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Tips for River Cruising in the Festive Season

18th December 2017

The infamous European Christmas markets are right on our doorstep, and yet so many Brits are yet to see them. With cities like Cologne, Vienna, Strasbourg, and Copenhagen all offering some of the best options around, it can be difficult to decide just where to visit when you do finally make the decision to go! One way to remedy this, however, is to opt for a river cruise in December. This way it’s possible to see multiple destinations on one trip.

 

Which Christmas markets can I see?

Europe is not short of waterways by any means, and as such there are a number of strategically-positioned, important cities that can be accessed on a river cruise. In December, The Rhine, The Danube, The Rhone, and The Seine are just some of the most popular rivers that can transport you to some incredible winter wonderlands. The Rudesheim market, in The Rhine valley boasts over 100 stalls with gifts and treats from all over the world, Budapest on The Danube offers a traditional Hungarian feel, and of course in Paris on The Seine visitors will find delicious crepes, tartiflette, and all manner of keepsakes. These are just a handful of the top Christmas markets you could see.

Can I bring my children?

While most river cruise lines are designed for adults, in general children are also welcome onboard. Amawaterways have taken steps to make their ships more family-friendly, by introducing adjoining staterooms on both AmaViola and AmaStella. Tauck River Cruises and Uniworld River Cruises are also slightly more geared towards children than some other river cruise lines, offering excursions like scavenger hunts and family bike rides. Selected Uniworld ships also offer a games room for kids and activities like craft workshops and cookery lessons which can be especially fun at Christmas. It is worth keeping in mind however, that some Christmas market locations can get very busy, and can involve a considerable amount of walking, so it’s important to consider this if bringing children.

 

What’s it like for solo travellers?

River cruising can be a fantastic option for solo travellers, owing to the extremely relaxed and sociable atmosphere onboard. Generally, river cruise ships have multiple public lounges where entertainment such as live music and quizzes will take place. This makes it all the more easy to meet fellow cruisers and converse with new friends. Excursions on these cruises are also perfect for solo travellers. Take part in an organised group tour of a new city and, of course, its Christmas markets. River cruise lines like Scenic River Cruises and Avalon Waterways often do great deals for solo travellers too.

Are there other Christmassy things to do?

While river cruises in December do have a real focus on European Christmas markets, there are other festive things to do and see in these beautiful cities. When you’ve had your fill of gluwhein and pretty trinket stalls, take a look around and you will find all sorts of other activities. Why not show off your skills on the ice rink on the Champs-Elysees, sip on a hot chocolate while becoming enchanted by the twinkling lights and decorations in Vienna, or admire the magnificence of German Christmas trees – or Tannenbaum – in Cologne.

 

 

River cruises in December can be anything from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your preference and time limitations. Considering this, and the wide selection of destinations, dates, and types of cruise, it is usually possible to find a European Christmas market cruise to suit everyone.


River Cruising at Christmas

13th December 2017

The infamous European Christmas markets are right on our doorstep, and yet so many Brits are yet to see them. With cities like Cologne, Vienna, Strasbourg, and Copenhagen all offering some of the best options around, it can be difficult to decide just where to visit when you do finally make the decision to go! One way to remedy this, however, is to opt for a river cruise in December. This way it’s possible to see multiple destinations on one trip.

 

Which Christmas markets can I see?

Europe is not short of waterways by any means, and as such there are a number of strategically-positioned, important cities that can be accessed on a river cruise. In December, The Rhine, The Danube, The Rhone, and The Seine are just some of the most popular rivers that can transport you to some incredible winter wonderlands. The Rudesheim market, in The Rhine valley boasts over 100 stalls with gifts and treats from all over the world, Budapest on The Danube offers a traditional Hungarian feel, and of course in Paris on The Seine visitors will find delicious crepes, tartiflette, and all manner of keepsakes. These are just a handful of the top Christmas markets you could see.

Can I bring my children?

While most river cruise lines are designed for adults, in general children are also welcome onboard. Amawaterways have taken steps to make their ships more family-friendly, by introducing adjoining staterooms on both AmaViola and AmaStella. Tauck River Cruises and Uniworld River Cruises are also slightly more geared towards children than some other river cruise lines, offering excursions like scavenger hunts and family bike rides. Selected Uniworld ships also offer a games room for kids and activities like craft workshops and cookery lessons which can be especially fun at Christmas. It is worth keeping in mind however, that some Christmas market locations can get very busy, and can involve a considerable amount of walking, so it’s important to consider this if bringing children.

