New Year’s & Christmas Cruises

Strasbourg Plaza. (Photo credit: CroisiEurope.)
Strasbourg Plaza. (Photo credit: CroisiEurope.)

The holiday season is fast approaching, and for travelers looking to set sail in the coming months, we’ve rounded up a few holiday cruises celebrating Christmas or ringing in the New Year.

CroisiEurope offers 3- to 6-day sailings with excursions to Europe’s famed Christmas markets, featuring local Christmas Eve masses, and guided city tours. Christmas-themed sailings include the 5-day Discover Brussels and the Treasures of Flanders tour with a Christmas Eve dinner in Brussels, midnight mass in Ghent, and city tours. Other 5-day itineraries include Christmas in the Bordeaux Region on the Gironde and Dordogne Rivers, and the Venice and the Venetian Lagoon at Christmas journey. The Christmas Market excursions are featured in the 4-day Christmas in Alsace: Potter Villages and Revue at the Royal Palace; the 4-day Christmas Magic in Belgium; and A Bountiful Christmas in Alsace and the Black Forest. Prices for holiday sailings start at $495 pp.

“The Christmas and New Year cruises are reminiscent of the old European tradition of families gathering in the spirit of the holidays. Today, CroisiEurope offers the most diverse range of itineraries to experience Europe’s magical destinations on every European river. In addition to offering traditional holiday river cruises through France, Germany and Central Europe, CroisiEurope is the only river cruise line to offer holiday itineraries in Venice and Seville,” says Nicola Iannone, executive vice president of North America at CroisiEurope.

CroisiEurope also offers New Year’s sailings, like the 5-day Bordeaux Region on the Gironde and Dordogne Rivers trip, which rings in 2015 from the medieval cities in Bordeaux with a special New Year’s dinner. The cruise starts at $1,278 pp dbl. The 5-day Italian New Year in Venice explores Italy’s art, lagoons and history; and includes a Champagne dinner; rates start at $1,321 pp dbl.

For more information and additional sailings, call (800) 768-7232 or visit croisieuroperivercruises.com/activite/christmas-markets or croisieuroperivercruises.com/activite/new-year.

The Christmas market on Hauptmarkt Square in Nuremberg, Germany. (Photo courtesy of Scenic Cruises.)
The Christmas market on Hauptmarkt Square in Nuremberg, Germany. (Photo courtesy of Scenic Cruises.)

Scenic Cruises is also sailing passengers to Europe’s Christmas markets on the 15-day Christmas Markets River Cruise, departing on Nov. 24 from Budapest to Amsterdam rates start at $6,555 pp dbl. The 16-day Christmas River Cruise sails the reverse route on Dec. 15 starting at $7,235 pp. For those looking for shorter sailings, there’s the 8-day Christmas Market Danube Discovery Cruise departing on Nov. 24 from Budapest to Nuremburg, and the 8-day Treasures of the Rhine Christmas Markets Cruise sailing on Dec. 1 from Nuremburg to Amsterdam starting at $2,975 pp.

“Cruising during the holidays offers a journey back to the holiday traditions of yesteryear, whether visiting the many villages dressed in Christmas aesthetics or taking in the 1,000-year-old traditions of the Christmas Markets. Less crowds offers a more intimate experience as you enjoy traditional foods and drinks both on board and ashore,” says Bill Spaeth, director of marketing, Scenic Cruises USA.

These itineraries also sail along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, which are surrounded by some of Europe’s most picturesque cities. Guests can explore Budapest, on a walking tour of Europe’s ancient cities, or visit one of the geothermal spas. In Vienna, guests are treated to a private evening concert at Palais Liechtenstein; and in the scenic towns of Durnstein, Melk, and Aschach in Austria, and Passau and Regensburg in Germany, travelers take a guided walking tour.

Scenic Cruises rates include unlimited beverages such as premium wines and spirits; all meals; personal butler service; excursions; events; entertainment; airport transfers; and WiFi; as well as the Scenic Review, a personal GPS device that acts like a tour guide for guests while on board. For more information, call (844) 788-7985 or visit sceniccruises.com.

Visit the Houmas House on American Cruise Lines' holiday sailings.
Visit the Houmas House in New Orleans on American Cruise Lines’ holiday sailings.

American Cruise Lines is offering its Mississippi River and Historic South and Golden Isles cruises on Dec. 20. Departing from New Orleans aboard the Queen of the Mississippi, the cruise includes a tour of Oak Alley Plantation with a holiday concert in the music room of the J.N. Stone House in the historic city of Natchez in Mississippi. On board, passengers can take ginger bread house- and ornament-making workshops and enjoy Christmas carol sing-alongs. This sailing also offers a pre-night celebration on Dec. 19 with a dinner at Antoine’s, one of New Orleans’ most historic restaurants. The Historic South & Golden Isles cruise explores holiday traditions of the historic South while celebrating Christmas on the Intracoastal Waterway aboard the Independence. Holiday events include a private dockside Oyster Roast on Sapelo Island, and a pre-night celebration on Dec. 19 with dinner at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island.

“A river cruise is a festive and relaxing way to enjoy the holidays with family or friends. The intimate atmosphere on board allows for a warm and friendly celebration as you explore some of America’s most unique destinations,” says Timothy Beebe, vice president, American Cruise Lines.

While on the Historic South and Golden Isles and Mississippi River New Year’s cruises, both departing Dec. 28, passengers will enjoy a firework display over Savannah; or light tours at Oak Alley and Houmas House plantations on the New Orleans itinerary. On board guests enjoy a specially themed New Year’s Eve cocktail hour, dinner and evening entertainment, as well as a midnight countdown and Champagne toast, and a New Year’s Day brunch. A complimentary pre-night celebration on Dec. 27 includes welcome festivities and dinner at McCrady’s Restaurant in Charleston for the Historic South route, and dinner at Antoine’s for the New Orleans trip.

For more information, call (800) 814-6880 or visit americancruiselines.com.