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8 Days | Christmas Markets Along the Danube


Day 1 | Vienna, Austria. Embark. Images of St. Nicholas – with his devilish nemesis, Krampus – Advent wreaths, twinkling lights, roasting chestnuts, sausages and kartoffelpuffer (potato cakes), hot glühwein and fruity punsch... all signs of Christmastime in Vienna! Many Christkindlmarkts big and small grace Austria’s capital at yuletide, and you’ll explore two of the major ones. Magic’s in the air at the Wiener Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz in front of the city hall, Vienna’s oldest and largest Christmas market... live music, tastefully lit trees, holiday arts and crafts, tempting treats and smiling faces are everywhere. And at opulent Schönbrunn Palace, you’ll tour rooms that the Habsburgs once lived in, and browse through lovely hand-blown glass ornaments, red Viennese hearts, Victorian-style sweets and other treasures in the palace’s own, equally impressive Christmas Market... guaranteed to warm your heart.Your Austria and Germany Christmas Markets river cruise along the Danube begins: 4:00 PM, Vienna, Austria. A transfer is included from Vienna International Airport to ms Swiss Jewel or ms Treasures. Guests enjoying a pre-stay in Vienna will receive a transfer from the hotel to the riverboat. Welcome to old Vienna… bright with decorations and buzzing with holiday spirit! The magic begins right away with a walking tour of the Wiener Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz - the city's largest yuletide market - where you may feel like you've stepped into a snow globe as you're surrounded by thousands of twinkling lights! Return to the riverboat for the Captain's welcome dinner this evening… followed by a "city of lights" tour of an illuminated Vienna tonight. (D)

Day 2 | Vienna. “Imperial” Vienna, which you’ll explore on a sightseeing tour this morning, seems even grander with Christmas decorations everywhere you look. Get a glimpse of what “happy Habsburg family holidays” might have been like on a tour of Schönbrunn Palace, and take in the palace’s own Christmas Market. Then enjoy an afternoon at leisure to sample more of Vienna’s holiday cheer and Christmas Markets; complimentary shuttles run back and forth between the city and the riverboat. Tonight, your riverboat sets off on its 7-night Danube cruise, bound first for Melk; you may want to wish yourself bon voyage with a mug of glühwein in the holiday-decorated Lido Bar. Austrian and Germany Christmas Markets along the Danube offer river cruisers a completely different experience in these countries than similar cruises in Spring, Summer and Autumn! (B,L,D)

Day 3 | Melk. Perched high on a rocky bluff overlooking the Danube and the town of Melk, Stift Melk (Melk Abbey) has shone as a beacon of culture and learning since its founding nearly a millennium ago. Visit the monastery’s 18th-century Baroque complex, home to a magnificent church adorned with gold statues and frescoes, a stunning library containing medieval manuscripts, and its own Christmas legend – about a miraculous visit from the Virgin Mary and the Christ child, and a young novice whose juggling so entertained the infant that he clapped for joy. This morning, visit Melk Abbey high atop its bluff overlooking the Danube, where this bastion of culture has stood for nearly a millennium – and its 18th-century Baroque church, monastery and library take on a special quality during the holiday season. Enjoy a live on-board musical performance as the riverboat continues cruising to Linz this afternoon, arriving this evening. (B,L,D)

Day 4 | Salzburg. Linz. The angelic voices of choirs singing carols on Cathedral Square... the pealing bells of old Salzburger Dom, overlooking neat rows of lit-up booths fragrant with the aroma of roasted almonds and hot mulled wine... ornate Baroque domes, towers and rooftops tipped with snow in the heart of Old Town... the clatter of horse-drawn carriages over cobblestoned streets... sweet candy apples and marzipan... the warm laughter of families having the time of their lives... and music everywhere, in the city that gave us Mozart. The Christmas Markets of Salzburg... a true feast for the senses that continues with lunch at the historic Stiftskeller St. Peter and a visit to Linz’s Christkindlmarkt... the curving roofs of its stalls symbolizing the waves of the Danube. Wake up in Linz, Austria, for a full-day excursion to Mozart’s magical hometown of Salzburg, with its Baroque town center dressed in its holiday best. After exploring the Christkindlmarkt in this charming city, have lunch at Stiftskeller St. Peter, one of Europe’s oldest restaurants, located on the premises of historic St. Peter’s Abbey. Following some free time, return to Linz for a different Christmas Market experience… and, as you’ve learned, each town’s market has something all its own to offer. Or, if you prefer, spend the entire day in Linz, enjoying its Christmas Market, taking a walking tour, or alternatively just relaxing aboard the riverboat in anticipation of a busy day tomorrow at the first Germany Christmas Markets! (B,L,D)