 

What’s it like for solo travellers?

River cruising can be a fantastic option for solo travellers, owing to the extremely relaxed and sociable atmosphere onboard. Generally, river cruise ships have multiple public lounges where entertainment such as live music and quizzes will take place. This makes it all the more easy to meet fellow cruisers and converse with new friends. Excursions on these cruises are also perfect for solo travellers. Take part in an organised group tour of a new city and, of course, its Christmas markets. River cruise lines like Scenic River Cruises and Avalon Waterways often do great deals for solo travellers too.

Are there other Christmassy things to do?

While river cruises in December do have a real focus on European Christmas markets, there are other festive things to do and see in these beautiful cities. When you’ve had your fill of gluwhein and pretty trinket stalls, take a look around and you will find all sorts of other activities. Why not show off your skills on the ice rink on the Champs-Elysees, sip on a hot chocolate while becoming enchanted by the twinkling lights and decorations in Vienna, or admire the magnificence of German Christmas trees – or Tannenbaum – in Cologne.

 

 

River cruises in December can be anything from a few days to a few weeks, depending on your preference and time limitations. Considering this, and the wide selection of destinations, dates, and types of cruise, it is usually possible to find a European Christmas market cruise to suit everyone.


Best Firework Displays to See on a Cruise

27th October 2017

Fireworks are seen all over the world to celebrate anything from great communal occasions like New Year, to smaller, personal events such as birthdays and weddings. They are also widely used to mark historic anniversaries in a number of different countries. We take a look at some of the best firework displays across the globe which can be seen during a cruise!

Bastille Day, Paris

An important public holiday in France, Bastille Day – on July 14th – commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution in 1789. On this day, The Storming of The Bastille took place – when rebels attacked the state prison. It is seen as a pivotal event in the revolutionary process, and as such is celebrated each year with great gusto all over the country. The main event however, is largely considered to be the magnificent fireworks display which lights up the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Consider a cruise to France next July and be a part of this fantastic event.

 

Independence Day, New York

Another well-known occasion, during which fireworks dominate the sky, is the United States’ Independence Day - colloquially known as the Fourth of July. On this day in 1776, The Continental Congress decided upon the precise and final wording of the Declaration of Independence; and therefore the end of British control over the 13 colonies. Again, this date has become widely accepted as the birth of the USA, which is recognised and celebrated all over the country. Towns in every state put on firework displays on all different scales, but Macy’s in New York are renowned for their show in particular. Sit back on the deck of a ship on a cruise to New York and enjoy the spectacle of lights overhead.

 

 

Festa del Redentore, Venice

On the third weekend of July, Venetians celebrate the end of a terrible, epidemic plague which occurred in 1575 until 1577. The disaster was declared over on July 13th, an announcement that has been celebrated every year since. Festa del Redentore translates to the Feast of the Redeemer, a name which was chosen because of the Church of the Redeemer that was erected in hopes of saving the city from the plague. The Saturday night of the weekend sees all manner of people out and about, with a special focus on the grand finale of the evening – a majestic firework show which can last up to an hour. Take a cruise to Venice to witness this remarkable night.

 

Guy Fawkes Night, London

Of course the firework-focussed event we are all most familiar with is our own; the commemoration of Guy Fawkes’ attempt to blow up parliament on 5th November in 1605. The population of London actually began to recognise and celebrate this day in the very same year, by lighting bonfires to show support of their King who had been saved. Every year since, towns all over Britain acknowledge this historic night by burning the ‘guy’ on bonfires and putting on fireworks displays. There are some spectacular shows all over, however it is often thought that the best place to see them is in the location of the original event: London. Take a cruise from the UK to see some amazing fireworks at this time of year.

 

 

Cruise lines sometimes host their own celebrations, where fireworks are the main event, for example for special anniversaries. For example, back in 2015 Cunard put on a stunning show to commemorate their 175th anniversary:

 

 

In addition to these beautiful events, fireworks are seen in many other areas of the world. Why not consider seeing a display in Asia, where fireworks were created in the first place? Take a look at some of the most fantastic opportunities to see displays in Asia, with the best places to see in Chinese New Year, and even the magnificent fireworks festivals in Japan.


Haunted Queen Mary Ship

13th October 2016

Updated July 2019

 

It’s no wonder Cunard’s Queen Mary is known for being one of the most haunted places in North America with her rocky history of love, war, and tragedy.

