River Cruise of Christmas Markets

Jun 27th, 2006, 10:43 AM
  #1  
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River Cruise of Christmas Markets

My wife and I are contemplating taking a river cruise of the Christmas Markets along the Danube. We'd like to hear from any Fodorites who have taken a similar trip?
oberost is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 10:50 AM
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I took one on Viking in November 2003. What would you like to know?
Patty is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 11:00 AM
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I was on a Grand Circle tours Danube cruise last December and really enjoyed myself, contrary to my expectations (my husband and I always travel independently, but he doesn't like boat travel or shopping...so he stayed at home). The Christmarkets were very interesting; my only regret was that I hadn't taken a folding shopping cart with so as to buy everything I wanted.

GCT did a fine job of laying out the itinerary, and the on-board guides were excellent. The local guides at several cities we visited also did a very good job, with a focus on history and culture.

Food on the ship was terrific at every meal, and the service was fine.

Absolutely no complaints, although I wish the trip had been a few days longer.

You'll probably hear from a few people who have nothing good to say about GCT--don't let that put you off. The friends with whom I traveled have been on about a dozen GCT trips and have nothing but praise for the company. Just be sure to buy good travel insurance in case of health or other problems. Most of the complaints are from people who didn't research cancellation penalties.
Underhill is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 12:09 PM
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We have been looking at either Uniworld or Viking but will check GCT. Wondering about weather in November/Decmeber... ice on river which might be a problem?
oberost is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 12:50 PM
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We didn't experience any ice on the river but sometimes there are low or high water issues that make the rivers unnavigable (and this is possible any time of year, not just Nov/Dec). Do a search here for river cruises.

We were very happy with Viking and wouldn't hesitate to recommend them.
Patty is offline  
Jun 27th, 2006, 04:45 PM
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We (husband and I) took a GCT River cruise 12/26/05 returning 01/03/06. It was fantastic being on the river during New Year's Eve. At our request, the guide obtained tickets for the New Year's Eve concert at the wonderful concert hall in Cologne. It was an easy walk from the boat.
We walked back amid showers of fireworks up and down the river lasting until after 1:00 AM.
Boat, food, guides and trip were all good. It was brisk...snowed twice. Easy to sightsee because the old part of the cities are on the waterfront.
We are planning another GCT river trip.
effingham is offline  
Jun 30th, 2006, 09:41 AM
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oberost,

We were on the Uniworld River Empress last December for the Christmas Markets Prague-Vienna. It was a great trip. The ship is nice, the crew is nice, the sausages and gluhwein great! There were always Christmas cookies and fruit everywhere on the ship, they greeted us everyday with a hot beverage (usually gluhwein), and nice decorations.
hobse is offline  
Jul 7th, 2006, 09:39 AM
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Thanks for your replies. We have booked a Uniworld cruise leaving from Regensburg and finishing in Budapest at a great price (air included) and a cabin upgrade from 5 to 1 at no extra charge. Looking forward to good weather to get our of PHL on December 5th and no problems for the trip. Wish us luck.
oberost is offline  
Jul 7th, 2006, 09:55 AM
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Hope you have a great trip!
Patty is offline  
Feb 1st, 2007, 07:26 AM
  #10  
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Patty & other Fodorites... my wife and I had a great time! Weather was wonderful- no rain or snow ... only weather problem was FOG! We had to dock during the night on way to Passeau and had to get bus there. River Empress followed us when fog lifted and our trip continued from Regensburg to Budapest... if you would like some of my pictures, let me know.
oberost is offline  
Feb 1st, 2007, 09:34 AM
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Oberost
Thank you so much for your followup. It is always helpful to hear how things went. Happy traveling! CJ
CarolJean is offline  
Feb 1st, 2007, 12:01 PM
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Glad to hear you had a great time.
Patty is offline  
Mar 26th, 2007, 09:58 PM
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We are considering a Christmas market cruise on one of the various lines that offer such a trip. oberost mentioned an upgrade from a level 5 cabin to a level 1 - I definitely want to do the upgrade but was told it would cost $800/person from various cruise lines. Is it typical to get a free upgrade like this? Also, I've seen a few people talk about not being able to cruise for various reasons (low water, fog, etc), in your opinion, how negatively did this impact your trip? Finally, would love to see pics from anyone that is willing to share.
dakotapie is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 11:03 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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Underhill mentions that Grand Circle did well by him. Unfortunately I will not get to experience their tours. I was notified today, one week prior to my Egypt trip with OAT (Grand Circle), that because of overbooking, my reservation, made in April, is being cancelled.

I was offered another reservation for March- (Egypt's summer. Thanks a lot).
I contacted the better business bureau and was informed that:

"On 12/22/06 the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office announced a settlement with Grand Circle LLC. The company has agreed to pay cash and travel voucher refunds to more than 730 travelers resolving allegations that the company did not give it's travelers adequate notice of cancellation of the cruise portion of their trip. "
They are no longer a member of the better business bureau and the company is considered "Unsatisfactory".

Please let your friends know about the policy of this travel company and.....buyer beware!!

While they may do well once you are on their tour, you need to be aware that you may be bumped at the last minute.

jkr2006 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 12:10 PM
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You already posted about your bad experience under another topic. You should be aware that overbooking happens with all tour companies, not just GCT. Did you buy trip insurance?
Underhill is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 02:16 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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Underhill, yes I do have trip insurance. Fortunately, I have never before been bumped although I have taken many tours.
I used Vantage for a Christmas cruise in 2006 and it was just delightful. The markets are very colorful and the food is great.
Yes, I have posted the information about Grand Circle on other forums so that all Fodorites will be able to make informed decisions about their choices. A vacation cancelled due to the whim of a tour company is not something I would wish on others; I'm sure you would want to know both the good and bad about a company you are considering.
jkr2006 is offline  
Nov 3rd, 2007, 08:25 PM
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I doubt that many tour companies cancel "on a whim." There are good reasons for cancelling, although you may not like them. Those reasons are usually spelled out in the tour terms.
Underhill is offline  

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