European Christmas Market River Cruise

Saturday, January 11, 2020

European Christmas Market River Cruise - review of AHI Travel's Holiday Markets Cruise

European Christmas Market Rhine River Cruise - review of AHI Travel's Holiday Markets Cruise ~ The Festive Rhine River. 8 days, 7 nights cruising down the Rhine and visiting the Christmas markets. Basel, Switzerland; Freiburg, Germany; Colmar, France; Strasbourg, France; Heidelberg, Germany; Rüdesheim, Germany; Cologne, Germany. This was the trip of a lifetime!
collage of 4 Christmas market photos

Holiday Markets Cruise ~ The Festive Rhine River

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, we took an amazing trip to Europe. We went on a Rhine River cruise through Switzerland, Germany, and France and visited the Christmas Markets. It was a dream trip! I've had the Christmas markets on my list of places to go for years. I was THRILLED to finally make the trip. It was everything I hoped for and more.

I shared a little about the trip on Instagram, but today I am sharing much more. I am sharing photos from each stop. I took over 2,000 photos. I had the HARDEST time narrowing them down. Don't worry - there aren't 2,000 photos in this post! I tried to limit it to just a few for each city.

We took the Holiday Markets Crusie - The Festive Rhine River with AHI Travel. It was INCREDIBLE. All of the excursions are included in the price of the trip. We were divided into small groups for the excursions. We had an AHI Travel guide and a local guide on the excursions. That being said, the excursions are optional. You can take the bus to the destination and do your own thing or you can stay on the boat.

If you book your air travel through AHI Travel, the transfers to and from the airport are included. You can book your own airfare and buy the transfers with AHI Travel or handle getting to and from the airport on your own. We just booked the airfare through AHI Travel. It was a little cheaper than doing it ourselves and we didn't have to pay extra for the transfers.

We sailed on the Amadeus Silver III. We went all out and booked the Suite Mozart. It was on the top floor with a balcony. The room was large with a sitting area and a big bathroom (for a ship). We both loved it. The food on the ship was delicious. They served breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. Beer and wine were included with lunch and dinner. Dinner was 5 or 6 courses every night. The best thing was that they offered plain chicken at every meal, so I never went hungry!!

Keep reading for all the details of our trip. I would LOVE to do another Christmas Market Cruise. It was one of the best trips we've ever taken.






Basel, Switzerland

We flew into Basel on Thanksgiving Day. We headed to the ship to get settled in.
The next morning we headed out into town. We did a quick walking tour of the city.
The Basel Minster was our favorite stop.
It was built between 1019 and 1500.

If you walk around back, you are treated to the BEST views of the city.
Notice the ferry on the far side of the river?
Between Basel's five bridges across the Rhine, you will find the city's four ferries. You can cross the Rhine without motorized assistance, using only the natural power of the river's current. 
Tourists and locals use them.


After the quick city tour, we hit up the Christmas Markets.
There are several sections of the market all over town.
Here is a cute Gluhwein stand. 
Gluhwein is basically a hot mulled wine that all of the markets sell.

Here is another Gluhwein booth in another section of the market.

All of the booths were so festive and unique.

Look at all those stuffed snowmen!!!!



This was my favorite booth in Basel.
The moose sang Christmas carols.
They would talk in German and sing in English.
I have a great video on my InstaStories - https://www.instagram.com/s/Basel

I'm so glad we got the see the city streets lit up at night.

Freiburg, Germany

The next day we woke up in Germany.
We took a trip to Freiburg to visit the Farmer's Market.

Most (if not all) of the booths were local farmers.

I wanted to take all of these flowers home!

There were also some local artisans selling their crafts.
We stopped for some wine & cheese and then headed back to the boat.

Colmar, France

After lunch, we set off to Colmar, France.
Colmar was SO pretty!!!




We went to the markets on Saturday and they were PACKED!

My favorite part of Colmar was how all of the buildings were decorated for Christmas.




We need to do this in The States.


Strasbourg, France

We loved Strasbourg, France.

It was a cold and rainy day when we visited.
That's OK. We still had an AMAZING time.

Strasbourg decorates like Colmar.

How cute are these PIGS?!

This bakery was a dream!

The streets were so dreamy. We came back at night so we could see them lit up.

This cute little train roasts chestnuts.





