During winter, pleasure boat cruises and sightseeing excursions on the Rhine River are limited but still possible. The best options are during the Christmas market period or all winter from Rüdesheim, St Goar, and Cologne.
Pleasure boat day-trip cruises on the Rhine River in Germany are very popular year-round. During winter, the Rhine Valley can be hauntingly beautiful but with few visitors, riverboat cruises are also much reduced. However, with sufficient demand, KD Rhine riverboat excursions are available daily in the Loreley Valley. During the Christmas market period (around November 24 to a few days before Christmas) Rhine riverboat trips are often possible from Düsseldorf, Cologne, Rüdesheim / Bingen, and Frankfurt (on the Main River). Special New Year’s Eve party boats liven up the Rhein from Cologne, Düsseldorf, Koblenz, and Mainz, and on the Main from Frankfurt.
Note: In 2021, the Christmas market in Rüdesheim will not take place but markets and cruises are likely to take place in the larger cities.
Winter Day-Trip Sightseeing Cruises on the Rhine River
Köln-Düsseldorfer (KD) operates boat trips even on winter days on the Middle Rhine if demand is sufficient. These boats usually sail from Rüdesheim / Bingen with stops in St Goar, St Goarhausen (Loreley Rock), and Kaub.
From Cologne (Köln), one-hour sightseeing cruises depart most weekend afternoons.
Reservations for KD boats (tel 0221/2088-318) are essential during the winter schedule as boats only sail if there is sufficient demand.
KD’s Rhine River pleasure boat cruise winter schedule operates from late October to a few days before Christmas and from early January to early April.
From 24 December 2021 to 7 January 2022 no KD sightseeing boats operate at all on the Rhine or Main, except for special New Year’s Eve party cruises from mainly Cologne and Düsseldorf.
Christmas Market Sightseeing Cruises on the Rhine River
During the Christmas market (Weihnachtsmarkt) period, sightseeing pleasure cruises are available mostly over weekends on the Rhine from Cologne (Köln), Düsseldorf, and Rüdesheim / Bingen and on the Main River from Frankfurt.
The Christmas market pleasure cruises last from an hour to three hours and often include live music. Food and drink are available but usually optional and not compulsory.
In 2021, the Rüdesheimer Christmas market will not be held and as a result, very few boats will sail from Rüdesheim or Bingen during advent 2021. Cruises from Mainz and Frankfurt will continue but of course, will not include the popular Middle Rhine.
Short cruises on the Rhine are most likely from Bingen or Rüdesheim on the Bingen-Rüdesheimer line that runs the car ferry service.
New Year’s Eve Party Cruises on the Rhine River in 2021
KD operates special Silvester party cruises from Cologne, Düsseldorf, Koblenz, Mainz, and Frankfurt to welcome the New Year on a boat on the Rhine or Main. These all-inclusive party boats depart mostly around 8 pm on December 31 and return around 1 am on New Year’s Day.
Prices for the all-inclusive party boats range from around €100 to €200. The cheaper boats only include beer and soft drinks with DJ music while the more expensive boats include live music, gala buffet dinners, and unlimited drinks. All boats serve Sekt at midnight.
The largest number of boats with the widest variety departs from Cologne but boats also welcome the New Year from Düsseldorf, Koblenz, Mainz, and Frankfurt am Main.
For more details on wintertime, Christmas Market, and New Year’s party cruises see departures from Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main, and the Middle Rhine (Rüdesheim to Boppard via St Goarhausen and the Loreley).