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Oberammergau Cruise Tips 2022: Seeing the Passion Play by River Cruise
Decorated Passion Play Painted House in Oberammergau, Germany (Photo: Michael Warwick/Shutterstock)

Oberammergau Cruise Tips 2022: Seeing the Passion Play by River Cruise

Oberammergau Cruise Tips 2022: Seeing the Passion Play by River Cruise
Decorated Passion Play Painted House in Oberammergau, Germany (Photo: Michael Warwick/Shutterstock)
Aaron Saunders
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After being cancelled in 20202 due to the global health pandemic, the 42nd Oberammergau Passion Play will now begin on May 21, 2022.

Many passengers on cancelled itineraries in 2020 have been provided with the opportunity to rebook, and 2022 Oberammergau tineraries are open for new cruisers to book as well.

For those who haven’t had a chance to experience Oberammergau fever, or who haven’t heard of it yet, get ready to be inundated all things Passion Play in the run-up to 2022, as river cruise lines tailor sailings and itineraries to allow passengers to take in the spectacle. Avalon Waterways, CroisiEurope, Emerald Waterways, Scenic, Tauck and Viking River Cruises were among the lines offering itineraries -- and taking bookings -- for travelers looking to attend in 2020, and it is expected that all will continue to do so in 2022 (see below for a detailed look at each line and what their current plans for 2022 are).

The passion play -- which sometimes runs well over five hours in duration -- has been performed by the villagers of Oberammergau, Germany, since 1634. Staged one year per decade, it tells the story of the Passion of Jesus, from the arrival of Christ in Jerusalem to his crucifixion, death and resurrection. Faced with the ravages of the plague that was sweeping Europe, the villagers vowed to perform the play every 10 years in the hopes that their tribute to the Passion of Christ would spare them from further suffering.

In 2022, more than 2,000 actors, performers and technical staff will bring to life 100-plus performances of the Oberammergau Passion Play. Running between May and October 2022, the play is a huge economic driver for the region; a local expression, Die Passion zahlt, translates as, "The Passion pays for it." An estimated 450,000 visitors were expected to descend on the town in 2020 before the performance’s postponement; a similar number can be expected for its rescheduled dates in 2022.

While the play has faced charges of rampant anti-Semitism in the past, modern iterations have strove to present a more balanced performance through the elimination of the play's more controversial elements. Revisions to successive performances are common, with the 2010 performance being noted for its radical changes.

For those wanting to attend the play, river cruises offer a real convenience. People attending independently must secure hotel stays, transportation, meals and tours, while river cruise lines are taking care of all of the logistic details on behalf of their passengers.

With the next Oberammergau Passion Play not scheduled until 2030, this could be the hottest ticket around for the next decade.

Oberammergau River Cruise Lines

If you've got a favorite river cruise line, chances are good that it will be developing an itinerary that includes admission to the Oberammergau Passion Play.

River cruise lines offering Oberammergau 2022 itineraries include Avalon Waterways, Emerald Waterways, Scenic, Tauck and Viking River Cruises, among others.

See below for full details.

Oberammergau River Cruise Itineraries

Because of its location south of Munich, river cruise itineraries that feature visits to Oberammergau for the Passionsspiele are often combined with an overland tour to Munich and can sail both the Rhine and the Danube. This leaves river cruise lines open to designing new and interesting itineraries that visit a comprehensive number of ports on these two famous waterways.

Here is a look at which lines are offering Oberammergau-specific river cruise itineraries in 2022:

Avalon Waterways: Avalon Waterways is offering three separate Oberammergau itineraries in 2022, ranging in length from 12 to 13 day river adventures along the Rhine and Danube. All itineraries have been crafted around the Passion Play, with a full visit to Oberammergau either pre-or-post cruise.

Emerald Waterways: Emerald Waterways is offering a trip to the Oberammergau Passion Play as an add-on to six, eight-day river cruise departures on the Danube. The extension (which is available as a separate 10-day itinerary on Avalon's website) includes a one-night stay in both Munich and Oberammergau; a welcome drink; an orientation tour of Munich; breakfast and dinner in Oberammergau; admission to the Passion Play; and transfers to the pier in Nuremberg.

Scenic: Scenic will offer five separate itineraries that include Oberammergau in 2022, ranging in length from 11 to 22 days. In keeping with Scenic's all-inclusive policy, these sailings will be paired with inclusive transfers and hotels. The company also frequently runs "free airfare" offers, as well, that can be combined with these sailings. Special Oberammergau itineraries include "Bavaria & Oberammergau wtih Gems of the Danube" (Munich to Budapest); "Romantic Rhine & Moselle with Alpine Highlights & Oberammergau" (Vienna to Amsterdam); "Jewels of Europe with Bohemian Sojourn & Oberammergau" (Amsterdam to Munich); "Jewels of Europe with Alpine Highlights & Oberammergau" (Amsterdam to Zurich); and "Rhine with Alpine Highlights and Oberammergau" (Vienna to Amsterdam).

Tauck: Tauck will offer inclusive visits to Oberammergau and the Passion Play as part of three separate itineraries in 2022: The 11-day "Heart of the Danube Featuring Oberammergau"; the 13-day "Blue Danube Featuring Oberammergau"; and the 11-day "Romantic Rhine: Basel to Amsterdam Featuring Oberammergau." Tauck notes additional details are still being finalized, but interested passengers can contact Tauck or their travel advisor. Itineraries are open for booking.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: Uniworld Boutique River Cruises offers trips to Oberammergau as a four-night optional pre-cruise extension to select "Danube Delights" river cruises aboard the S.S. Beatrice in 2022. The four-night package -- which must be paid for in full at the time of reservation, and which incurs 100 percent cancellation penalties 365 days prior to departure -- includes one night in Munich, two nights in Oberammergau, admission to the Passion Play and premium reserved seating, and all transfers.

Viking River Cruises: Viking River Cruises has four separate river cruise itineraries in 2022 that include a visit to Oberammergau's Passion Play. These include the 10-day "Oberammergau, The Passion Play" (Munich to Budapest); the 12-day "Oberammergau, Innsbruck & the Rhine" (Amsterdam to Oberammergau); "Oberammergau with Salzburg" (Oberammergau to Budapest); and "Oberammergau, The Alps and the Rhine" (Munich to Amsterdam).

Oberammergau River Cruises Tips

Book Early. With limited availability, early booking is essential for these voyages, some of which are already sold out.

Budget Appropriately. Because of the high demand for these special itineraries, some cruise lines are requiring additional deposits in order to make a booking. Uniworld, for example, requires full prepayment of its Oberammergau pre-cruise add-on at time of booking.

Check Frequently. Because these voyages are so far out in the future, a few river cruise lines are still determining the exact ships that will operate these runs. Each line is at a different stage for their Oberammergau voyages, making it important to check with your favorite river cruise company to see if they are taking bookings at the moment and, if they are, what (if any) special conditions will apply to these river cruises.

Updated March 10, 2021

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