Christmas Market Cruises

15 Nov 2016 | by Sarah Clarke
Updated November 2017

There is no better way to get in the festive mood than with a Christmas market cruise. A mini-cruise to a European Christmas market comes with a merry atmosphere, cultural insights, and of course delicious festive delicacies. No matter the market you choose, the warm glow and sensational scent of Christmas spices are a comforting beacon on a chilly winter evening.

Christmas Market Cruises from Southampton

Cruise from Southampton, and sail straight to your chosen Christmassy destination without needing to fly. Many cruise lines operate short cruise breaks to northern Europe - with Christmas markets highlighted in the itinerary. Sail from Southampton with Fred. Olsen or P&O Cruises and experience the best of the European Christmas markets.

Christmas Market River Cruises

A Christmas market river cruise is the perfect way to reach hidden inland destinations, that ocean cruise liners can’t visit. Sail along the Rhine or Danube around Christmas time, and experience the festive feeling from one port to the next. See the Christmas markets of Vienna, Budapest, or Frankfurt along the Danube, or delve deeper into Germany and Switzerland along the romantic Rhine. With a river cruise you can spend more time ashore, and often partake in guided city walking or bike tours - the perfect way to see the sights.

Top Christmas Market Destinations

This picturesque city in Belgium is just thirty minutes away from Zeebrugge cruise port. Described as the Venice of the north, Bruges features tranquil canals and fairy-tale medieval buildings. During December, the city is awash with Christmas spirit; expect Christmas lights, fir trees, roasted chestnuts, market stalls, and some very merry music. Get a taste of Bruges with some locally made chocolate or Belgian craft beers.


The capital of the Republic of Ireland oozes Christmas cheer, and a stop off in a local Irish pub will no doubt see you singing along and dancing with the lively locals. Irish Christmas markets offer typical Irish fare from local farmers, and handmade crafts from Irish artisans. Dublin is the perfect destination for a unique Christmas gift.


A stop off in Antwerp demands a hot chocolate, ice skating, and an unavoidable abundance of Christmas joy. Meet local stall holders at Groenplaats, a main square surrounded by historical buildings, and indulge in the delights of this chocolate box city. Pass by Antwerp’s famous diamond district for an extra special gift. 


This is a stunning destination all year round, but particularly so at Christmas time. Festive Christmas markets flood the city, and you are spoilt for choice when it comes to handcrafted goods or local culinary delights. Find that extra special Christmas decoration here, and try some Viennese hot punch to keep warm. See Vienna at Christmas on a river cruise.


German Christmas markets are so popular that they have even made their way over to the UK. Frankfurt hosts one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany, with a beautiful big Christmas tree, life-sized nativity scene, and an amazing array of beautiful stalls. Christmas here is a real fairy-tale, with music, lights, and a very warm-hearted welcome indeed. Cinnamon, mulled wine, and gingerbread are just some of the delicious highlights you can experience in Frankfurt, not forgetting the famous bratwurst sausages! Visit Frankfurt at Christmas on a river cruise.

More on Christmas Cruises 2017/ 2018

Keith and Glenn know all about cruising at Christmas, watch our Planet Cruise Weekly Christmas special to find out more.

Watch the latest Planet Cruise Weekly episode now.

Have a very merry Christmas with a Christmas cruise.
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