Christmas Markets Cruises 2020

Hungary (Budapest), Slovakia (Bratislava) and Austria (Melk, Linz, Vienna)

Highlights:

  • Wander through the festive Christmas Markets in Europe
  • On board concert performed by the Salon orchestra “Afrodite”
  • On board Gypsy violin and piano concert
  • Guided City Tour in Vienna includes a Viennese lunch in the city
  • Learn all the secrets of making the famous Linzer cake including a torte tasing with coffee on the culinary guided tour
  • Welcome & Captain’s farewell dinner with live entertainment & drinks

5 Sightseeing Tours Included:

  • BUDAPEST, HUNGARY: Panoramic motor coach city tour includes sights such as The Parliament Building, the Opera, Heroe’s Square & more
  • BRATISLAVIA, SLOVAKIA: Afternoon walking tour through old town
  • MELK, AUSTRIA: Tour of Melk Abbey with spectacular views above the town
  • LINZ, AUSTRIA: Morning walking tour of the old quarter & Market Hall following a culinary guided tour to two most famous bakeries in Linz
  • VIENNA, AUSTRIA: Morning city tour with local Viennese Lunch

Included Features:

  • Arrival & departure transfers Frankfurt-port, port-Nuremberg if air purchased through us.
  • Accommodations for 6 nights/7 days in cabin category of the clients choice
  • A total of 16 meals on board (6 buffet breakfasts, 4 lunches, 6 dinners)
  • A total of 5 shore excursions as outlined
  • Captain’s welcome cocktail
  • Captain’s Farwell dinner with enhanced menu
  • Free unlimited house wine/beer/sodas/water/tea/coffee for dinner daily while on board
  • Services of local English speaking guides for all tours
  • Services of on board English speaking Cruise manager
  • For all departures with 20 or more passengers, additional services of VWT Cruise Director
  • Audio units included on all tours and excursions
  • New and enhanced safety protocols applied to all sailings 

Not Included:

  • International airfare (can be priced separately)
  • Port fees and cruise fuel surcharges (listed separately in Pricing & Departures)
  • Transfers if purchasing Cruise Only (must be arranged and paid for in advance)
  • Any travel and document fees including Visa requirements
  • Optional tours as outlined in itinerary (minimum number of people required to operate)
  • Costs of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone, liquor, souvenirs, etc.
  • Tips to Crew, Cruise Directors, local guides and other staff along the route (suggested Tipping amounts will be advised)
  • Any increases in costs due to unforeseen circumstances such as: additional fuel surcharges, exchange rates or Government imposed taxes and fees not known at this time
  • Travel Insurance (strongly recommended)

Click here to see our full terms and conditions.

Day 1 Budapest, HUNGARY Embarkation after 3 pm   (D)

On arrival, transfer to your floating hotel and check in. In the evening enjoy a welcome drink and information meeting followed by your first dinner on board.

Day 2 Budapest, HUNGARY (From xx to 21.00)   (B, L, D)

In the morning, your motor coach tour of this gorgeous city, divided by the mighty Danube, will include the most popular sights: The Parliament Building, St. Stefan Cathedral, the Opera, the Heroes Square, and the town park with the Vajdahunyad Castle. There will be stops at the Heroes Square, the Fisherman’s Bastion and Gellert Hill. Return to the ship for lunch. The afternoon is free to explore the Christmas markets on your own or purchase one of the optional tours available, including the popular walking tour which will take you through the Grand Market Hall, the pedestrian zone of Vaci Utca and the largest Christmas market at Vorosmarty Square. In the evening enjoy a Gypsy violin and piano concert onboard.

Day 3 Bratislava, SLOVAKIA (From 14:00 to 20.00)   (B, L, D)

After spending the morning at sail enjoy an afternoon walking tour of this lovely city with its famous St. Martin’s Cathedral and the Primate’s Palace followed by a walk through the magnificent Old Town. Afterward the tour there will be free time for shopping and strolling through the Christmas markets. In the evening experience a lovely on board concert performed by the Salon orchestra “Afrodite”.

Day 4 Melk, AUSTRIA (From 13.00 – 19.00)   (B, L, D)

Marvel at the passing vistas while cruising through the beautiful and breathtaking Wachau Valley, renowned for its rolling hills, vineyards and fortresses. After lunch depart on your Melk Abbey tour. In addition to offering spectacular views from its location on a rocky outcrop above the town of Melk, the 900 year old Benedictine abbey, contains the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and the remains of several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria’s first ruling dynasty. Afterwards, enjoy some free time to explore the center of Melk before returning to the ship for dinner.

