We're booked! Christmas Markets Danube - Dec 6-13, 2023 aboard ms Savor

So excited to finally have a Tauck river cruise to look forward to. I'm using the DreamSaver I received for a trip canceled during the pandemic. This will be our first-ever Tauck tour. We're not new to river cruising, having done 4 with another tour company.

We sailed the Danube river once during the summer, so we'll be somewhat familiar with the ports. Being there in the winter will be a new experience. We're from sunny, southern California, so not accustomed to cold weather.

I would love to get tips/suggestions from those who have done the Christmas Markets before.

  • What were some of your favorite markets?
  • What were some of your favorite activities onboard the ship?
  • Overall highlights from your experience?
  • What are some "not-to-miss" places to see?

Thanks!

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Comments

  • I was just about to tell bobbette that terrilynn, the forum's expert on all things related to the holiday markets, would probably answer her questions. And you did! I learn so much from reading your posts. Thanks.

  • Thanks kfnfnfzk-- we love them and they are very reasonably priced for us. We can extend another week or two and see more of Europe and it's such a gorgeous time to be over there. We just returned from the Ultimate Alps and Dolomites which was amazing and we booked Tuscany & Umbria for 2024 (We are doing the Rhine Xmas Markets in 2023 with some friends - the itinerary has changed since the last time we went on the Rhine Xmas Markets, so some will be new for us).

  • @terrilynn -
    THANK YOU very much for your enthusiastic and very helpful response. This is exactly the kind of information I was hoping for!

    You are right @kfnknfzk, terrilynn gives great advise.

    Love the suggestion to grab lunch at the markets. We want to use our time wisely, to see as much as we can. Very happy to know about the private markets and seeing things we won't see elsewhere!

    We board the ship in Vienna and end in Nuremburg. We do plan to spend extra time pre-cruise in Vienna and post-cruise in Nuremburg. I had also thought of going to Munich after Nuremburg.
    • Do you have a recommendation for a hotel in Munich?

    I'm still thinking about how to see Budapest, too. I have been considering flying in to Budapest staying 2 nights and then taking the train to Vienna for 2-3 days before boarding the ship.
    • Have you been to Budapest during the Christmas Markets? • Is it worth a visit?

    Yes -- St. Stephan's tour. We've been there once before, but I think it will be magical at Christmas!

    Thanks for the recommendation for Hotel Victoria in Nuremburg, I will definitely look at that. Love the food suggestions, too!
    • Do you have a favorite hotel in Vienna?
    Several years ago, we stayed at a boutique hotel, Das Tyrol. It still has good reviews, so that is an option.

    Again, THANKS for your great suggestions. Your loyalty to Tauck is wonderful and makes me even more excited to tour with them.

  • One of my favorite hotels (among many lovely hotels that I have stayed in with Tauck) is the Hotel Imperial in Vienna.

  • I like Hotel Bristol in Vienna. Great location and amazing breakfast.

  • @MCD - thank you. Hotel Imperial looks lovely. I was told that is the hotel that Tauck uses.

    @chitraveler - thank you. Great reviews!

  • Bobbette - we have done Budapest Xmas Markets - when we did the Danube Xmas Markets with Uniworld, the cruise started in Budapest - we loved it - they have several markets around town - highly recommend if you have the time. I still think the best Markets are in Germany, but Budapest is worth a stop if time permits, but I wouldn't choose it over more time in Vienna & Nuremberg.

    In Vienna, we usually use the Tauck Gift of Time and stay 'free' on Tauck and Hotel Imperial is amazing. We will be there 3 nights pre cruise in November.

    Tauck will also transport you for free to either the Tauck hotel, train station, or airport at the end of the cruise - I recommend you take the free train station transfer in Nuremberg, then walk across the street to Hotel Victoria (read reviews on Trip Advisor) - it's location can't be beat as it's near the markets and the train station. The Tauck Hotel is a much farther walk and not any better than Hotel Victoria and Hotel Victoria is MUCH MUCH cheaper w/an amazing INCLUDED breakfast. Don't miss the local Handiworks area next door. It's an easy walk to the Markets and you'll pass both Cathedrals on the way to the Markets.

