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13 May 2013

Celebrating the Holidays with Viking River Cruises—'Danube Waltz' Christmas Markets Cruise

Decked in all its festive finery, the atrium lobby onboard the Viking River Cruises Longships welcomes guests with Christmas cheer! Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Decked in all its festive finery, the atrium lobby onboard the Viking River Cruises Longships welcomes guests with Christmas cheer! Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.  

If you know me, then you know I love European Christmas markets and despite the fact that it is May, I am thrilled to announce once again, that I will be embarking with Viking River Cruises on the "Danube Waltz" Christmas markets cruise from Passau, Germany, through Austria and Slovakia, and finally to Budapest, Hungary—my first-ever Christmas market cruise and I am over-the-moon excited! Every holiday season, Europe transforms into a winter wonderland with its Christmas markets or Christkindlmarkts that enchant travelers in search of twinkling lights and Alpine chalets brimming with tantalizing aromas and handcrafted gifts. Undoubtedly for the last few years, I've imagined myself strolling down the lanes of festively decorated town squares and this year that dream becomes reality aboard Viking River Cruises' "Viking Skadi" longship! After all, who can resist the magic of Christmas in Europe? Surely not I! 

It's never too early to start planning for a European Christmas market cruise because as these cruises gain in popularity, ships sell out quickly and some categories are completely sold out already. With the explosive growth enjoyed by Viking River cruises over the last few years, this news comes as no surprise so it's wise to start your holiday planning as soon as possible.

Here's a look at the Viking River Cruises' "Danube Waltz" itinerary beginning on December 8, 2013:

We begin our journey in Passau, Germany, and then cruise the Danube River through Linz, Melk, Vienna, Austria; Bratislava, Slovakia; and end in Budapest. Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
We begin our journey in Passau, Germany, and then cruise the Danube River through Linz, Melk, Vienna, Austria; Bratislava, Slovakia; and end in Budapest. Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.



Passau, Germany


The Passau Christmas market is home to the oldest gingerbread recipe in Germany. Photo: Courtesy of German Christmas Market.Org.UK. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
The Passau Christmas market is home to the oldest gingerbread recipe in Germany. Photo: Courtesy of German Christmas Market.Org.UK. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

We begin our eight-day journey with two days in Passau also known as Dreiflüssestadt (City on Three Rivers). After boarding the Viking Skadi longship, we'll spend the evening exploring the historic city-centre Christmas market near Saint Stephen's Cathedral in search of Germany's oldest gingerbread recipe. On Day Two, we'll visit the Veste Oberhaus, an imposing 13th-century fortress on the opposite banks of the river.


A snowy winter day in Passau, Germany. Photo: MrThinkTank.
A snowy winter day in Passau, Germany. Photo: MrThinkTank.

Day 3: Salzburg and Linz, Austria


The Hohensalzburg Castle in Salzburg, Austria. Photo: Wikimedia.org.
The Hohensalzburg Castle in Salzburg, Austria. Photo: Wikimedia.org.

We're on our way to Salzburg, Austria, renowned for picturesque scenery, Wolfgang Mozart and of course, "The Sound of Music." We'll visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress as well and after dinner, a new Christmas market to explore.

Day 4: Melk and Dürnstein, Austria


For nearly 1,000 years, the Melk Abbey still stands perched above its village below. Inside, treasures of all kinds await visitors who enter these hallowed halls. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
For nearly 1,000 years, the Melk Abbey still stands perched above its village below. Inside, treasures of all kinds await visitors who enter these hallowed halls. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

For more than 900 years, the spectacular Melk Abbey has been standing sentinel above its village below. Once Leopold II's castle, this Benedictine monastery is home to extraordinary art collections including magnificent frescoes, medieval manuscripts and elegant furnishings. After lunch, it's onto Dürnstein nestled in the Wachau Valley for some wine-tasting at a nearby winery.

Day 5: Vienna, Austria


Enchanting Viennese Christmas Market and the neo-Gothic City Hall in the background. Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Enchanting Viennese Christmas Market and the neo-Gothic City Hall in the background. Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

It's disembarkation in Austria's capital city Vienna! We'll explore the Ringstraße or Ringstrasse, a circular road around the city where its city walls once stood and guarded its gates. Within the city centre, we'll visit the Opera House, Saint Stephan’s Cathedral and the Hofburg Palace. We'll also have a chance to visit one of Vienna's crowing jewels, the Schönbrunn Palace. After dinner, it's off to the Viennese City Hall to explore the Christmas market that's been held here for over 700 years. Wouldn't it be grand if a gentle snow began to fall?


Austria's sprawling Schönbrunn Palace glows with the warmth of Christmas. Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Austria's sprawling Schönbrunn Palace glows with the warmth of Christmas. Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Day 6: Bratislava, Slovakia


Bratislava Castle in the Slovakian Capital. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
Bratislava Castle's history dates back more than 1,000 years! Actually, the site upon which it stands, has a history that dates even further—to the 4th millennium B.C. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Yet again, we'll find ourselves in a capital city, but this time it's Slovakia's Bratislava with its medieval city centre, Michael's Tower, Saint Martin's Cathedral and the Bratislava Castle. After lunch, we set sail past Baroque palaces en route to Budapest.

