Christmas river cruises are in the category of the Europe’s top-luxury Holiday vacation travel deals. The line operates on the most popular European rivers and major inland waterways, including Rhine, Danube, Main, Main-Danube Canal, Moselle and Seine River in France.
All large-size European river ships dock in big-city ports and sail to feature destinations in France, Germany, Holland, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic. Operated with all-inclusive cruise fares, all of these riverboats provide best-luxury hotel amenities and comfort on board, boutique-style interior decor, spacious passenger accommodations, gourmet meals, complimentary (included) land tours and boat transfers.
Christmas River Cruises in Europe
The European lines’ Christmas river cruise prices include the riverboat travel, as well as:
- all meals, including Gala Dinner, Captain’s Welcome Gala & Farewell dinners
- complimentary fine European wines, beer, soft drinks during dinner
- bottled water in stateroom
- 24-hour specialty tea and coffee bar
- shore excursions – hosted by English-speaking experts
- Xmas-holiday themed guided programs – “Taste of Christmas”, “Gentle Walking” and “Do as the Locals Do”
- land tours to UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Quietvox devices (portable audio headset system)
- onboard enrichment program and live entertainment (by resident pianist and local performers)
- gratuities (for all services onboard and onshore) and Gov taxes
- use of Nordic walking sticks and bicycles ashore.
Note: Generally, prices on river cruises in Europe do not include the airfare (individual arrival and departure), travel Insurance and the port charges. All the listed below itineraries include visiting some of the best European Christmas markets and guided holiday gift shopping tours.
Uniworld SS Antoinette ship
- December 05 & 19 – 5-day from Basel, Kehl, Mannheim, Mainz, Cologne – prices from $2940
- December 12 – 5-day from Cologne to Koblenz, Rudesheim am Rhein, Germersheim, Kehl, Basel – prices from $2940
Basel is one of the most important cultural centres in Switzerland, and country’s second-largest city. The city has a large number of museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts with the oldest art collection in the world accessible to the public. Basel’s Christmas Market is located in the heart of the historic Old Town. Don’t miss the illuminated Christmas Street, beautifully decorated with more than 100 Christmas trees.
Located halfway between Prague and Paris, Strasbourg is famous as “Crossroads of Europe”. The charming Petite France neighborhood, with its half-timbered houses and cobblestone streets, is where you will see the oldest Christmas Market in France. Explore Strasbourg’s Old Town and don’t miss the magnificent Notre Dame Cathedral.
Germersheim (to Heidelberg)
Situated on the Neckar River’s banks, Heidelberg is among Germany’s greatest cities and one of the best-preserved European Medieval cities. It’s also home to one of the oldest universities in Germany. The tour will take you past Heidelberg Castle’s romantic ruins, and through the Old Town, dressed up for the holidays. The Heidelberg Christmas Market spans over five squares.
A must-see is the gorgeous Würzburg Residenz, one of Europe’s most extraordinary Baroque palaces and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This unique 300-room palace was completed in a 60-year period of time. Visit the 200-year-old Christmas Market in Mainz and the 1,000-year-old St.Martin’s Cathedral. The cruise will then take you from Mainz to Rüdesheim, Rhine Valley. Rüdesheim’s one-of-a-kind Christmas Market highlights Christmas customs from all around the world. A special collection of self-playing musical instruments is worth seeing in Siegfried’s Museum of Mechanical Musical Instruments.
City’s beloved landmark, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the Cologne Cathedral. It is believed that the remains of the myth Three Kings (the Magi) lied at rest here. Learn about the cathedral’s history and artwork. Cologne has no fewer than eight delightful Christmas Markets, but be sure to visit Cologne Cathedral Christmas Market and Alter Markt (in front of Cologne’s City Hall), the Medieval Christmas Market (close to the Chocolate Museum) and Neumarkt in the shopping area.
The course to Koblenz takes you through 40 exciting miles of Upper Middle Rhine Valley, UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape. Koblenz is situated at the confluence of Rhine and Moselle rivers. Its half-timbered houses are all charmingly decorated for Christmas. The ancient square is filled with dozens of wooden stands offering spicy mulled wine, gingerbread hearts, arts and crafts.
Unusual among German cities as its streets are laid out in grid pattern, leading to Mannheim’s nickname “city of the squares” (“die Quadratestadt”). The 18th century Mannheim Palace now houses city’s University. Mannheim has been a member of UNESCO Creative Cities Network since 2014 and holds the title “Unesco City of Music”.
