Vaillancourt Christmas Market Cruise (Elbe River)
Monday, November 29, 2021 — Thursday, December 9, 2021
Join Judi & Gary as they host a Christmas Market’s cruise & tour along Eastern Germany’s famed ELBE RIVER. You’ll visit Saxon Switzerland; Dresden; Meissen; Wittenberg and Potsdam with hotel overnights in Prague and Berlin. There are fabulous traditional Christmas Markets at each city. Note: The readers of Conde Nast TRAVELER Magazine – just voted Dresden the #2 small city in the world (Nov. 2019 Conde Nast TRAVELER). Standard accommodations start at $2,999. For more information, please call Alden at 508-721-2601.
*Update: As of November 1st, 2019, the ship is half booked. Please call for more details about how to book your space.
Depart your USA Gateway via overnight connecting flight to Prague.
Arrive today in Prague and enjoy the balance of the day at leisure in the Czech Republic’s bustling capital. The main sightseeing areas of Prague are separated by the Vltava River. On the left bank there is the Prague Castle area and Lesser Town. The right bank is home to the Old Town, the Jewish Quarter, and the New Town. Spanning the Vltava River and connecting the Old Town and Lesser Town is the beautiful Charles Bridge.
The largest and most popular markets are on the Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square. The Old Town Square Christmas market is the prettiest and busiest in Prague. Little stalls are nestled around the Jan Hus statue and surrounded by centuries-old Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. Visitors come from all over to experience the Christmas markets in Prague. Some unique products that are available at the markets are Christmas ornaments and holiday decorations, traditional Czech Christmas cookies, tablecloths, Frankincense or the Czech Christmas potpourri called purpura. Some other items on offer are Czech wooden toys, crafts, clothing accessories, scented candles or handmade soap. Czech Christmas carols add to the festive atmosphere. After dark, the markets are lit up beautifully.
Christmas in Prague is a magical time and December is undoubtedly one of the nicest months of the year in this beautiful city. Christmas markets are up, shop windows are bright and beautiful, Christmas trees adorn the town squares and the early dusk is filled with warm light. People are so friendly, and the mood is festive. All is covered in fresh, white snow, what more can you ask for? Prague at Christmas is a special place, so bundle up and take a stroll. If you get cold, have some hot chocolate at a café, stop by a tea room or buy a cup of mulled wine or grog from a street vendor. You will see the signs of Christmas approaching as early as October when Czech Christmas ornaments start appearing in shop windows. Around the end of November, Christmas markets open and a large Christmas tree is erected and lit on the Old Town Square.
This morning you’ll board the Viking ASTRILD and cruise north on the ELBE River through the magnificent, soaring rock formations of the Saxon Switzerland region, then dock at the spa town of Bad Schandau. From here we make our way to the famous rock tower known as the Bastei (bastion), formed by water a million years ago, to enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Elbe. Return on board for dinner and evening cruising.
After breakfast, disembark in Dresden, nicknamed “Florence on the Elbe.” Drive through the 19th-century residential area to the Dresden Castle complex; enter the Green Vault to see a comprehensive collection that houses what many claims is the world’s largest collection of treasures, including priceless jewels and emeralds. Continue, on foot to see Zwinger Palace, Semper Opera House and the Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Lady) with its distinctive bell-shaped dome that survived World War II bombings but collapsed the following day. Later, it was rebuilt. Alternatively, enjoy more of Dresden on one of our optional tours. Select a full-day excursion and visit Dresden’s baroque castles, sweeping wine estates and opulent palace, once home to royal and lavish banquets. Or, you can visit car manufacturing giant Volkswagen, and gain Working World insight during a tour of their state-of-the-art-facility. Dinner is served on board your ship; after, feel free to enjoy Dresden’s many charms and attractions as we remain docked until early morning.
Today, cruise the Elbe and arrive in Meissen just after lunchtime. Then stop in at the Meissenware factory, producer of fine porcelain since the early 1700s. Discover how this trademarked porcelain is created by hand, then tour the museum. Proceed to Castle Hill for a walking tour through Old Town. Return on board for dinner and an evening at leisure. Your ship remains docked overnight. During Advent, the historic Meissen market place with the late Gothic guildhall, the Renaissance town houses and the Church of our Lady composes an atmospheric backdrop for the romantic Christmas market. In festively decorated booths the merchants offer their Christmas goods. A blaze of lights, fir sprigs and Christmas scents create a unique flair that enchants more and more visitors every year. Whether Advent music in the Church of Our Lady, staging’s of fairy tales in the theatre or the Christmas exhibition in the municipal museum, you can reach everything within a few minutes’ walk from the Christmas market. During Christmas time, the magnificent guildhall building of Meissen turns into a gigantic Advent calendar that hides 24 Christmas surprises behind its large blue shutters. These are revealed when between the 1st and 24th December every day a window is opened.
This morning, follow in Martin Luther’s footsteps to view many of Wittenberg’s historic landmarks. Tour inside Luther’s House and St. Marien’s Church, where he preached. See the Castle Church where Luther posted his “95 Theses”; then enjoy free time. Wittenberg’s Christmas market has an inimitable setting on the market square, framed by impressive town houses and the church where Luther used to preach, which also has a winged altar by Lucas Cranach the Elder. The historical buildings, bathed in warm light, give out a glow. With the festive program, Advent here is still celebrated in full measure. Discover high quality and fantastic crafts in the city’s magnificent Cranach courtyards at the market of beautiful things and the Christmas market.
After breakfast, travel to Potsdam. Tour Sanssouci Palace, a perfect example of German rococo architecture, built by Prussian king Frederick the Great in the 18th century. Built as a summer retreat, it became his personal sanctuary and place to relax in the company of his beloved dogs. Wander through the rooms of the elegant palace and stroll through the magnificent gardens. You’ll continue to Germany’s capital – Berlin for the next two evenings.
After breakfast, enjoy a panoramic tour of the vibrant German capital, which has seen its fair share of dramatic changes in the last century. See the Reichstag with its spectacular glass dome, the historic Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and many other iconic sites. Enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure. There is no single Christmas market in Berlin – you can visit over 70 of them here. They range from indoor and covered to that outdoors; ones especially for children with rides and fun fairs, to markets with historical themes. We’re sure you’ll find your favourite market! Visit one of the many different Christmas markets in Berlin and enjoy a contemplative time with the whole family. In Berlin you will find nostalgic Christmas markets as well as modern ones with carousels and attractions. The largest is the Christmas market in the old town of Spandau. The historical Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market is very famous and one of the most beautiful, offering stands with glassblowers, winter delicacies and origami art during Advent. A small tent city with numerous exhibitors and stands as well as more than 1,000 fairy lights provides a cosy ambience. The nostalgic Christmas market at the Opernpalais has an impressive array of artisans from all over the world, amusement rides and traditional culinary delights such as roasted almonds. At the Domäne Dahlem Advent market, a former manor, you will find smiths, potters and musical instrument makers as well as a weaving mill. You will find Christmas markets in every district and neighbourhood of Berlin – be it Alexanderplatz, Charlottenburg, Spandau or many other places.
Journey home via flight.