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Trip Report Visiting the Rhine by ship and train

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My wife, adult daughter, and I just finished a day on the Rhine that combined a river cruise downstream with return travel by train. The weather was perfect and we enjoyed the outing, but there was some confusion over what ticket or tickets we should buy in order to combine ship and train. I’m posting this note now in order to explain what we did and to ask whether there was a better way.

Let me start by pointing out that a Rhine river visit can lead to traveling in different regions and/or fare areas managed by different transportation authorities. For the section of the river that flows east to west from Wiesbaden/Mainz to Rüdesheim/Bingen, the train tracks on the north are in the German state of Hesse while those in the south are in Rheinland-Pfalz. When the river turns the corner and heads north again, the train tracks on the east side of the river are in Hesse up to the town of Lorchhausen, but then in Rheinland-Pfalz as far as a bit past Koblenz. Throughout this same segment of the river, the tracks on the west side are in Rhineland-Pfalz.

Since we are not using a car, we also had to deal with the local bus service that took us from our vacation rental in Naurod-Wiesbaden to a train station or river port to start our Rhine visit.
Now I know that there are group day tickes available from the various transportation authorities. These allow small groups (typically up to 5 adults) unlimited on and off for one day in the designated area of travel. For example, there is the Hessenticket. It allows unlimited travel throughout Hessen for up to 5 adults for a flat total fee of 34 Euros. And there is the Rheinland-Pfalz-Ticket that allows unlimited travel throughout Rheinland-Pfalz. It costs 24 Euros for one adult plus 5 Euros more per person for up to four more people. So 34 Euros for three people. These group day tickets allow travel on the local buses in the designated areas as well as the trains.

(Also available is the DeutscheBahn Quer-durchs-Land ticket, which allows one day of unlimited rail travel. However, local buses are not included, and the pricing – 44 Euros for one and up to 5 additional adults at 8 Euros each – reflects the fact that all Germany, not just the Rhineland, is included.)
But was there a single ticket that would allow me to make my planned journey, which was by ship from Wiesbaden-Biebrich downstream (north) to St. Goarhasuen, followed by a train trip on the east bank to Braubach, then back to St. Goarhausen, across the river tby boat to St. Goar, and then, late in the afternoon, back along the west/south bank to Wiesbaden?

(The idea was to make the river trip in just one direction, downstream rather than up because faster; and to make the return trip on the west bank because the sun would be on that side in the afternoon instead of shining in our faces as we viewed the river from our train car. The train trip from St, Goarhausen to Braubach and back was to see the Marksburg castle before we started home.)

Furthermore, it seemed to me that the standard day tickets were priced on the assumption that one would be traveling by train both up and back, whereas most of my up was going to be by ship. The one-way fare from Wiesbaden-Biebrich to St. Goarhausen was 39.40 Euros, or 118.20 for three. Could the boat people (or any other travel authority) offer me instead a combination ticket that cost less in total than buying the boat and train tickets separately -- and also solved the problem of which train tickets to buy?

I talked to people at DeutscheBahn, at RMV (Rhein-Main Verkehrsbund in Hesse), and at the tourist information office in downtown Wiesbaden; and while they were all quite friendly, none could answer my questions abouth the best ticket strategy. Am I the first tourist ever to want to combine ship and train travel on a Rhine visit?
So the morning of our trip, for want of a better idea, we bought a local group day ticket at 10 Euros for the bus trip from Naurod to the Biebrich KD dock. (This same ticket would get us back to our lodgings after we returned to Wiesbaden at the end of the day.)

When we got to the KD dock, the agent there told us there was no ticket on offer for combined boat and train travel. We therefore bought separate boat tickets to St. Goarhausen and, when we alighted there, one Rheinland-Pfaltz-Ticket. This was intended to cover all our remaining train travel till we returned to Wiesbaden. (Since we were going to return via the west/south bank of the river, we would be in Rheinland-Pfalz the whole time.)

However, in late afternoon we just missed a scheduled KD river crossing from St. Goarhausen to St. Goar. Since the sun didn’t look too bad in the sky, we decided not to wait for another crossing, but to return to Wiesbaden via the east/north side of the river, the second part of which is in Hessen, not Rheinland-Pfalz. So could we continue on the R-P-Ticket we already had, or were we supposed to buy a new ticket or tickets for the Hesse portion?

In the end we decided to chance it and continue all the way to Wiesbaden on the R-P-Ticket. As it happend, we were asked to show our ticket(s) on the way back, but that was while we were still in Rheinland-Pfalz. II don’t know what would have happened if we had been checked in Hessen. Any ideas?

I want to add, by the way, that we enjoyed the first part of our Rhine cruise, the east-west “Rheingau” stretch between Wiesbaden/Mainz and Rüdesheim/Bingen. This section is sometimes dismissed when compared to the more dramatic scenery further down river. However, there are some fine wineries and private villas to be seen on the north side of the river. Moreover, starting in Wiesbaden gives you the chance to pick your spot on deck before the crowds board the ship.

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