Climb Aboard a Christmas Market Cruise For a Totally Unique Holiday Vacation

Looking to marvel in the magic of the holiday season a bit differently this year? Consider setting sail on a river cruise dedicated to experiencing some of Europe's most festive Christmas markets. From the captivating gingerbread aromas to the handcrafted collectibles and free-flowing hot mulled wine, we wouldn't be surprised if even Scrooge fell in fa-la-la-la-love with these seven holiday cruises.

Uniworld: Enchanting Christmas and New Year's
Flickr user Gabriel Hess

Uniworld: Enchanting Christmas and New Year's

Two holidays, four countries, 11 days, and countless memories — all of this awaits you with Uniworld's Enchanting Christmas and New Year's river cruise. Sound enticing? It gets better.

This festive extravaganza embarks in the magnificent city of Passau, Germany, where you'll hear the largest organ in Europe on Christmas Eve. Then, over the next week and a half, you'll make your way to Budapest, Hungary, to ring in the New Year. As you leisurely cruise along the mighty Danube River, you'll have the chance to visit lovely cities such as Vienna and Grein in Austria, as well as historic villages like Melk and Dürnstein. With lively markets in Passau, Vienna, and Budapest, you'll have ample opportunity to discover the seasonal delicacies and enjoy the traditional hospitality.

Viking: Christmas in Germany
Flickr user Andy L

Viking: Christmas in Germany

Ever dreamed of spending the holidays in Germany? If so, consider the Viking's Christmas in Germany river cruise. For eight days, you'll cruise along the Rhine and Main between Nuremberg and Cologne and fully immerse yourself in the jolly spirit of the country's numerous Christmas markets. As you browse the stalls of colorful ornaments and handmade toys, don't be surprised if you're hypnotized by the intoxicating aroma of spicy glühwein that fills the air.

Once you've had your fair share of the wonderful market scene, unwind at one of the many traditional biergartens with a refreshing pint of frothy German beer, or warm up with a mug of hot apple cider. However you decide to spend your days, one thing will be guaranteed: your spirit will be brimming with good cheer!

Scenic: Danube Christmas Markets
Flickr user Top Budapest

Scenic: Danube Christmas Markets

Scenic's Danube Christmas Markets river cruise is another intriguing option for a holiday adventure. During the cruise, you'll set sail in Nuremberg, Germany, and make your way to Budapest, Hungary, over the course of eight days.

Take part in seasonal activities such as a gingerbread baking class, and witness the sheer opulence of historical palaces and monumental landmarks. While there is much to explore during this cruise, don't worry, the itinerary is planned with a laid-back pace in mind, so you'll have plenty of time to soak up the joyful Christmas atmosphere.

Flickr user Jorge Franganillo

And yes, there will be lots of market festivities, too! From the magical Viennese markets to the Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival, get ready to feast your eyes on a vast array of seasonal gifts and mouth-watering treats. Just don't forget to bring your appetite!

Ama Waterways: Christmas Markets on the Rhine
Flickr user Andy Walker

Ama Waterways: Christmas Markets on the Rhine

Looking to cross off France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland all in one whirlwind holiday vacation? Well, the Christmas Markets on the Rhine river cruise with Ama Waterways can make that happen.

For seven incredible nights, you'll cruise along the Rhine River through four countries, including the fabled Black Forest region and the Alsace region. With excursion options such as bike tours and gondola rides, chances are you'll have a tough time deciding where to even begin!

And how could we forget to mention the merry markets? From festivities in Cologne and Rüdesheim to Mannheim, Strasbourg, Breisach, and Basel, your days will be full of discovery and wonder.

Tauck: Christmas Markets Along the Dunabe Eastbound
Flickr user Infinite Ache

Tauck: Christmas Markets Along the Dunabe Eastbound

Tauck's Christmas Markets Along the Dunabe Eastbound river cruise is another enchanting way to embrace the holiday season. Over the course of eight days, you'll experience the magic of the Christmas markets in Germany and Austria, which are a 700-year holiday tradition!

The festivities begin in the German city of Nürnberg and continue through numerous cities such as Regensburg, Passau, Linz, and Vienna.

Marketgoers can feast on tasty sausages, steamed dampfnudel dumplings, gingerbread, and roasted chestnuts as they wander the rows upon rows of stalls.

From hearing the angelic voices of choirs singing carols to seeing the ornate rooftops capped with fresh, white snow, it won't take long to realize that these markets are a feast for all senses.

Croisi Europe Cruises: Christmas Markets Cruise
Flickr user francois schnell

Croisi Europe Cruises: Christmas Markets Cruise

For a shorter — yet just as sweet — river cruise option, consider the Christmas Markets Cruise with Croisi Europe Cruises. Over the course of four days, you'll visit some of Europe's most enchanting cities, such as Strasbourg, St. Goarshausen, Rüdesheim, Mainz, and Nuremberg.

Festivities abound, as there are Christmas markets to discover in each city. In fact, did you know the Nuremberg Christmas Market — also known as the "Christkindlesmarkt" — is one of the largest holiday markets in the world? Don't worry, you'll have all the time you need to take in the seasonal treats and handmade goods.

Flickr user (vincent desjardins)

Just remember to come here hungry and be prepared to eat! Have you ever seen so many pretzels?

Flickr user LenDog64

After relishing in the market magic, be sure to take some time to wander around the beautifully decorated streets. While all the cities ooze with holiday cheer, Strasbourg is particularly mesmerizing. It's easy to see why this pocket of France is recognized as the Capital of Christmas!

Avalon Waterways: Christmas in the Heart of Germany
Flickr user Roderick Eime

Avalon Waterways: Christmas in the Heart of Germany

Avalon Waterways also offers an unforgettable experience with its Christmas in the Heart of Germany river cruise. Throughout this eight-day adventure, you can enjoy guided sightseeing in Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, and Prague.

The festivities begin as soon as you hop aboard the decorated ship in Frankfurt. During this time, you can sample scrumptious seasonal treats and delight in holiday cheer. Over the week, you'll have opportunities galore to commemorate the season as you make your way toward Prague. From onboard cooking demonstrations, concerts, and presentations to onshore exploring and market wandering, this will be one unforgettable Christmas.