Christmas Market River Cruises

By ,   August 14, 2017 ,   River Cruises

December Holidays can be perfectly upgraded with traveling to Europe's best Christmas Market river cruise destinations. Christmas Market cruising in Europe offers luxury riverboat travel plus the continent's traditional Xmas-themed shopping experience. Dining options ashore feature the seasonal specialties apple cider, mulled wine (warm spiced wine), sweet gingerbread, all kinds of handmade sweets, chocolate and cookies, the perfectly cold beer and the steaming hot sausages.

Know, that your European Christmas Market travel vacation will be dominated by the festively decorated cruise ship and its definitely not cheap delas. The onboard enrichment and entertainment programs offer expert lectures, themed live music and dance shows, gala dinner events, cocktail hours.

Christmas Market Cruises in Europe

Once upon a time, before Christmas, people gathered on snow-covered cobblestone squares to buy special tools and ingredients needed to make the seasonal treats. They kept warm with music, games and hot spiced wine, while shopping and chatting with local tradesmen. That's how, 500 years ago, the original Christmas Markets looked like.

Europe's winter is as energizing as it is cold. Town squares are lit up and themed with decorations. Not so many river cruise companies operate voyages through Europe during winter months. These winter itineraries are all themed "Christmas Market cruises". In Europe, riverboats navigate on the largest tributaries of Danube, Rhine and Rhone during spring, summer and fall. However, only several ships of largest companies (like Avalon Waterways, AMAwaterways and Viking) offer these special voyages. Xmas Holiday river cruises are offered until January 1. The largest European Christmas Markets open typically around November 25th until December 24th. Know that Christmas Market cruises are extremely popular, so they usually sell out well in advance.

Christmas Market River Cruises - CruiseMapper

Another reason to choose Christmas Market travel, of course, is the opportunity to see some of Europe's largest cities in their snow-covered glory. Unlike the full-body contact USA Christmas shopping frenzy, Europeans prefer shopping at open-air Christmas Markets, opposed to the shopping malls.

Europe's Christmas markets are also a social experience as people gather after work to enjoy nice meal, delicious mulled wine, hot chocolate, cold beer with sausages. People just enjoy the company of others. You won't miss the throngs of tourists crowding the European cities during summer months and your city exploration time will be a most relaxed experience. Traveling during Christmas Holidays is an innovative way to celebrate and spend quality time with family and friends. Christmas Market cruises are an unique way to enjoy the holiday traditions combined with sightseeing tours in historic cities, shopping and cruising.

Christmas Market River Cruises

The following table shows exemplary European Christmas Market river cruise deals as itineraries (departure / arrival ports), shipping companies, itinerary themes, inclusions (scheduled activities). Fares are only suggestive, per person, in USD, and based on double occupancy (lowest category stateroom on the ship).

5-day from Frankfurt to Basel, Avalon Waterways

  • "Christmastime in Alsace and Germany" (prices from  $1,470)
  • included: 4 nights cabin, stop in Speyer (Germany) excursions to Heidelberg Strasbourg, Germany’s Black Forest

8-day from Prague to Frankfurt, Avalon Waterways

  • "Christmas in the Heart of Germany" (prices from $2,100)
  • included: 7 nights cabin, Prague guided tour, Old Town Christmas market visits in Nuremberg, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Miltenberg (Bishop’s Residenz tour)

9-day from Prague to Vienna, Avalon Waterways

  • "Christmastime on the Danube – Eastbound" (prices from $2,370)
  • included: 8 nights cabin, guided tour to Hradcany Castle (Prague), beer tasting, Benedictine Abbey guided tour (Melk)

9-day from Vienna to Prague, Avalon Waterways

  • "Christmastime on the Danube – Westbound" (prices from  $2,370)
  • included: 8 nights cabin, guided tour in Vienna, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Prague, Benedictine Abbey tour (Melk), beer tasting, Hradcany Castle tour (Prague)

12-day Prague to Basel, Avalon Waterways

  • "Christmastime Prague to Basel – Westbound" (prices from  $3,470)
  • included: 11-night cabin, guided tour in Prague, Nuremberg, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Miltenberg Strasbourg, Rudesheim (Bishop’s Residenz excursion)m Heidelberg (Germany’s Black Forest)

12-day Vienna to Frankfurt, Avalon Waterways

  • "Christmastime in Germany and Austria – Westbound" (prices from  $3,910)
  • included: 11-night cabin, guided tour in Nuremberg, Vienna, Munich, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Regensburg, Durnstein, Miltenberg, Wurzburg (Bishop’s Residence) Benedictine Abbey (Melk), beer tasting (Bamberg), wine tasting

16-day Vienna to Basel, Avalon Waterways

  • "Grand Christmastime Cruise – Westbound" (prices from $5,270)
  • included: 15-night cabin, guided stopping in Dürnstein, Benedictine Abbey (Melk) regional wines tasting, Linz, Passau, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Munich (beer tasting), Bishop’s Residenz (Wurzburg), Miltenberg excursion to Rüdesheim, Heidelberg, guided tour in Strasbourg

8-day Nuremberg to Vienna (and the reverse from Vienna), Uniworld

  • "European Holiday Markets along the Danube" (prices from $2,900)
  • included: 7-night cabin, Nuremberg city tour, Regensburg walking tour, horse-drawn sleigh ride (Bavarian Forest), floral decorating demonstrations, glassmaking, Passau and Linz walking tours, classical concert in Vienna

