Rhine and Main River day-trip pleasure cruise boat excursions are possible during the pre-Christmas advent period from Rüdesheim and Frankfurt. Rhein boats also cruise the Loreley Valley some winter days.
Day-trip riverboat cruise excursions on the Rhine are far less common during winter than in summer. However, in winter, KD riverboats often cruise on the Rhine from Rüdesheim / Bingen to St Goar / St Goarhausen (and the Loreley Rock). During the pre-Christmas Advent season, sightseeing pleasure cruises depart mostly weekend afternoons from Rüdesheim, Bingen, and Frankfurt am Main. Special New Year’s Eve cruises depart from Frankfurt to welcome the New Year on the Main River and from Koblenz and Main on the Rhine.
Note: In 2021, the traditional Rüdesheimer Weihnachtsmarkt will not take place. As a result, the number of cruises on offer was also vastly reduced. Christmas markets and cruises are likely to continue from larger cities including Frankfurt, Mainz, Cologne, and Düsseldorf.
Winter Rhine River Cruises in the Loreley Valley in Germany
Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) operate pleasure boat day-trip excursion on the Rhine River throughout the year. Even during most of the winter, KD’s Rhine riverboats cruise along the Middle Rhine and the Loreley Valley – the most beautiful part of the Rhine River in Germany.
During the winter season, is usually possible to cruise from Rüdesheim / Bingen to St Goar / St Goarhausen past the Loreley Rock on daily cruises.
During winter, reservations are essential (tel 0221-2088-318) as boats only operate if there is sufficient demand. These boats may sail daily but it is worth having alternative dates available if not. Sightseeing cruises also depart from Cologne during winter (mostly on weekends).
KD’s winter schedule for Rhine river day trips cruises operate from late October to a few days before Christmas and again from early January to early April. From a few days before Christmas until early January, no Rhine River boat excursions are possible except for the special New Year’s Eve party boats in Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Frankfurt am Main, Mainz, and Koblenz (see below).
Christmas Market Rhine River Cruises from Rüdesheim and Bingen
The Christmas market will not take place in 2021 — as a result far fewer boat cruises will be available from Rüdesheim.
Rüdesheim annually hosts the International Christmas Market of the Nations (Weihnachtsmarkt der Nationen) from around November 20 to December 23. (The day of the week that Christmas day falls on determines the exact dates for the given year.) The market is hugely popular with day-trippers and bus parties, who are well catered for in Rüdesheim year-round.
KD’s riverboats sail on most weekend afternoons during the Christmas market period on two-hour sightseeing cruises from Rüdesheim and Bingen. Coffee and cakes are available but not compulsory.
Bingen-Rüdesheimer operates the car ferry crossing the Rhine but also has pleasure boat cruises with some likely during the advent period too.
Christmas Market Main River Cruises from Frankfurt in Germany
Frankfurt am Main annually hosts the biggest Christmas market with the tallest Christmas tree in Germany. (Both claims are disputed by other cities but the Weihnachtsmarkt is jolly good and big anyway.)
During the Christmas market period, it is possible to take one-hour and two-hour sightseeing cruises on the Main most Friday and weekend afternoons. Food and drinks are available but not compulsory.
On Friday and Saturday nights during advent, a three-hour all-inclusive dinner cruise may be booked for around €64.
Similar cruises are usually also available in Mainz.
The main attraction of a Main riverboat cruise is to see Frankfurt’s skyline, as it remains the only German city with a concentration of truly tall buildings. If nature and romantic historic castles are of more interest, take the train to Rüdesheim and cruise the Loreley Valley instead.
New Year’s Eve Cruises from Frankfurt, Koblenz and Mainz
KD’s Silvesterparty (New Year’s Eve party) boats depart Frankfurt (Primus Linie), Koblenz and Mainz around 8 pm on December 31 and return around 1 am on New Year’s Day. These all-inclusive party boat cruises include a buffet dinner, unlimited drinks, Sekt at midnight, and dancing to DJ-played music. Prices are around €170.