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Author: hloisb

Joined: 10/30/2012
Posts: 5
Countries Visited:

China/Yangtze River trip/May 2013, Danube River cruise/Nov 2012), been to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Macau, Malacca, Paris, Versailles, Giverny, Rome, Siena, Cinque Terre, Florence, Venice, Vancouver, Toronto, San Miguel de Allende, Mexican Riviera and many places in the US including Hawaii and Alaska

Traveler Since: 2012

September 12, 2013

If you've taken this cruise, I'd love to hear your thoughts/tips. If you're on this trip and would like to connect ahead of time, please feel free to get in touch via email at hloisb@msn.com

Author: tripaholic

Joined: 8/30/2011
Posts: 7
Traveler Since: 2011

October 05, 2013

 I took this trip two years ago. It was wonderful. probably the best place to get tips is to read the travelers reviews for thius trip. Without a specific question, it is hard to answer, but I will try to give a couple of tips.

We had no snow but a fair amount of rain, so plan for both with the emphasis on rain.  We only had one or two days when it went below freezing. I bought a long waterproof coat with a hood from LL Bean, so it served as a warm coat for cold and a raincoat. I only  took one coat. We brought two pairs of boots in case one pair got wet. Only needed one pair - barely! Wore sneakers or walking shoes most of the time as we had no snow. Bring a winter hat, mittens (warmer than gloves) and a scarf. You will be outside a lot. 

Bring a lot of casual clothes. Two nights people dressed up but only slightly like a more dressy sweater, but not a dressy outfit. Don't waste the room in your suitcase.

Plan how you want to carry your money. Inside pocket of coat or money belt. As with any city, but especially in Cologne and the subways, there are pick-pockets. I noticed someone standing very close to my husband in the subway pretending to listen to our guide. The guide noticed him as I gave my husband the "eye" and told the man to move along. Nothing unique to this trip certainly.

The rooms do not have irons so itf you want one, bring a travel size.

Leave room for souveniers. When you buy a cup of hot chocolate or gluwine at the markets, you can buy it in a decorative mug, and each village has its own mug design. I wish I had bought more of them. 

Hope this helps. Will try to watch this in case you have any specific questions. 
We loved the trip and plan to take the Christmas along the Danube soon.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 958
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

October 05, 2013

Check whether  you are allowed to bring a travel iron.  In the past, they were considered a hazard.

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 164
Traveler Since: 2002

October 05, 2013

You will love this cruise. Don't waste your time packing an iron.  The weight of it is not worth it. Plus, there is no comfortable surface on which to iron anyway. And trying the maneuver ironing on a hard suitcase just isn't worth it.  You are all on the same cruise and no one will notice a wrinkle or two. And if they do, who cares?

Author: tickledpink

Joined: 9/10/2013
Posts: 20
Countries Visited:

Rhine & Danube Christmas markets cruises, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, UK, Ireland, most of Western Europe, Scandinavia, Leningrad no-visa cruise from Helsinki in '78, Hawaii, Alaska, NYC, Florida, Arizona & Utah national parks, Sedona and North Dakota.

Traveler Since: 1995

October 05, 2013

I'm also doing this trip on the River Concerto and also doing the Brussels pretrip starting 11/24. I'm looking forward to adding to my glühwein mug collection and checking out more Christmas markets. From my past river cruise (Danube Christmas markets), casual dress is the norm and even the "dressy" night is still casual. It's more important to stay warm and dry when out and about. I have some good waterproof boots and a down waterproof parka, so I'm feeling confident. Lots of layers is key too.  I agree with the others, don't worry about a travel iron. Enjoy!

I'm flying to Amsterdam on 11/19 for some extra time on my own - can't wait!

Jane

Author: kristenc

Joined: 4/26/2012
Posts: 65
Traveler Since: 2012

October 06, 2013

Jane, you sound very ready for your fabulous trip. Hope you have a blast - enjoy every minute!

Kristen

Author: halfpint

Joined: 9/25/2010
Posts: 49
Traveler Since: 1989

October 06, 2013

My daughter and I have done this trip 3 times, each in December, sometimes with snow (which we prefer) and sometimes rain or just cold, however WONDERFUL or we would not have kept repeating it.   Soooo wonderfrul!!!

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 164
Traveler Since: 2002

October 06, 2013

We have done all of them also. However, we find 7-9 days too short a trip.  They were wonderful but the last cruise was 14 wonderful Christmas Markets, great rain and snow, (manageable) thru Germany with another cruise line.  Would love to go on another Christmas cruise next year; they are just magical!!!!

Author: hootie

Joined: 3/7/2010
Posts: 126
Countries Visited:

China, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Romania, Transylvania, Bulgaria, Chech Republic, Slavakia, Bratislava, Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Crete, Greece, Turkey, Istanbul, Italy, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Estonia, Russia, Tahiti & French Polynesia/Society Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Bermuda, Alaska, Costa Rica, Mexico, United States, Panama Canal, Caribbean (extensively), Canada/Nova Scotia, Canary Islands, Gibralter, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Vatican City, France, Holland, Belgium, Tasmania, Australia, New Zealand, Ukraine, Russia.

