What do you get when you put two ladies who love shopping, wine, and exploring new cultures on a European Christmas Markets river cruise? One fabulous adventure!
Brownell’s Vice President of Marketing and Development Haisley Smith and Senior Marketing Coordinator Austin Vollmer ended 2016 with an exciting AmaWaterways river cruise down the Rhine. Get the skinny on their trip and insider tips for a Christmas Markets river cruise.
A 7-night river cruise on AmaWaterways‘ AmaCerto
Rhine River – we started with a half-day city tour of Amsterdam, cruised through Germany, dipped into France and ended in Switzerland.
The cuisine! When you are going on a river cruise, show up hungry because the food on board is delicious and there is a lot of it! We ate like kings for three meals a day and had wine pairings with dinner every night. They serve local delicacies and wine based on your destination for a fully immersive experience.
The Christmas Markets exceeded expectations, especially in the smaller towns and villages. We expected the markets to be full of trinkets and tourists, and we were pleasantly surprised to find that the majority of shoppers and revelers were locals, gathering, socializing and shopping after work. During the day, school children would visit and enjoy the local sweets. The markets were full of hand-made crafts that were local to each area. We loved meeting the artisans and learn more about their goods.
Haisley and Austin next to the ship in Strasbourg, France
Biking tour of Strasbourg
An authentic fondue meal in Basel. We know it was authentic because we had to pantomime our order and soon all the locals joined in to help us.
Listen to the captain – onboard time is not a suggestion! Don’t be late or you’ll get left behind!
Know Before you Go
- Each Christmas Market has its own unique gluhwein* mug – perfect for souvenirs or you can return them after enjoying your beverage for a partial refund.
- Make sure you have plenty of Euros because many of the smaller shops and stalls are cash only. And rest assured, by law these markets have to have locally made items so nothing is outsourced. You won’t find any “Made in China” stickers here!
Packing Like a Pro
Layers layers layers! The Christmas Market itineraries are COLD, after all! You do so much walking around and exploring the charming towns and markets that it is important to be dressed for the elements. Long underwear, hats, gloves, and scarves are a must. Good/Sturdy walking shoes or boots are also key. Many spots have uneven lanes with cobblestone streets and can be slick with snow.
The Ideal Guest
Those that have seen the larger cities of Europe and are looking for a more relaxed way of seeing the small towns and villages. Since you spend so much time on the boat, it is great for a group of friends to experience together and enjoy each other’s company.
*Gluhwein is a warm spiced wine, ideal for sipping as your shop in the markets.