Get Ready Rhine Christmas Markets Cruise

Are You Ready for the Christmas Markets?

Ho ho ho! Don’t look now but the Holiday Season is fast approaching and the countdown is on! It’s time to start planning and fine-tuning all those festive details that will make our OUTbound cruise through the Christmas Markets along the Rhine River even more joyful! Below are a few things to help you make the most of your vacation with us. As always, if you have any questions that we haven’t covered, or have a special request, hit us up… either by phone at 916.683.1000 or email us at info@iamOUTbound.com.

Let’s get started!

Flight Ideas

Since our trip begins in Amsterdam and ends in Zürich (where our transfers take us after we disembark the ship in from Basel), flights can be a little tricky.

The best option is to book a ‘multi-city’ city flight, that allows you to arrive in Amsterdam (AMS) and depart from Zürich (ZRH). The advantage to a multi-city reservation is that your flights are all under one reservation number. Typically you won’t see a huge price difference between booking a multi-city reservation rather than a round trip fare.

Another option would be to look at round trip flights to Amsterdam (AMS), & then a one-way flight from Zürich (ZRH) back to Amsterdam (AMS) at the end of our trip. Both Swiss Air and KLM have several have several daily direct flights from Zürich to Amsterdam each day.

To book a one-way flight with either Swiss Air or KLM, select ‘Book a Flight’, then ‘One Way’. Enter your ‘from’ as Zürich (ZRH) and your ‘to’ as Amsterdam (AMS), then enter your ‘when’ date of travel. Our cruise ends in Basel (with a transfer to Zürich) on Saturday, December 21, 2024.

Transfers from Basel to Zürich on Saturday, December 21st are included in the price of your cruise.

The drive from our ship in Basel to the airport in Zürich take approximately one hour, so OUTbound doesn’t recommend any flights departing from Zürich (ZRH) before 1:00pm on Saturday, December 21, 2024.

You are more than welcome to look for flights leaving directly from Basel. Although a much smaller airport, Basel (BSL) offers quite a few flight options if you would rather not make the transfer to Zürich.

And of course the standard disclaimer, you are always welcome to book any flight or airline you wish and OUTbound does not guarantee or endorse any airline or flight.

Amsterdam Pre-Package Hotel

Our Host Hotel

For those of you joining us in Amsterdam for our pre-cruise program, our host hotel is the Swissotel Amsterdam, located in the city center just a few feet from Dam Square and the Royal Palace.

Address: Swissotel, Damrak 96, 1012 LP Amsterdam, Netherlands

By Train:  The train from Schiphol Airport to Centraal Station in Amsterdam is super easiest and takes less than 20 minutes, far faster than by car. To purchase your train ticket, simply exit the customs area after claiming your bags and walk to the main hall of the international terminal. Find any of the yellow ticket kiosks, purchase a one-way ticket to Centraal Station and proceed downstairs via either the escalator of elevator. The train platforms are well marked, with local and express trains running from the airport into Amsterdam regularly throughout the day.

By Taxi:  Rates for taxis can often range from €55 to €65 depending on the time of day, and are readily available as you exit the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol on the arrivals (ground) level.

By Rideshare:  Uber is available all over the Netherlands. Uber fares from the Schiphol Airport to our host hotel will often run anywhere from €50 to €60, depending on the time of day and traffic.

Transfers from the Swissotel to our ship docked near Centraal Station are included with the Amsterdam Pre-Package.

Hotel Room Upgrades

The hotel rooms included with our pre-cruise package in Amsterdam are the Swissotel Classic rooms, double occupancy. Upgrades to a Swiss Select or Junior Suite are available at an extra cost.

Call us at 916.683.1000 or email us at info@iamOUTbound.com for more information or to reserve your upgrade.

Boarding Our Ship

Getting to the Ship

Our ship will be docked near the Centraal Station in Amsterdam. The exact dock assignment will be made a few weeks before our departure, so we’ll be sure to update that information and let all our booked guests know our exact dock number and location prior to you leaving for Amsterdam.

Centraal Station Address: Stationsplein, 1012 AB Amsterdam, Netherlands

Transfers from Schophol Airport to our ship docked near Centraal Station on Saturday, December 14, 2024 are included with your cruise package.


