Some might say that if you haven’t visited the Christmas Markets you haven’t truly experienced Europe. Imagine rosy-cheeked children unveiling the world’s largest advent calendar while sipping on gluhwein and nibbling on roasted chestnuts. These are a few of Europe’s deep-rooted Yuletide traditions. Penny Leonhardt got to partake in these festivities while enjoying all the luxury you would expect aboard AmaWaterways.
What did you enjoy most about the cruise experience? Was this a River or Ocean cruise?
This river cruise was delightful as the ship was Christmas themed. It was all decked out for Christmas, along with onboard events such as Christmas tree decorating, Christmas caroling and a visit by Santa. Ama also had a few fun surprises along the way.
Tell us about the ports/cities you visited with this itinerary.
We began our cruise in Basel, Switzerland and stopped in the small quaint villages of Riquewihr, France; Breisach, Germany; Strasbourg, France and Heidelberg, Germany. The towns were all decked out for the Christmas holiday. It was great fun looking at and purchasing the local arts and crafts…and partaking of the gluhwein (hot wine) to keep our insides warm.
What shore excursions did you go on? Which ones would you recommend?
All excursions are included with many choices for different physical abilities. The excursion I enjoyed the most is when we were docked in Strasbourg, in the late afternoon we went to Gengenbach, Germany for the nightly unveiling of the world’s largest Advent Calendar. We were the only tourists at this event among the locals. Their Christmas Market was enchanting along with the children of the town performing a skit about cats before the unveiling of the Calendar.
Did you do any pre/post activities?
I spent 2 nights in Paris before taking the high-speed train to Basel. It was cold and rainy. Paris is beautiful in the rain.
What are your top 3 pieces of advice for someone going on a similar trip?
- Dress warm. Take a hat (or buy one there)!
- Take euros to purchase items from the Markets. Many vendors do not accept credit cards.
- Each Christmas Market sells gluwein in special ceramic mugs. Be sure to collect one from each market!
What did you like most about the cruise line?
We had plenty of time in each port with many overnight stays, allowing us to enjoy evenings in town, or be able to take an evening excursion.
What are 3 things one can expect from this cruise line?
- Friendly Staff
- Included excursions
- Expert Chef menu items, with beer, wine and soft drinks included with lunch and dinner.
Did you do any shopping or specialty dining on board the ship? What were your favorites?
The AmaSonata had a well-stocked, small gift shop. They had a nice jewelry selection and Christmas gifts from each port we stopped in. The group of us had dinner in the Chef’s Table specialty restaurant, where we could watch the head Chef prepare our multi-course meal.