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Christmastime from Vienna to Basel 2021

From Vienna, Austria to Zurich, Switzerland
Length: 16 Days - Departs: Fri, Dec 03, 2021

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River Cruise Itinerary

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Open a gift wrapped in glowing lights and sights of the inviting beauty of Christmas markets on the Danube and Rhine River. Embark on special departures for the festive season in Europe’s most beautiful Christmas markets and festivities. Enjoy the jolly atmosphere on our decorated Suite Ships® as you delight in the sights, smells, and tastes of local Christmas traditions along your river cruise. Enjoy stunning winter views on the Danube with the warm glow of Christmas markets, beautifully adorned with ageless traditions. Savor the special views of the season by embarking in Vienna with a culinary tour in the Christmas markets of the City of Music. Sail through the wonderful Wachau Valley with visits to Melk’s magnificent Benedictine Abbey perched above the Danube. In Passau, browse through the shining Christmas markets in the “City of Three Rivers.” On to Regensburg for Christkindlesmarkt shopping and beer tasting on board, and a visit to Nuremberg with your choice of a city tour or the WWII Rally Grounds. Spend a day exploring the Christmas markets here for traditional keepsakes and delicious specialties. Take an excursion from Nuremberg to Munich for to see the historic home of monarchs at Nymphenburg Palace. In Bamberg, tour the city of seven hills of the Imperial Dynasties, and enjoy onboard Christmas Traditions lecture as you sail to Würzburg—the “Pearl of the Romantic Road”—with Christmas markets brimming with holiday cheer. Visit a quaint Bavarian Main River village and enjoy a cookie-baking demonstration on board your ship. Take an excursion to Rüdesheim in the Rhine Valley wine region to experience the joyful Mechanical Music Museum. Enjoy Christmas market lights and delights through Heidelberg and Speyer before sailing to Strasbourg for the La Petite France district and shimmering Christmas markets. Continue on to the Black Forest for a traditional Bavarian Christmas atmosphere or visit the largest wine producer in Europe at Badischer Winzerkeller winemakers. Your European Christmas cruise concludes in Basel, Switzerland.