    You can walk underground from Hotel Victoria to the Train Station and be in Munich in an hour. We usually stay at the same hotel that Tauck uses in Munich -- Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski - great location. We have also stayed for cheaper at Platzl Hotel (also great location). The Xmas Markets in Munich are NOT good at all compared to what you will see along the Danube - but it is MUCH easier to fly home from Munich than Nuremberg. If you want a good tour of Munich, bighattours.com is fabulous - he does a great tour of Dachau Concentration Camp and a Munich walking tour. Again, don't expect the markets to be good, but Munich is great as a town. Let me know if you need restaurant recommendations any where along the way.

  • edited October 29

    I agree with terrilynn about Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten in Munich; however, I have never been there in late fall or winter.

    Hotel Bristol in Vienna is adjacent to the opera house. Again, I have not been there around the holidays, but I'm sure they have wonderful holiday performances at that time of year.

    No matter your choices, you are bound to have a most wonderful time. Enjoy!

  • edited October 30

    The Four Seasons has one of the best breakfast buffets we have ever experienced. They have multiple rooms, one filled entirely with different kinds of breads. It is on the Maximillian Strasse, just a stones throw from the Hofbräuhaus and the Munich Residenz, and is not far from Marienplatz. It has a bit of a dark history, but is a great hotel.

  • Just so you know- the Four Seasons is the same as the one kfn and I recommended- the Four Seasons is Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski -we were there in September with a Tauck Tour and the breakfast was in ONE room and sized down- but still very good

  • Yup, we stayed there, but it was awhile ago. I remember just enough German to know, vier, fünf, sechs, sieben . . . just wanted to write it in English :D

    They downsized the buffet??? Oh, no!! Is it still on the first floor??

  • @terrilynn - thanks so much for your response and all of the great information!

    I think we can make it work to include Budapest, and still spend extra time in Vienna and Nuremberg. I just need to check the flights, and which route makes the most sense coming from Los Angeles.

    I need to learn about the Gift of Time. How does that work? The Hotel Imperial does look amazing.

    Wow! Hotel Victoria reviews are incredible. Again, thank you, for the suggestions for Munich hotels. Curt and Big Hat Tours looks excellent.

    I appreciate all the effort and time it takes to share your suggestions and recommendations.

    Thank you!

  • edited October 30

    bobbette
    October 29
    . . . .I need to learn about the Gift of Time. How does that work? . . . .

    The Gift of Time, is only available to prior Tauck travelers and is a reward and encouragement to book early. It provides one pre- or post-stay at the Tauck designated tour hotels. If you are eligible and taking more than one tour in a given year, you can request and receive a GOT for each one.

    To get the get of GOT you must book your tour before the end of the GOT eligibility period, approx 1 year to 6 months prior to the departure. Recently, the end of the qualifying booking period for GOT has gotten earlier.

    There may be a limited number of rooms in some cases, so if you wait too long you might be out of luck, likewise if you want to add a couple of paid extra nights to your GOT. If you plan to go early AND stay afterwards, Tauck allows you to select which end you want to use the GOT. We choose the most expensive! :D

  • Bobbette,

    Just to clarify how the Gift of Time works, if you book more than one trip a year or multiple trips within the required booking period, you do not need to request the Gift of Time reward. The sales representative will be the first to let you know of this great feature. Moreover, when booking both pre and post tour days at the Tauck designated hotel, the representative will automatically apply the Gift of Time to the most expensive hotel. The process is virtually seamless to you. Yes, you must be a returning customer in order for this "gift" to be activated.

    Regarding the Vier Jahreszeiten Hotel in Munich, terrilynn is correct about the breakfast buffet. If you are like me and do not care for buffets, especially the hot items offered, you can always order from the menu. At least that was how it was when I stayed there twice before.

    Finally, you will always be given free breakfasts whenever you have pre and post tour days. You simply need to let the hostess/host know your room number and that you are/were with Tauck. In years past, sometimes you were given breakfast vouchers upon check-in, other times you merely had to sign the check indicating your room number and Tauck affiliation. On multiple occasions (different hotels and countries) the free breakfast was honored even when we had added five (5) to (7) post tour days!

