July may seem like an odd time to begin to even think about Christmas and the Holiday Season, let alone mention the very words. But there’s an excellent reason why you should start thinking about it right now, and it has to do with the spectacular Christmas Markets River Cruises offered throughout Europe.
Beginning in late November and continuing on until December 24th and sometimes a few days beyond, Christmas Markets are a centuries-old tradition that continues in full-swing every year. Across many parts of Europe, town squares are transformed into bustling markets of festive goodies, delicious indulgences, and general Holiday cheer. Christmas trees are erected, lights strung, and shop stalls put up. Suddenly, immersed within the historic city centers, time seemingly stands still. Indeed, aside from the modern dress and offerings, there’s little to distinguish the Christmas Markets of today from the Christmas Markets of old.
It’s like a European fairy-tale come to life; a vision of the kind of holiday season that many of us long for: the chill of the winter air, masked by the smells and tastes of hot mulled wine called gluhwein, spiced (and spiked) to perfection. Carollers stroll along the streets, intermingling with families, friends and couples who have come down during the day or the dark of the evening to enjoy the market, and the company of each other. If you’re lucky, you just might be able to experience this amazing cultural experience under snow, blanketing your favorite European cities into a winter wonderland.
While many of us may tend to think of river cruising in the summer, the fact remains that every major river cruise line offers Christmas Time cruises to some degree, whether it’s a handful of departures or the deployment of multiple ships sailing on various dates throughout the months of November and December. So just where to these Christmas Markets voyages take you? Here’s a look at the Christmas Time Cruise itinerary on offer this year with AmaWaterways:
|2||Prague||City tour; optional tours; visit the Prague Christmas Market|
|3||Prague||Transfer to Nuremberg; Visit the Christmas Market|
|3||Nuremberg||Embarkation: Welcome Cocktail & Dinner.|
|4||Nuremberg||City tour; visit Christmas Market|
|4||Hilpolstein||Crossing the Continental Divide|
|5||Regensburg||Walking tour; visit Christmas Market|
|6||Salzburg||Optional Salzburg excursion|
|6||Linz||Visit the Linz Christmas Market|
|7||Melk||Benedictine Abbey tour; Wachau valley cruise|
|7||Vienna||Optional evening concert|
|8||Vienna||City tour; visit Christmas Market|
|9||Budapest||City tour; Visit Christmas Market; Illuminations cruise|
Of course, the opportunity to experience some of Europe’s grandest cities in their snow-covered glory is another reason to take a Christmas Markets river cruise. The throngs of tourists that crowd cities and attractions during the popular summer months have all left, and chances are your time ashore will be more relaxed and enjoyable than in the hot, crowded heat of summer. And that’s worth getting excited about — even in July.