  1. Day 1
    VIENNA, AUSTRIA (EMBARKATION)
    Fri, Dec 03, 2021
    Welcome to Austria. Your Suite Ship® is Ready for Boarding.Flights into Vienna must arrive by 3:30 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.Indulge in traditional holiday fare and hot libations to warm your heart and soul before boarding.(D)
  2. Day 2
    VIENNA
    Sat, Dec 04, 2021
    Royal Collections, and Culinary Confections CLASSIC Take a Guided Tour of Vienna to see the Imperial Palace complex—the winter residence of the Imperial family, OR: DISCOVERY Join a Guided Culinary Tour of Vienna’s magical Christmas Advent Markets to sample Sachertorte and Apfelstrudel. You may join a Guided Optional Tour of Schönbrunn Palace—summer home of the Habsburg dynasty for 300 years.Spend free time on your own to enjoy the Christkindlesmarkt, or relax by the fire’s glow in a Viennese café this evening. Alternatively, this evening, you may choose to attend an Optional Excursion to a Royal Waltz Concert for an unforgettable evening of music in an elegant hall.OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO MELK(B,L,D)
  3. Day 3
    MELK–GREIN
    Sun, Dec 05, 2021
    Striking Frescoes and the Breathtaking Wachau ValleyCLASSIC Take a Guided Tour of Melk’s magnificent Benedictine Abbey to marvel at its frescoed ceilings.DISCOVERY Enjoy an Austrian Cookie Tasting on board while sailing to Grein.CLASSIC Take a Guided Walk of Grein, including its historic theater, the oldest in Austria still holding regular performances.Enjoy live entertainment on board.OVERNIGHT DOCKING IN PASSAU(B,L,D)
  4. Day 4
    PASSAU
    Mon, Dec 06, 2021
    Saint Stephens, Salzburg, and the Story of Silent NightCLASSIC Join a Guided City Walk to learn more about this beautiful “City of Three Rivers.”You may like to join a Guided Optional Excursion to Salzburg, Austria. See the setting of The Sound of Music, and learn the story behind the beloved Christmas hymn, Silent Night. EVENING/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO REGENSBURG(B,L,D)
  5. Day 5
    REGENSBURG
    Tue, Dec 07, 2021
    Christmas Magic in Bavaria’s Medieval Miracle CLASSIC Join a Guided City Walk and see Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) and Porta Pretoria—entrance to the Castra Regina fortress built in 179 AD. Take time to browse Regensburg’s sparkling Christmas markets. Enjoy hot-mulled wine, candied almonds, gingerbread, or bratwurst.DISCOVERY Later, indulge in an onboard Beer Tasting to sample regional German brews.Enjoy live entertainment on board.EVENING/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO NUREMBERG(B,L,D)
  6. Day 6
    NUREMBERG
    Wed, Dec 08, 2021
    Living Heritage and History Lessons DISCOVERY Enjoy a Christmas Traditions Lecture on board while sailing this morning. CLASSIC Choose a Guided Tour of Nuremberg’s medieval architecture, gilded fountain, Gothic cathedral, and Kaiserburg Castle, OR:CLASSIC Join a Guided Tour of the historic Nuremberg Rally Grounds—used by the Third Reich.Spend free time on your own to browse the spruce stalls of the Christmas Markets of Nuremberg. Sample favorite Bavarian fare—from dozens of bratwurst varieties, gingerbread, mulled blueberry wine, and countless other culinary delights of the Christkindlmarkt. OVERNIGHT DOCKING IN NUREMBERG (B,L,D)
  7. Day 7
    NUREMBERG. EXCURSION TO MUNICH
    Thu, Dec 09, 2021
    CLASSIC Enjoy a Guided City Tour which will show you the highlights of fascinating Munich. See Nymphenburg Palace—a former residence of Bavarian monarchs, along with the Old and New Town Halls of Marienplatz.Return to your ship in Nuremberg in the late afternoon.OVERNIGHT DOCKING IN NUREMBERG(B,D)
  8. Day 8
    NUREMBERG
    Fri, Dec 10, 2021
    Living Heritage and History Lessons A day to relax and enjoy Nuremberg at your own pace. Stroll through the festively lit streets, buy those last-minute Christmas gifts, or ask your Cruise Director for suggestions of things to do.Later, enjoy live entertainment on board.EVENING/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO BAMBERG(B,L,D)
  9. Day 9
    BAMBERG
    Sat, Dec 11, 2021
