Christmas Markets

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Date of travel

December, 2017

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Special occasion

This review is intended as advice for anyone thinking of taking a river cruise to Christmas Markets along the Rhine.

My wife and I, both in our 70s, went on a 5 day cruise last December with visits to 4 cities/towns with Christmas Markets. The cruise experience was 1st Class: excellent food & accommodation on the Swiss owned ship which couldn’t be faulted. However, we were somewhat disappointed with the visits to the Markets. The brochure photo was of a Christmas Market at night, the company naturally showing it at its best but in fact three of the towns visited were in broad daylight so there was no way in which the company’s illustration could be realised. Even more surprising was that one town was visited mid-morning before the market had opened. The other two daylight Markets were pleasant enough but the expected ‘fairyland’ magic was missing. Our final destination, Cologne, was visited after dark so the illuminations gave the anticipated effect. Being after working hours, the Cologne Markets were very busy, with a high percentage of young(ish) people intent on patronising an equally high percentage of street food and drink stalls. With the pushing by and jostling of people this resulted in us being more concerned with avoiding getting greasy food and beer over our clothes. Not the most pleasant of experiences. The market environment is, of course, out of the control of the tour operator! With the ship being moored in town overnight, the opportunity to re-visit the city centre the following morning provided our best experience of Cologne.

Don’t let the above negative comments put you off should you be contemplating a Christmas mini-cruise. As already stated, life on board could not be faulted and the cities visited were very nice but don’t expect end-to-end bright tinsel and fairy lights at the Markets, it is most likely you won’t get them!


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