In cold December days of yore, Europeans gathered in town squares to buy and sell spices, sweets, and other special items for the holidays. Fresh gingerbread and mulled wine kept them warm, while music and games gladdened their hearts. These were the first Christmas Markets, and centuries later they continue to bring the magic of the season alive.
During a special holiday cruise aboard M.S. AmaBella, travelers will sail from Budapest to Nuremberg. Along the way, they’ll discover some of Europe’s best Christmas Markets. Here are 8 reasons we love this voyage.
1.) A special “illuminations cruise” in Budapest
After boarding M.S. AmaBella, passengers will enjoy a welcome dinner. Then the ship will sail a special cruise along Budapest’s waterfront. Many of the city’s UNESCO World heritage monuments are brilliantly illuminated at night, making the Hungarian capital appear even more spectacular than it does during the day.
2.) A seven-night cruise of Europe’s waterways aboard M.S. AmaBella
This 161-passenger river vessel features a combination of amenities and design details never before seen on Europe’s great waterways. Most staterooms have distinctive “twin balconies.” Onboard amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the ship, an elevator, a heated pool and whirlpool, and a fitness room and sauna. Bicycles are available for use ashore.
3.) Watching a training session at the legendary Spanish Riding School
In Vienna, travelers will start the day with a walking tour of Vienna that includes St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the historic city center. Then they’ll continue to the famed Spanish Riding School, the oldest riding academy in the world, to watch a training session from a separate VIP area.
4.) Lecturer John Meffert
Architectural historian John Meffert—who helped preserve historic Charleston, SC—will be joining travelers on the program. A much-loved travel companion, Mr. Meffert has delighted many study tour groups over the years with his lively lectures and insights on preservation.
5.) Melk’s Benedictine Abbey
A guided tour will take the group to Melk’s magnificent Benedictine Abbey, situated on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube. One of Europe’s largest baroque monasteries, the abbey has a medieval library that inspired Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose.
6.) An optional excursion to Salzburg, Austria
Travelers may either stay aboard and enjoy a scenic cruise to Passau or join an excursion to Salzburg, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. The birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, it is also the setting for the classic film The Sound of Music. Join in the merriment at the lively Christmas Markets, renowned for local handicrafts and one-of-a-kind Old World gifts. Those who prefer to stay aboard will arrive in Passau in the late afternoon.
7.) A walking tour of medieval Regensburg
Visitors will step ashore in Regensburg to see the city’s highlights, including the Old Town Hall and the Porta Pretoria — gates to a Roman fort built in 179 C.E. In addition, travelers will have an opportunity to walk in the Old Kornmarkt Christmas Market and browse the festive stalls, or visit the “royal” Christmas Market at the Thurn and Taxis Palace to see craftsmen at work.
8.) Visit the world’s largest Christmas market
Throughout the journey, travelers will spend time at holiday markets including the world’s largest Christmas Market in Nuremberg. The market has over 100 red and white canvas-topped booths offering an assortment of unique toys, tinsel angels, dolls, gingerbread and other treats, and an endless variety of other seasonal goodies.
Academic Arrangements Abroad, a leader in cultural travel since 1977, designs and operates travel programs for sponsoring institutions that include the nation’s top museums and alumni associations.
For more information on the Christmas Markets cruise, please contact Academic Arrangements Abroad at (212) 514-8921 or firstname.lastname@example.org.