Christmas is especially magical in Europe with its historic Christmas markets, snow and traditions. Emily, from our Customer Sales team, recently experienced an Avalon Waterways Christmastime from Vienna to Budapest in late November last year.  

Schonbrunn Palace
Emily at the Schönbrunn Palace Christmas market

This was my first time experiencing an Avalon Waterways river cruise and my first time travelling to this part of the world. I was super excited! Here are four of my favourite things from my Christmas river cruise. 

1. The festive theme 

I travelled on the Avalon Visionary and the ‘wow’ factor surpassed my expectations. When I first walked onboard, reality hit me with the welcoming atmosphere of this festive cruise. The captain and senior members of his crew were there to greet guests, with Christmas decorations galore. I loved seeing the Panorama Lounge decked out with a Christmas tree and ornaments. It really set the tone for the rest of my trip.  

2. Onboard 

Panorama Suite

When I walked into my Panorama Suite, it was so lovely and cosy. The attention to detail was second to none, right down to having glass bottles of water that are refilled daily. One of my favourite things (which might sound boring) was the laundry service. With reasonable prices, I always felt like a VIP coming back to clean, fresh clothing. I also really appreciated the housekeeping service with small touches like turn down service an added bonus. 

One of my favourite common areas of the ship was the Club Lounge. I often went first thing in the morning to enjoy the 24-hour self-serve beverage station, watch the scenery in a cosy setting and to use the eco-friendly water station.  

3. Excursions 

Classical music concert

My favourite included excursion was the guided city walk in Vienna, Austria. Vienna is a lovely historic city rich in colossal architectural ensembles, its Hofburg Imperial Palace, and delicious mulled wine served in the cutest mug at a Christmas market. I also decided to do two Optional Excursions whilst in Vienna – exploring Schönbrunn Palace and a classical music concert. I thoroughly enjoyed the music concert. Talented musicians and dancers entertained us for the night, playing classics like the Blue Danube Waltz. Everyone who attended agreed that it was an engaging show and shouldn’t be missed on your itinerary! 

4. Dining 


The dining experience was superb. I really enjoyed the daily options available at the buffet breakfast and the four-course à la carte dinners in the Panorama Dining Room. Even though our river cruise was just five nights, you easily build a fantastic rapport with the dining room staff who quickly come to know exactly what you prefer to drink at each meal.  

I would highly recommend a Christmas river cruise. It’s such a special time of year in Europe, and you’ll enjoy the experience of all the Christmas markets and included and optional excursions. Check out Avalon Waterways’ full range of Christmas time cruises here.  

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