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Mulled wine, castles & gingerbread: Best Christmas market cruises for 2023

Christmas market cruises are the perfect way to celebrate the best of the festive season and if you’ve already been enjoying the mulled wine and gingerbread so far you’ll be glad to know a number of cruise lines have already released their 2023 Christmas cruise itineraries.

Christmas cruise holidays evoke sparkling city lights, steaming mugs of hot chocolate on deck gazing out at the beautiful scenery and stocking up on festive goodies at some of Europe’s most famous Christmas markets.

A host of river cruise lines have already unveiled their Christmas market cruises 2023 so holidaymakers can get planning their trip for next year.

We’ve rounded up some of the best Christmas cruises you can enjoy on some of the continent’s finest waterways.

Germany christmas market

Mulled wineAvalon Waterways

Avalon Waterways is offering Christmas cruises 2023 along the Rhine and Danube. Five-day Christmastime In Alsace & Germany sails the former packing in mulled wine, spice cakes, and biscuits in Heidelberg and Strasbourg, Breisach, the gateway to Germany’s Black Forest and Basel, Switzerland.

Eight-day Festive Season on the Blue Danube Discovery takes in Austria and Germany, starting in Budapest and ending in historic Nuremberg. Enjoy these cities in full festive flow, tuck into gingerbread and visit the Christmas markets.

Ten-day Christmastime from Nuremberg to Basel offers a Christmas market cruise 2023 on the Main Danube Canal as well as the Main and Rhine River. You’ll visit the wine town of Rüdesheim, the unique Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum and Heidelberg Castle to name a few highlights.

Guided toursRiviera Travel

Riviera Travel Christmas river cruises 2023 are across six itineraries on the Rhine and the Danube. Travellers can sail across Christmas week, welcome in the New Year on celebratory sailings, or explore the Yuletide market on departures in the run-up to Christmas.

Christmas itineraries include six-night cruise The Danube’s Imperial Cities and Yuletide Markets featuring guided tours of Budapest, Vienna and Bratislava; five-day Enchanting Rhine and Yuletide Markets with guided tours of Bonn, Rüdesheim, Koblenz and Cologne.

As for New Year cruises, there’s six-day New Year on the Rhine with guided tours of Rüdesheim, Frankfurt, Koblenz and Cologne; and six-day New Year on the Danube including guided tours of Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and Schönbrunn Palace.

vienna xmas

Private concertsScenic

Scenic offers luxury Christmas market cruise 2023 offerings in the run-up to the big day as well as across Christmas and New Year.

Twelve-day Rhine Christmas Markets with Switzerland sails from Zurich to Amsterdam. Call at Lucerne, with its amazing views of the Swiss alps; Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärkt, one of Europe’s largest Christmas markets; Hohenbaden Castle and a private evening concert at the Baroque Palace of Rastatt in Baden-Baden; and Christmas markets in Koblenz, Cologne and Amsterdam.

The 15-day Christmas & New Year cruise goes from Amsterdam to Budapest, visit Christmas markets in Cologne, make German gingerbread men in Nuremberg and enjoy a private classical evening concert in the majestic Palais Liechtenstein in Vienna. Then welcome the New Year in style in Budapest, with the option of celebrating the festivities in the city with the locals.

Festive funViking River Cruises

Viking has a range of Christmas river cruises 2023. New for next year is eight-day itinerary Christmas on the Seine. You’ll call at Paris, sail through (hopefully!) snow-covered Normandy and admire the fairytale-worthy villages along the way. Visit Christmas markets and savour such onboard festivities as regional dining specialities, seasonal treats and more.

Another option is eight-day sailing Christmas on the Danube visiting Hungary, Austria and Germany. Head to the Christmas markets of Budapest and Vienna and visit the picturesque village of Regensburg, one of Europe’s best-preserved cities.

Excursions available include a day in the Austrian city of Salzburg plus Privileged Access visit to Göttweig Abbey in Austria and an exclusive performance of Mozart and Strauss led by the renowned Alma Deutsche at the illustrious Wiener Konzerthaus in Vienna.

Germany christmas market
Jerez horses

A bit differentCroisiEurope

CroisiEurope offers traditional Christmas market cruise holidays as well as more unusual holidays.

To try something a bit different next year, join CroisiEurope’s five-night cruise on the Guadalquivir in Spain. Soak of the Christmas markets and parades of Seville attend midnight mass in El Puerto de Santa Maria; explore Jerez, the Andalusian capital of wine, horses and flamenco music and Cordoba.

Prices include all meals and drinks, onboard entertainment, Christmas Eve dinner with cocktails and wine, Christmas presents and port fees.

Christmas talesAmadeus River Cruises

Sample a taste of the Danube with Amadeus on a seven-day cruise departing round-trip from Passau and calling in Linz, Emmersdorf, Durnstein, Vienna and Bratislava. Enjoy Christmas stories, decorating the Christmas tree and a joyous celebration on board.

Prices include all meals, wine with lunch and dinner, onboard entertainment, complimentary use of onboard bicycles and port taxes.

belgumi christmas

Ocean cruiseMSC Cruises

Christmas market cruises 2023 aren’t exclusive to river cruises. MSC Cruises is offering a raft of Northern European itineraries onboard MSC Euribia from Southampton.

On a seven-night MSC Christmas market cruise, you’ll visit Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Zeebrugge in Belgium and Le Havre in France.

Set Sail

Northern Europe with MSC Cruises

Duration: 7 nights

Where: Southampton, UK | Hamburg, Germany | Rotterdam, Netherlands | Zeebrugge, Belgium | Le Havre, France | Southampton, UK

Ship: MSC Euribia

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Published 07.01.23