean cruise versus a river cruise, why does river cruise make sense for this type of trip?
Shayne: I thought I would start broad and go narrow. So when did you talk about the water first? So you’re on. Instead of on the ocean, which means you’re going to see land from both sides. You’re going to be going, you’re not going to be going to the pulling up to a port outside of the city where you have to make your way down a long ramp amongst thousands of other people to get to the city.
You’re cruising right through this middle of some of these cities and pulling up to ports right in the middle of town.
Ryan: I mean, you’re using the ancient highways.
So, I mean, that’s part of why how all these cities are connected. So it’s, it’s really a great way to experience the history and the culture.
Shayne: yeah. Cause that’s why these traditions would have started here because of the that’s how people would’ve got between them mainly is along the rivers so easily accessible. And that’s where the people would have met for these cultural gatherings.
Ryan: And so thinking about the wall. What is one big advantage with river cruising over ocean cruising. If I’m not necessarily comfortable with ocean cruising,
Shayne: No seasickness,
Ryan: No seasickness, the ability like you said, to see land to have for the most part, very flat, very calm water.
is really cool.
Shayne: And then the ships. So if we compare the ships, either a river cruise ship, either to an ocean ship, or since it’s the mode of transportation to a train or bus or a car. So your room where you’re staying is on the boat, on the vessel, like a cruise, you’re always going to have a better view.
‘ cause you’re going to be looking at one side of the countryside because it’s gotta be on both sides of, of the belt. Right? Cause you’re in the river
Shayne: on a cruise ship. There was a 50% chance you just gotta be looking out to sea.
Shayne: And then of course you’re going to, you’ll be traveling from city to city inside your room with a chair or a bed, or maybe a chair somewhere else on the ship.
You know, up on top
Ryan: A wound or an observation deck. Absolutely. It’s a very luxurious, but yet relaxed way to travel.
Shayne: Versus a seat on a bus or a train or worst of all having to drive a car.
Ryan: So with, we’re talking about our favorite river cruise company, I’m a waterways. If you’re thinking about the cabins, what level of comfort and style do these cabins have?
Shayne: There’s going to be fewer cabins on a river cruise ship than there are on an
Shayne: For the most part, there’s a few smaller crew ocean cruise
Ryan: And the advantage of that is you do have less people to, so you’re not, you’re not fighting with crowds of, of hundreds or thousands. You’re, you’ve got a much smaller group of people, so
Shayne: Sure. Maybe a little over a hundred or so when you’re D boarding or boarding versus the thousands, and then there’s going to be fewer inside. If there’s any, there’s going to be fewer insight and most will have. Pretty big window, if not a balcony, either a French balcony or, some of the AmaWaterways ships have a combination of the full balcony and a French balcony, French balcony, just being a window.
That’s the entire wall. And then instead of having your table and chair outside the window on, on the balcony, either inside the windows, he still had the same view. You’re just inside.
Ryan: Yeah. So for the most part, you’re going to find that these state rooms are smaller, certainly smaller than a hotel room. They’re very nicely appointed. It’s it? You know, you’ve got a smaller space, but it is top notch. And on a river cruise, you’re going to have a lot more communal space, you know, lounges, places to sit that are designed for you to relax and watch the water, read a book, catch up on your iPad with emails, things like that, and just take in the sights around you.
It’s all based around seeing the countryside and seeing where you’re, where you’re saying.
Shayne: Yeah. So maybe not nearly as many options for passing the time on the ship as one of the big cruise ships, because the focus is on the destination, the cities that you’re visiting.
Ryan: So let’s wrap up our conversation about river cruising by talking about the ports and what makes that different than a, than an ocean cruise.
Shayne: The port is just reiterating what I said earlier. You’re, you’re traveling through the cities, not to the cities. You’re going right into the heart where you can get off the ship. And you deep board quickly right there where the squares are, the restaurants are not the port. And so that, that experience.
It’s just a lot more fulfilling. Your it’s a better immersion into the culture than what you might see having to walk through the port to get, and then find some other transportation to get to the things that you want to see in the town, in the city.
Ryan: And lastly with a, with a company like Amawaterways, it is an all-inclusive experience. We’re talking about your state room. We’re talking about the activities. We’re talking about your food. We’re talking about your drinks, all being luxury level. As far as level of service and your excursions are included in your fare.
When it comes to sailing with a company like Amawaterways.
Shayne: And one of the fun things about these excursions is that there’s a couple of options each day. So you can have different, you can enjoy different levels of activity. On some, you might just want a walking tour of a city and then on some of them there’ll be options for a cycling tour or maybe a more strenuous hike, depending on what level of activity you’re interested in.
Ryan: And I know with AmaWaterways they actually care bicycles. And if you just want to bike, if you just want to rent a bicycle for the day, you can do that as well.
Shayne: That’d be fine.
Ryan: So Shane let’s break down one of these cruises for folks. We, you know, we’re, we’re excited about Christmas markets. We’re excited about river cruising. Now, what would one of these look like with Amawaterways?.
Shayne: This is just a highlight by, by no
Shayne: set of all the activities and meals you’ll enjoy. But the one I picked is called the Iconic Christmas Markets on the Danube
Ryan: Sounds great.
Shayne: and it’s a seven, eight cruise. And I’m going to, I’m going to describe the cruise one way, but you can also take it the other way.
You know, for example, this cruise goes from Nuremberg to Budapest. You can also take another one from Budapest to Nuremberg.
Ryan: And I will say these cruises run constantly through the fall and holiday time. So there’s a lot of opportunities when it comes to doing one of these.
