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Our Rhine River Cruise & Christmas Markets Review
I will admit it up front… I’ve always been, and currently am, a Christmas Fanatic! Nothing delights me more than the lights, carols, decorations, the tree, ornaments, the smell of winter spices, family and friends. However, living in Florida doesn’t exactly lend any hope for a white Christmas!
During a river cruise down the Danube in 2015, I told my husband that we HAD to experience the European Christmas Markets. Since we were cruising the Danube at the time, I wanted to cruise the Rhine River next. Being the sweetheart that he is, we no more got home and he was making arrangements for our next cruise.
As travel agents…
We did our homework before our first river cruise and chose AmaWaterways. They have earned consistent top Berlitz ratings. As well, they enjoy unique membership in “Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs”. The outstanding value and extra perks that they offer made it a “no-brainer” for us.
Our Christmas Markets cruise took place during the second week of December. As you can probably already surmise, I was hoping and wishing that we would have snow. We found the cruise ship and staff to be absolutely wonderful and they had beautifully decorated the ship for Christmas.
Being the Christmas fanatic that I am, this is where I have to share my disappointment.
I went on this cruise with a mindset that practically EVERYTHING to do with the cruise was going to revolve around the Christmas theme. That was my first mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful time and would definitely do it again. Only next time, we will want to experience the Christmas markets on the Danube.
My expectation was non-stop Christmas carols (from the on-board pianist or intercom), classic Christmas goodies, food and drink to be served as well as Christmas entertainment. What I failed to consider was that we were taking this cruise to experience Christmas in the traditions of the countries we were visiting. In addition to the local Christmas markets, there were also numerous shore excursions to choose from available at each port.
Moving on to the markets themselves….
some were definitely better than others. Some of the ports had several markets available so, if you are a die hard shopper (like me), you got lots of exercise! Some of the markets were not for the faint of heart… there were uneven cobblestones, hills and nooks & crannies that appeared to be back alleys. Occasionally, we found the market crowd to be very large. As a result, we got shuffled around quite a bit. But for the most part, the markets were mesmerizing. A Christmasy-decorated feast for the eyes. Food was the theme of about half of the stalls. We had plenty of traditional holiday foods and other local favorites to eat while we were shopping at each of the markets. But that was just the half of it. There were also oodles of holiday baked goods and candy treats. Not surprising that both found their way home in our carry-on!
Overall, I truly enjoyed myself once I shifted my pre-conceived Christmas expectations to just going with the flow of the different Christmas traditions of some of the European countries.