Pretend for a moment that you’re taking a stroll through a centuries-old European Christmas market – the smell of cinnamon and gingerbread tickling your senses.
You’re on day two of an eight-day sailing expedition on one of the most intimate and beautiful ships you’ve ever stepped foot on. You’re taking a moment from soaking up some of the most incredible sights you’ve ever encountered in your life to shop for one-of-a-kind handmade crafts in Nuremberg, Germany, a city known for having one of the most magnificent holiday markets in the world.
Over the next several days, you’ll sail the Danube River, gaining new appreciation for holiday traditions, old-world customs and breathtaking artistry and architecture. Oh, and did I mention your cruising ticket includes freshly made meals and unlimited wine, beer and spirits? It also includes welcome and farewell gala dinners, all-inclusive meals and exclusive shore excursions hosted by English-speaking local experts.
No, this is not some fantasy; this is what it’s like to take a holiday season cruise with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection – one of the world’s leading providers of luxury boutique river cruises and unforgettable experiences.
The cruise line operates more than 500 river cruises annually, including specialty all-inclusive cruises through regions with the world’s most popular and historic holiday markets in Germany, France, Austria and more.
You’ll cruise from one festive celebration to the next, without the hassle of unpacking at hotel after hotel. You’ll dock right in the heart of town and when you’re not out exploring, you’ll be winding along European waterways as you lap up the luxury aboard a spectacular floating boutique hotel with whimsical holiday decor, lavish staterooms and first-class amenities like Egyptian cotton sheets, onboard fitness classes and free Wi-Fi.
If you’re looking to make truly unforgettable memories this holiday season, consider the following holiday season cruises from Uniworld River Cruises.
Eight days from Nuremberg (Germany) to Vienna (Austria) on SS Beatrice
The delights of holiday traditions like the Christkind – the Christmas gift-bringer in central European countries like Germany and Austria – are on full display in this magical journey from the Bavarian city of Nuremberg (known as the gingerbread capital of the world) to awe-inspiring Vienna, where Mozart wrote some of his most famous works.
At each market along the way, you’ll tour ancient cathedral squares and shop for special offerings like hand-carved nativity figures and quirky characters dressed in Bavarian costumes. You’ll see fairy-tale villages come alive with sparkling lights and astonishing decorations designed especially for the holidays. And for a world-class tour of Vienna during the holiday season, opt for Uniworld’s exclusive “Taste of Christmas” guided tour of Vienna.
Eight days from Paris to Paris on SS Joie de Vivre
The City of Light sparkles extra bright during the holiday season and this cruise is your chance to experience its proud traditions. Every city in France has a Christmas market, but each neighborhood in Paris has one, each celebrating its own unique characteristics.
Over the course of your trip, you’ll walk through the Tuileries Gardens, see where French kings were once entertained and get exclusive excursions, including a private guided tour of the Hall of Mirrors and King’s chambers at the famed Chateau de Versailles, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Those sailing over New Year’s Eve will even get to ring in the New Year against the stunning backdrop of the Parisian skyline – an experience unlike any other.
Eight days from Basel (Switzerland) to Cologne (Germany) on SS Antoinette
Sail the legendary Rhine River as you tour three countries on a festive cruise designed to delight travelers of all ages. This family-friendly river cruise will let you discover the roots of Christmas traditions in Switzerland’s greatest Christmas city before getting up close and personal with France’s famous Strasbourg Christmas tree and exploring Cologne’s seven Christmas markets.
Eight days from Nuremberg to Frankfurt (Germany) on River Queen
Germany is where many Christmas traditions began, and this eight-day excursion on its Main River will give you a deep dive into its proud holiday history. You’ll start in Frankfurt, known to many as the Manhattan of Europe, which offers a unique blend of soaring skyscrapers and old-town architecture.
During your trip, you’ll encounter a friendly and festive atmosphere, cobblestone squares, 500-year-old markets, the city of Bamberg’s famous holiday beer and Nuremberg’s renowned gingerbread – and don’t forget to try the glühwein, a warm spiced wine made especially for the holidays.
Eight days from Budapest (Hungary) to Passau (Germany) on SS Maria Theresa
Your adventure starts in Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, which boasts one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. This unique city has been under German, Austrian and Ottoman rule over the centuries, which has resulted in a cultural blend all its own – not to mention the fact that Christmas has been celebrated here for 1,000 years.
You’ll get to visit the small yet colorful Slovakian capital city of Bratislava, where you can try medovniky cookies and buy supolie corn husk figurines. Music lovers will be thrilled to hear a concert of Mozart and Strauss at a Viennese palace and an exclusive organ recital in Krems, Austria. This special sailing across the Danube will take you to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, passing incredible Baroque architecture and ravishing countryside in the process.
13 days from Nuremberg to Budapest on SS Beatrice
Embark from festive Nuremberg before sailing along the 106-mile Main-Danube Canal – a feat of modern engineering – on your way to the German town of Regensburg, which will be celebrating Christmas Eve upon your arrival. You’ll be free to explore its cobblestone streets, ancient Roman ruins or attend a midnight Mass in a Gothic cathedral if you please.
This 13-day journey includes tours of many cities including Passau and Durnstein in Germany, Budapest in Hungary and Salzburg in Austria. You’ll visit five UNESCO Heritage Sites in three countries and see numerous medieval structures along the way. You can even ride through the densely wooded Bavarian Forest in a horse-drawn wagon. Then you’ll ring in the New Year dancing in a real Viennese palace – the second palace you’ll visit that day.
11 days from Passau to Budapest on SS Maria Theresa
Finally, this extraordinary journey will bring you the best of four countries at the height of their holiday celebrations. You’ll cruise Europe’s second-largest river, the Danube, on your way to capital cities like Budapest and Vienna. On Christmas Eve, you’ll hear the largest organ in Europe in Passau and on New Year’s Eve, you’ll attend a gala dinner and ballroom dance in Hungary’s capital city, Budapest.
In Oberndorf, Germany, you can sing “Silent Night,” where the treasured Christmas carol was composed. You’ll even get to sip on a cocktail with a princess in Artstetten Castle in Austria. In Salzburg, Austria, you’ll enjoy a Christmas Day holiday lunch and your food journey continues with remarkable potato dumplings with sheep cheese and bacon in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava.
Whichever Uniworld Holiday River Cruise you choose, you’re sure to make memories that will last a lifetime. But why pick just one? With so many offerings, and so many amazing places to celebrate the holidays, you can start a new holiday tradition by taking a new holiday river cruise every year.