Uniworld SS Maria Theresa ship
Uniworld River Beatrice ship
- December 02 & 16 – 5-day from Budapest to Vienna, Krems, Linz, Passau – from $3220
- December 09 – 6-day from Munich to Passau, Linz, Wachau Valley, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest – from $3220
- December 23 – 8-day from Munich to Passau, Linz, Grein, Melk, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest – from $5000
City’s highlights include St. Stephen’s Basilica and the 19th-century Chain Bridge, UNESCO-designated Castle Hill district. The notable Hungarian State Opera House is another must-see. Budapest is often called “Queen of the Danube”. It’s made up of two parts: Buda, including the hills, and Pest – the flat lands. This unique city is divided by Danube River. It’s Christmas Market is where you’ll find holiday treats and traditional Hungarian wares.
This regal city is even more dazzling during Christmas. Visit St.Stephen’s Cathedral, famous for Mozart’s marriage in 1782. Also see the Austrian National Library, the most beautiful in the world. Then walk to two Christmas Markets: the most famous Austrian Christmas Market set in front of the City Hall, and a smaller, but no less exciting, located at Freyung Square and taken place every Christmas since 1772. In the evening, celebrate the spirit of Strauss and Mozart in one of Vienna’s famous concert halls.
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Benedictine Göttweig Abbey, spectacularly located on a prominent hill of the famous Wachau Valley. At the abbey, all guests will be treated to an organ recital.
Linz (to Salzburg and Oberndorf)
The region is known as the “smile on the face of Austria”. Salzburg’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage, boasts historical gems from Mozart’s birth house to 17th-century cathedral and famous Getreidegasse. Salzburg is also where scenes from the movie The Sound of Music had been filmed. Oberndorf is where the most beloved Christmas carol was performed for the first time. The village priest, Joseph Morh, and the choir master in Arnsdorf, Franz Xaver Gruber, composed “Silent Night” for the 1818 Christmas Eve service.
The beautiful Passau is located at the confluence of three rivers. During the Medieval period, the city was an important centre of trade. See the treasures of the Old Town, including the Italian Baroque buildings and the ornate cathedral. The guided tour in the Medieval section of Passau will take you past the New Residence, St.Stephan’s Cathedral and Town Hall. At the Christmas Market you will find Bavarian-style houses and exceptional glass ornaments. Then enjoy a floral-decorating and gingerbread-making demonstrations.
Don’t miss Grein’s 15th-century castle, now sheltering the Austrian Shipping Museum, as well as the jewel box theater created in 1791, retaining all of its original characteristics, including a box for Napoleon. Guests will be invited to a special cocktail reception with the descendant of the royal Habsburgs, Princess Anita von Hohenberg, at Artstetten Castle.
Melk Abbey is famous for being a center of learning for millennium. Monks created numerous manuscripts in the Middle Ages, and the library was famous throughout Europe. Its innumerable Medieval manuscripts and 80,000 books, printed before 1800, are now housed in a Baroque structure along with the school and abbey church. After touring these historic buildings, Guests will be treated to an organ recital in the church.
Often referred to as “The heart and soul of Slovakia”, Bratislava’s first Christmas Market was established in 1993. However, the Slovakians quickly embraced the Christmas holiday traditions of their Hungarian and Austrian neighbors. The city is an important commercial center with village-like spirit. See the rebuilt castle where Habsburgs ruled, the Primatial Palace – 18th-century archbishop’s residence and the Rococo jewel Mirbach Palace, built for a wealthy brewer.
Uniworld River Queen ship
Uniworld River Duchess ship
- December 05 & 19 – 5-day from Nurnberg to Bamberg, Kitzingen, Wurzburg, Wertheim, Frankfurt am Main – from $2930
- December 12 – 5-day from Frankfurt am Main to Wurzburg, Kitzingen, Bamberg, Nurnberg – prices from $3029
Discover this special Medieval German city featuring mighty ancient walls with no less than 80 towers, enclosing the historic city centre. Visit the Medieval Kaiserburg Castle and Christkindlesmarkt, the best-known and the oldest Christmas Market in Germany with more than 200 stalls. Remember to sample lebkuchen (gingerbread), as Nuremberg is known as the “Gingerbread Capital of the World”.
A city on seven hills, Bamberg is also one of the few not destroyed during the WWII bombings. Visit the charming fishing village Klein-Venedig (the “Little Venice”), and continue to the New Residence and Bamberg Cathedral. While enjoying the local Christmas Market, be sure to sample the world-famous rauchbier (smoked beer).
Kitzingen County, all surrounded by vineyards, is Bavaria’s largest wine producer. The main landmark of the city is the Leaning Tower (distinctive for its crooked roof), which was built during the 13th century. A local legend is that the heart of Vlad Dracula of Romania was in the golden ball atop the tower.
Wurzburg (to Rothenburg)
A motorcoach will take you from Würzburg to Rothenburg, the best-preserved walled city in Germany, giving a glimpse at the life during the Middle Ages. Don’t miss the chance to visit Reiterlesmarkt, one of the oldest Christmas Markets in Germany, as well as Kathe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas shop. The location also boasts a museum displaying vintage toys from the 17th century.
