Posted on 11-Oct-2018 by Administrator
Just like every other festival, even Christmas is celebrated with great gusto in India. Especially in the metros, there are large Christmas trees laid out in the shopping malls, schools and public places, holidays are on and many a white bearded Santa Claus can be seen at children’s events. However, what is missing in a tropical country like India is the snowy white flakes falling on rooftops and children playing in the snow. So while Christmas at home is perfectly lovely, it is a different experience to witness a White Christmas in Europe.
And a perfect way to explore a White Christmas in Europe is on luxury river cruise on the Danube, Seine or Rhine rivers which operate special Christmas Market Cruises in the month of December. These Christmas market cruises take you across Europe, to not only the Europe that most tourists know, but the Europe at its purest and scenic best, where civilisations have blossomed on the banks of two of its lifeline rivers, the mighty Danube and the River Rhine.
These cruises give you the opportunity to unearth holiday markets dating back to the middle ages, discover small villages with legacies of bread baking, wine brewing and carving their very own Christmas toys. What’s best is that all of this happens without the plethora of tourists crowding every corner commonplace in most tourist destinations across Europe. Most major cruise-liners today offer Christmas Market River Cruises that generally begin in the last week of November and operate till the Christmas week, in varying durations.
Europe in winter is vastly different from the radiance it has in summer and spring, as if the wintery frost has transformed the land entirely giving it an ethereal beauty. Despite the frigid cold air and occasion showers of snow fall, the atmosphere on the cruises is warm and festive with anticipation buzzing in the air. Do pack your warmest winter gear through, lest any gust of cold breeze dampen your spirits.
Uniworld River Cruises, one of the most renowned river cruise companies, offers spectacular boutique river cruises that are tailor made for ensuring maximum comfort, travel and fun on the cruise. They offer an 8-day cruise from Nuremberg to Frankfurt that takes you through the heart of Germany in the while exploring multiple brilliant stops. Nuremberg is home to the world’s largest, grandest Christmas Market where you can get a taste of the Christmas traditions in Germany, and partake in sampling various Christmas sweets and delicacies. Wertheim or Wertheim am Main, is a town on the south-western coast of Germany that meets on the confluence of the rivers Tauber and Main. Famed for its mulled wine and glassblowers, Wertheim is littered with building going back to the Middle Ages, with a rich interesting history going back a thousand years. Another peculiar stop on this voyage is the city of Bamberg, peculiar because the city survived a massive World War II bombing and remains practically unscathed, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site to boast. Other stops on this tour are the towns of Wurzburg and Kitzingen, Rothenburg, with its fairy-tale lanes and perfect buildings. The final stop on this journey is of course Frankfurt, the Manhattan of Europe where you can unleash all your shopping desires as well and tick the famous tourist spots off your checklist. Uniworld provides all passengers on board with Regal River Queen room accommodations and a variety of dining options as well and special welcome and Farewell reception Gala. Another added advantage is that they have English speaking guides available every step of the way, so you can be rest assured language will not be the slightest barrier on this voyage.
Among an impressive list of river cruises this winter, Avalon Waterways offers a particularly lucrative eight day excursion along the river Rhine from Zurich in the heart of icy Switzerland to the mystical lanes of Amsterdam. The cruise takes you across France and Germany before finally landing in Holland. The best of Europe in the best of seasons! The journey is nothing short of being an actual fairy-tale adventure, beginning in Basel with Switzerland’s legendary scenic beauty before going into the Black Forest through Breisach, Germany. Not only is it blessed with unrivalled natural beauty, it’s also the home of the famed Black Forest ham and cherry cake. It’s akin to going back in time, with markets simplified with people offering their wares. Next the cruise enters Strasbourg in France, the city with red-sandstone gothic cathedrals and gigantic Christmas tree. Another memorable spot is visiting the ruins of the Heidelberg’s castle in Germany, a jewel nestled in the lap of Alps. For all the wine lovers, the cruise takes you to Rudesheim and even to Cologne, a 2,000 year old city in Germany with mindblowing architecture, cathedrals and of course, the vibrant Christmas Market. At least, the grand finale in this cruise of your dreams comes in the city of Amsterdam, to round off the trip with a romantic cruise in its canals.
