A journey that will make you believe in holiday magic all over again.
Once upon a time, people gathered on cobblestone squares to buy the special tools and ingredients they needed to make the treats of the season. They kept warm with hot spiced wine, music and games while they shopped and chatted with the local tradesmen. Those were the first Christmas markets, 500 years ago. Today, though the light comes from twinkling electric bulbs rather than torches, bonhomie and fun still prevail.
Discover villages with fairytale houses and a friendly, festive atmosphere. Share traditional holiday goodies with the people who made them. Watch as modern children abandon their usual electronics and discover the enchantment of hand-carved wooden toys, as scents of cinnamon and roasting nuts fill the air. Sail through Christmas country, trying Frankfurt’s famous apple cider and Nuremberg’s gingerbread. Throughout, cozy up to steaming mugs of glühwein (warm spiced wine) and do as the locals do by collecting different mugs from each stall and town you visit. Embrace the holiday spirit in Germany, the land where many Christmas traditions began, and find the magic of the season in the smiles that you meet along the way.
Who will enjoy this cruise? Those wanting to experience the quintessential magic of the holidays while shopping for one-of-a-kind treasures and discovering the legends behind some of our most popular holiday traditions.
Generations Family Program (select sailing):
Share the magic of a European holiday with the special young people in your life on this multigenerational “Classic Christmas Markets” cruise filled with lots of family holiday merrymaking.
Arrive at Frankfurt International Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
Frankfurt is known as the “Mainhattan” of Europe, a financial powerhouse with soaring skyscrapers as well as traditional Old Town architecture. Experience both aspects of the city today, with time to browse the local Christmas market, one of the best on the Continent. Other options include a “Taste of Christmas” walking tour featuring all sorts of sugary and savory treats or an excursion to the Christmas market in Wiesbaden.
Cruising the Main River, Wertheim
Located at the confluence of the Tauber and Main rivers, Wertheim is a lovely village dating back over a thousand years. It epitomizes the friendly, slow-paced small-town atmosphere of many German villages; here, residents greet each other by name as they do their daily shopping for fresh bread and sausage in tiny shops. On your guided walking tour of the village, you’ll hear a lot about daily life in Wertheim, as well as facts about the town and its history. Its many well-preserved medieval buildings—complete with low doors and tiny windows—attest to the inconveniences of life in the Middle Ages.
This morning, you’ll head off to see the Würzburg Residence, a baroque-style palace famous for its gigantic ceiling fresco. Later, visit the town’s renowned Christmas Market, held in front of the old City Hall, for some one-of-a-kind gifts for friends back home. Beautifully decorated wooden booths are illuminated by the soft glow of Christmas lighting, and the air is filled with the scent of roasted chestnuts and the sound of Christmas carols. One of the best ways to embrace a different culture is through encounters with local residents, which you’ll experience this afternoon in a typical Franconian village. Make new friends over hot drinks and homemade seasonal treats.
Kitzingen (Rothenburg), Schweinfurt
Rothenburg looks like something straight out of the pages of a storybook, with its medieval walls, cobbled streets, Gothic churches and Hansel-and-Gretel houses. Join a local expert for an insightful walking tour, and then wander amongst the stalls at one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets
The fact that Bamberg still exists today is something of a miracle—it survived WWII bombing virtually unscathed. It’s a superb example of a medieval German city, one compact enough to explore on foot with a local expert. You’ll also have free time to visit not just one but four Christmas Markets and a captivating amount of nativity scenes located along nativity trail.
For a holiday extravaganza, look no further than Nuremberg, which boasts the largest and grandest Christmas Market in all of Germany— and that’s really saying something. The “Gingerbread Capital of the World” pulls out all the stops during the holidays, as you’ll see for yourself on a panoramic tour guaranteed to put you in a festive mood. Stroll through the castle gardens and enjoy breathtaking views of the city, then walk through a maze of cobblestone lanes down to the central Market Square. There, spread out before the Church of Our Lady, is the largest Christmas Market in Germany.
Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to the Nuremberg International Airport for your flight home.