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Best Christmas-themed river cruises for 2021

Author: Nicole Carmichael

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Christmas-themed cruises are a wonderful way to celebrate with friends and family – so book now to end 2021 on a festive high.

Let’s face it, Christmas 2020 was a bit of a turkey. With plans to celebrate with friends and family put on hold, what should have been the most wonderful time of year ended up about as exciting as a sprout sandwich.

But looking on the bright side, having a quiet one last year means we can really push the boat out in 2021. And what could be better than getting into the festive spirit on a European river cruise via those wonderfully traditional Christmas markets?

Whichever holiday you choose, you will be guaranteed to enjoy a tinsel-tinged cruise holiday you’ll remember forever.

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Mistletoe & Rhine

Saga has an exciting timetable of seasonal activities planned for its

‘Christmas and New Year on the Rhine’ cruise. Guests can look forward to a traditional festive dinner with all the trimmings, a spectacular firework display on New Year’s Eve – and naturally, there’s the chance to visit many of the most beautiful villages and towns along the Rhine and Moselle.

Get on board

Saga 14-night ‘Christmas and New Year on the Rhine’ cruise aboard Spirit of the Rhine, from Cologne to Dusseldorf via Strasbourg and Bonn, departing 20 December 2021, from £2,249 including coach travel from UK.

Christmas markets & winter wonderland

You can almost hear the sleigh bells of the Black Forest on this festive river cruise, which takes in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the German and Swiss Christmas markets. Highlights include Heidelberg’s winter wonderland, a trip to the Christmas Museum in Wurzburg, and Christkindlmarkt culinary delights in Bavaria.

Get on board

Avalon Waterways 9-night ‘Christmastime from Nuremberg to Basel’ cruise aboard Tranquility II, via Frankfurt and Speyer, departing 9 December 2021, from £3,779

The city of Avignon comes alive with carols, parades and folk dancing. Credit: Shutterstock

Parades & Folk Dances on the Rhone

Christmas in Provence is full of traditional celebrations, and the city of Avignon comes alive with carols, parades and folk dancing. Artisan markets are filled with delicious seasonal specialities, and aboard this celebratory cruise, you’ll also get to try a traditional Provençal Christmas dinner, including the region’s famous Thirteen Desserts.

Get on board

Emerald Cruises 4-night ‘Christmas in Southern France’ cruise aboard Emerald Liberté, round trip from Marseille via Avignon and Arles, departing 1 December 2021, from £1,395 including flights

A very English Christmas

Fancy getting into the Christmas spirit nearer home? Then you’ll love this fun two-night cruise aboard English Holiday Cruises’ Edward Elgar. Departing from Gloucester’s historic docks for a weekend, you’ll enjoy a Christmas jumper party, quiz, banquet, mulled wine and all the yuletide favourites.

You’ll cruise along the Severn Vale and the Gloucester & Sharpness canal with time to buy a few Christmas gifts at the famous Victorian Christmas Market in Gloucester.

Get on board

English Holiday Cruises 2-night ‘Christmas Weekender’ aboard Edward Elgar, round trip from Gloucester, departing 26 November 2021, from £375