Boarding officially begins at 4:00pm local time on Saturday, December 14th, but you are free to arrive at our ship at any time after 2:00pm. In the event your stateroom is not ready prior to 4:00pm, feel free to drop your bags at the reception desk, grab a drink from the bar and relax in the Panoramic Lounge or head up top to the Sun Deck to recover from your long travel day!

Zürich Hotel Option

Extend Your Stay In Zürich

Your transfers from Basel, where we disembark our ship, to Zürich are included with the price of your cruise.

For those of you looking to spend an extra day or two in Zürich, we suggest staying at the 25 Hours Langstrasse… one of our favorite hotels. The 25 Hours is centrally located with good sized rooms, a great staff and a fantastic bar downstairs that always has a great mix of locals and international travelers.

If you’re looking to spend more time in Zürich, we highly recommend booking a night or two on your own directly with the hotel…

25 Hours Langstrasse


Tipping Our Hosts

Tipping is the ONLY thing not included with your OUTbound vacation. We never want to dictate anyone’s generosity or decide how much you think YOUR experience with a crew member, waitstaff or tour guide was worth. How much to tip depends on the type of service you receive and your personal experience.

During our trip together, you’ll come into contact with many different servers and hosts. At the end of each day’s guided tour, you’ll have the chance to tip our guide and driver whatever you feel your experience was worth.

Onboard our ship, you’ll receive an envelope in your stateroom on the last night of our cruise before disembarking the next morning in Porto and heading down to Lisbon. It’s here where you will have the opportunity to leave a tip that will be split among the crew… waitstaff, bartenders, room stewards and the entertainment staff.

A general rule of thumb for tipping the ship’s staff is €10 per day, per person.

However, if your experience warrants something more, then by all means feel free to be as generous as you would like. If you feel that any individual in particular has gone above and beyond in making your experience something extra special, then we encourage you to reach out to them directly and let them know how much you appreciated their service during our time together.


What Money Should You Bring?

Netherlands, Germany & France

Netherlands, Germany and France are members of the European Union and each are one of the 20 countries that use the Euro (abbreviated €) as their national currency.


The Swiss Franc is the currency of Switzerland. The Euro is accepted at many establishments like stores and restaurants, but the exchange rate is likely to be unfavorable. Also, keep in mind that even if a store or restaurant does accept Euros as payment, most will return the change in Swiss Francs only and the exchange rate will vary. It’s always best to check with any business first to see if they accept Euros or hit an ATM to get as many Francs as you think you will need for your time in Switzerland.

You can also use your credit or debit card as well throughout our trip, as credit cards are widely accepted everywhere in each of the countries we will visit. However, remember that there will be additional bank charges upon usage and even a foreign transaction fee in some cases, depending on your bank.

EU Visa Requirements

Will I need a Visa to enter the EU?

No! Americans who are planning to visit Europe with us in 2024 don’t have to worry about applying for the European Union’s new travel authorization system yet.

US Citizens do not need a Visa to enter the EU.

For almost a decade now, European Union authorities have been working on a visa-like system called the European Travel Information and Authorization System. After several years of delays, the new system has now been pushed back to mid-2025 because its entry/exit database still isn’t ready.

That means US Citizens will not need a Visa this Christmas to join us on our Rhine River cruise.

Power Outlets

What Power Converters Will I Need?

For your visit to the European Union, you’ll need a Type C adapter for use on our ship as it has the standard EU power outlets. This will be the same adapter you’ll need for any hotels you’ll be staying in if you are extending your trip to Europe.

The Type C is the plug which has two round pins, like this…

You can also find a ton of options on Amazon or other retailers that will include USB ports for charging your phone, tablet and other devices all at the same time.

Keep in mind that the United Kingdom (UK) uses different power outlets than the EU, so the Type C adapter will not work if you are visiting England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland during your trip.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

If we’ve learned anything over these last couple of years, it’s that the world can be an uncertain place at times. While you’re never required to buy travel insurance, it’s a good idea and we recommend all OUTbounders consider protecting your hard-earned vacation money. The price of your coverage will depend on a few factors, including the cost of the trip, what state you live in, how long before the trip departs, and if you have any pre-existing or underlying health conditions, to name a few.

Some reasons why you might buy travel insurance include:

  • Cancel for Any Reason
  • Unexpected Work Requirements
  • Personal or Family Illness

OUTbound does not provide travel insurance. However, we always recommend using a third-party insurance carrier to provide your coverage.

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