8-day from Budapest to Passau (and the reverse from Passau), Uniworld

  • "Danube Holiday Markets" (prices from $3,200)
  • included: 7-night cabin, Budapest and Bratislava city tours, Mozart and Strauss concert in Vienna, organ recital in Göttweig Abbey, Salzburg, Linz, Steyr and Passau Christmas Markets

8-day from Basel to Cologne (and the reverse from Cologne), Uniworld

  • "Rhine Holiday Markets" (prices from $2,900)
  • included: 7-night cabin, Basel, Heidelberg and Koblenz walking tours, Strasbourg canal cruise or "Taste of Christmas" market, Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Museum, Cologne cathedral tour

8-day from Nuremberg to Frankfurt, Avalon Waterways

  • "Christmas in the heart of Germany" (prices from $1,970)
  • included: 5-night cabin, 2-night hotel in Prague, Nuremberg and Bamberg walking tours, excursion to Rothenburg, guided tour in Wertheim

12-day Zurich to Amsterdam (and the reverse from Amsterdam), AMAwaterways

  • "Christmas on the Rhine" (prices from $3,960)
  • included: 2-night hotel in Zurich, 2-night hotel in Lucerne, 7-night from Basel to Amsterdam (the reverse), walking tour of Zürich (Grossmunster), Lake Lucerne, guided Amsterdam canal boat tour

11-day Prague to Amsterdam, AMAwaterways

  • "Treasures of the Rhine and Main" (prices from $3,680)
  • included: 3-night pre-cruise hotel in Prague, 7-night Nurmeberg to Amsterdam, Prague tour, Nuremberg-Bamberg, guided tour of Wurzburg and medieval Rothenburg, mini-train ride to Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, Amsterdam canal cruise

11-day from Passau to Budapest, Uniworld

  • "Enchanting Christmas and New Years cruise" (prices from $4,900)
  • included: 10-night cabin, Passau tour, holiday lunch in Salzburg, Grein city tour, cocktail reception at Artstetten Castle (Princess Anita von Hohenberg), Melk Abbey, organ concert, Durnstein (mulled wine tasting), Mozart and Strauss concert (Viennese concert hall, traditional Austrian dinner), Bratislava and Budapest walking tours

8-day from Budapest to Nuremberg, 8-day from Passau to Budapest, 8-day from Amsterdam to Basel (Viking Cruises longships)

  • "Romantic Danube", "Danube Waltz", "Rhine Getaway" (prices from $1,860)
  • included: 8-day cruise, 6 guided tours, 4 UNESCO Sites, all meals, 4 formal onboard events, complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks

10-day including 2 nights in Prague, plus multiple Christmas Markets on the route from Nuremberg to Budapest (including Regensburg, Salzburg, Vienna), AMAwaterways

  • "Christmas Markets on the Danube" (prices from $2,800)
  • included: 2-night hotel stay in Prague, bus transfer to Nuremberg, 7-night cruise, daily tours, free high-speed Internet, complimentary Wi-Fi, all meals, wines-beers-soft drinks (with lunch and dinner), bottled water, 3 formal onboard events, lectures, cooking demonstration, live music performances, bicycles, guided bicycle tours

8-day from Nuremberg to Frankfurt, Uniworld

  • "Classic Christmas Markets" (prices from $2,900)
  • included: 7-night cruise, all transfers, all meals, 3 formal onboard events, unlimited drinks (including beer, fine wine, spirits, soft drinks, specialty tea/coffee, mineral water), 6 excursions, 2 UNESCO Sites, themed lecture about Germany's Christmas rraditions

Itineraries by Avalon Waterways

  1. 5-day from Basel to Frankfurt ("Christmastime in Alsace and Germany" / prices from $1,460)
  2. 8-day from Frankfurt to Prague, visiting Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg ("Christmas in the Heart of Germany" / prices from $2,100)
  3. 9-day from Vienna to Prague, visiting Regensburg, Nuremberg ("Christmastime on the Danube – Westbound" / prices from $2,370)
  4. 12-day from Zurich to Prague, visiting Strasbourg, Würzburg, Bamberg and Nuremberg ("Christmastime Zurich to Prague" / prices from $3,220)
  5. 13-day from Frankfurt to Budapest, visiting Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Munich and Vienna ("Christmastime Frankfurt to Budapest" / prices from $3,750)
  6. 17-day from Zurich to Budapest ("Christmastime Zurich to Budapest" / prices from $5,100)

included: wall-to-wall panoramic windows, guided shore excursions, onboard lectures and nightly live entertainment, room service (Continental breakfast), beverages, Internet corner, complimentary Wi-Fi, biking tours, fresh fruit throughout the day, premium lounge chairs (sun deck), fitness center, elevator, sun deck whirlpool, shipboard movie nights, 24-hour beverage station (complimentary hot chocolate, tea, premium coffees)

7-day from Budapest to Nuremberg, Viking Cruises longships

  • "Romantic Danube" (prices from £890)
  • included: 7 nights cruise, economy class flights from London to Budapest (return from Munich), complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks (with lunch and dinner), guided tours, 3 onboard formal events, airport taxes, all transfers.

To search for Christmas and New Year river cruises by departure port, country and company, you can use the CruiseMapper's Xmas cruise finder. Be sure to select "River" in the "Ship Type" box.