Top 10 Reasons to Take a River Cruise
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Wondering what to do for the period after Thanksgiving or for the holidays this year?
If you are like many of us, over 55, you're probably asking: “Hummm. What can we do THIS year for the holidays that’s different, fun and affordable?” At Premier, we know that a fun-packed Holiday Markets river cruise along the Rhine or Danube, or even the Seine River is the perfect answer to that question. Here's why...

A few years ago, my wife Elizabeth and I enjoyed a delightful Holiday Markets river cruise on the Danube River from Passau to Budapest with post-cruise stays in glorious Budapest (we enjoyed an unexpected snowfall), and Prague, my wife's new, favorite walking city. I know, your first reaction is probably: "No way, no how, it's cold there, and don't they actually close attractions for the winter?"

If you uttered those words, you could not be more wrong. Before continuing to read this article, why don't you CLICK the "present" graphic to the right, and take a quick read of EJ's Holiday Markets story to get her thoughts on our remarkable trip!

Don't let weather preconceptions about Europe stop you from cruising.
For those of us in the States reading this, let me remind you of the winter of 2014, and the almost continuous snow fall on the east coast and in the midwest. Contrast this to the mild weather by comparison in Europe where on Christmas day, it was 48° in Prague and 51° in Budapest. Please, please, don't let the perception of "it's cold in Europe" become your reality. The fact is that for most years, it is warmer along the Danube and Rhine than in New York, Boston, or the midwest.

The reality of late Fall and Winter weather is: sure, it’s cool or on rare days even cold, but it’s really more like New York than the Arctic Circle. Mid-November daytime temps hover in the low to mid-50s, evenings move into the mid-40s. December temps move down a bit more, but most days are sunny and very pleasant with temperatures in the low 50s.

So, yes, it’s bit cooler than we’re accustomed to in Los Angeles, but if you take layerable clothing, a warm coat and good walking shoes, etc., you’re set to enjoy one of the most fun, memorable winter Yuletide vacations you’ll ever have. As you continue reading this article, I think you'll get a clearer understanding of how wonderful and exciting a Holiday Markets or Christmas Time river cruise can be.

Off-season river cruises give the BEST value for your travel dollars.
Okay, now let’s talk about the economics of a Holiday or Christmas Markets Europe river cruise. Between November and January you’ll find the absolute lowest airfares, the absolute lowest hotel rates, the absolute lowest river cruise rates and, it’s about the only time you can use your airline miles to travel, assuming you don’t wait till the last minute to book. Next, let's address the last part of your comment above: "...don't they actually close attractions for the winter?" So, you're thinking: it’s the least expensive time to go, so that must mean the river cruise experience is not as nice as it would be on a summer cruise. Again, how wrong you are!

If you enjoy traveling off season, this will be one of your favorite trips of all time.
It will be a trip to remember as the historic and medieval city squares along the Danube and Rhine rivers are magically transformed into extraordinary Holiday Markets adorned with lights, singing carolers, bustling joyful crowds, and lots of fun and great food to enjoy, including delightful pastries and homemade sausages. The holiday markets date way back to the Middle Ages and when you visit these festive events, you'll gain an insight into the origination of the holiday customs and traditions we carry on today. You just won't believe how much fun it is exploring all of the markets along with the normal sightseeing that comes with a Holiday Markets river cruise.



The Holiday Market season.
The timing of the Holiday Markets season varies by country. In France, the Holiday Markets usually start to open right around the 19/20 of November and run through Christmas Time. The same can be said in Bratislava and Hungary and Austria. For Germany, openings are a bit later, usually starting around the last week in November with the exception of Linz's which is around the 17/18 of November. Each year the opening dates vary slightly, so be sure to check out your specific favorite itinerary. Most of them run through Christmas, so it's a very special time to be on the ship.

The Holiday Markets river cruise experience.
Not every port has a Holiday Market, but everywhere you turn, you’ll find cities decked in holiday finery: glittering Christmas trees, bells pealing from cathedral towers, and children dressed as angels singing Christmas carols. From the large Christmas Markets of Vienna to the more intimate Christmas Markets of Bratislava, Passau, and Salzburg — each combines timeless traditions with elegant pageantry. You’ll have countless opportunities to spend the late afternoons and early evenings discovering where many of our signature holiday traditions — Christmas trees, gingerbread, nutcrackers, St. Nick, and candy canes — came from as you cruise along the Rhine, Danube or the Seine aboard one of these magical cruises. We guarantee that every Holiday Markets itinerary will give you destinations and sights that are straight out of a classic Christmas tale, and will be one of the most memorable trips you’ll ever take. Now, let’s delve into what you’ll actually experience on one of these wonderful cruises that take place on the Rhine, Danube and Seine rivers.

The Danube.
First, the remarkable Danube… every day, after the ship docks, you’ll go ashore and enjoy exciting and evocative tours through the Baroque splendor of the Hapsburg Empire with included visits to such places as Salzburg, Heidelberg, Vienna, Linz, and Budapest (Our choices for the most picturesque medieval cities in all Europe.). Everyone has also enjoyed the Market at Nuremburg, and you’ll be spellbound during your visits to to this city, the capital of the province of Franconia with its medieval atmosphere. Then there's ancient and charming Heidelberg, medieval Regensburg with its Roman fort built in 170 AD, and also not to be missed — Rudesheim. And Prague? All of us particularly enjoyed Prague at this time of the year. If you cross the old Charles Bridge to the old town's market square you’ll come upon what many believe is the best of all Holiday Markets and the oldest in all Europe.


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