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The Best Christmas Cruises

by Vicki Fairclough

Experience the joy of a Christmas cruise, whether your idea of festive getaway is a winter sun escape or an adventure to Europe’s most delightful Christmas Markets. As part of our unbelievable Buy One Get One Free Cruises offer, which runs until 31st October, we’ve rounded up the best Christmas Cruises available.The only thing you’ll need to provide yourself is a little festive cheer.

French Festive Getaway & River Seine Experience Cruise

Treat yourself to a festive trip to France as you join Magellan at Tilbury and cross the Channel to Normandy. Once you’re in France, the ship will cruise along the river Seine, making its way to the ancient and atmospheric city of Rouen.Here, you’ll experience the cheer of Rouen’s much celebrated Christmas market, which boasts the gothic splendour of the city’s cathedral as its very impressive backdrop. If you’re feeling daring you can lace up your skates and take a spin around the market’s ice rink or, alternatively, enjoy browsing the many stalls as you sip on mulled wine and nibble a few tasty local treats. This is a great place to pick up a few presents for little ones as Rouen’s Christmas Market has a section devoted solely to children.

Once you’ve had a chance to explore Rouen, Magellan sails on to Honfleur, which is renowned for its extraordinarily picturesque harbour. A source of inspiration for the French Impressionist artists, its quaint town centre is particularly enchanting come Christmas time. Look out for the local Christmas market which takes place in the Vieuz Bassin and has an alluring selection of stalls, as well as live music performances and carriage rides.

Christmas Market, Rotterdam & Antwerp Cruise

Treat yourself to a pre-Christmas mini cruise with this four day jaunt to Rotterdam and Antwerp. Your first stop aboard Columbus is the fabled port of Rotterdam, which serves as the ideal place for festive stroll along the Old Harbour and charming marina of Delfshaven. Having worked up an appetite, make your way to Rotterdam’s Markthal, a spectacularly designed indoor food market. Whilst here, we recommend a glass of traditional Dutch advocaat and generous slice of Banketstaaf, a flaky pastry with a sweet almond filling that’s a Dutch Christmas favourite.

Return to the ship to make your way to Antwerp. Antwerp’s acclaimed Christmas Market is based in the beautiful Grote Markt in the heart of Antwerp’s Old Town but also extends into several of the city’s historic squares, including Steenplatz, at the base of Antwerp’s Steen Castle. Visitors can expect over 100 stalls which offer everything from handmade crafts to gourmet seasonal eats. Even if you’re just browsing there’s music, lights and decorations to keep you entertained.
Book your adventure to Europe’s most charming Christmas Markets and make the most of our Buy One Get One Free Cruises offer.

German Markets & Festive Shopping Cruise

Amsterdam’s canals and bridges takes on an even more magical quality at Christmas and the city has plenty going on at this time of year. Visitors can admire Amsterdam’s Light Festival, which typically runs from late November to January, take a twirl on the ice rink outside the Rijksmuseum and Stedelijk museum and indulge in seasonal delicacies like the irresistible appelbeignets, which are deep fried apple slices, sweetly spiced and dusted with sugar.

Magellan’s next stop is Hamburg where the city’s imposing Town Hall Square is the venue of choice for the annual Christmas Market. Here, you’ll find intricate wooden carvings, delectable gingerbread and handmade ceramics alongside a whole section of the market that’s solely devoted to children’s toys.

Experience Christmas shopping with a difference on this European Christmas cruise, included in our Buy One Get One Free Cruises offer.

Escape the Winter Festive Getaway Cruise

For Christmas cruise that’s a little bit different, join Marco Polo on her journey to the Southern Meditteranean and North African coast for a welcome dose of winter sun. After leaving Bristol, you’ll briefly dock in the pretty Irish port of Cobh which is the ideal springboard for an excursion to Cork, multi-coloured Kinsale or the ruins of Blarney Castle, where visitors are invited to kiss the Blarney Stone, which is said to give the gift of eloquence.

Leave Ireland and head south for Lisbon. Thanks to Lisbon’s mild winter temperatures, this time of year is great for exploring on foot. Take in the sights of the historic Alfama neighbourhood, enjoy a tram ride up one of Lisbon’s famously steep streets and admire the wonderfully extravagent style of the Manueline architecture in Belem. Alongside a pasteis de nata, treat yourself a seasonal glass of port, Ginjinha, a sour cherry liqueur made in Portugal or Amarguinha, a Portuguese almond liqeuer.

From Lisbon,you’ll follow the sun further south to reach Casablanca on the Moroccan coast. Either explore this cosmopiltan city at your leisure or opt for a trip inland to Marrakech and its lively souks. The following day, Marco Polo stops briefly in Gibraltar before moving on to Cadiz. Cadiz is one of Europe’s most ancient cities and its magnificent architecture can certainly give the splendour of nearby Seville a run for its money. Explore the oldest quarter of the city in the El Pópulo district before enjoying some tapas in one of the neighbourhood’s delightfully traditional tapas bars. Alternatively, take a day trip to Seville to see the majestic Alcázar for yourself and perhaps take in a flamenco performance.

Final port of call is La Coruna, home to the Incredible Tower of Hercules, a Roman lighthouse which is still in use. See the sights here or join the excursion to Santiago de Compostela, the historic Christian pilgrimage site.

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