The RMS Queen Mary set sail on 27 May 1936 for her maiden voyage. She was originally built as a luxury liner for the upper-classes until entering a world of chaos when World War II struck. Changing her course forevermore.

This flagship beauty, also known as ‘The Grey Ghost’, was converted into a troopship, ferrying Allied soldiers throughout the war. She was then refitted for passengers in the mid-1940s.

The Queen Mary is now a hotel, permanently docked in California, with some saying that the spirits of the dead still haunt the ship today.

 

 

Why do people say the Queen Mary is haunted?

Staff and past guests have claimed all kinds of different eerie happenings onboard, which can be attributed to different ghost stories . . .

Top 5 Ghost Stories of Queen Mary

Winston Churchill’s Stateroom
Some have reported a strong smell of cigar smoke in this room. This is also apparently where he planned the D-Day invasion.

Swimming Pool Ghouls
There have been many reports of female apparitions looming in the 1st class pool area. The main ghoul though is a little girl, known as Jackie, who apparently drowned during an army crossing. Giggling and splashing is often heard, while a trail of small wet footprints are sometimes witnessed.

The Forbidden Cabin
For a long time cabin B340 was unavailable for booking, because guests have reported their bed sheets flying across the room, taps turning on for no reason, and doors flinging open. Due to the increasing curiosity around the cabin however, it can now be booked - one only for the brave!

HMS Curacao Crew Members
On 2nd October 1942 the Queen Mary famously collided with the Curacao ship, killing 200 people. Some visitors have reported hearing eerie noises coming from the ship’s bow.

A Ghostly Love Affair
Leslie Schirmacher is a barwoman who has long worked on the ship. A clairvoyant insisted there was a male ghost stood next to her, so she jokingly gave him a peck on the cheek. The ghost has been smitten ever since, and shows his affection by nudging a wine glass towards her from time to time.

The ship is situated in Los Angeles, just half an hour away from the LA International Airport.

If you're not convinced about staying on this creepy ship, but fancy experiencing the glamour and opulance of a Cunard ship, have a browse through our range of Cunard cruises.


Firework Festivals in Japan

9th June 2015

Updated March 2018

 

Japan is a truly magnetic destination, hypnotising all who pass through. With sacred and unique traditions, quirky sub-cultures, explosions of colour, electric nightlife, and stunning natural backdrops, a visit here will seduce your senses and capture your heart.

The Japanese culture oozes a sophisticated level of composure, and extends a warm welcome to visitors and guests. When it comes to fun celebrations and appreciation, the Japanese certainly do this in style - and often with a traditional twist or flash of futurism. Festivities can involve exotic costumed parades, fierce marching musicians, dancers, acrobats, fire displays, fireworks, and a lot of light.

A true love for life, lights, colour, and neon can be witnessed at the famous Japanese Firework Festivals that take place throughout the summer. From water surface displays to heart shapes and hand-held fire breathers, this is a side of Japan’s summer nightlife you’ll deifintely want to be part of.


Firework festival events take place throughout the season, but below you can find our top 3 to get you started.

Toyoashi Firework Festival

Spanning an impressive 400 years, the Toyoashi Fireworks Festival is an exciting annual event that attracts spectators from all over. Explosive displays take place throughout the city, exhibiting the locals' love for handheld fireworks, skyrocketing fireworks, and traditional fire breathing devices. The Yoshida Castle Ruins and Toyoashi Park make a charming backdrop for this highly anticipated annual event.

 



Kagoshima Summer Night Fireworks

With perfectly timed music and the stunning Mount Sakurajima in the background, the Kagoshima Summer Night Firework Festival is a fantastic event that shouldn’t be missed. It is the largest in the Kyushu region and features around 14,000 fireworks including heart shapes and other innovative displays. Most spectators head towards Kagoshima Honko Port for ideal viewing, but this impressive display can be seen for miles.

 



Kumano Fireworks Festival

A must see destination for culture vultures and those wanting to visit Japanese shrines and pilgrimage routes, Kumano is a picturesque city brimming with attractive highlights. Once a year the city night transforms into a tremendous firework festival, resulting in one of Japans biggest and best. Visitors can find a spot on Shichiri Mihama Beach to observe the night illuminations, admire water surface displays and much more.

See the Japanese Fireworks with Princess Cruises on selected itineraries and sailings – Kumano, Kagoshima, Toyoashi.

In addition to Japan, there are plenty of other incredible displays all over the world. Have a look at the best places to see fireworks during a cruise.


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