If you have been following me for any length of time you probably know how much my trips to EPCOT as a child have inspired my love of travel. How meeting the international cast members and hearing them talk about their native lands had me wanting to visit them.
One of my favorite destinations during the Holidays is, of course, Walt Disney World, but not because of the Christmas Party or parade on Main Street but because of the Festival of the Holidays at EPCOT.
I love the storytellers who share the holiday traditions of their country. My favorite was always Germany. I loved hearing how German traditions shaped many of our own, and as I got older I loved enjoying some Gluhwein while enjoying the presentation.
It was my research into the origins of Gluhwein when I returned home that I discovered the popularity of the Christmas Markets in Germany. I was introduced to Christmas Market River Cruises when I started in the Travel Industry. I added it to the list of things I wanted to experience, but seeing most river cruises are adults-only, thought it would be a long time before I would be able to experience it with my family. Fortunately, many of the river cruise companies are starting to offer experiences for families.
What is a Christmas Market?
Europe’s fabled Christmas Markets typically open around November 25 and stay operational until December 23rd or 24th.
They pop up in the center of town, the square in which the city was built around. These beautiful squares are lit up with decorations, the smell of street food fills the air and there is a feeling of community as locals gather with friends and family. You may even get to experience a light dusting of snow over the scene.
These markets offer an incredible variety of local crafts and wares and – perhaps best of all – delicious local Christmas delicacies. Mulled wine (Gluhwein in Germany) and cider are popular wintertime beverages and are typically sold in these markets as well. There’s no better time to truly embrace local customs than at Christmas.
When you think about Christmas shopping at home you may imagine the crowded stores and fights for parking spaces. But visiting during the holiday season is one of the best times to experience these destinations. What is absent is the throngs of tourists that crowd cities and attractions during the popular summer months. Chances are your exploration time ashore will be more relaxed and enjoyable than in the hot, crowded heat of summer.
Why River Cruising?
If you have heard of river cruising, you may be picturing groups of retirees with white sneakers and headsets, but the river cruise industry has changed dramatically in recent years.
River cruising is perfect for families looking to explore multiple cities without the hassle of packing up, lugging baggage through cobblestone streets, and trying to figure out the local transportation. With a river cruise, everything is taken care of for you, and most are all-inclusive experiences.
The modern and comfortable ships have started offering connecting rooms or suites to accommodate families. You only unpack once. And the cruise line has developed well organized and engaging activities to fill your days.
Unlike traditional ocean cruise ships that can hold thousands of passengers, river cruise ships hold a maximum of approximately 200 guests. While you won’t find water parks or climbing walls, and endless restaurant options you will find an incredible staff that gets to know your preferences (after ordering the same omelet from the buffet station two days in a row, the chef had one ready for me each morning after) and will help make sure your trip is exactly what you were looking for. River cruising is much less about the onboard experience and more about the incredible destinations. The onboard programs they do have are designed to highlight the places you are visiting with hands-on activities like learning a local craft, performances from locals, and a commitment to using local ingredients to provide destination-specific cuisine. One of the excursions our cruise line offered when our itinerary was altered due to weather was to join the chef as he did is morning shopping in the local markets and how he selected what he was going to prepare for our dinner based on what was fresh.
A Christmas Market cruise is the perfect way to celebrate major milestones. With so many accomplishments and celebrations glossed over in the past year, there is no better way to make up for missed birthdays and celebrations than an incredible trip and 2021 cruises are already available to be booked.
Why worry about Christmas shopping and all the toys your kids don’t need. I am obviously biased but I think the best present you can give is time together, visiting a new destination, and learning about Christmas traditions.
Adventures by Disney
Adventures by Disney hosts a very merry Christmas celebration on the AmaViola, from river cruise line AmaWaterways. The sailings are on the Danube between Budapest and Vilshofen, with several market experiences along the way. In Vienna, guests experience the impressive Schönbrunn Palace, where the outdoor Christmas market offers music, handicrafts, and children’s activities. Also in Vienna, guests can go ice skating in the center of the city. The itinerary includes an excursion to Salzburg, Austria, showcasing sights from the iconic movie The Sound of Music, as well as the charming city’s own famed Christmas extravaganza. Disney’s incredible adventure guides are like your own personal concierge who travels with you and makes sure all of your needs are met. And of course, it is Disney the experts at keeping families entertained.
Classic German Christmas Markets with Uniworld
Upscale Uniworld sails its 128-guest River Queen along Germany’s Main River from Nuremberg to Frankfurt on a family-focused, seven-night “Classic Christmas Markets” itinerary each December. In addition to shopping at regional Christmas markets, families can visit the “Christmas with Dinosaurs” exhibit at Frankfurt’s natural history museum, sample gingerbread in Nuremberg, or take a pretzel-twisting class in Wertheim. Onboard, kids can take advantage of a lounge just for them and at mealtimes peruse children’s menus, consult a “soda sommelier,” and sit at Young Travelers’ Tables, no grown-ups allowed.
Generations (Uniworld’s family-friendly itineraries) departures offer onboard Family Hosts, special ship tours with the Captain or hotel manager, use of bicycles, and onboard language and dessert making lessons. Each night with turndown, children receive a special gift reflective of the destination.
Tauck Bridges’ family vacation tours are designed to inspire a sense of wonder and understanding of this big, wide, wonderful world we live in. But, most of all, they’re fun! They span interests as well as generations, connecting you and your loved ones for the best family trips imaginable.
On the Christmas market itinerary, your family will discover Europe’s time-honored holiday traditions in historic cities and towns along the Danube featuring the sights, flavors, and music of the season.
On Your “Holiday Magic Journey” guests enjoy visits to Europe’s popular Christmas markets, and to Oberndorf, Austria, where the beloved classic Silent Night was written and first performed in 1818. A workshop in Passau, Germany, highlights traditional treats, including their famous gingerbread, and a festive dinner aboard the ship invites guests to dress in their holiday best and celebrate the season. Families will also enjoy an exclusive Imperial Evening inside a private Viennese palace with a waltz lesson, and they can take part in a scavenger hunt in Bratislava’s Old Town.
I haven’t had any experience with A-ROSA but came across them a few times while I was researching this post. I found them especially appealing because each child ages 2 to 15 sails free with an adult! A-ROSA’s ships have triples, family suites, and adjoining staterooms to cater to the family market. And unlike the many other river cruises, A-ROSA’s ships also have swimming pools, and during holiday periods, an A-ROSA kids’ club is available for ages 4 to 15.
They also offer more itinerary options including 4 and 5-night itineraries on the Danube (like the options above) as well as the Rhine (Amsterdam to Cologne and the Seine (Paris).
If you want an incredible Christmas vacation contact me today so I can help you find ways to make memories for your family.
If you are ready to have the family vacation you’ve been dreaming of, without spending time researching, planning and making it happen, schedule a call today. I’m here to help busy working Moms plan, organize and book the perfect family vacation. With me, all you have to worry about is enjoying your well-earned time away with your family. If you are ready to stop trying to do everything on your own and see how I can help you schedule a complimentary trip planning session now.
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