River cruise lines extend their travel season into December by taking us to European city centers during a magical time of the year. After that, ships go into dry dock remodeling for a while before resuming service the next Spring.
Stopping along the way at places with the best Christmas Markets in Europe, multiple opportunities to embrace the season, locally are hard to miss. Still, today we have eight reasons to book a Christmas Markets river cruise.
1. Ghluwein- Simply put, this potent holiday beverage is a signature item of Christmas markets. Served in souvenir mugs that can be refilled at a discount, each is customized for the market where they are sold.
2. Live The Sound Of Music- Many Christmas Markets cruises stop in Austria, the place where the iconic 1965 movie was filmed and it looks very much the same today, even in winter.
3. Unique Gifts- At every Christmas market, travelers will find a wide selection of gifts being sold. Odds are that those looking for unique holiday gifts will find plenty from which to choose.
4. Another Side Of Fabulous- Odds are, your river cruise ship will sail the same stretch of river for Christmas Markets that it sails earlier in the year. For those who have enjoyed a summer river cruise, doing so in the Winter is an entirely different experience.
5. Sausages – Every town along the river seems to have it’s own recipe for sausages, all claimed to be the best. Verified: They are correct. All are the best.
6. Holiday Spirit – Some people get into the December holidays with gusto and need no encouragement to deck the halls. Others may need a little holiday cheer and Christmas markets provide a double dose.
7. Wine Tour Opportunities- Scenic cruising through the Wachau valley I was reminded of how pretty the many vineyards were as we sailed along in the summer. Made still by winter, wineries continue tours with more of a focus on education than walking through the fields of vines.
8. History Is Not Seasonal- A popular feature of river cruising is a focus on the destinations visited. Those interested in visiting places they may have seen only in movies, television or read about in books have every opportunity to see them in winter.
The best time to book a Christmas Markets river cruise? A year in advance. Even as river cruise lines continue to expand and build more ships: Christmas Markets river cruises sell out faster than any other itinerary.
Chris Owen shares frank, inside information about cruise vacations on ChrisCruises.com