These Holiday Cruises Will Take You to Christmas Markets Around Europe

avalon cruises
Photo: Courtesy of Avalon Waterways

A Christmas market cruises can get you into the winter spirit, provide a relaxing getaway, and offer opportunities for getting one-of-a-kind gifts for friends and family.

These cruise itineraries give you the chance to explore holiday markets dating back to the Middle Ages, and to discover the villages with local treasures like traditional winemaking and artisan crafts.

From festive onboard activities — like tree trimmings and dessert making — to the mulled wine and fresh gingerbread that will welcome you at each stop, these Christmas market cruises give travelers plenty to be merry about.

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Christmas Along the Danube (Abercrombie & Kent)

danube cruise abercrombie and kent
Courtesy of Abercrombie & Kent

Spend your holidays traveling on this new cruise from Abercrombie & Kent. The nine-day cruise starts in Germany in Munich and travels down through Salzburg, Linz, and Vienna, in Austria, before heading to Slovakia.

With only 24 guests onboard, this cruise offers a more intimate experience. A resident tour director is on-hand to guide guests through a tour of Munich's old town and its Christmas market, the Christmas market in Austria's Domplatz, and a private linzer torte baking class in Linz.

On Christmas morning, guests will wake up in Vienna and have a chance to stroll through the city's sprawling Christmas market before attending a strudel-baking demonstration and an evening concert at the 19th-century Kursalon.

Dates: December 21 to 29, 2017

Rate: Starting at $4,495 per person

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Magnificent Europe Christmas Cruise (AmaWaterways)

amawaterways christmas cruises
Courtesy of AmaWaterways

This 14-night cruise takes travelers through five different countries, through medieval towns and to Europe's countryside.

Starting in Budapest, the cruise heads to Vienna, where guests get a tour of the city and its Christmas markets. There are also Christmas market stops in Nuremberg and Regensburg, in Germany.

After sampling smoked beer in Bamberg, guests continue to the German town of Kitzingen for wine tastings, and to Cologne for walking tours. The cruise then makes its way to Amsterdam for a leisurely exploration of the canals.

Date: December 20, 2017

Rate: Starting at $4,099 per person

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Parisian Royal Holiday (Uniworld)

uniworld parisian christmas cruise
Courtesy of Uniworld

This eight-day trip with Uniworld is on the cruise line's new S.S. Joie de Vivre, which launched earlier this year.

The trip begins and ends in Paris, traveling through Northern France with stops at Christmas markets in Rouen and at the Champs-Élysées. Each holiday season, the streets of Rouen come alive with holiday lights and street performers.

Guests will also be able to indulge in holiday treats at La Couronne, which is where Julia Child famously enjoyed her first lunch in France. There's also a chance to see the grand Christmas tree at Notre Dame.

Dates: Itineraries available December 6 to 27, 2017

Rate: Starting at $3,799 per person

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Christmas Markets in Alsace (CroisiEurope Cruises)

strausburg christmas market cruises
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The Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, is the oldest one in Europe, dating back to 1570, and this four-day cruise from CroisiEurope takes you into the heart of it. Stops along the way include tasting the bredeles — biscruits that are traditionally baked during the holidays — at the Maison du Pain d'Alsace.

In Strasbourg, guests will also be able to explore wine cellars that date back to 1472 and visit the Christmas market of Eguisheim.

Dates: December 3 to 17, 2017

Rate: Starting at $942 per person

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Dashing Through the Danube (Contiki)

vienna christmas market cruise
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This eight-day river cruise through four different countries is geared towards travelers aged 18 to 35.

The cruise starts in Regensburg, Germany. After exploring Regensburg's Christmas markets, guests come back onboard for a mixology class and traditional Bavarian dinner. The cruise will continue to Christmas markets in Passau, Vienna, and Budapest.

Fun additions on the cruise include castle ice-skating lessons in Budapest and onboard lessons in making Viennese desserts.

Dates: December 9 to 27, 2017

Rate: Starting at $1,839

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Christmastime on the Danube (Westbound)—Avalon Waterways

avalon cruises
Courtesy of Avalon Waterways

Though most of Avalon Waterways' Christmas-themed cruises for the year have sold out, travelers can still snag a room on this nine-day river cruise from Vienne to Prague on the Danube.

