Travel

Eight brilliant Christmas cruises to the world’s best festive markets, from Munich to Memphis

Want to combine cruising with a visit to a world-class Christmas market?

Here we reveal eight of the best voyages that allow you to do just that. 

ADVENTURES IN ALSACE

CroisiEurope offers a cruise that includes a visit to the Christmas markets in and around Strasbourg, pictured

Swap the bratwurst for bredeles (Christmas cookies) on CroisiEurope’s cruise to the markets in and around Strasbourg. 

You’ll visit Alsace’s potter villages, such as Soufflenheim – famous for its flower-adorned ceramics, and Betschdorf, where the speciality is salt-glazed pottery. Choose from 11 dates in November and December. 

CroisiEurope’s three-day Christmas in Alsace costs from £455pp, excluding flights (croisieurope.co.uk). 

RHINE AND MOSELLE

The Christmas market that is held in the shadow of Cologne Cathedral

The Christmas market that is held in the shadow of Cologne Cathedral

This fantastic cruise sets sail in December 2022, starting in Basel and heading to Amsterdam via Strasbourg, castle-topped Cochem, and Cologne – all destinations with dazzling markets. Our favourite market is the one held in the shadow of Cologne Cathedral. 

The best bit? Your mode of transport will be one of APT Touring’s new Travelmarvel ships: Polaris, Capella or Vega, all with rooftop bars and walking tracks. 

APT Touring’s seven-night Rhine & Moselle Christmas Markets cruise costs from £1,695pp, including flights (aptouring.co.uk).

FESTIVE SEASON IN GERMANY

Avalon Waterways' six-day Festive Season In The Heart Of Germany starts in Nuremberg, pictured

Avalon Waterways’ six-day Festive Season In The Heart Of Germany starts in Nuremberg, pictured

Another to book for 2022 (three dates in December), this gluhwein-soaked cruise starts in Nuremberg, where you can browse the baubles at Kathe Wohlfahrt, the decorations store that dates back to 1964. Head to the old town’s market for lebkuchen (spicy gingerbread).

Other stops include Bamberg, famous for its half-timbered buildings, and Wurzburg, where you’ll visit the Bishop’s Residence. 

Avalon Waterways’ six-day Festive Season In The Heart Of Germany starts from £1,538pp, excluding flights (avalonwaterways.co.uk).

BREMEN AND HAMBURG

In Hamburg, pictured, there are 30 markets, including one specifically aimed at dogs

In Hamburg, pictured, there are 30 markets, including one specifically aimed at dogs

Starting and finishing in Portsmouth, Bremen and Hamburg are the ports of call for this cruise, which sets sail on November 30. 

In Bremen, the town hall dates back to the 1400s. In Hamburg there are 30 markets, including one specifically aimed at dogs and another specialising in Scandinavian crafts. 

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ six-night German Christmas Markets cruise costs from £699pp, excluding flights (fredolsencruises.com).

MISTLETOE AND RHINE

Coolest Yule: Koblenz market in Frankfurt, which you can visit on Tui's five-night Mistletoe And Rhine cruise

Coolest Yule: Koblenz market in Frankfurt, which you can visit on Tui’s five-night Mistletoe And Rhine cruise

This sails in November and December, and includes Frankfurt – for an apple wine-fuelled tour of its historic market (first held in 1393); Koblenz, where the Rathaus (town hall) is turned into an enormous advent calendar; and Rudesheim, where the Market of Nations celebrates the yuletide traditions of 12 different nations. 

Pick up a schwibbogen, an arched candle holder. 

TUI’s five-night Mistletoe And Rhine costs from £790pp, including flights (tui.co.uk).

NUREMBERG TO FRANKFURT

One of the gingerbread stalls at Nuremberg Christmas market

One of the gingerbread stalls at Nuremberg Christmas market 

A family-friendly cruise with dates in December and in 2022. Your mulled wine-scented ship sails from Nuremberg to Frankfurt and will be decorated with Christmas trees and gingerbread houses. 

On board activities include stollen-making classes. In Rothenburg, you can walk the town’s famous ramparts. 

Uniworld seven-night Classic Christmas Markets cruise costs from £3,499pp, including flights (uniworld.com).

MUSIC ON THE DANUBE

You'll be treated to a guided tour of Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace, pictured, on a sailing from Munich to Budapest with Scenic

You’ll be treated to a guided tour of Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace, pictured, on a sailing from Munich to Budapest with Scenic 

Sailing from Munich to Budapest, this stops in Vienna, Durnstein and Linz in Austria and Regensburg in Germany. 

You’ll be treated to a private piano concert in Budapest, a Schnapps-tasting session and a guided tour of Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace. Sailings are in November and December and in 2022. 

Scenic’s eight-day Christmas Markets On The Danube Cruise costs from £2,095pp, including flights from the UK (scenic.co.uk).

MISSISSIPPI MAGIC

You can visit Elvis Presley's home, Graceland (pictured), on Viking's December 2022 cruise, which sails between Memphis and New Orleans

You can visit Elvis Presley’s home, Graceland (pictured), on Viking’s December 2022 cruise, which sails between Memphis and New Orleans

Fancy heading stateside for a supersized dose of Yuletide fun? Viking’s December 2022 cruise, which sails between Memphis and New Orleans, is perfect for anyone hoping to indulge in festive retail therapy with visits to Louisiana’s most famous landmarks, including Elvis Presley’s home Graceland and historic Natchez. 

Our favourite market is the one in New Orleans’ City Park, where America’s oldest grove of oaks is draped with fairy lights. 

Viking River Cruises’ eight-day Mississippi Holiday Season cruise costs from £4,290pp including flights (vikingrivercruises.co.uk).


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