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Christmas Market Cruises

10th October 2014

Updated October 2018

The Christmas Market Experience

Christmas is the perfect opportunity to get away and experience how other countries celebrate this joyous time of year. Although we have Christmas Markets in England, most would argue that they are not as grand as in other European countries. Various cities all over this historic continent, including Prague, Amsterdam, and Bruges, fill their streets with intriguing market stalls, vibrant lights, and spectacular Christmas trees, making the perfect winter wonderland.

Every year sees an increasing amount of people travel to these enchanted cities during winter, and it wasn’t long before cruise lines saw a great opportunity in offering short itineraries to give guests the chance to sail the ultimate Christmas experience.




Top 5 Christmas Market Ports

Zeebrugge, Belgium

A quaint village nestled in the picturesque coastline of Belgium, Zeebrugge has a charming character that boasts some of the most sensational Christmas Markets in the world.

Although a fairly small port, once covered in all of its Christmas glory visitors feel like they are are standing in the middle of a huge city. With attractive canals, historic buildings, and narrow streets, every corner you turn presents a new surprise.

 

belgian chocolates

 

Famous for its divine homemade chocolate, local beers, and unique lacework, it is not only the sights that will make you fall in love with this city. Belgium allows you to immerse yourself into a fascinating storybook.

December is the best time to visit Zeebrugge and from the moment your eyes catch sight of the Christmas decorations you are transformed into a magical wonderland that instantly fills your heart with glee. From the sweet aroma of mulled wine to the sight of locals huddled around their favourite market stall, Christmas is certainly not just one day here.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Although one of the most popular cities for weekend breaks, Amsterdam has managed to retain its charismatic charm and pristine scenery. With its quintessentially Dutch feel, quirky architecture, and picturesque canals, nowhere else in the world compares. This completely unique city will open you up to a whole new world.

From mid-November, Amsterdam looks like a Christmas postcard with perfectly decorated trees, lights hanging from every building and rows of market stalls. The large city squares make it the perfect place to hold Christmas markets with excessive areas of intriguing stalls and fresh food and drink stands. Even away from the main squares, the narrow streets and winding canals are lined with festive treats.

It is not only the Christmas markets that allure you to visit Amsterdam, but the museums, restaurants, and famous canals offer a jam-packed visit of unique exploration. 

Dublin, Ireland

Undergoing a huge transformation in the last decade, Dublin is a city where old meets new. The historic buildings and ancient history sit next to modern shopping malls and vibrant bars. With something for every type of traveller, Dublin welcomes you any time of year but takes Christmas to a whole new level.

Famous for its pubs and bars, there is nowhere else in the world to offer a better place to enjoy cosy time sampling local ales as the chill from outside creeps in every time somebody opens a door. Even for a none drinker, it is hard to not stop in the local whilst exploring the city.

 

dublin in winter

 

Although home to a shoppers paradise, it is the December Christmas markets where you will want to spend your money. From handcrafted gifts, local foods, and unusual creations, the market stalls that come to Dublin in December are among the most appealing.

Tallinn, Estonia

At any time of year Tallin is a fairytale city, and even more so at Christmas time. Every medieval wall, soaring building and narrow street is covered with enchanting lights and festive glory. A glamorous winter wonderland, you can expect to find ice rinks, magical markets, and stalls brewing fresh mulled wine – what more could you want to get you in the festive mood?

Tallin’s atmosphere is typical of an Eastern European city – mysterious and unforgettable. Stroll through enraptured sidewalks, sip coffee in the market square, or explore the medieval history that makes this city so unique. Perfect for the relaxer and adventurer, Tallinn leaves a lasting impact on every visitor.

As the winter season approaches, Tallinn starts to prepare for a busy season, with Christmas being the number one priority. Every street is covered with festive market stalls, every café rivals to have the best Christmas menu, and every building is covered top to bottom in lights. Local choirs will perform Christmas displays and encourage spectators to join in, ensuring the festive spirit is spread from all around.

A trip to Tallinn will turn even the worst kind of Grinch into a joyous bundle of Christmas smiles.

Antwerp, Belgium

Home to the best chocolate in the world, the finest cut diamonds, and many religious buildings, Antwerp is certainly a hidden gem with more than meets the eye. Although fairly small in size, it boasts more than twenty museums, extensive shopping, and delightful parks.

Belgium is the trendsetter for Christmas markets, and Antwerp is no exception with December turning the city into a huge festival. With a backdrop of The Cathedral of our Lady, the Christmas markets here are among the most attractive of all the markets. Radiant Christmas lights can be seen from miles around as the whole city is illuminated with some of the most breathtaking Christmas decorations you will ever see.

 

antwerp christmas market

 

With a large influence on cuisine, the streets of Antwerp ooze with aromas of freshly baked pastries and melting chocolate. Everyone should take a minute out to sit and enjoy a coffee and sweet treat whilst watching the festive fun going on all around.

After visiting Belgium during Christmas time, the memories are sure to return every year.

 

Sailing from convenient UK ports including Tilbury and Southampton, you can experience some of Europe's best Christmas markets without the hassle of flying. With some of the best river cruise lines in the industry - Riviera Travel, AmaWaterways and Saga River Cruises, to name a few - offering countless itineraries, whether you're a family of four, a party of two or going solo, you'll find the perfect Christmas cruisefor you!