    Cherished Christmas Customs and Cradle ScenesCLASSIC Join a Guided Sightseeing Tour of Bamberg—medieval home of Germany’s Roman Empire dynasties. Stroll through dozens of Bamberg’s nativity scenes—from miniature to life-size. Take free time to enjoy the quaint Christmas markets, and warm up with traditional German dumplings, sausage, and a glass of hearty Bavarian ale.DISCOVERY Enjoy an onboard Christmas Traditions Lecture while sailing. EVENING/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO WÜRZBURG(B,L,D)
  10. Day 10
    WÜRZBURG
    Sun, Dec 12, 2021
    Ornaments, Old Saint Nicholas, and Nutcrackers Sweet CLASSIC Take a Guided Sightseeing Tour of the “Pearl of the Romantic Road” with its Old Main Bridge, towering fortress, and baroque Bishop’s ResidenceYou may choose to join a Guided Optional Excursion to the beautiful Bavarian town of Rothenburg. Visit the Käthe Wohlfahrt German Christmas museum—the world’s most extensive collection of traditional German Christmas decorations.Spend free time enjoying the festive, warm glow of Wurzburg’s Christmas markets. Later, enjoy live entertainment on board.EVENING/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO MAIN RIVER VILLAGE(B,L,D)
  11. Day 11
    MAIN RIVER VILLAGE
    Mon, Dec 13, 2021
    Hidden Gifts and Holiday DelightsCLASSIC Take a Guided Tour of a picturesque village along the Main River.DISCOVERY Join a Cookie-Baking Demonstration on board your ship while sailing.AFTERNOON/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO FRANKFURT(B,L,D)
  12. Day 12
    FRANKFURT. EXCURSION TO RUDESHEIM
    Tue, Dec 14, 2021
    Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Wine Country DISCOVERY Tour the incredible Mechanical Music Museum for a one-of-a-kind instrumental experience in Rüdesheim, enjoy a local special treat.EVENING/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO SPEYER (B,D)
  13. Day 13
    HEIDELBERG EXCURSION. SPEYER
    Wed, Dec 15, 2021
    Winter Wonders and a Wine Barrel Fit for a King CLASSIC Take a Guided Tour that includes the magnificent Heidelberg Castle and the Great Vat—the world’s largest wine barrel.After the tour, visit the local German Christmas Markets in Heidelberg. Explore at your own pace to soak up the sights and sounds, tantalizing treats, and seasonal handiwork of these sparkling winter wonderlands. This evening, enjoy live entertainment on board.EVENING/OVERNIGHT TO STRASBOURG (B,L,D)
  14. Day 14
    STRASBOURG, FRANCE
    Thu, Dec 16, 2021
    A Gothic Cathedral, Heaven’s Time, and Joyeux Noël CLASSIC Come along for City Sightseeing, including the city’s gothic, stained-glass cathedral with its celebrated ancient murals and astronomical clock, as well as the magical La Petite France District.You may choose to join a Guided Optional Excursion to beautiful Alsace, for an afternoon in a French wine-country village. Savor the warmth and glow of Christmas tradition by spending your free time this afternoon wandering the French winter markets of Strasbourg. Take in the lights, music, and the pleasures of the season. EVENING CRUISE TO BREISACH(B,L,D)
  15. Day 15
    BREISACH, GERMANY. EXCURSION TO BLACK FOREST
    Fri, Dec 17, 2021
    History, Artistry, and the Beautiful Black ForestDISCOVERY Visit to Badischer Winzerkeller, the largest German wine producer in Europe. Discover Germany’s southernmost wine country in Baden—ideally situated between the hills of the Black Forest and the Rhine River. Learn about the vintners’ process in the vineyards here, and enjoy a wine tasting, OR:DISCOVERY Join a Guided Tour to the magical Black Forest to experience local traditions and the vibrant Christmas mood.You may choose to join a Guided Optional Excursion to visit the charming village of Colmar, with its half-timbered medieval and early renaissance buildings. Alternatively, spend your afternoon leisurely browsing Breisach’s lovely Christmas market to sample bretzels, mulled wine and Black Forest cake. EVENING/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO BASEL (B,L,D)
  16. Day 16
    BASEL, SWITZERLAND (DISEMBARKATION)
    Sat, Dec 18, 2021
    Your cruise ends with breakfast this morning.Flights should not leave Zürich airport before 10 am or Basel airport before 8 am.(B)