Day 5 Linz, AUSTRIA (From 06:00 to 18:00)   (B, L, D)

Wake up in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria. Founded by the Romans, Linz rose to prominence under the Hapsburg Empire and to date remains a vibrant cultural center. After breakfast your morning walking tour of the Old Quarter, will introduce you to the Market Hall, the Mozarthaus (where the composer wrote his Linz Symphony), the magnificent Renaissance Landhaus tower and the elegant facade of the Landestheater. If the church schedule allows, you may also have a chance to step inside the New Cathedral, Austria’s largest church. In the afternoon enjoy some free time at the Christmas market or partake in the optional sweet treat experience. This culinary guided tour will take you to the two most famous bakeries in Linz where you will learn all the secrets of making the famous Linzer cake including a torte tasting along with a cup of delicious coffee.

Day 6 Vienna, AUSTRIA (From 06:30 to xx)   (B, L, D)

Morning coach guided city tour of Austria’s Imperial city will include; the Hunderwasser, the Ringstrasse, the Parliament, the State Opera, Hofburg (Imperial Palace) and other major attractions, ending with a typical Viennese lunch in the city. After lunch, continue with a guided walking tour of one of the two most popular Christmas markets; the Rathaus or the Old Market at Freyung. The rest of the day is at leisure. You may choose to explore Vienna on your own or purchase the optional evening classical concert featuring the music of Mozart and Johann Strauss II at the Kursalon.

Day 7 Vienna, AUSTRIA (From 09:00 – Disembarkation)   (B)

After a final breakfast, pack your memories and bid your crew goodbye before transferring to the airport for your flights home.

NOTE ON CHRISTMAS MARKETS:

The official Christmas market period in most of Europe, begins mid-November and depending on city, ends December 22 – 24. In some major cities, Christmas markets may remain open between Christmas and New Year or may be replaced with other local activities in preparation for New Years’ festivities.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

While every effort will be made to adhere to the schedules outlined above, please note that all times listed are tentative and all stops and sights outlined are subject to change, substitution or alteration for reasons of passenger safety and reasons beyond our control including but not limited to: inclement weather, lock schedules, low or high water levels, museum closures and availability of specified attractions due to blackout periods, holidays or similar. Passenger compliance, understanding and cooperation will sincerely be appreciated! Please note that our Terms & Conditions including Force Majeure clauses apply in full.

Day 1 Vienna, AUSTRIA Embarkation after 3 pm   (D)

On arrival, transfer to your floating hotel and check in. In the evening enjoy a welcome drink and
information meeting followed by your first dinner on board.

Day 2 Vienna, AUSTRIA (From 00:00 to 24.00)   (B, L, D)

Morning coach guided city tour of Austria’s Imperial city will include; the Hunderwasser, the Ringstrasse, the Parliament, the State Opera, Hofburg (Imperial Palace) and other major attractions ending with a typical Viennese lunch in the city. After lunch enjoy a guided walking tour of one of the two most popular Christmas markets; the Rathaus or the Old Market at Freyung. The rest of the day is at leisure. You may choose to explore Vienna on your own or purchase the optional classical concert featuring the music of Mozart and Johann Strauss II at the Kursalon.

Day 3 Melk, AUSTRIA (From 13:00 to 19.00)   (B, L, D)

Enjoy the morning at sail while you are cruising through the beautiful and breathtaking Wachau Valley, renowned for its rolling hills, vineyards and fortresses. After lunch depart on your Melk Abbey tour. The 900 year old Benedictine abbey, located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube River, not only offers spectacular views but also contains the tomb of Saint Coloman of Stockerau and the remains of several members of the House of Babenberg, Austria’s first ruling dynasty. Afterwards enjoy some free time to explore the center of Melk before returning to the ship for dinner.

