March 1, 2024 / 7 mins read / CRUISES

Explore European Christmas Markets with AmaWaterways and Gravitate’s Scott Waldron

Learn about Scott's Christmas trip with AmaWaterways!

Gravitate Travel’s founder, Scott Waldron loves shopping, Christmas, and river cruising – so why not combine all three during his personal Christmas holidays? Scott shares his amazing experience onboard AmaWaterways in December 2023 as he explored all the Christmas markets in Europe, so come along on the adventure to learn how you can turn your passions into travel dreams.

There is nothing better than hearing from someone first-hand about their travel experience and why they recommend it and can provide you with some tips and tricks to help you along the way and make an informed decision on your travel plans. 

GRAVITATE: First things first, what made you want to travel abroad at Christmas?

SCOTT: Year after year planning Christmas celebrations in Canada, who’s house to go to, where do we stay, will the weather be good to drive etc. have been more complicated and we decided to get away from it all and travel to Europe to see how they do Christmas. Different traditions, ways of celebrating tales of Sinter Claus, Kris Kringle, The Markets, The Gluvin (mulled wine) and small towns and large cities have these amazing markets.

G: What makes visiting the Christmas Markets so special in your mind?

SW: Each city/town has their own flair, own unique crafts and their version of gingerbread depending on what country you are in. The decorations, lights, music, and ice skating rinks (in Vienna city hall market) all drum up that Christmas warmth.

G: Who would you recommend to try out a river cruise at Christmas? 

SW:  Yes, quite a few on board either came as a family, a lot of solo travellers who just wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of Christmas and those that have lost loved ones were on board. 

G: How long was the trip and how many Christmas Markets did you get to visit? 

SW:  We added a 3-night pre-cruise land tour in Prague as it was on our bucket list then we transferred to Nuremberg to join the ship. So, all in all, 10 nights (3 nights in Prague and 7 nights on the ship).

G: Was there one specific Christmas market that was your favourite?

SW:  Wow loaded question. I really enjoyed Rensburg, Vienna and Budapest’s markets for various reasons, all the others we good but the above-mentioned had their own uniqueness and charm that set them apart from the others.


G: Tell us a little bit about your experience onboard and what special touches there were for the holiday season.

SW: Closer to Christmas they asked us to put a shoe outside our stateroom doors for each person in the cabin, in the AM we woke up to chocolate Santa Clauses about 6 inches tall for us to enjoy. Other items such as specialty meals in the restaurant, tree decorating contests, sing-alongs of holiday favourites, musical trivia and special guests brought aboard to dance/sing and entertain us to name a few. Some guests event took part in an afternoon soak in the heated pool on the top deck.

G: If you could pick one highlight of your trip, what would it be?

SW: Unpack once and enjoy your vacation with excursions and meals included. No thought required – just wake up and enjoy.

G: Can you describe your cabins and let us know if there are different cabin types you can book and how far in advance people should be booking?

SW: We had a split balcony meaning half of the space we added to the interior and half of the balcony was outside I loved this as it let us choose based on weather conditions.

G: How many cities/towns does a one-week river cruise usually visit?

SW: Anywhere from 5-6.

G: What are the benefits of sailing on smaller ships versus big cruise ships?

SW: Our ship accommodated 164 people, had fewer crowds, faster on/off the ship. Smaller ships get into smaller ports the larger ones cannot.

G: What can travellers expect onboard the ship in the way of entertainment?

SW: As mentioned above, we really enjoyed the music trivia and the holiday sing-alongs. The entertainment that they brought onboard was also a real treat and added to the festivities.

G: Can you tell us a bit about the dining options? Were there any standout meals that you want to share with us?

SW: Lots of meal options for gluten-free, vegetarian etc. We did not require special options meal-wise but enjoyed the cuisine very much. Meals were cooked with the destination specialties of the area we were in like Germany, Austria, Hungary, etc.

G: Do you have any other river cruises booked and can you tell us a bit about this?

SW: Yes, we are currently booking a group tour for September 2025 aboard the AMASonata for a 2-night land package and a 7-night voyage down the Danube celebrating Oktoberfest. You can find out more about how to join this tour here.

Ready to learn how you can spend your holidays exploring the Christmas markets in Europe or any other river cruise destinations?

Talk to a travel professional at Gravitate to help you plan it! Just click on the Let’s Talk icon in the top menu to use our handy booking tool to book a date and time that works for you and your schedule.

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