How to choose which Christmas market cruise?

We are looking at Dec. 2023. We have been to most/all the cities on the Rhine itinerary just this month on the Tauck Rhine cruise. We have been to several cities on the Danube itinerary (on our own) and loved them as well. However we have never been to Europe during December so even familiar cities will be different and of course - the markets. For those who have been, how did you make your decision as to which river cruise? And as a side the ship decorated for Christmas?


  • The ship is definitely decorated and very festive! You get some Euros to purchase an ornament to put on the tree, then to take home at the end of the trip.

    When we were on our Amsterdam to Budapest trip, there was an exec from Scylla on board (we think evaluating one of the staff who subsequently got promoted). We spent quite a bit of time talking with him. We asked about the Christmas Markets and his opinion was that the Rhine was the best. We did that one in 2019 (last trip before the pandemic hit) and absolutely loved it, so much fun. We’re doing the Danube this year (rescheduled from 2020 and 2021) and then the Yuletide the following week.

    I’m sure everyone will have their own opinions on this.

  • We have done the Danube Christmas market cruise and the Yuletide Spirit (from Amsterdam to Brussels) We are doing the Rhine Christmas markets this year. I really think it will hard to beat the markets in Nuremberg and Vienna. So many little extras along the way! I would definitely do a repeat on that one. We have also done the Danube River cruise in the summer months. They are very different experiences. There weren't as many markets on the Yuletide cruise, but it was still nice to visit other cultures and experience the holidays with them.

    Yes, the ship is decorated and the guests get to be a part of the decorating process. We also had a voluntary guest secret santa gift exchange which was so much fun. Hope this helps.

  • We've done non-Christmas cruises on both rivers so we've been to most of the stops. Our group decided on the Danube because we wanted a cruise that started in Vienna to spend our Gift of Time day there. Also because so many of the stops you can walk to/from the ship without busing.

  • edited September 2022

    Terrilyn has done both Danube and Rhine XMAS Mkts and scheduled to do both a second time, so maybe she will weigh in. :)

    I think everyone has their own personal favorite, for different reasons, and both are "the best" :D We've been to a number of XMAS market towns in summer when we took Romantic Germany (Rudesheim and Heidelberg) and Blue Danube (Vienna, Salsburg, Regensburg). We are on XMAS Mkts on the Rhine this year (our 4th attempt- long story) and chose it based on recommendations from one of our prior TD's who works that cruise. Many sources claim Nurnberg has the best market, of course each town claims they have the best market!

  • It's a personal choice. For us the deciding factors were where we wanted to spend our pre and post tour days.

  • Wow - thank you ALL for your perspectives. I know in the end it comes down to our personal choice but it is helpful to hear others' stories. We hope to do both...but time is ticking lol! I'm slightly leaning toward Danube because we were in Vienna last month and loved it - and saw the Melk Abbey which would be gorgeous at Christmas. And might do Prague on our own first, then take the train to Vienna. I also like the idea of walking into town in some of the ports. That was a surprise to me on the Rhine cruise last month - we spent a lot of time on the bus (not water level related) - just the nature of where the ship must dock vs. the distance to town. Again, thank you!

  • Surgie...I think you have answered your own question: You must do them both! We have and just love them. This year it is the Rhine and on Christmas day as well. Just remember that most--if not all--of the markets close the day before Christmas. As for my personal favorite markets: Thurn & Taxis, Vienna, Nuremberg, Cologne, and Heidelberg. I'm a sausage kind of guy and they had the best! Enjoy making your choice...but as far as I'm concerned, you can't go wrong either way!

  • edited September 2022

    I did both of Tauck's Christmas Markets on the Danube (2017) and on the Rhine (2018). I definitely preferred the Danube as there were more interesting vendor stands along the Danube than there was along the Rhine back then. As far as getting from Tauck's Nuremberg hotel to the Christmas Market there, since I got to Nuremberg a day early, I just took a taxi from the hotel to and from the Nuremberg Christmas Market and was able to spend more time there the day before than the short time we were able to do so when Tauck stopped there on the tour. I totally agree with the comment re Nuremberg Christmas Market food; it was terrific and more choices than at the other Christmas Markets we stopped at (except perhaps the one in Vienna). I do not know how this 2022 post pandemic Christmas Markets cruises will be this year, i.e. fewer vendors, more restrictions, etc. Whatever the case may be, it should be interesting on both rivers. LOL. :-)

  • LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the Danube Christmas markets in 2018. The experience was magical and getting some snow helped. Had been to Nurnberg previously in summertime so it was great to see with all the markets. Passau was one of our favorite places. In addition to the food, don’t forget the gluhwein, each market has their own mugs which are great souvenirs - we brought home 14!

  • As a Francophile, I'm hoping Tauck one day adds more French markets along with Strasbourg. My favorites will always be Lyon's, two gorgeous holiday markets; one year a smaller food market from another region set up for a few days just outside my hotel. A week in Lyon is my idea of a perfect holiday break.

  • edited September 2022

    MarketArt, that would be fun along with seeing Paris and it's markets. I wonder if any of the nearby chateaux do anything special at Christmas?

  • Some National Trust properties and the like in UK open for holiday events and markets. I think the Savoring France itinerary would be fun in December.

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