I love Europe any time of the year; however, during the fall and holiday season, the Danube, Rhine and Moselle river valleys take on their own special glow – and each has its own unique personality. A festive atmosphere takes over the Danube’s majestic capitals—Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. The Rhine inspires with storybook towns and more than 40 castles lining its riverbanks. And the Moselle forever enchants with its patchwork of terraced vineyards, while the most charming towns sit nestled between. No matter which river your clients cruise, AmaWaterways will do everything possible to make it a truly unparalleled experience.
Oceans Take You to Countries, Rivers Take You Through Them
One of the things I cherish most about river cruising is you really get to experience the destination in the most intimate way—whether it’s from the comfort of your twin-balcony stateroom watching the vineyards of autumn ablaze in red, gold and fiery orange, or on one of our small group excursions. Here are a few of my most favorite experiences during these seasons:
Autumn Cruising along the Rhine and Danube:
- Riesling wine tasting in the vineyards of Rüdesheim overlooking the Rhine.
- Bike riding through Germany’s Breisach wine country and tasting the flavors of France’s Alsatian wine region.
- Sitting on my balcony on board my namesake ship, the award-winning AmaKristina, sipping one of the local wines and watching the majestic Rhine River castles go by.
- Visiting Europe’s oldest working mustard mills in Cochem and experiencing an exclusive wine festival in Zell to taste the Moselle River Valley’s world-famous Riesling.
- Walking through medieval Dürnstein located on the Danube in the heart of Austria’s beautiful Wachau Valley tasting the local specialties, including delicious apricot jams, strudel and dumplings.
- Raising a stein of beer in Vilshofen at an exclusive German Oktoberfest celebration.
Rhine and Danube Christmas Market cruises:
- Some of Europe’s most glorious capitals grace the banks of the Danube, including two of my favorites: Vienna, Austria and Budapest, Hungary. Vienna’s Schönbrunn PalaceandBudapest’s Vörösmarty Square are two of these cities’ must-see Christmas Another favorite of mine is in Regensburg, Germany, located at Thurn and Taxis Palace; this is considered one of Bavaria’s most romantic.
- Along the Rhine, you’ll discover some of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe, including Strasbourg, France, the “Capital of Noel”; and Cologne, Germany, home to one of Europe’s largest and most well-known markets in front of its Gothic masterpiece, the Cologne Cathedral.
Whether your clients travel along the Rhine or Danube, on board they’ll always be treated to festive décor and a warm and a welcoming family atmosphere created by our exceptional crew who adds to the experience.
When Rudi Schreiner, Jimmy Murphy and I founded AmaWaterways, it was important to us to create a cruise experience that we, ourselves, would enjoy. And one of the things we admired and valued most about luxury travel was the opportunity to indulge in exquisite cuisine that brings in the flavors and traditions of each region we sail through.
Early on, the passion and expertise of our chefs caught the attention of La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, a prestigious invitation-only international culinary society and we are proud that all our ships in Europe now share this renowned distinction. But what matters even more to us is our guests are treated to the freshest seasonal ingredients sourced from local ports ashore. Each dish is masterfully prepared, whether during breakfast, lunch or dinner in our Main Restaurant, or as part of the multi-course tasting menu at The Chef’s Table specialty restaurant – an unforgettable experience included in the cruise fare. And for those guests who follow vegan, low-sodium and gluten-free diets, our chefs offer a tantalizing array of alternate menu choices at each meal.
Regional dishes and time-honored favorites are always perfectly paired with complimentary fine local wine served during lunch and dinner. For example, guests traveling along the Rhine might taste a rich asparagus risotto paired with Riesling from the famed Rheingau wine region, or an authentic German Rheinischer sauerbraten – braised beef with raisin sauce – paired with an Alsatian Pinot Noir.
Active Adventures and Wellness Along the Rivers
As a passionate advocate of living a healthy lifestyle, I continuously look for ways to enhance not only myself, but our river cruise experiences. That’s why I’m so proud AmaWaterways offers a variety of invigorating wellness activities fleetwide.
As part of our included excursions, we offer up to three or four guided bike rides and at least two hikes, so guests can enjoy the Danube, Rhine and Moselle rivers from a new perspective. They can cycle among Trier’s ancient Roman city gates; and on parts of the 170-mile Moselle Cycle Trail. Or pedal through the Parc de l’Orangerie in Strasbourg and in Cologne along the Rhine; and on the Danube, take in the scenery while biking from Weissenkirchen to Melk in Austria.
Guests who want to ensure they get in their 10,000 daily steps will leave their tracks behind on our guided hiking excursions, forging a deeper connection to historic places and the land itself. On the Rhine, they can see the sun flickering through autumn canopies on a hike through Germany’s storybook Black Forest or head to the ruins of Bernkastel’s Landshut Castle on the Moselle. The Danube also beckons with unforgettable hikes to Dürnstein Fortress, where Richard the Lionheart was once held, as well as treks to Bratislava’s and Passau’s historic castles.
In addition, a professionally trained Wellness Host offers up to five different fitness classes on board every day. Activities might include core strengthening, pilates and cardio workouts, and even Latin dance classes depending on each host’s individual expertise. I personally love waking up with a morning stretching class on the Sun Deck, especially while sailing past the breathtaking scenery of places like Austria’s UNESCO-designated Wachau Valley or the steep vineyards along the Moselle.
Kristin’s Top 5 Tips for Selling River Cruises in Fall and During the Holidays
- As you may already be aware, airfare is often less expensive in the fall and holiday seasons, so your value-seeking clients will appreciate this tip!
- For discerning travelers who seek even more authentic travel experiences, Europe’s top sites typically see less tourists, so they can experience wine harvest festivals, stroll through Christmas markets and see iconic sites as the locals do, among fewer crowds.
- Select 2019 departures offer up to $1,500 per stateroom savings, so work with your clients on the best value and optimal departure date.
- Keep your eye on the prize: With our Sell Five, Sail Free incentive, your hard work pays off. The more river cruises you sell, the closer you come to experiencing the AmaWaterways difference for yourself!
- Visit the Travel Advisor Portalat AmaWaterways.com where you can find a wealth of sales tools, educate and familiarize yourself with our itineraries and onboard experience, access our online booking system and so much more!
What’s New for 2019 and 2020
2019 is a big year for AmaWaterways as we welcome three new river ships to our award-winning fleet: the AmaDouro, expanding our presence in Portugal on her namesake river; the AmaMora, sister ship to the award-winning AmaLea, sailing the Rhine River; and the extraordinary AmaMagna, redefining the river cruise experience on the Danube River. We are so excited for guests to experience the additional personal space offered through the 53 luxurious suites on board AmaMagna, as well as her four unique restaurants and my personal favorite: the expansive Zen Wellness Studio.
Your clients who like to plan far in advance should know we’ll also be offering two enticing new itineraries in 2020. Our 7-night Treasures of the Main & Rhinefrom Nuremberg to Amsterdam gives guests a chance to visit Würzburg’s UNESCO-designated Residenz Palace, bake pretzels at a bakery in Wertheim and cruise the iconic canals of Amsterdam. And our 7-night Vineyards of the Rhine & Mosellefrom Amsterdam to Luxembourg includes visits to the distinctive Reichsburg and Lahneck castles as well as opportunities to taste Kölsch beer, Rüdesheimer coffee and the Moselle River valley’s famous Riesling wine. Both itineraries give your guests the opportunity to experience two rivers in one memorable journey and both are offered on board the new AmaSiena, joining our fleet in 2020.
Book your clients’ next river cruise adventure by calling 1.888.626.1399 or visit the Travel Advisor Portal at AmaWaterways.com today!