Walk through this picturesque town and look to Bavaria across the Main River before you continue to the Pointed Tower (Spitzer Turm). Built in the 13th century, it is a former prison for feuding women and drunkards. The structure of the tower leans to one side after more than 800 years of flooding. The Wertheim Market square is also worth seeing, as it’s lined with half-timbered buildings as well as shops selling Franconian wines and artisan glassworks.
Lots to see in “Mainhattan”: the New Opera House, Zeil shopping district and Hauptwache Plaza. Continue then past the Stock Exchange, Goethe University, Goethe Place and Palmengarten (botanical garden). At St. Paul’s Church you can explore the Old World neighboring buildings and then finish your Christmass shopping tour in Römer Square.
Uniworld River Princess ship
Uniworld SS Maria Theresa ship
- December 01 & 15 – 6-day from Vienna to Durnstein, Linz, Passau, Regensburg, Roth, Nurnberg – from $3030
- December 08 & 22 – 5-day from Nurnberg to Regensburg, Deggendorf, Wachau Valley, Vienna – prices from $3220
- December 22 – 10-day from Nurnberg to Regensburg, Linz, Wachau Valley, Vienna, Budapest – prices from $5820
This charming city offers unforgettable mulled wine tasting. An exclusive cocktail reception is an opportunity not to miss, at Artstetten Castle with the descendant of the royal Habsburgs, Princess Anita von Hohenberg.
Deggendorf (to Theresienthal)
Start the day with horse-drawn carriage ride through Baernzell, a Bavarian Forest village. An amazing collection is exhibited in Theresienthal Glass Museum, so experience the art of glass and learn about the history of Theresienthal Palass and the techniques to create the famous glass.
In this friendly town with Medieval alleys, cobblestone streets and ancient Roman ruins, Uniworld promotes an exciting tour called “2,000 Years in One Hour”. Back in the 12th century Regensburg became an important international trading hub. For a time, it was also the capital of Bavaria. Start at the famous Cathedral of St. Peter, and then walk across the 12th-century Stone Bridge to the Gothic Town Hall, and through the Old Town.
The main tourist attraction in the city is the Schloss Ratibor castle. The castle was built between 1535 and 1538 as a hunting lodge by Margraves of Brandenburg-Ansbach. Different styles, from German Renaissance to Louis XVI, were used to redecorate it during the years. Today a museum, restaurant, municipal library, meeting rooms and offices of the city council occupy most parts of Schloss Ratibor.
France river cruises Christmas 2017-2018
Uniworld River Baroness ship (Seine River)
- December 07, 14, 21 & 28 – 4-day round-trip from Paris, visiting Les Andelys, Rouen, Mantes-la-Jolie – prices from $2840
Enjoy a walking tour named “Do as the Locals Do” of Île de la Cité and Latin Quarter, as well as Seine “Heart of Paris” sailing with Christmas markets . Île de la Cité is not just the center of Paris, it’s the center of France and all distances are calculated from the island. The isle is home to Notre Dame Cathedral, considered one of the finest creations of French Gothic architecture. Though damaged during French Revolution, it survived both World Wars unscathed. Paris Christmas markets are located across the Seine River from the Eiffel Tower.
Another featured excursion is of the Orsay Museum with “Winter at the Impressionists” tour and a Christmas Market. Developed in the remains of an old railway station, Musée d’Orsay beyond its architecture is bridging the gap between the National Museum of Modern Art and the Louvre, as the Orsay houses the biggest collection of impressionist and postimpressionist masterpieces in the world. Don’t miss the chance to take a shuttle running between the cruise ship and the Christmas Market. A walking tour to the department stores (Les Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps) and Paris Opera is also included.
Les Andelys, France
Walk along Grand-Rang Canal and make your way up to the ruins of Château Gaillard. In the 12th century Richard the Lionheart (feudal Duke of Normandy and King of England) ordered the construction of this medieval castle, a testament to the history of the region. During the visit you’ll learn about its varied ownership and destruction by Henry IV in 1599. The “Secret Versailles” palace tour will take you to the official residence of the French kings and queens since 1682 until the French revolution. The Hall of Mirrors will help you understand why Versailles set the universal measure of palatial opulence.
The best Christmas present is a Rouen Cathedral choir recital. Rouen is between the best-preserved cities in France and the perfect setting for a Christmas Market with its medieval quarter, Renaissance clock tower and half-timbered houses. The bronze cross on Vieux Marché to marks the spot of Joan of Arc’s execution. A Nativity scene in the square, close to Notre Dame Cathedral, adds to the festive atmosphere. Join a special tour “Taste of Christmas, Normandy style” with a visit to a café for tarte tatin with coffee or chocolat au lait.