Last updated: 03:11 PM ET, Mon May 30 2016

Never Too Early To Think Christmas With AmaWaterways

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | AmaWaterways | Kristina Rundquist | May 30, 2016

Never Too Early To Think Christmas With AmaWaterways

PHOTO: Get into the spirit of the season with AmaWaterways (Courtesy AmaWaterways)

Temps are warming up and summer is so close you can taste it. Understandably, vacation-goers are planning their summer holidays, holidays that typically involve sun, sand and lots of outdoor fun and relaxation. But believe it or not, now is the time to get thinking about another holiday–Christmas. While winter and snow may seem far away, the Christmas holidays will be here before we know it and what better way to explore the magic of the season than with one of AmaWaterway's Christmas market river cruises.

Travel between Budapest and Prague along the Danube, including stops in Nuremberg, Regensberg, Passau, Melk and Vienna. Begin your trip with two nights in Prague, before embarking on the journey of a lifetime as you take in Europe's fabled Christmas markets, where you can shop for hand-carved gifts, while sipping mulled wine and snacking on tasty gingerbread.

While in Prague, passengers will visit Wenceslas Square, the Prague Castle and St Vitus among other attractions. A short stroll over the Charles Bridge takes passengers to the Old Market Square and Prague's renowned Christmas market–a feast for all senses. The cruise embarks from Nuremberg, home to the world's largest Christmas market with more than 100 stalls, where you can find everything from unique crafts to carved angels to seasonal delicacies. Sail to Regensberg, and enjoy a walking tour of the city before taking a visit to the Christmas market.

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Later that evening, take in the "royal" markets at the Thurn and Taxis Palace with the opportunity to see craftsmen at work in this traditional Christmas market. Next stop is Passau, where passengers can choose from a walking tour of this fairytale city, a guided bike tour or a full-day excursion to Salzburg, and another opportunity to visit Christmas markets. From Germany's markets, it's on to Melk, Austria, where travelers can see the library that inspired Umberto  Eco's Name of the Rose. Vienna with its famed Maria Theresienplatz and Rathaus Christkindlmarkt are next on the itinerary. With an overnight in this striking city, passengers will have plenty of time for tours and exploration. The final stop is Budapest, with its twinkling Christmas market on the main square.

Sail the Rhine between Amsterdam and Zurich, with stops in Cologne, Rudesheim, Speyer, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Breisach, Basel, Lucerne and Zurich. Begin your holiday cruise with an overnight in Amsterdam and a scenic canal cruise through the "Venice of the North." After exploring the city's markets, set sail for Cologne, with ample time to explore one of Europe's best Christmas markets.

The following day, passengers will have the chance to see the stunning Rhine Gorge, home to dozens of castles and the Lorelei Rock. Once on Rudesheim, take in the markets and visit Siegfried’s Mechanical Instrument Museum and its collection of robotic and self-playing musical instruments.

Enjoy lunch the next day in Speyer, before visiting Heidelberg and the Haupstrasse, Germany's longest pedestrian shopping street. Strasbourg, home to France's oldest and best Christmas market, is the next stop on the itinerary. Breisbach is the last stop on the cruise proper and brings with it the chance to visit Riquewihr, a picturesque town that looks much as it did back in the Middle Ages. From there it's on to Basel and then Lucerne, home to another splendid market. With two nights in this picturesque city, there is plenty of time for shopping and exploration. The journey ends in Zurich with a visit to Europe’s largest indoor Christmas Market or the markets on Bahnhofstrasse and in the city center.

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