    I look forward to reading your thoughts of your first Tauck tour. Please post one if you can. Warm regards.

  • A thought about extra days: If Tauck books the days at the hotel for you, you get the included breakfast. However, sometimes it's more cost-effective to book on your own. On my recent trip that ended in Krakow, I booked a "club level" room independently with Marriott at the Tauck hotel (the Sheraton Grand Krakow) for 2 nights after the tour ended. (I had used the Gift of Time at the Adlon in Berlin at the beginning of the tour...where, by the way, we were joined by the Rolling Stones for 2 nights!) It was a lovely room that overlooked the Vistula. The Sheraton Grand club level room was cheaper than the Tauck rate for 2 extra nights and included breakfast and "happy hour" with complimentary drinks and heavy hors d-oeuvres in the evening, which I had for dinner each night. In addition, I had a welcoming gift of fruit and macaroons in my room, which at least one other Tauck guest did not get. I didn't have to change rooms...I was in the same room the whole time...though I did have to have my room key re-keyed to allow access to the club lounge for the extra days.

  • edited October 30

    Although I did not stay extra in Nuremberg on my Christmas Markets on the Danube in 2017, I did take advantage on the day before the tour began to just grab a taxi from the Tauck Hotel to the Nuremberg Markets and just spent the day there before taking another taxi from the Markets area back to the Hotel from there. :-) Since this will be Tauck's first riverboat cruise during the Christmas Markets in 2022, I am sure that the number and types of vendors for each Christas Market will be different (more or less) as it has been 2 years when Christmas Markets were held in Germany and Austria due to the pandemic. BTW, I was fortunate to be in Vienna during the summer of 1976, not on a Tauck tour then, and was fortunate to get great seats there to see an international touring company production of "The Merry Widow" (Die Lustige Witwe) at the Theatre an der Wien. If one has the opportunity to do so when in Vienna, please do so as it will be a lifetime experience. :-)

    _

  • If you’re staying in Vienna, check out the Mozart and Strauss concert (https://www.musicofvienna.com/salon-orchestra-alt-wien.htm).
    A friend who did a Viking tour highly recommended it. We’re booked for the night prior to the Tauck tour this year. .

  • My point, addressed directly to bobbette, was that I never had to ask for the Gift of Time since the agents have always mentioned it first. Of course I would remind them in the event they did not bring it up first. It is also prudent to check your e-mail booking acknowledgement to verify all itemizations are accurate.

  • edited October 31

    We were reminded for our last booking, but that has not always been the case, so heed what British said. Your qualifying trip (returning Tauck customer) does not need to be booked nor taken in the same year as the GOT tour. You just need to be a returning Tauck customer and book within the prescribed time frame. Below is the link to the 2022 - 2023 GOT program. Note, the booking deadline for 2023 tours and GOT was 31 July 2022 so it is no longer available for 2023 if you haven't booked your tour yet. https://www.tauck.com/guest-travel/gift-of-time

    Also, if you book early, before the tour or the room rate has been set (can happen at different times), the gift of time will not show on your initial Summary of Purchase (since there are no prices). You need to keep track of the tour and room pricing and ensure you get an updated Summary of Purchase that includes the Gift of Time. There will be two entries (per person)- one a charge for the room, another a credit for the Gift of Time. During COVID there were a lot of tours being re-booked, and in some cases the extra night and the GOT were left off between bookings. We caught the omission and called to have it reinstated. Our friends did not catch the omission until much later. While they eventually had their pre-stay and GOT reinstated, it wasn't without hassle- they had to call Tauck Customer Relations to plead their case.

  • Thank you very much for all of your great responses. This information is very helpful for me, and I am taking notes on everything.

    Thanks, @AlanS and @kfnknfzk - for your detailed explanation of The Gift of Time. That is certainly a nice perk for those who’ve traveled with Tauck before. I am sure the hotels that Tauck uses are top-shelf.