Day 7 and 8: Budapest, Hungary


Buda Castle located on the Buda side of the Danube in Hungary. Photo: Property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Buda Castle is located on the Buda side of the Danube in Hungary. Photo: Property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

We'll spend two magnificent days in Buda and Pest to see the National Opera House, Heroes' Square, Fisherman's Bastion (I can't wait to see this in person) and finally Matthias Church.

I hope you'll follow along closely on all the social networks as we make our way to Passau, Germany Dec. 8 to begin our enchanting eight-day European Christmas Market Cruise with Viking River Cruises. Until December 8, auf Wiedersehen!

To find out more about this and other Viking River Cruises holiday cruises, visit VikingRiverCruises.com/holiday-cruises.

More about Viking River Cruises:


The Viking Skadi Longship



Designed by naval architects Yran & Storbraaten, the firm behind the The Yachts of Seabourn, this revolutionary design in river cruise vessels offers elegant staterooms including two "Explore Suites" with panoramic views of your surroundings, Verandah and French balcony (with and without outdoor space respectively), and river view rooms on the first deck. Each stateroom features flat-panel TV, a refrigerator and my favorite convenience of all—both European and American-style outlets so there's no need for adapters when sailing on the new Viking longships.

The Viking River Cruises Longship
The Viking River Cruises Longship "Viking Skadi" will be our home for 8 magnificent days plying the waters of Europe's waterways. Photo: Property of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Located up front at the ship's bow, the indoor-outdoor Aquavit Terrace is the perfect gathering place that invites the outdoors in. This "green" Viking Longship features state-of-the-art energy-efficient hybrid engines, solar panels and even an organic herb garden for the scrumptious meals served onboard.

Additional Reading:

22 comments:

  1. Christmas markets along the Danube!!! Could it get any better? You're going to love this area! So excited for you :)

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    1. Hi there my friend! I can't tell you how excited I am ... I can't stop thinking about this and it's seven months away!! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your comments!!

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    2. This seems like a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit, maybe next year :(

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    3. It sure is my Anonymous friend! You should definitely try. You will love it!! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!!

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  2. Wow! What a great idea...Christmas Market cruise. Love it! I'll be thinking of you floating each time I get behind the wheel to drive to my next Christmas market. Have fun!

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    1. Hey there Corinne and thx so much for stopping by! Perhaps we could meet up at one of my stops along the way?

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  3. How exciting! I can't think of a better holiday tradition! I'm sure you'll enjoy every minute and we'll be following along.

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    1. Hi there Rob and thank you so much for stopping by! I couldn't agree with you more my friend. This is an absolute dream come true for me and I can't wait for it to begin! And, thank you for following along as I will have lots and lots to share!

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  4. Truly incredible once in a lifetime experience. I can't wait to hear about your holiday.

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    1. Hi there Amy and thanks so much for stopping by! This is a dream come true for me! Each year, I pine to experience the European Christmas markets and this year, it's going to happen!! Please follow me here and Twitter/Facebook too for all the updates starting on DEC 8. See you then!

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  5. That is so exciting! I always get Viking River Cruises' mailers and think someday.

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    1. Hi there Katherine and thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts! Indeed, it is very exciting and I hope that "someday" comes along soon for you my friend.

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  6. Are you flying back from Budapest?

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    1. Hi there Tara and thank you so much for stopping by. I sure am flying out of Budapest. Why do you ask?

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  7. It was fun to find your blog this evening as I was researching our Dec 8 cruise. It appears my husband and I will be cruising along with you! We, too, are so excited about the charm of this time of year in Europe and the Christmas Markets. We will be in Prague on the 3 day pre-cruise excursion and are looking forward to that very much. See you on the river!
    Ginger

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    1. HI there Ginger!! Oh, how exciting!! What a coincidence!! Can't wait to meet you face to face. You will have to seek me out my friend to say hello!! Perhaps we'll share some Gluhwein too! I am so happy you found me! Thank you so much for stopping by!

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  8. what a luxury cruise! Fun trip too

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    1. Hi there my friend!! So happy you stopped by because it's been way too long!! Thanks so much for your comments, I really appreciate it! Stay well Sarah!!

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  9. Oh, how I would love to do this cruise, combining two of my favorite things: cruising and European Christmas markets. Have a wonderful time!

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    1. Hi there Barbara! I am so sorry to be so late in my response to you! Thank you for your kind words and wishes. Now that it's February, I am happily report that I had a fantastic time!

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  10. Looks like a fun cruise to do, one day I will manage this. SkyFire747 from Twitter. :)

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    1. Greetings Anthony! Thanks so much for stopping by my friend! And yes, one day you will do this!!

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Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!