Compass Blog

A Festive River Cruise

Kensington Cruise Expert, Dana Toma, headed to France and Germany over the 2012 holiday season and treated herself with impressive Christmas gifts; a relaxing river cruise and spirited festivities at the Christmas markets.

Dana’s extensive and continued research on river cruising took her to the picturesque Rhine where she cruised through romantic landscapes and charming European cities. Prior to embarking in Nuremberg, she journeyed to Heidelberg, Baden Baden, Black Forest and Strasbourg, all with the convenience and comfort of a private guide and driver. Nuremberg and Regensburg were the ports of call where full days were spent strolling through old towns of fabled past, admiring medieval architecture and being immersed in the spectacular Christmas markets. Dana graciously ditched the packed parking lots and malls for some real holiday cheer!

Our cruise expert returned with a renewed appreciation for river cruising. The all-inclusive and intimate experience of the A-Rosa cruise line far exceeded Dana’s expectations. While passing breathtaking landscapes, quaint towns and vibrant cities along the shore, she indulged in the luxury of an attentive staff, first class cuisine and a luxurious cabin. “The relaxing and peaceful atmosphere onboard complemented the serene countryside around every bend of the Rhine. It was the perfect way to experience that quintessential and alluring European charm.”

Dana chose a few of her favourite photos and shared highlights of her festive river cruise:

Heidelberg Castle stands 300ft above the city of Heidelberg and its construction dates back to around AD 1300. The massive collection of buildings (each slightly different in German architectural style) points to its long and eventful history. Although it isn’t furnished inside, the castle ruins remain impressive and so is the view of the city, especially from either the Great Terrace. You can easily spend half a day roaming the gardens, having a glimpse at The Heidelberg Tun (the “World’s Largest Wine Barrel”) or admiring the view of the Neckar Valley below.

I strongly recommend the boat tour along the Ill canal as an ideal introduction to Strasbourg. Embarking next to the Cathedral, the comprehensive tour of the city offers a glimpse of important landmarks and the medieval cityscape of timber-framed buildings. Strasbourg is also home to the biggest Christmas market in France, steeped with rich traditions and boasting one of the most dazzling and impressive Christmas trees I've ever seen!

I was very fortunate to have arrived in Nuremberg the day its Christmas market was opening. Reciting a prayer, the Christmas Angel opens the market as about 200 stalls turn on their lights all at once. It was a delightful ceremony and I had the pleasure of sampling bakes goods, sweets, sausages, and mulled wine while admiring a huge array of arts and crafts products. Each stall was intricately decorated and there were no mass produced products to be seen – the market was a sincere display of the city’s passion for an age old tradition.

Beyond the Christmas market, Nuremberg’s draw lays in its lively atmosphere where the co-existence between medieval and modern is quite prevalent. The sizable old town lays in the shadow of the towering imperial castle and I could have easily spent more time simply strolling through its cobblestone streets, admiring the gothic churches or enjoying a dark beer in a cozy bar.

If you're interested in a similar festive cruise trip, check out our Christmas Markets of the River Rhine tour.

Kensington Tours offers you a chance to cruise along in luxury across the waters of Northern Europe, the Black Sea and Baltic Sea. Make calls-to-port at historic and charming coastal cities throughout the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands or Scandinavia. Many exciting cultures and heritage sites await your discovery during shore excursions in this region. Click here to check out Kensington's diverse portfolio of European and Baltic river cruises.


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