    @MCD - good idea! We have done that before, (used the same hotel that a tour company uses) and actually got a better deal, breakfast and access to the Lounge. We did that at the Sofitel Chain Bridge in Budapest a few years ago.
    Wow! The Rolling Stones! The Adlon in Berlin has quite a history of famous celebrities.

    @mfrancis - yes, a concert in Vienna is wonderful. We did that a few years ago.

    Thanks, again, to all who have replied with great suggestions!

  • @kfnknfzk wrote: > ... I look forward to reading your thoughts of your first Tauck tour. Please post one if you can. ...

    I have a year-long wait for our Christmas Markets river cruise. I will definitely post my thoughts after the cruise. I am looking forward to the Tauck experience that so many people talk about.

    To be honest, I hadn't thought of using Tauck for a river cruise because I am very happy with the river cruise company that we already use. But, because we have a DreamSaver, I decided to use it for the Christmas Markets river cruise.

    How we got the DreamSaver...
    A friend of mine is a tour director who has worked for many major tour companies, including Disney, Holland America, Fly Brother, Tauck and several others.

    When I told him that I wanted to plan a Safari for 2020, he convinced me to go with Tauck. He said that they’re the absolute best. So, we booked the Classic K&T Safari for July 1.

    Well, we all know what happened in 2020 wIth the world pandemic and all travel plans were canceled. That is how I ended up with a DreamSaver.

    For now, my hubby has lost interest in the Safari. I didn’t want to lose the DreamSaver, so I am using the DreamSaver for this Christmas Markets river cruise.

    Maybe someday we’ll go on a Safari with Tauck. Hopefully in 2024, fingers crossed!

  • bobbette,

    I freely admit that I am terribly biased when it comes to traveling with Tauck, but I suspect your first Tauck tour will not be your last!

  • I whole-heartedly agree with K(cubed): Tauck is a wonderful company. We went to Portugal on the Douro with them this past June and will take our fourth Christmas Market cruise down the Rhine with them this December (our seventh market cruise overall). The Christmas Markets are just so magical no matter what your age. To me, one of the best parts of the trip is the Strudel making event on the ship. I must admit, I never met a strudel I didn't like...even if I did have to cover it in whipped cream! I just can't wait!

  • @Thetriguy - Tauck certainly has many loyal and happy guests. I am looking forward to the magic!

    Isn't the Douro river beautiful? We loved that cruise. We stayed in Lisbon for a few days before the cruise and at the end, we visited Madrid for a few days, as well.

    My hubby loves strudel, too. He was stationed in Germany when he served in the military. We will look forward to that onboard the ship! Thanks for the heads up on that activity.

    Wow! Enjoy your seventh Christmas Markets cruise! Lucky you!

  • We invited some friends to join us on our first-ever Christmas Markets cruise. They are well-traveled and have done the Danube Christmas markets a few years ago, but with a different river cruise line. Like us, this will be their first experience with Tauck.

    We're discussing options that would allow us to see more markets and spend extra time in some of the towns.

    Our initial plan is to go to Budapest first for a few days. Then take the train to Vienna, arriving a couple of days before we embark ms Savor on Dec 6.
    When we disembark in Nuremberg, we'll likely stay for 2-3 days there, then take the train to Munich, and stay for a couple of days.

    Arrive in Budapest - stay 2-3 days (need suggestions for hotel)
    Train to Vienna - stay 2 days prior to boarding ship
    Disembark in Nuremberg - stay 2-3 days
    Train to Munich - stay a couple of days (need suggestions for hotel)
    Munich airport to Los Angeles

    Some of you have already given me suggestions for hotels in Vienna and Nuremberg, thank you!

    My question for you, can you suggest hotels in Budapest and Munich? I have looked on Trip Advisor, but I would love to hear from you seasoned travelers.

    Thanks so much!

  • The InterContinental in Budapest is great. It’s right on the Danube and the breakfast buffet is huge. Tauck put us there when we had a problem with our river cruise.

  • Agree with the Intercontinental. Tauck used it for our Budapest to Amsterdam cruise in 2019. Not the fanciest ( which is maybe why they seem to have switched) but the river view rooms were wonderful.

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