Traveler Since: 2001

October 06, 2013

Are the Christmas Markets open in November???  According to GCT  "Things to know..." some markets do not open until Dec. 5th.  I hope no one gets disappointed.  We have done the Christmas markets on Danube twice, & Rhine once with GC and from Budapest to Prague with Vantage last December.  We had a much better time on all the GC trips.  The PD's were friendlier and fellow travelers were all nicer with GC.  I know the fellow travelers part being nicer doesn't make sense, but was true.  I hope everyone going has a wonderful time.  

I'd love to go again...my husband, not so much!

Author: tickledpink

Joined: 9/10/2013
Posts: 20
Countries Visited:

Rhine & Danube Christmas markets cruises, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, UK, Ireland, most of Western Europe, Scandinavia, Leningrad no-visa cruise from Helsinki in '78, Hawaii, Alaska, NYC, Florida, Arizona & Utah national parks, Sedona and North Dakota.

Traveler Since: 1995

October 07, 2013

I've checked (obsessively!) on the different Christmas markets since I board the River Concerto on 11/27 and the only market NOT open is the one in Brussels Grand Place on the pre-trip. Most markets now open in late November. I was in Vienna (pre-cruise on my own) on Advent weekend at the beginning of December in 2008 and it was a zoo!! I guess all of Austria goes to Vienna for that weekend. The final market in Nuremberg on Saturday afternoon was crazy - I've never seen so many people in one place, even at Disneyland.

I appreciate the fact that the GCT Rhine trip is 10 days instead of the 7 days on my Danube Christmas cruise with Amawaterways.

I've put a document together on all the Christmas markets along the route and even some extra markets I'm planning to visit in Alsace (Colmar & Mulhouse) once I'm in Basel for the post-trip. This, as well as other travel documents will be on my iPad as reference. Love the iPad to travel with! If anyone else going on the Rhine would like a copy, email me - <username> @ cox dot net.

Has anyone done the Bern optional excursion and is it worth going on??

Jane

Author: elna

Joined: 3/24/2010
Posts: 56
Countries Visited:

France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Russia, Austalia, Finland, Estonia, England, Scotland, Wales, Pakistan, Singapore,

Traveler Since: 2009

October 27, 2013

We took the Danube Christmas Market last year and are taking the Rhine River Market this year. Doing a break away to Geneva 26 Dec-4 Jan. TRYING to make train reservations from Basel to Geneva and Geneva to Zurich. LOVED the Christmas markets.

Author: jeanne10687

Joined: 1/10/2014
Posts: 1
Traveler Since: 2013

January 28, 2014

 Four of us will be taking this trip in December 2014.  We are interested in how much time you have to sight see in Amsterdam prior to sailing.  Also, what time we must be on board.  Thanks for the input.

 

Author: tickledpink

Joined: 9/10/2013
Posts: 20
Countries Visited:

Rhine & Danube Christmas markets cruises, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, UK, Ireland, most of Western Europe, Scandinavia, Leningrad no-visa cruise from Helsinki in '78, Hawaii, Alaska, NYC, Florida, Arizona & Utah national parks, Sedona and North Dakota.

Traveler Since: 1995

January 29, 2014

 Jeanne - there is only time for part of a day in Amsterdam if you arrive in the morning. Thijmen, our wonderful PD, did a walking tour of the red light district. I was on the Brussels pre-trip and we arrived around 4 pm. Dinner is at 7 pm and the ship sails near midnight.  The best way to see more of Amsterdam is to arrive a couple of days early. I love Amsterdam and there is so much to see and do. I did a breakaway before the Brussels pre-trip and spent 4 days in Amsterdam and it wasn't enough! I stayed in a great B&B near Centraal Station and it was cozy and very quiet.

Jane

Author: doggonegrmer

Joined: 6/18/2013
Posts: 2
Traveler Since: 2011

February 04, 2014

Jane - Do you have the contact info for the B&B you stayed at in Amsterdam?  Was breakfast included?  Have been checking out places to stay in Amsterdam and the central section or the Jordaan section look good to me.  Thanks.

Author: tickledpink

Joined: 9/10/2013
Posts: 20
Countries Visited:

Rhine & Danube Christmas markets cruises, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, UK, Ireland, most of Western Europe, Scandinavia, Leningrad no-visa cruise from Helsinki in '78, Hawaii, Alaska, NYC, Florida, Arizona & Utah national parks, Sedona and North Dakota.

Traveler Since: 1995

February 04, 2014

 It's Barangay B&B and you get the best price booking on their site. I had a patio room downstairs. It's definitely not a corporate type hotel! They have typical Dutch stairs - steep and narrow going up, but OK going down 1 flight. 

www.barangay.nl

Another B&B that's highly rated is Boogaard's B&B.

Good luck!

Jane

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