Day 4 Linz, AUSTRIA (From 6.00 – 18.00)   (B, L, D)

Wake up in Linz, the capital of Upper Austria. Founded by the Romans, Linz rose to prominence under the Hapsburg Empire and today remains a vibrant cultural center. After breakfast, enjoy a morning walking tour in the Old Quarter, where you will see the Market Hall, the Mozarthaus, (where the composer wrote his Linz Symphony), the magnificent Renaissance Landhaus tower and the elegant facade of the Landestheater. If the church schedule allows, you may opt to step inside the New Cathedral, Austria’s largest church. In the afternoon enjoy some free time at the Christmas market or partake in the optional sweet treat experience. This culinary guided tour will take you to the two most famous bakeries where you will learn all the secrets of making the famous Linzer cake including tastings and a cup of original Austrian coffee.

Day 5 Bratislava, SLOVAKIA (From 13:00 to 19:00)   (B, L, D)

Welcome to Slovakia! Enjoy an afternoon walking tour of this lovely city with its famous St. Martin’s Cathedral and the Primate’s Palace followed by a walk through the fabulous Old Town. After the tour there will be free time for shopping and strolling through the Christmas market. In the evening, experience an on board concert of The Salon orchestra “Afrodite”.

Day 6 Budapest, HUNGARY (From 8:00 to xx)   (B, L, D)

Welcome to Hungary! In the morning, your motor coach tour of this gorgeous city, divided by the mighty Danube, will include the most popular sights: The Parliament Building, St. Stefan Cathedral, the Opera, the Heroes Square, and the town park with the Vajdahunyad Castle. There will be stops at the Heroes Square, the Fisherman’s Bastion and Gellert Hill. Return to the ship for lunch. The afternoon is free to explore on your own or you may opt to purchase an optional tour such as the popular walking tour which will take you through the Grand Market Hall, the pedestrian zone of Vaci Utca and the largest Christmas market at Vorosmarty Square. Tonight prepare for your Captains Gala Dinner followed by a unique Gypsy violin and piano concert onboard.

Day 7 Budapest, HUNGARY (From 09:00 – Disembarkation)   (B)

Enjoy one final breakfast onboard before packing your memories away and transferring to the airport for your flights home.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

While every effort will be made to adhere to the schedules outlined above, please note that all times listed are tentative and all stops and sights outlined are subject to change, substitution or alteration for reasons of passenger safety and reasons beyond our control including but not limited to: inclement weather, lock schedules, low or high water levels, museum closures and availability of specified attractions due to blackout periods, holidays or similar. Passenger compliance, understanding and cooperation will sincerely be appreciated! Please note that our Terms & Conditions including Force Majeure clauses apply in full.

NOTE ON CHRISTMAS MARKETS:

The official Christmas market period in most of Europe, begins mid-November and depending on city, ends December 22 – 24. In some major cities, Christmas markets may remain open between Christmas and New Year or may be replaced with other local activities in preparation for New Years’ festivities.

 

The m/s Vivienne was renovated from the hull up in 2020, and is the epitome of affordable luxury on water! It  holds a maximum of only 142 passengers plus an attentive English speaking crew of 38. The cabins are spread out over 3 decks in 4 categories, with full floor to ceiling French balconies in categories “B” through “JS”. With a unique low draft of 150 cm, it can sail most major European rivers even during low or high waters. The ambiance on board is fantastic!

From high level international cuisine, including free drinks for dinner, 24 hour coffee station to on board activities, lectures and games, combined with a truly fascinating itinerary exploring 7 southern European countries, this unique sailing experience is sure to satisfy even the most discriminating cruise aficionado! Non-smoking interiors. On board currency – EURO (€)

Cabins

Category A: Upper Deck: Owners Suite with French Balcony, 30 m2 (323 sq ft) 

  • Floor to ceiling windows with French Balconies
  • Private bathroom with glass-enclosed shower
  • Choice of bath amenities from L’Occitane
  • Bathrobes and slippers
  • Hotel-style beds, set as double as default
  • Sitting area with table
  • Vanity desk and chair, plus a hair dryer
  • Individually controlled air conditioning and heating system
  • Flat-screen TV offering several European & International channels
  • Mini-fridge
  • Internal telephone
  • PIN-coded safe

Category A: Upper Deck: Suite with French Balcony, 22 m2 (237 sq ft)

  • Floor-to-ceiling windows with French Balcony
  • Private bathroom with glass-enclosed shower
  • Choice of bath amenities from L’Occitane
  • Bathrobes and slippers
  • Hotel-style beds, set as double as default
  • Sitting area with table
  • Vanity desk and chair, plus a hair dryer
  • Individually controlled air conditioning and heating system
  • Flat-screen TV offering several European channels
  • Mini-fridge
  • Internal telephone
  • PIN-coded safe