With a heritage going back to over 175 years, Viking River Cruises are at their best in combining natural opulence with luxury onboard, with only 50 passengers on a ship. They have a line-up of the Danube Waltz, that offers eight day tours from Passau to Budapest, the eight day Rhine Gateway, from Amsterdam to Basel, the eight day Romantic Danube from Budapest to Nuremberg and finally the twelve day cruise from Paris to the Swiss Alps. With the promise of a true European Christmas, all cruises offered by this cruise liner are aimed specifically at making the most of the merry season. Sail on the magnificent Viking long-ships, only equipped with every modern luxury while you get a taste of the Christmas season in multiple European nations. The Danube Waltz in particular, offers you the opportunity to learn waltz at a Viennese Waltz School and experience the daily life at an abbey! Vienna itself is a treasure of a city, with its four Christmas Markets, every corner eager to unleash a new wonder of architecture or culture, whether the gracious boulevards or the St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
Another major cruise-liner that offers Christmas Market Cruises is AMA Waterways, with cruise trips both for Christmas and the New Years. This cruiseliner keeps up the revelry even on the waters, with celebrations for St. Nicholas Day, Tree Trimming parties and count down for the New Year with the dark sky peppered with a million stars and the twinkling lights of the magical Europe on the shore. Their cruise line-up includes 7-night cruises from Amsterdam to Basel (or reverse), from Budapest to Vilshofen (or reverse) dubbed the ‘Iconic Christmas Markets’, the week-long Magical Christmas Markets cruise from Vienna to Nuremburg and a number of other New Year’s cruises. Their premium offering though is the splendid 14-night Magnificent Europe Christmas Cruise that voyages from Budapest to Amsterdam while stopping at almost every important and unique port on the way. It might be difficult to find a spot on any of these with Christmas just two months away, so hurry for the perfect opportunity for the perfect Christmas!
Some of the major cities and towns that you might visit while cruising on the Danube or Rhine are as follows:
Vienna: Vienna in Christmas is as beautiful as a bride on her wedding day. The capital city of Austria, Vienna has a strong heritage of music, dance and architecture. Ride along the enchanting Ringstrasse, shop along the Kartnerstrasse and end your day with an evening concert right before Christmas rings in.
Durnstein: Durnstein looks as picture perfect as any medieval town with its multi-coloured slanted roof houses, cobbled streets, town houses and wine taverns and large Christmas markets. Also a major attraction here are the ruins of the castle where the English monarch Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned. Surrounded by the breath-taking Wachau Valley and on the banks of the Danube, this is perhaps the most serene spots that you might encounter in all of Europe.
Cologne: One of Germany’s largest and most vibrant cities, Cologne is situated on the left bank of the river Rhine. If here, it’s absolutely impossible to miss the grandeur of the Gothic cathedral, whose interior is perhaps as beautiful and intricate as its exterior is daunting and imposing. The famous ‘Eau de Cologne’ finds its home in this city, as does ‘Dom’ Germany’s largest cathedral and a UNESCO world heritage site.
Strasbourg: Strasbourg is an idyllic town in north eastern France situated on the Rhine at the German border. Its architecture reflects the culture of both the nations on its either sides. It can almost be described as a mesmerising place, with a huge astronomical clock in the town scare, Christmas trees at every corner, the La Petite France neighbourhood and its fabulously medieval bridges.
Christmas in Europe is a revelation in itself, and there is no better way to experience it than by celebrating it across multiple towns in several countries, each adding its own unique flavour to the season. Cruises also have on-board music performances, baking activities, and needless to mention the Santa Claus! Being on a Christmas Market river cruise is like going back in time to see Christmas at its purest form while voyaging on the most modern, luxurious ships at the same time. Hurry and book yourself a week or more of absolute celebration to make this the merriest Christmas of your lives!