Countries Visited

Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany

Rivers Visited

Main, Rhine, Danube

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Inclusions

  • In the event of technical or water level issues, it may be necessary to operate the itinerary by motorcoach or alter the program, including hotel overnight when necessary.
  • Included visits and special features are subject to change. If a change is necessary, a substitute will be offered.
  • Please check visa requirements with your local consulate(s); responsibility for obtaining visas rests with the traveler.
  • Christmas markets generally operate from late November until the third week of December, depending on the location.


Accommodation Information

Gateway city for departures is Zürich.

Port charges:
$420

Gratuities to Local Guides & Excursion Drivers are included.

Avalon offers the opportunity for solo travelers to sail with no single supplement (subject to availability).

Please call for single accommodation price. Triples not available.

Additional accommodations before or after your tour may be available.

All prices per person based on double occupancy. Cruise price based on Category E in a deluxe outside stateroom on Indigo Deck. See below for upgrade pricing.

Health and Safety Protocols for Avalon Waterways

Today's world has changed, but what remains certain is Avalon Waterways' commitment to guest safety, comfort and peace-of-mind while traveling with us. To that end, Avalon Waterways has established a worldwide Assurance program, with enhanced on-trip protocols and procedures, to ensure the health – and happiness – of guests throughout their travels with us.

It all starts with Avalon Waterways' Global Health & Safety Team, dedicated to ensuring that cleanliness of all operations exceeds today’s travel standards—from start to finish. The following areas address Avalon Waterways' commitment to providing a safe and clean environment for guests.

WELCOME ABOARD

New embarkation procedures to offer guests a safe start to their journey, including:

  • Social distancing throughout embarkation
  • Mandatory health screening, including touch-free temperature-check, for all guests and crew
  • Luggage disinfection prior to onboarding (with crew wearing gloves and masks)

FRESH AIR, INSIDE AND OUT:

In addition to Avalon Waterways' Open-Air staterooms, the air in the ships is not circulated between staterooms; only within an individual stateroom and mixed with fresh, outside air.

BLENDING CULTURAL PROXIMITY WITH SOCIAL DISTANCE:

New social distancing guidelines for guests throughout their Avalon cruise include:

  • Reducing ship capacity as required for more space on board per guest
  • Introducing more dining venues for more dining space per person
  • Crew wearing masks for the duration of the cruise during any guest interaction
  • Providing masks for guests to wear during any event where social proximity could become an issue, including disembarkation for excursions and safety drills
  • Adjusting ratio of guides and coaches for excursions, as required

NEW TECHNOLOGY TO ENSURE CLEANLINESS:

  • Electrostatic disinfecting systems
  • UV disinfecting systems

TOUCHING HEARTS, NOT HANDS:

Reducing risk with hands-free service, including:

  • More hand-sanitizing stations throughout the ship
  • Required use of hand-sanitizing stations when leaving the ship, returning to the ship and entering dining venues as well as entering each public/common space
  • Self-serve stations, including buffets, drinks, specialty coffees and snacks have been replaced with crew service
  • All buffets (breakfast and lunch) replaced by a full range of á la carte menu choices
  • Hourly (or more frequent) disinfection of all public areas

COMMITMENT TO THE CLEANEST SHIPS:

Enhanced cleaning procedures throughout each ship, including these additional steps that go above-and-beyond Avalon’s already strict procedures:

  • Deep disinfection of each stateroom between cruises, including:
    • Use of disinfectants and cleaning materials that meet the highest standards
    • Soft goods in each stateroom (mattress, sofa, window coverings, chairs, etc.) disinfected between cruises
  • Disinfection of all dining areas between meals
  • Disinfection of all shared items like umbrellas, bicycles and other Adventure Center items
  • Disinfection of all goods prior to loading on the ship
  • Ongoing crew training in protective equipment use and hygiene

FOCUS ON CREW HEALTH:

Ensuring a healthy crew, including:

  • Medical certificate required prior to start of contract
  • Daily temperature checks
  • Social distancing in crew living quarters
  • Regular health screenings

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Ship Information

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Cabins

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Life on Board

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Questions & Answers

Question: Will the day-by-day itinerary change?

Yes, the river cruise itineraries may change due to reasons such as inclement weather or unforeseen events. Your safety is the number one concern aboard and all precautions necessary will be taken in order to ensure passenger safety, including changing itineraries. Please note that when itineraries do change, the ship staff will do their best to substitute any missed port with an alternative destination.

Question: In what language is the river cruise conducted?

The river cruise will be conducted in English only.

Customer Reviews

Overall Rating
4.2
Accommodations
4.4
Itinerary
4.2
Professional Staff
4.6
Repeat with Operator
4.1
Value for Money
3.9

Ratings based off 77 reviews - currently showing 17 reviews with comments only

Avalon River Cruise was wonderful. Accommodations, meals and crew were all amazing. The only negative was the bus tours to the Christmas Markets which falls on the tour guides. They did not take into consideration the passengers ability to keep up with the tour and spent too much time on other aspects of the tour and rushed us through the markets. Would be better if the bus dropped us off and the markets and let us walk around and tell us up front a meeting place to return to the ship.