Category A: Upper Deck: Double Staterooms with French Balcony, 15 m2 , (161 sq ft) 

  • Floor-to-ceiling windows with French Balcony
  • Private bathroom with glass-enclosed shower
  • Choice of bath amenities from L’Occitane
  • Hotel-style beds, set as double as default
  • Vanity desk and chair, plus a hair dryer
  • Individually controlled air conditioning and heating system
  • Flat-screen TV offering several European & International channels
  • Internal telephone
  • PIN-coded safe

Category B: Middle Deck:  Superior Stateroom with French Balcony, 15 m2 , (161 sq ft) 

  • Floor-to-ceiling windows with French Balcony
  • Private bathroom with glass-enclosed shower
  • Choice of bath amenities from L’Occitane
  • Hotel-style beds, set as double as default
  • Vanity desk and chair, plus a hair dryer
  • Individually controlled air conditioning and heating system
  • Flat-screen TV offering several European & International channels
  • Internal telephone
  • PIN-coded safe

Category B: Middle Deck: Standard Stateroom with Panorama windows (window does not open), 15 m2 (161 sq ft) 

  • Panoramic river view windows
  • Private bathroom with glass-enclosed shower
  • Choice of bath amenities from L’Occitane
  • Hotel-style beds, set as double as default
  • Vanity desk and chair, plus a hair dryer
  • Individually controlled air conditioning and heating system
  • Flat-screen TV offering several European channels
  • Internal telephone
  • PIN-coded safe

Category C: Main Deck: Standard Cabin with 2 smaller Upper windows (windows do not open), 15 m(161 sq ft) 

  • Comfortable, with twin smaller river view windows
  • Private bathroom with glass-enclosed shower
  • Choice of bath amenities from L’Occitane
  • Hotel-style beds, set as double as default
  • Vanity desk and chair, plus a hair dryer
  • Individually controlled air conditioning and heating system
  • Flat-screen TV offering several European channels
  • Internal telephone
  • PIN-coded safe

 

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FAQ's

Will I need to obtain a visa for the Christmas Market Cruise

No. Visas are not required for US citizens traveling on this program.

Are transfers included?

If you have purchased your air tickets through us, your transfers will be included. However, transfers are still available for those who would like to arrange their own airfare, for a fee. For more information about transfer rates for this program, please call our office at (714) 556-8258 or toll free (800) 795-1633.

Which ship will be chartered for the 2020 Christmas Market Cruise?

Luxurious River Cruises along the Danube!
Be sure not to miss our fabulous Danube river cruises with stops at the region’s most beautiful ancient towns and baroque cities! Sailing aboard the M/S Vivienne, refurbished in 2019 and featuring 2 decks with French Balconies, she offers an upscale experience with sumptuous surroundings and impeccable service.
With her low draft she can sail the various rivers of Europe in the utmost comfort and luxury. And with a maximum of only 146 passengers and a young and dedicated crew of 32 plus English speaking Cruise managers and Cruise Directors, she will ensure that you have a cruise experience of a lifetime! Non-Smoking. On board currency (€) euro.

Will I be able to make phone calls and check emails while aboard the ship?

There are no telephone lines for outgoing calls on our vessels. Communication from ship to shore can only be done through the Captain’s radio. However, you may bring your US cell phone to use – just please make sure it is “unlocked” by your US provider in order to use it. Free internet and Wi-Fi are available ship-wide and computers are provided near the bar. The service is free, but the level of signal may vary depending on sailing itinerary and location of ports.

What is the currency should I be prepared to use?

While most of Western Europe has adopted the EURO, some of the Eastern European countries still use their own (Hungary-Forint, Serbia – Dinar, Bulgaria-Lev, Romania-Lei). For the rate of exchange to the US dollar, please check online a few days prior to your departure as some of these currencies fluctuate daily. Due to varying foreign currency laws, our ships do NOT have exchange offices on board. Therefore, we highly recommend that you BRING A SUFFICIENT QUANTITY OF EUROS OR DOLLARS in CASH prior to your departure. You will then have ample opportunity to change either Euro/dollar to local currencies.