Day 5 | Passau. Navigating the narrow lanes and archways of this Bavarian town on the Danube and Inn rivers is a pleasure any time of year – but never more so than now, when one of the finest Germany Christmas Markets transforms Passau’s historic Baroque center into a wonderland brimming with bratwurst, lebkuchen, glühwein and good cheer. At the center of it all is St. Stephan’s Cathedral, whose massive pipe organ – the largest in Europe – stars in concerts throughout the season. Your day in Passau includes a visit to Café Simon to see how they’ve been making their delicious gingerbread for four generations. The holiday celebrations of riverside Passau, Germany are spotlighted today. Baking gingerbread… it’s one of the best aromas of Christmas! Four generations of the Simon family have perfected the art of making gingerbread, and show you how it’s done during a demonstration at Passau’s Café Simon. After touring Passau’s Weihnachtsmarkt, the afternoon is yours to explore as you please. Join us for a discovery briefing before dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 6 | Regensburg. Sausages and song are big in Regensburg, as your visit to its centuries-old Christkindlmarkt on the Neupfarrplatz will attest. Market goers feast on the city’s famed sausages, along with steamed dampfnudel dumplings, gingerbread, roast chestnuts and, naturally, glühwein from Bavarian claret, as they admire the work of glassblowers, chandlers and potters, and listen to the joyous strains of the acclaimed Regensburger Domspatzen choir – some of whose alumni will perform on your riverboat tonight! The Thurn und Taxis family’s Palace of St. Emmeram is the setting for your exclusive tour and visit to its private Christmas Market. During the season, Germany Christmas Markets glow with holiday cheer as each town celebrates the season – this Christmas Market in Regensburg is one of the most unique. You’ll understand why Regensburg calls itself “Europe’s best-preserved medieval city” on a visit to its Christmas Market, set among centuries-old buildings. After lunch, an exclusive private visit to the Thurn und Taxis family’s Palace of St. Emmeram invites you to tour the palace, browse its fine private Christmas Market, and interact with artisans displaying their wares; rumor has it that Her Highness Princess Gloria and family often wander through. Alumni of the famed Regensburger Domspatzen choir perform seasonal music for you aboard the riverboat tonight! (B,L,D)

Day 7 | Nuremberg (Nürnberg). On Nürnberg’s main market square opposite the Church of Our Lady sits the most famous Christmas Market in Germany, with its iconic, golden-haired Christmas Angel and charming Zwetchgenmannle (“Plum People”) – unique to Bavaria and made from dried plums and other fruits. By the time Christmas Eve rolls around, this “Little Town from Wood and Cloth” will have welcomed two million folks from around the globe – including you – delighting them with its authentic ornaments, Bavarian crafts, Christmas candles, lebkuchen and other kinds of cookies, tasty fruit loaves, tangy gingerbread, handmade toys and glühwein!After your riverboat arrives in Berching, take a shore excursion to historic Nürnberg, where you'll have a choice of sightseeing this morning. You may explore medieval Nürnberg, including a walking tour along its centuries-old ramparts and defensive walls, past the opera house and St. John's Cemetery to the Imperial Castle and the old city and marketplace. Or choose a tour that includes the Courthouse (site of the famed 1946 trials), the Zeppelinfeld rally grounds, the Documentation Center and other city sites associated with World War II and its aftermath. Following a free afternoon to enjoy Nürnberg's famous Weihnachtsmarkt as you please, join us back aboard the riverboat in Nürnberg to cap the night – and your extraordinary Christmas Market cruise – with the Captain’s Farewell Dinner. (B,L,D)

Day 8 | Nuremberg. Your cruise ends in Nürnberg. Fly home anytime. Transfers are provided from ms Swiss Jewel or ms Treasures to Nürnberg Airport; those guests enjoying a post-stay at in Nürnberg will receive a transfer from the hotel to the airport. Please allow at least three hours for airport check-in formalities. Your river cruise to the Austrian and Germany Christmas Markets will be an indelible memory you'll cherish throughout the remainder of the holiday season! (B)

NOTE: Itinerary is subject to change without notice. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the itinerary schedule you receive with your final documents.

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