Winter Day-Trip Pleasure Boat Cruises on the Rhine River in Germany

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 in Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Frankfurt or all winter from Rüdesheim via the Loreley to St Goar.

KD Winter and Christmas Market Rhine Cruises
KD Winter and Christmas Market Rhine Cruises – © KD

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 (mid-November to a few days before Christmas) Rhine riverboat trips are often possible from Düsseldorf, Cologne, Rüdesheim / Bingen, Mainz, 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 River from Frankfurt.

KD’s winter program is in operation from 23 October 2023 to 29 March 2024.

Winter Day-Trip Sightseeing Cruises on the Rhine River 2024

KD's Boppard Rhine Boat in Winter
KD Boppard Rhine Boat in Winter – © Gerd Schuth / KD

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 some 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. If sufficient bookings are already confirmed, online reservations are also possible for such cruises.

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 18 December 2023 to 1 January 2024, no KD sightseeing boats operate at all on the Rhine or Main, except for special Advent and New Year’s Eve party cruises from Cologne, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Mainz, and Koblenz.


Christmas Market Sightseeing Cruises on the Rhine River 2024

KD MS Rheinfantasie at night on the Rhine River in Cologne
© KD Deutsche Rheinschiffahrt GmbH

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, especially in Cologne. Food and drink are available but usually optional and not compulsory, except for all-inclusive cruises which usually include dinner.

Short cruises on the Rhine are most likely from Bingen or Rüdesheim on the Bingen-Rüdesheimer line that runs the car ferry service but also cruises to Assmannshausen and Burg Rheinstein mostly during the Advent period. Burg Rheinstein transforms into a “Christmas Castle” with cruises possible from Rüdesheim on most advent weekends.

New Year’s Eve Party Cruises on the Rhine River in 2023 / 2024

KD operates special Silvester party cruises from Cologne, Düsseldorf, Koblenz, Mainz, Koblenz, and Frankfurt to welcome the New Year on a boat on the Rhine or Main rivers. 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 €120 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 depart from Cologne but boats also welcome the New Year from Düsseldorf, Koblenz, Mainz, and Frankfurt am Main. Reservations are essential and best made well in advance — the Bingen-Rüdesheimer line Silvester cruises for 31 December 2023 were already booked out by mid-October 2023.

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).

More on the Rhine River in Germany

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Tips and Savings on Day-Trip Rhine Cruises

Henk Bekker in armor

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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