Christmas River Cruises

Enjoy Europe's Christmas Markets or experience the festivities in Southeast Asia

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Embark on a seasonal adventure with our Christmas cruises

Make your next Christmas one to remember with our collection of Christmas cruises.
For the most traditional of Christmas cruising experiences, join us as we visit the delightful Christmas markets of Europe. The waft of delicious mulled wine and roasting chestnuts, along with a backdrop of festive sounds and twinkling lights, ensure the air is filled with delightful Christmastime cheer. Popular attractions across these wonderfully festive markets include the obligatory huge Christmas tree, lit up in all its glory, along with a Nativity scene, and festive singing and dancing. Full of festive charm, these markets are truly a joyful treat for all the senses. Late November and early December offer the opportunity to embark on your very own Christmastime adventure with Emerald Waterways. Explore the Christmas markets of Europe with our specially tailored itineraries from 5 to 15 days, experiencing different festive celebrations in several cities during one trip.

For those of you who wish to celebrate Christmas and the New Year in slightly warmer climes, a Christmas cruise in Southeast Asia is sure to fuel your wanderlust. An intoxicating fusion of phenomenal natural spectacles, traditional culture, and welcoming locals provide a serene backdrop to your alternative winter adventure. Discover a region that embraces the festive season with characteristic enthusiasm and warmth, which will put a whole new perspective on the traditional Christmas celebrations.
Christmas on the Danube

Nuremberg Christmas Markets

Over two million people visit Nuremberg every year before Christmas because of its reputation for housing one of the best markets of its kind in the world. All of the best parts of a German Christmas market can be found at the Nuremberg Christmas market, Christkindlesmarkt,  including spiced gingerbread, Christmas tree decorations, festive lights, mulled wine, and an old-fashioned carousel.

Around 180 stalls appear at the market, all of which are carefully monitored by Nuremberg's own Christmas Market Council. They make sure that no mass-produced toys, non-stop Christmas chart music or cheap plastic decorations are found on any of the stalls. When it comes to a traditional German market, it doesn't get much better than Nuremberg.

Keep a special look out for the famous 'Nuremberg Plum People', which are little figurines made from dried plums, and be sure to attend the world-famous opening ceremony, which is an impressive event, both for Nuremberg inhabitants and tourists from Europe and abroad.

Budapest Christmas Markets

The Hungarian capital comes to life with the twinkling of lights, market stalls and general festivities in December. There’s something undeniably magical about the setting of Budapest’s main Christmas markets in front of the city’s grand St Stephen’s Basilica cathedral. Pop on a pair of ice skates and visit the skating rink outside the church; the magical, atmospheric surrounds act as the perfect wintery backdrop. St Stephen’s Square has also become synonymous with a fantastic light show, illuminating the church’s classical domes. 

Vörösmarty Square is another must-visit hotspot for Christmas markets. Warm up with a steaming cup of wine and a pastry. Sample the finest traditional confectionery, including kürtőskalács (chimney cake), warm honey cookies (Hungarian gingerbread) and Jewish flódni cake (five layers of fruit and nut filling). If you have more of a savoury tooth, try dödölle (fried potato dumplings) or lángos (deep fried dough). You’ll also find handcrafted trinkets and folk-inspired ornaments from the many craft vendors.

Vienna Christmas Markets

The Schönbrunn Christmas and New Year's Market in Vienna typically runs from the end of November until Boxing Day. The Christmas market attracts thousands of visitors every year to its stunning location in front of the famed Schönbrunn Palace. The market is often followed by the New Year’s Market Daily choral performances. Gospel groups and brass bands will act as the musical backdrop to your Christmas shopping while jazz sounds will fill the air throughout the New Year’s Market.

Another fantastic market based in Vienna is the Christmas market at Spittelberg. Also attracting thousands of visitors every year, it is no wonder that when the Vienna Chamber of Commerce asked Viennese Christmas market visitors which market was their favourite in 2012, The Christmas Market at Spittelberg came out as number one.

Christmas on the Rhine

Cologne Christmas Markets

Offering seven German Christmas markets in total from its location beside the Rhine River, Cologne is an ideal city to visit for those who are looking for a festive river cruise in Europe. One of the biggest markets has Cologne Cathedral as a backdrop and is a must for those seeking a festive atmosphere. Visitors can purchase a decorative Christmas mug of original 'Christmas Mulled Wine', and are sure to be tempted by the masses of stalls selling Lebkuchen (German Christmas gingerbread), Stollen (German Christmas cake), Wurst (German sausage) and other tasty treats.

The Christmas market in the Old Town is also worth heading to, where legend has it that the famed Heinzelmännchen gnomes ensure that no modern or mass-produced goods are sold. Neumarkt is best suited to those looking for high-quality, luxury products and the 'stars at night' theme makes it one of the prettiest German Christmas markets in the country.

Rudesheim Christmas Markets

Set on the banks of the Rhine River, Rüdesheim is another great German Christmas market to head to if sailing on a Christmas markets of Europe river cruise. The town's old quarter is the perfect setting for an idyllic German Christmas market, but variations of the traditional style can be found here. Over 100 stalls are located on Drosselgasse lane, many of which offer a multicultural approach to Christmas shopping; try speciality Mongolian food or purchase a Finnish treat to take home.

Many people will describe Rüdesheim Christmas market as one of the best in Europe for its famous Rüdesheim coffee. The coffee is served in a special Rüdesheim coffee set and is made with whipped cream and locally distilled Asbach Uralt brandy. This brandy can also be found in chocolates that would make a wonderful gift to take home with you, and it is also available in bottles if a brandy lover appears on your Christmas shopping list.
Christmas on the Rhône

Avignon Christmas Markets

Celebrate the festivities in true Provençal style, experiencing medieval southern France in a unique, wintery light. Avignon is transformed into a magical wonderland in December and is considered home to the prettiest Christmas markets in Provence. Experience the themed parades, folk dances and sprawling markets, set against Avignon’s atmospheric cityscape.

The Palais des Popes is an iconic landmark, acting as the pinnacle for Catholic worship and papal residency in the area. One of the major traditions of Provence is crèche scenes. You don’t have to wander far to discover these Nativity displays in churches such as the Pope’s Palace and behind household windows. There are also many craftsmen displaying and selling handmade 'santon’ figurines at the markets if you’d like to return from your travels with a Provençal ornament.

Elsewhere at Avignon’s markets, your senses will be tempted by the abundance of gourmet food products and regional culinary specialities. Why not sample saucisson (thick, dry-cured sausage), sweet nougat, and artisanal cheeses.
Christmas on the Mekong

For a Christmas adventure sure to live long in the memory why not join us for warm winter cruising in Southeast Asia. 

The endless twinkling lights of Hoi An, set amongst the colonial architecture and traditional temples; the mystical limestone and forested towers emerging from the tranquil waters of Halong Bay; the vibrant mix of delicious cuisine, unforgettable nightlife and temples at Siem Reap – all these wonders take on an even more magical allure at this time of year. 

Emerald Waterways will lift the veil on this treasure trove as you navigate between Vietnam and Cambodia along the Mekong River. Let us introduce you to this region during the festive season, where festivities and decorations adorn the cities and villages throughout December. Prepare for a Christmas and New Year like no other.

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Christmas in Europe

Christmas in Southeast Asia