Shayne: Yeah, the running back and forth. It’s just a matter of when the Christmas markets are open any city. All right. So day one. And two is in Nuremberg, Germany, you board the ship in Nuremberg and day two. There’s some city tour with some w
Shayne: city tour stem world wrestling Federation highlights.
Ryan: we’re working on this ship with WD 40.
Shayne: Uh, you, you will definitely smell what the rock is.
Uh, day two in Nuremberg. There’s a city tour with some World War II highlights, get to visit an Imperial castle. And then that evening you visit the Christmas markets day three Regensburg Berg, Germany, walking tours of the city, or, you know, usually I like the, the walking, the biking sort of thing, but I think you and I are going to hang out to sample some Bavarian beer, sausage and pretzels instead.
Ryan: You better believe I am.
Shayne: Yes. Or you can bike to the base Walhalla to visit a marble temple inspired by the Parthenon. And then that night Christmas markets,
Ryan: Nice. Very nice.
Shayne: Day four is in Passau pass out. I
Ryan: Pat, I think it’s past.
Shayne: a walking tour of the city or a biking, a bike ride along the Danube which sounds kind of fun. Or what I would probably do is take a day trip to Salzburg for a walking tour of Salzburg day five Melk. You can visit the Melk Benedictine Abbey.
Get a guided bike tour around Melk take a little cruise of the Wachau valley. And then that night Christmas markets.
Ryan: And so when they, when they take you to the Christmas markets.
it’s just, it’s literally time to enjoy every city’s kind of take on the Christmas markets
Shayne: Yeah, just take it all in the lights, the food, the music.
Ryan: And I’m sure knowing Amawaterways, You know, they’re going to have people there that are going to be talking about why this city does this, this way.
They’re going to be helping you really understand and experience what the Christmas markets have to offer.
Shayne: You know, another thing too, that I haven’t mentioned is whenever you enter a lot of these places, the, the ticket, the entrance fees are all included with the, the
Ryan: Sure, sure.
Shayne: we’ll tell you later, they six Vienna. You can take a Vienna bike tour along the day, newb or toward the Vienna opera house and Christmas markets that night.
Ryan: Very nice.
Shayne: Yeah. You know, the same Christmas markets, we went through the Christmas markets earlier. So, you know, in each of these stops, but what kind of things you’re going to get
Ryan: Right. Right. And again, all of these excursions that Shayne’s talking about are included in your cruise fare.
Shayne: Including the bikes, you know, I’ve rented bikes before in a, in a city to ride around and did this once with my brother-in-law and one of us didn’t have brakes and the other didn’t have the other, wasn’t able to shift gears. So we kinda switched bikes back and forth based on whether we were more tired of shifting gears or more tired of not having breaks.
So I’m going to take, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that Amawaterways bikes are a little more. Better maintenance.
Shayne: They seven Budapest, a tour of the city with great views of the river and the city from the Buda castle. You’ll get to visit the Fisherman’s Bastion and enjoy the views from the lookouts there.
Or do you want one of those more active trips? You can hike to Castle hill for some views and where you’ll walk along the Fishermen’s Bastion to get. And then that’s the final day of the seven day cruise.
Ryan: And I do know you can add on several days of land activities on either side of those cruises. If you want a little extra time to add onto your vacation, Ama will work with you to do that as well.
Shayne: Yeah, one of the big, the, the big one with this particular cruise is a three nights in Prague. Depending on which way you’re going post cruise or pre cruise, which that would be pretty
Ryan: be pretty awesome.
Shayne: Right. And so for now, I’m looking at 2022. There are, at this time, the time of this recording, there are still some itineraries for 2021 available.
The only thing is some of the Christmas markets aren’t going to be open this year. So you wouldn’t get that, but they’ll have something else fun for you to do. And there’s some pretty good deals. I think that there’ll be gone by the time this airs, but as of right now, there’s still some deals that you could get to cruise this year, 2021.
But this is for 2022 and leaving anytime from November 28th, until December 19th seven-day cruises and the fare per person is $3,499.
Ryan: That’s pretty good for an all-inclusive seven day cruise experience in the Christmas markets.
Shayne: Yeah. And then it, depending on which way you’re going, the three night Prague pre cruise add on is $900 or $1,460. So depending on which trip yet took was what that price is based on.
Ryan: Great. Great. And I’m a waterways often has promotions for these types of cruises. We obviously today talk specifically about Christmas market cruises, but they have all sorts of cruises all throughout the year. Including. Summertime cruises, they have flower cruises in, Holland in the spring time, Octoberfest, cruises.
There’s lots of ways that you can use this type of vacation to really experience the rivers of Europe.
Shayne: Amawaterways has this great promotion and it applies for these Christmas market cruises, river cruises, but it also applies pretty much anytime a year that you want to go.
They have complimentary sailings for all what they call it for Frontline Heroes.
Shayne: And they’re pretty broad in what they include. Right? Cause you you’re going to expect police officers, firefighters and paramedic. To be included in that, but they also include just any hospital staff, nurses, lab techs, pharmacists, and teachers.
Shayne: And basically what that is, is with a paying guest. If you fit one of those, one of those roles, then you get a complimentary cruise with Amawaterways.
Ryan: It’s awesome. Absolutely. Well, we would love to help you plan your next amazing vacation river cruising through Europe with AmaWaterways Shayne and I are both travel advisors with creating magic vacations, and you can reach us at Ryan that’s me R Y A N at CreatingMagicVacations.com S H A Y N E at CreatingMagicVacations.com. And remember, it’s our job to make you the river cruise vacation planning, superhero.
And Hey fellow travelers, we just want to take a second here. Everybody who listens to the podcast interacts with our all things, travel Facebook group. We want to say happy Thanksgiving, the United States, and we are so thankful for you.