Top 5 Destinations For Winter Sun

16th July 2014

Updated October 2017

Dark mornings, ice covering the drive way, and freezing temperatures that have us wrapped up so tight we can barely move – welcome to winter in Britain. It seems to come round quicker every year, and we dread the long winter season that leaves us feeling dreary, and with the sun as a distant memory.

The onset of winter leaves many of us precoccupied with thoughts of where we can get our sun fix, when the bleak weather sets in. Some great winter sun deals are starting to circulate in the office, so it is the perfect time to start thinking about a winter break.

 

We're sure you would agree, there is nothing better than jetting off somewhere hot when everyone else is dreading the thought of stepping outside, and having to turn on electric blankets in order to recover from constant sneezing. However, whilst the ice thickens in England, elsewhere in the world the sun is at its hottest, so here are our top 5 places to cruise to during the winter:

Florida

Known as the sunshine state of America, Florida is one of the friendliest places there is. It is not only the sun that shines bright all day here, the people are extremely welcoming, and invite you to enjoy everything this exciting wonderland has to offer.

With miles of sun-soaked beaches, water-front restaurants, and an array of unique attractions, Florida is the ultimate adventure playground. With most cruise lines basing their ships in Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Miami, during the winter you'll be able to choose from an extensive range of different itineraries and ships.

Whether your cruise starts or finishes in Florida, you can spend a few days enjoying the fun way of life that's lived here. Enjoy a day at the Miami Aquarium watching incredible shows featuring killer whales and dolphins, or take a trip to the Everglades where you will glide over the swamps in a hover boat whilst learning about the distinct wildlife that lives there.

Or, if it is just sun that you desire, Florida is your perfect haven with its long stretches of heavenly beaches that can reach temperatures of up to 32°c during the winter.

The average temperature in Florida during November – February is 29°c.

See our: Florida Cruise Deals

The Caribbean

Defining paradise, the Caribbean islands are widely considered the most blissful destinations in the world, that guarantee to take you on the ultimate escape. Picture-perfect beaches with pure white sand, crystal clear waters, and swaying palms make these islands the most desired cruise destinations in the world.

Boasting year-round hot temperatures, the long days of sunshine will enable you to soak up the scorching temperatures to your heart's content. For the more adventurous, there is the chance to try snorkelling, para-sailing, and jet skiing around these fascinating islands.

A Caribbean cruise can include stops at islands such as the Bahamas, St Lucia, Barbados, and Antigua. To some, the islands may look the same, but in fact, they all have their own unique character that makes every stop a new experience. Some cruise lines, such as Virgin Voyages, even own an exclusive private island for guest access only. With carefully selected excursions, delicious dining and plenty of relaxing beaches, these islands are the height of luxury living. The adults-only 'Beach Club' provides six bars, stunning private cabanas and pool parties with all the best tunes to soudntrack your night.

The average temperature in the Caribbean during November – February is 32°c.

See our: Caribbean Cruise Deals

Canary Islands

The Canary Islands entice visitors with their breathtaking landscapes, stunning beaches, and tropical way of life. From indulging on tapas on a rooftop restaurant, to sunbathing on the heavenly beaches, a trip here will help you to completely forget about winter.

Tenerife will amaze you with its backdrop of soaring mountains lining the pristine beaches, perfect for lazy days in the sun or family beach activities. Along the way, Lanzarote invites you to explore its volcanoes and black sand beaches. When it’s time to unwind, Gran Canaria is bursting with quaint fishing villages and attractive harbours that create the perfect scene for switching off.

For the active cruisers, the islands offer an array of memorable adventures. From extraordinary snorkelling, exploring the iconic National Parks, or rock climbing up one of the famous mountains, there is no shortage of adrenalin-pumping experiences to be had here.

The average temperature in the Canaries during November – February is 24°c.

See our: Canary Island Deals

Dubai

A world of its own, Dubai stands ready to show off its luxurious and extravagent lifestyle to anyone who visits. Nowhere in the world exhibits the diversity that Dubai does, one minute you're stood in the middle of an empty dessert, the next you're surrounded by towering buildings. A cocktail of amazing sights, every time you turn you're faced with something that stuns you once again.

Don your explorers hat as you experience adventure after adventure, with everything this extraordinary city has to offer. Go skiing in a shopping mall, slide under shark infested waters at the Atlantis waterpark, or ride a camel through the enchanted desserts. Not many places in the world can offer the variety of excursions that Dubai does.

As evening sets in, the city turns into a magical wonderland with fountain shows, vibrant nightclubs, and award-winning beach front restaurants serving up some of the most exquisite dishes you will ever taste.

The average temperature in Dubai during November – February is 32°c.


See our: Dubai Cruise Deals

Hawaii

There is nowhere else quite like Hawaii. This tropical paradise will excite all your senses as you are welcomed into this fresh, tranquil haven. Crystal clear waters line the dramatic mountains and lush forests, making this island a blissful retreat. 

The soothing, swaying palms, and captivating sounds of volcanoes bubbling away, are a recipe for the ultimate winter getaway. Along with hot temperatures and warm waters, it has everything you dream of during the colder months.

It is not only the scenery that is beautiful here, the locals love to share their lifestyle with you. Encouraging you to join in traditional Hawaiian activities, and try their iconic island cuisine, it will not be long before you are in full 'Aloha' mode!

This colourful island is home to an array of some of the world’s most intriguing National Parks and plant life. Even if you plan to go on a relaxing getaway, we would definitely recommend a stroll around one of these parks.

The average temperature in the Hawaii during November – February is 26°c.

See our: Hawaii Cruise Deals


By Sally Grimes


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