What methods of payment are accepted on board and on shore?

While on board the ship, all costs are quoted in Euros. Direct payments are accepted in cash (Euros) or signed to your cabin and paid at the end of the navigation by cash or credit card (Visa or MasterCard only). However, a service may be applied to credit card transactions. Please check in advance and remember – cash is still “king” in most Eastern European countries. Personal and Traveler Checks are not accepted.

Due to strict foreign currency laws, here are important notes regarding on shore expenses:
Cash: is accepted and preferred. (Euros & USD)
Credit Cards: are accepted, VISA OR MASTERCARD ONLY! (Limited use outside of urban areas.)
*Credit Card Note: As of May 2014, European credit card processors require credit cards with chips and a 4-digit PIN code. Your USA magnetic strip cards may NOT work at local ATM’s requiring a PIN. Ask your bank for a chip card and/or bring along a debit card with your PIN (or enough cash to cover your expenses!)

If cash is still “king,” any recommendation of how much I should bring?

Although everyone is different, we suggest that you set aside at least 700 Euros/$1000 USD per person – to cover your optional tours and shopping expenses. If you are planning on purchasing more expensive items you may want to bring more.

I’m super excited for all the tours! But will I have any free time during the program?

Most definitely! We do our best to ensure that each of our programs offer a healthy balance of cultural immersion through our included tours and free time for our passengers. You will have plenty of free time to shop for souvenirs, explore on your own, or take one of the optional tours (when provided.)

Are optional tours offered in this program?

Yes, a number of optional excursions will be offered for sale during your cruise. These optional services are priced in Euros. Due to the last minute nature of booking optional tours which require on the spot payments to our land suppliers in local currencies – All Optional Tours require a minimum of 20 passengers in order to operate .

How does tipping work in Eastern Europe? Is it accepted and/or required?

Tipping today has become commonplace in all former Eastern Bloc countries. Due to the volatile nature of these new economies, salaries for regular folk are pitiful compared to the rising costs and inflation – let alone if we compare them to western standards. For the majority of the people working in the service industries (hotels, ships, restaurants, travel), tips and gratuities have become large sources of their income. Therefore, your gracious generosity will be appreciated throughout your trip. However, tips in the “East” are still left to your discretion. Therefore, no service – no tip! We generally recommend that each person set aside $250 to cover all tipping needs for the total duration of the program – but this is merely a suggested amount. You may leave as little or as much as you feel comfortable with. If you endear yourself to any particular crew member and wish to award them directly – please feel free to do so!

For more information about tipping, including Individual vs. Pooled Tipping, please take a look at our detailed Travel Tips For Christmas Market Cruise.

What if I have special dietary needs or food allergies?

Special meal requests are possible. If you have any food allergies or special dietary needs, please be sure to notify our office at least 90 days prior to your departure. We and the restaurant staff will make every effort to arrange for special meals, however, if you have strict dietary restrictions, you may want to bring some non-perishable snacks, crackers, dried fruits, dietary sweeteners, or other items that will compliment the limited variety of special meals.

Anything else I should make sure to pack?

For a complete list of suggested items to bring, please read our detailed Travel Tips For Christmas Market Cruise. But here are a few important items that often get overlooked!

Electrical current in hotels and on the ship is 220 volts/50MHZ. In order to use appliances, including shavers, hair-dryers, chargers for movie cameras, etc., you will need to bring:
1) Universal Transformer: to convert from US 110 Volts to 220. (Note: recent electronic equipment such as laptops and cameras MAY automatically convert. Please check your individual item.)
2) Universal Adapter Plugs: Round pins for sockets that are different than at home. Since there are no supplies of converters/ adapters, we recommend you purchase a transformer/ adapter plug set at any electronics or appliance store before you leave.

PLEASE DO NOT FORGET: Medications which are vital to your health. A letter should accompany these from your doctor (signed and dated), certifying that such medications are vital to your health. Dosage should be indicated. Always pack any personal medications in your carry-on luggage, not in your checked baggage. Additionally, those passengers with lighter physical disabilities must report them to us at the time of booking.

*NOTE ON CHRISTMAS MARKETS:

The official Christmas market period in most of Europe, begins mid-November and depending on city, ends December 22 – 24. In some major cities, Christmas markets may remain open between Christmas and New Year or may be replaced with other local activities in preparation for New Years’ festivities.