If you ask any Christmas-obsessed person what’s on their holiday bucket list, a visit to Europe’s famed festive markets is likely to come up. And that’s what Viking seems to be banking on with its new lineup of yuletide-themed river cruises; these take travelers along some of the continent’s most famous rivers and stop at Christmas markets along the route.
The cruise line is currently offering eight different Christmas river cruises — including one in the U.S. — with itineraries starting (or ending) in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Some of the cruises stop in as many as four countries in a sailing, and trip lengths range from eight to 12 days. The starting rates on the trips vary by itinerary but range from $2,299 to $3,999 per guest at the low end.
Viking’s European Christmas cruises each hit multiple charming markets. They allow travelers to either stroll and shop at their leisure or stick with a locally based tour guide who can provide insights into daily life in the city and illuminate some of its history.
The Christmas markets typically offer artisan-made items that include holiday decor, sweets, drinks (including a beloved hot mug of gluhwein) and foods. Another perk — or downside, depending upon whom you ask — of Viking cruises is that nobody under 18 is allowed on the voyages.
These open-air markets are typically packed with locals manning the quaint wooden booths that line the streets and browsing the wares as their own long-running holiday tradition. Some Christmas markets even have rides or outdoor skating rinks. Nearly all will have impressive trees that make unforgettable selfie backdrops.
One eight-day cruise travels from Basel, Switzerland, to Amsterdam, Netherlands (or vice-versa, if you board the reverse sailing), along the Rhine River, also stopping at markets in France and Germany along the way. Another eight-day option from Budapest, Hungary, to Regensburg, Germany, takes passengers along the Danube River, with a two-day stop in Vienna, Austria, being a major highlight.
One epic option lasts 12 days and travels from Paris, France, to Zurich, Switzerland. It makes several stops at bustling markets in Germany, as it sails on both the Rhine and Moselle Rivers.
If a French Christmas sounds the most enticing, Viking has also launched a cruise that does an eight-day loop along the Seine. This cruise starts and ends in Paris, with stops at charming markets in French towns along the river.
Meanwhile, if international travel sounds like too much to cram into your already packed holiday schedule, Viking also has a Christmas cruise on the Mississippi River. It goes from Memphis, Tennessee, to New Orleans, Louisiana over eight days and includes privileged after-hours access to Graceland while it’s decorated for the holidays.
Check out Viking’s full list of Christmas-themed river cruises to get details on each itinerary and find out how to book passage.