The sailing, which visits more than 25 of Europe's famed Christmas markets, departs from Amsterdam on November 29 and concludes on December 13 in Budapest. Prices range from $3,960 to $7,705 per person, double. Emerald Waterways also offers travelers a chance to experience the Christmas Markets on shorter sailings with two, eight-day itineraries: Amsterdam to Nuremberg, departing November 29, and Nuremberg to Budapest, departing December 6. Prices for the eight-day sailings range from $2,080 to $3,955.
Christmas markets are a lovely holiday tradition in Europe. Held during the four weeks of Advent, these markets offer a charming, communal atmosphere in which Emerald guests can shop for such gifts as nutcrackers and hand-crafted toys – an especially memorable way to be immersed in the cultures of these stunning cities along Europe's greatest waterways. Favorite stops include Vienna's Christkindlmarkt, which is held just in front of the city's “rathaus” (town hall), and Nuremburg's Christmas market, which dates to 1628 and reminds visitors that this town has a rich history of creating some of the finest toys in the world. There's nothing quite like being immersed in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of these festive atmospheres; shopping works up an appetite, and this is the perfect excuse to sample such local delicacies as apple strudel, stollen and roasted nuts.
In addition to visiting the Christmas markets, these sailings also takes guests to some of Europe's most picturesque and historic cities. A walking tour of Amsterdam's city center provides guests with an up close and personal view of this charming city. A visit to Old Town in Cologne reveals the rich heritage of Germany's oldest city, while a trip to the Maritime Market provides spectacular views of the Rhine. In Koblenz, Rüdesheim, Miltenberg. Wertheim and Würzburg, Germany, guests get to experience life in a quaint European villages first hand, as well as visit museums and other cultural sites of interest. Bamberg, the “city of experience” boasts one of Europe's largest intact medieval town centers, creating a truly enchanting place for a guided tour.
One of Germany's most famous Christmas markets, Nuremberg offers guests the chance to visit historic World War II sites and explore the city's rich history. Weltenburg and Regensburg, Germany, are rich in Bavarian history as well as culinary offerings, including the region's famous dark beer. Highlights from Passau, Germany, and Linz, Melk and Dürnstein, Austria, include a visit to St. Stephen's Cathedral and a 900-year old Benedictine Abbey. In Vienna, the “City of Music,” guests can tour the famous opera house or watch a Viennese concert in addition to a full day of sightseeing in this important historic city. Finally, guests can explore beautiful Budapest, one of Eastern Europe's most ancient cities, with a walking tour or visit to the famed royal palace.
Emerald Waterway's new ships – Emerald Star and Emerald Sky – each carry 182 guests in 72 suites and 20 staterooms, including two built for solo occupancy. Unique items include an onboard heated swimming pool with a retractable roof, which transforms into a movie theater in the evening; two restaurants – Reflections, the main dining room, and The Terrace for breakfast and lunch; and a new type of cabin design that replaces the run-of-the-mill French balcony, common to most ships, with an indoor balcony complete with decked area and an ingenious open-air system. The system allows guests to push a button and the upper half of the floor to ceiling panoramic window drops down to allow an open-air opportunity; top suites separate the balcony from the cabin with sliding doors. Ships also feature an onboard hairdresser, massage therapy room and fitness area.
As part of the Scenic Tours Group, Emerald Waterways is backed by the award-winning expertise of the world's leading luxury river cruise operator. Additional information can be found by contacting your local travel agent; on Emerald Waterways' website, www.emeraldwaterways.com.