Riviera River Cruises has expanded the availability of its Christmas markets cruises for December 2019, with 25 departures planned on Europe’s Rhine and Danube rivers. Guests will visit castles, squares, churches, and old towns on guided tours and spend free time shopping festive markets for traditional gifts and treats.
This year, Riviera is offering 16 departures of its Enchanting Rhine & Yuletide Markets itinerary and nine departures of The Danube’s Imperial Cities & Yuletide Markets itinerary. Highlights of each cruise include:
- Enchanting Rhine & Yuletide Markets: Begin and end in Cologne, Germany, and cruise through the Rhine Gorge, past steep, vineyard-covered hillsides with castle ruins atop rocky crags to Rüdesheim, Koblenz, and Bonn. In Rüdesheim, market stalls glow with hundreds of fairy lights and the Christmas shop is open year-round, a trove of all things seasonal. Tours take in the ancient squares, historic house frontages and hidden passageways of Koblenz, and the main sights of Bonn’s old town, centered around its two spacious squares and the soaring spire of the huge Romanesque minster. Cologne has seven markets and the largest tree in the Rhineland with 50,000 lights.
- The Danube’s Imperial Cities & Yuletide Markets: Begin and end in Budapest, Hungary, and cruise through the narrow valley of the Danube Bend, flanked by snow-covered hillsides and mountains, on the way to Bratislava, Slovakia, and Vienna, Austria. Tours take in Budapest’s parliament building and ancient castle district, Bratislava’s restored baroque old town and grand white castle, Vienna’s towering St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Hofburg palace complex. Markets are filled with classical music and smells of spiced gingerbread and peppery goulash in Budapest, and artisan decorations, wooden figurines and pottery in Bratislava. And few places are as festive as Vienna, where more than 20 markets sell a wide variety of gifts and city hall provides a spectacular backdrop with its windows transformed into a giant advent calendar.