Celebrate the Holidays with a Christmas Market River Cruise

Take a Christmas market river cruise to visit the holiday markets in Germany, Austria, or the Czech Republic - tour the markets without a bus!

Many old European towns - such as Salzburg, Strasbourg, Vienna and Nuremberg - host old-fashioned Christmas markets to celebrate the season.

The European Christmas markets are a great way to get into the holiday spirit! The crafts, the food, the delicious smells, the lights - not even Ebeneezer Scrooge could deny the spirit of Christmas!

There are many tours that travel from one town to the next, visiting Christmas markets in each town. Most require travel by bus (comfortable, but sometimes cramped), and packing and unpacking your bag almost every day.

One of the best ways to enjoy the markets is on a Christmas Market river cruise. Virtually all river cruise lines offer Holiday Market cruises and each cruise visits at least 4 or 5 towns (if not more).

Since towns and villages have always been located on a river or other waterway, the river cruise ships can take you right to the heart of town. You get off the ship, and start exploring! No need to travel from a hotel on the outskirts to the heart of the city; no need to pack and unpack every day, either - your "hotel" travels with you, so there's more time for enjoying the sights.

A Danube River Cruise will take you to Nuremberg and Vienna, and possibly Prague or Budapest. This is the most common route, and is offered by Viking, Uniworld, and Avalon.

A Rhine River Cruise takes you to Cologne, Heidelberg, and Strasbourg, and is available from Uniworld and Avalon. Enjoy Christmas in Germany with gingerbread and hot, spiced wine (glühwein)!

AMA Waterways also has a Christmas Market river cruise that starts with a few days in Prague, then crosses the continental divide while traveling the Main-Danube Rivers. You'll visit the cities of Nuremberg, Salzberg, and Vienna, where you can enjoy and optional evening concert!

There are so many rivers to explore in Europe, and so many Christmas markets along the way - pick your favorite area and do your shopping at a European Christmas market!

To get the best possible price on your Christmas Market river cruise, go to CruiseCompete. They have information on all of the major small ship lines (from Avalon to Uniworld). You choose your cruise, place your request, and you'll get quotes emailed to you from several travel agents. You can grab the best price or negotiate some "perks" (like a bottle of wine in your cabin!). The service is free, and you'll get someone else to do the leg work!

• Which cruise line is most luxurious?

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