Looking for something different to do this holiday season? Believe it or not, it is already that time of year to make your plans. Consider a luxury Christmas River Cruise in Europe for a truly festive experience, even for the most seasoned travelers, who are sure to revel in this unique vacation choice. No need to stay home when you can journey to culture-rich and historic destinations on a beautiful river ship – and get pampered along the way.
Immerse yourself in a magical world of twinkling lights in towns and cities aglow with twinkling and colorful decorations. The captivating scents of gingerbread and other delightful goodies will greet you as your voyage takes you along such storied waterways as the Danube, Rhine and Seine rivers. Meander along in serene comfort to small villages and large towns of Austria, Germany and France, depending on which ship you are on. Some itineraries may also include The Netherlands and Hungary. Typically offered from November through December, they offer a festivity-filled holiday travel experience like no other.
Perfect for a multi-generational winter getaway, spend quality time with your extended family on a delightful Christmas market river cruise that is fun, special and memorable. Catch-up with loved ones as you completely relax, without cooking, cleaning or having to play host. Instead, you will be pampered by an attentive English-speaking staff. Glide along in splendor as you savor exquisite cuisine, retreat to generous stunning accommodations – most with a veranda and enjoy delightful amenities, including soothing spa services.
Onboard your luxury river boat, holiday lights and a convivial atmosphere will enhance your journey. Take specially designed tours; enjoy organ recitals, cocktail parties and local celebrations that have been practiced for centuries. Mouthwatering cuisine, including regional classics and once-a-year delights will add to the joyful environment.
History will come alive as you explore historic cobblestone squares, a centuries old gathering spot for residents. Locals would come here to purchase ingredients for their holiday meals and special treats, as well as warm up with delicious hot-spiced wine while musicians played. You’ll experience the same ambiance and ancient holiday traditions as the locals while getting a precious glimpse into their culture.
Discover treasures at the many Christmas markets, featuring everything from hand-carved nutcrackers to beautiful hand-blown tree ornaments, the perfect souvenir. Savor decadent brandy-filled chocolates, fruitcakes and gingerbread, including Germany’s classic heart-shaped gems. Warm up with glühwein, the area’s traditional mulled wine, which is available with or without alcohol as you share the holiday spirit with the locals.
Hand-made crafts are featured at Budapest’s famous Christmas market on Vörösmarty Square where you may treat your palates to such traditional Hungarian foods as kinder lanugos, a bread-like dough with various toppings and rites, a world-famous mouthwatering strudel dating back to the 19th century. Your taste buds will sing with delight as you nibble on Flooding, a traditional Jewish cake layered with poppy seeds, walnuts and a plum preserve filling. Musical events are often held here and puppet shows on weekends, adding to the jubilant atmosphere.
A unique beauty, Nuremberg’s world-famous Christkindlesmarkt is one of Central Europe’s oldest and largest, housing more than 200 wooden candy cane striped stalls, filled with goodies. Beautiful hand-painted ornaments and toys provide the perfect souvenir for friends and family. Make memories on a carousel ride and enjoy the sounds of brass quintets. Highlights also include “Nuremberg Plum People,” tiny puppets handmade of prunes, figs and walnuts, with faces painted and exquisite gold foil angels traditionally made to place on top of the Christmas tree.
Also famous is Cologne’s oldest market, Neumarkt, located in the main shopping area. Modern and elegant, the Floating Christmas Market is house on a riverboat on the Rhine with pagoda tents and roof peaks reminiscent of sails on a ship. Dating back to the 15th century, Christkindlmarkt in Salzburg is one of the oldest in Europe. It has a lovely intimate ambiance as one of the smaller markets, and is situated under a floodlit baroque stage providing a stunning effect.
Let this be the year you experience a remarkable luxury Christmas River Cruise. Celebrate the holidays with special yuletide events on this exceptional European vacation.