In exactly 8 weeks from today, I’ll be on my way to ticking the Christmas Markets in Germany off my life bucket list. From San Diego, I connect in Dallas and then board a direct flight to Frankfurt where I’ll be ushered onto Uniworld’s River Queen ship for a 7-night Classic Christmas Markets cruise down the Main River, stopping in different cities with markets along the way.

I’m starting to understand why boutique river cruising is such a hot trend. It’s one of the easiest ways to tour multiple cities in a short amount of time. And, if your vision of a river ship includes a no-frills experience, this isn’t the case. Uniworld’s ships provide 5-star luxury.

Note: This Uniworld Christmas market cruise review is from 2014 but many clients and readers have taken the same itinerary since then. Most of the information in this series still applies, however, given current world circumstances you can expect enhanced health and safety measures when river cruises resume.

Uniworld River Queen ship's luxury bar area

People who have cruised with Uniworld rave about the food, tours, and other ship amenities consistently.

Uniworld’s Classic Christmas Markets Cruise

Uniworld Christmas Markets River Cruise in Germany

The river cruise starts in Frankfurt and sails along the Main River to Nuremberg. We’ll explore the places where many of our modern-day Christmas traditions began, including the famous Christmas markets in Germany which date back 500 years. Here is the itinerary with abbreviated summaries:

Day 1:
Frankfurt (embark)

Board the ship and enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Dinner.

Day 2:
Frankfurt Choice Is Yours
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Frankfurt walking tour with Christmas Market or exclusive “Taste of Christmas” walking tour

Roam the historic Romer Square and the Frankfurt Christmas Market or explore the spectacular 10-story Zeil shopping mall and the Kleinmarkthalle with a local guide, who introduces guests to the delectable tastes of the season.

Day 3:
Cruising the Main River, Wertheim
FEATURED EXCURSION: Wertheim walking tour

Join a local guide for a walk through the town of Wertheim, to look across the Main River to Bavaria before continuing to the Pointed Tower. Stop in at the historic Wertheim Market Square, which is lined with half-timbered buildings and shops selling artisanal glass and Franconian wines in round bottles.

Day 4:
Wurzburg UNESCO
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Wurzburg Residenz with Christmas Market, and exclusive Franconian village visit

We’ll explore the opulent Wurzburg Residenz, an extraordinary 300-room Baroque palace and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore the town’s 200-year-old Wurzburg Christmas Market for one-of-a-kind presents and souvenirs. Later in the day, we’ll share some homemade seasonal treats with a family in an idyllic German village.

Day 5:
Kitzingen (Rothenburg), Schweinfurt Motorcoach
FEATURED EXCURSION: Full day Rothenburg with walking tour and Christmas Market

We’ll travel along parts of the “Romantic Road” to Germany’s best-preserved walled city, Rothenburg, truly a fairytale gem, with its Medieval stone walls still enclosing the old city. Here, we’ll shop Germany’s oldest and most celebrated Christmas Markets, the Rothenburg Reiterlesmarkt. Other stops include Kathe Wohlfahrt’s original Christmas shop and a delightful museum that displays toys made as far back as the 17th century.

Day 6:
Bamberg UNESCO
FEATURED EXCURSION: Bamberg Nativity Walk with Christmas Market

Sights include the scenic Bamberg Cathedral and New Residence along with parts of Bamberg’s famous Krippenweg (Nativity Walk), which links 40 churches, museums, and public spaces displaying Nativity and New Testament scenes. Some of the figures in these scenes were carved hundreds of years ago. We’ll explore the treasures waiting in the Bamberg Christmas Market, which is actually four markets: the traditional market on Maxplatz, another featuring Medieval cultural programs in the courtyard of Geyersworth Palace, and two focused on local arts and crafts.

Day 7:
FEATURED EXCURSION: Nuremberg city tour with Christmas Market

This guided excursion features visit Kaiserburg, the castle that rises high above the city and that housed every emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and shopping for one-of-a-kind gifts at the festive Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt, the largest and oldest Christmas Market in Germany. They say that the best way to experience this market’s 200 wooden stalls is with a warm cup of sweet-and-spicy gluhwein in hand to keep you nice and toasty along with authentic Nuremberg gingerbread and bratwurst. In the evening, there will be a Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner.

Day 8:
Nuremberg (disembark)
Disembark the ship and transfer to Nuremberg Airport for your flight home. Guests have the option to extend their stay in Prague.

Due to a route cancellation, my flight routing became a little crazy so I fly Nuremberg-Dusseldorf-London-Dallas-San Diego. A normal routing would have you depart Nuremberg, connecting at one other major European airport to London and back to San Diego. Two connections is normal and well worth it.

Uniworld River Queen Accommodations

Uniworld River Queen cabins

My category 1 room may look something like this. Or, this…

Uniworld Germany Christmas Markets cabin

And, when I’m not out filling the extra suitcase I’m surely going to need to bring, I might be having a cocktail in the lounge. The ship has free WiFi, too.

Uniworld River Queen lounge

Award-Winning Cuisine

Uniworld won the Readers’ Choice Award for best “Culinary Cruise Line” in the 2014 SAVEUR Culinary Travel Awards. Apparently, the chefs get off the boat at different ports of call in search of inspiration and local ingredients. And, your meals onboard the ship are included in the price.

“We take great pride in giving our guests a scenic tasting menu of Europe, and it’s wonderful to be recognized for this by SAVEUR readers. We are extremely honored,” said Guy Young, President of Uniworld. “All of our European itineraries include opportunities to explore centuries-old culinary traditions, including hands-on cooking experiences and private wine tastings. And, of course, fantastic food and wine onboard.”

In addition to Christmas Markets in Germany, Uniworld offers luxury boutique river cruises all over the world. Check them out.

I’m can’t wait. Have you been to any of these Christmas Markets in Germany?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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