My granddaughter and I had a great time. We enjoyed everything from flight to and flight back home. The staff on board the ship were very pleasant, food service and entertainments were fantastic and the cruise excursions were super. 5 star all the way..Very organized vacation.

Avalon provides different levels of activities and even provides a guide for " gentle walkers", those that others always have to wait for, which makes for a better experience.

We loved the entire trip and accommodations!

Eric was very informative and we felt confident in his knowledge.

Because of low water issues, we did not sale on the Visionary and were not told of the change until we arrived in Prague. We sailed on the Inpression for three days and then were bussed to Passau where we changed to another ship, the Artistry II. Because of low water problems we were bussed to the Marriott to complete our trip. Avalon did a good job making the changes and will be making an adjustment of the cost of he trip because of he low water issues. All of the packing and unpacking was an inconvenience but Avalon did a great job making it all work.

Water was too low because of severe drought. Ship was notified that we couldn.t go upstream from Koblenz thru the Rhine George to Rudesheim and return to Koblenz. Our cruise director was able to make arrangements for us to go by coach to the river and get on a smaller boat and take us to Budesteim and back. Then had a coach pick us up and takes us back to Koblenz to where our ship was anchored. The crew and cruise director went above and beyond to make sure that we were able to see everything that was contained in our vacation package.

The Avalon Romantic Rhine trip was pleasant and relaxed. Additional options were available before, during and after the trip. We even rode bikes (supplied by the ship) at one of the ports one afternoon. I did miss seeing an arrival day option in advance, until taking my luggage to the ship but we had planned to arrive a day early to do this one (windmills) ourselves anyway. My biggest concern was knowing where the ship would dock and how we might get to it; this turned out to be not only a convenient location, but I received an email with a map two days in advance.

we had a wonderful time. Loved everywhere we went. the guides we wonderful. Food best I ever had. Staff 5 diamond service. State Room beautiful and comfortable. Best Time Ever Had will come again and try a different package.

I would strongly recommend Avalon River Cruises to anyone. Even though a barge sinking blocked our progress to Budapest, Avalon did a great job of making to remaining 4 days of the trip very enjoyable.

I was happily satisfied with the entire experience, especially Nico the manager of the trip. My only negative is that I think the gym could have been a bit bigger as it was filled (3machines) each time I went and I had to come back to find a spot. Nice work !

The river cruise was fantastic and met our expectations. However, the flight itinerary coming back to the US was not convenient and poorly arranged. We had a direct flight from Prague to JFK and then a 4 hour lay over before our flight to Washington DC left. With we got back to our home airport around 4:30 am. The return day was totally exhausting. We were surprised that our flight wasn't more convenient as we had booked the trip in November 2017.

The crew on the ship were first class, everything was very good.

We were extremely pleased with the efficiency and friendliness of all the staff and arrangements. Everything was wonderful!

My first river boat cruise was wonderful. We experienced complications due to Europe flooding. Even with many changes, further needs etc, we were assisted and guided through it all.

The overall experience was very professional. Avalon Tours made the transition from airport to the vessel seamless and supportive. Staff aboard the Avalon Visionary was exceptional. The guides were knowledgeable and very helpful. Great tour.

My first river cruise was an excellent experience. It was well-planned and exceeded my expectations. I look forward to booking another cruise through Affordable Tours in the future.

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AffordableTours.com is a travel agent for Avalon Waterways. Brochure Price is based on the itinerary's highest brochure price. Our price reflects our base price for the same departure as Brochure Price. All prices, itineraries, accommodations and dates are subject to change without notice and at any time. All prices are USD per person and based on double occupancy. Availability is limited and must be reconfirmed at time of booking. All prices change frequently and our website prices are not guaranteed until a deposit has been received by us. The prices on our website are intended to serve as a guide only and may not accurately reflect current prices. We are not responsible for errors, omissions, or changes in these prices until a booking has been confirmed by one of our agents. Please call us toll free at 1-800-342-0019 to confirm current prices and availability. Prices listed are per person, cruise only, and based on double occupancy.

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