The turn on the lights at 4pm every day.

There are several different light designs on the streets.
This street had chandeliers.

The street by the cathedral had angels.
The market goes all around the church and was PACKED.
We bought several things from the market - a Russian Santa, and some ornaments.


Here is the first building I posted lit up at night.
View our Strasbourg InstaStories: https://www.instagram.com/s/Strasbourg

Heidelberg, Germany

Heidelberg was an unexpected gem.
We started the day with a quick tour of the Heidelberg Palace.
It has AMAZING views of the town.

After the Palace tour, we set off to the Christmas market.

The booths were so festive.

Another cute Gluhwein stand. 

We opted for some hot chocolate instead of Gluhwein.

I loved this cookie stand.




We spent the whole day in Heidelberg and loved it.
We had a bratwurst and some fries for lunch, shopped for Christmas ornaments, and ended the day with a classical music/opera concert at the Mirror Hall of Palais Prinz Carl.
View our Heidelberg InstaStories: https://www.instagram.com/s/Heidelberg

Rüdesheim, Germany

Rüdesheim, Germany was probably our favorite Christmas market on the trip.
The town was so cute and it wasn't as crowded as some of the other markets.
We started the day at Siegfried's Mechanical Museum.
I wasn't too thrilled about it, but it was actually really cool.
I would definitely recommend a visit.
The music boxes are all self-playing. Some are quite elaborate.

After the music tour, we walked around the Christmas markets.

The market was easy to navigate. 
It was on several streets that made a square around the town.

SO dreamy!



We didn't buy anything at the markets, but we did have a couple of snacks from the food vendors.
I did a couple of laps around the market. It was so cute!
View our Rüdesheim InstaStories: https://www.instagram.com/s/Rüdesheim

Rhine River

After our morning in Rüdesheim, we set sail down the Rhine.


We passed the famous Loreley Rock.
The rock produces an echo and is associated with the legend of a beautiful maiden who threw herself into the Rhine in despair over a faithless lover and was transformed into a siren who lured fishermen to destruction. 

Cologne, Germany

Our final stop on the cruise was in Cologne, France.
Most of Cologne was destroyed in WWII.
The Cathedral was the only thing left standing.


This shrine is said to hold the bones of the Three Kings.

I loved this stained glass window.

After checking out the Cathedral, we walked around the Christmas market.




We skipped lunch on the ship and sampled some of the local fare at the market.
A ham and cheese stuffed bread, potato cakes, steak sandwich, and some fresh amaretto candied almonds. I wish I could eat them all again right now!

The booths were all same design at the Cologne market, unlike the other markets we went to.


After a cold and windy day at the market, we headed back to the ship to watch the sunset.
I wish I could take pictures of this every day.
View our Cologne InstaStories: https://www.instagram.com/s/Cologne

We left for Frankfurt at 5:00am.
The view was still amazing.

Amadeus Silver III

We spent 7 nights on the Amadeus Silver III.
The ship was incredibly nice. 

We had the Amadeus Suite.

King bed.

Sitting area with balcony.

The bathroom was incredibly nice - for a ship.
The shower was large with a DOOR!

A separate sink.

And a nice toilet that didn't have you sitting in the shower.


This was a trip of a lifetime! 
We loved traveling around Europe and never having to repack and unpack.
It was great to have our hotel room follow us around!
If you have an opportunity to take a cruise and see the European Christmas Markets, DO IT!


Here are the details on our trip:
AHI Travel

Holiday Markets Crusie - The Festive Rhine River 
Here is the link for the 2020 Cruise:





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5 comments

  1. Looks like a fantastic trip in a great part of the world. We made a couple of trips to Heidelberg while our kids were there and visited many of the places you went, but I would really enjoy doing it on a riverboat.

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  2. Stephanie I agree this looks like a trip of a lifetime! I LOVE Christmas and all these areas were just beautifully decorated. Thanks for taking us through ya'lls awesome trip! ;) Keep the delish recipes coming!!

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  3. Thank you for sharing your trip. I would love to go on one of these Christmas Market cruises!

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  4. This trip looks fabulous! I've been wanting to do a Christmas Market cruise for awhile, but my husband is afraid he'll be bored, that all the markets will be the same. From your pictures, it looks like they are all unique!

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  5. Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures. What an amazing trip.

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