Guided sightseeing tours take guests to Christmas markets in Vienna, Regensburg, Nuremburg, and Prague. The tour through Vienna's Christmas markets will be a culinary one, offering a chance to sample some of the country's most beloved holiday goodies. The cruise also includes several wine tastings, and a tour of Nuremberg's Old Town, which becomes illuminated with festive lights and bustling stalls during the holidays.

Dates: December 3 to 11 and 15 to 23, 2017

Rate: Starting at $2,290 per person

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Christmas Markets Along the Rhine (Tauck River Cruising)

strasbourg christmas market
Getty Images/Mattes Rene

Rooms are filling up fast on this eight-day cruise from Tauck, which takes guests along the Rhine River. Onboard, holiday touches include tree-trimming parties and seasonal décor. The itinerary has several market visits, including Aachen, Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, Strasbourg, Colmar, and Riquewihr.

From exploring living nativity sets in Baden-Baden to sampling crepes, sausages, baguettes, and chocolates in Colmar, this cruise promises an itinerary filled with festive cheer.

Dates: Launching December 2 and December 10, 2017

Rate: Starting at $3,780 per person

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Bruges Short Break (Cunard)

christmas market in bruges
Getty Images/David C Phillips

For a shorter option, consider exploring the quaint Christmas markets of Bruges on this three-night cruise from Cunard.

After a day at sea, guests will head to Bruges to explore the city's famous Christmas market. The market is filled with festive ice sculptures, horse-drawn carriage rides, and an array of wooden chalets offering dainty ornaments, toys, and more.

While you're there, be sure to sample the chocolate and waffles that the area is famous for.

Dates: December 8 to 11, 2017

Rate: Starting at $697 per person

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Grand Europe Christmas Markets (Crystal Cruises)

nuremberg christmas markets
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Hit all the top spots on Crystal Cruises' Grand European Christmas Markets cruise, which takes travelers through Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands during a 16-day trip.

Christmas market stops include Nuremberg, where travelers can taste bratwurst and dark beers. The itinerary also offers time to explore medieval towns like Miltenberg, in Germany, and enjoy wines in Austria.

Dates: December 19, 2017 to January 4, 2018

Rate: Starting at $6,245 per person

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Classic Christmas Markets (Uniworld)

nuremberg holiday markets
Courtesy of Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

This eight-day cruise takes travelers from Nuremberg to Frankfurt, starting with one of the biggest and oldest Christmas markets in Nuremberg, before heading to Bamberg, where the city's noted Nativity Walk includes some 40 churches, museums, and public installations of scenes of the nativity.

After sampling gingerbread beer in Wurzburg, guests will make their way to Wertheim to explore the glasswork and wines that line the stalls of its Market Square. There's also a stop at the Christmas market in Frankfurt.

Dates: December 1, 2017

Rate: Starting at $3,449 per person

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Rhine River Cruise: Holiday (Adventures by Disney)

strasbourg christmas market
Getty Images/Mattes Rene

This cruise, onboard the AmaKristina, takes travelers through four countries. Holiday activities include the Amsterdam Light Festival, a macaron baking class, and the Christmas market in Strasbourg, France.

As the cruise sails along the Rhine Gorge, passengers will be able to see up to 30 castles.

Dates: December 23 to 30, 2017

Rate: Starting at $4,849

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Bonus: Memphis to New Orleans Holiday Christmas Markets Cruise (American Queen Steamboat Company)

American Queen Steamboat Company
Courtesy of American Queen Steamboat Company

Want a taste of Christmas on this side of the Atlantic? The American Queen Steamboat Company offers a Christmas-market itinerary with a nine-day cruise from Memphis to New Orleans.

The American Queen has Victorian-era features, including antique furnishings and intricate woodwork. Starting in Memphis, the cruise takes guests through towns like Greenville, where the authors of the Muppets grew up, and cities like Vicksburg, with festive holiday shops and décor.

Guests will also find holiday shops set up in Natchez, Mississippi, where craftsmen will have holiday goodies as carolers set the mood. The cruise also runs through stops like St. Fracisville in Louisiana, where small-town holiday festivities can be seen throughout, and Nottoway, Louisiana, with vibrant gardens and Antebellum mansions.

Dates: December 17 to 26, 2017

Rate: Starting at $1,799 per person

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