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Popularity of Christmas market river cruises leads to 167 per cent increase in 2018 sailings

January 8, 2018 River Cruising No Comments Email Email

A huge demand for Christmas market cruises in 2017 has prompted European river cruise line, Riviera Travel, to expand its yuletide cruise offering in 2018 by 167 per cent and add a new and longer festive season cruise in eastern Europe.

As one of Europe’s major river cruise operators, Riviera Travel increased the number of its first-ever Christmas market cruises in December, 2017, from six to nine to meet burgeoning demand but will offer a total of 16 sailings across four of its five-star river ships in December, 2018.

In addition to 12 four-night festive journeys on the Rhine from Cologne, Riviera Travel will debut a new five-night yuletide markets cruise on the Danube River from Budapest, with four round-trip departures planned from December 1, 2018. The short cruises make an ideal add-on to a European itinerary for Australians in winter.

The new ‘Danube Imperial Cities and Yuletide Markets’ cruise will showcase panoramic winter scenery along the famous, forest-fringed Danube, the majesty of Budapest and its awe-inspiring skyline, the pastel hues and enchantment of Bratislava, and the imperial palaces and baroque streetscapes of Vienna.  In between included, guided tours at each destination, passengers can explore the storybook Christmas markets of each town with their twinkling lights, colourful decorations, baked gingerbread, hot mulled wine, handcrafted nutcrackers and alluring gifts to buy loved ones.

Meanwhile, Riviera Travel’s four-night, round-trip ‘Enchanting Rhine and Yuletide Markets’ cruise from Cologne takes in the popular Christmas markets of Rudesheim, Frankfurt, Koblenz and Cologne, with 12 sailings from December 1, 2018.

Riviera Travel’s fleet of spacious, five-star ships feature fine dining restaurants, marble lobbies, sumptuous lounges, sun decks, splash pools, gyms and cabins boasting French or full balconies.

Riviera Travel’s Sales Manager for Australia, Shelley Davey, said the company had been quick to react to surging interest in Christmas cruises and predicted they would also prove popular with Australians. “A traditional, European winter Christmas is on the must-do list for many Australians so our expanded range of affordable, yuletide sailings in 2018 will help makes these dreams come true,” Ms Davey said. “It’s difficult to get a luxury hotel in these places for the same price as our five-star cruises in December but the cruise fare also includes fine dining and excursions so it’s an ideal way to enjoy a European Christmas.”

The UK-based company launched in Australia in mid-2016 and has seen a sharp rise in local bookings through retail travel agents via wholesalers Cruiseco and Cruise Traveller. Riviera Travel offers fares up to 50 per cent lower than those from other river companies. The line also offers a selection of supplement-free cabins on each cruise for solo travellers and does not automatically include gratuities in fares, allowing guests to tip as they like.  Riviera also has a no-discounting policy which saves guests from discovering fellow passengers have paid less than them for the same cabin. During 2018, Riviera Travel will offer 12 different itineraries on 11 luxurious, 167-guest, all suite ships, providing over 300 cruises on European rivers and waterways.

Including daily shore excursions, the four-night Christmas market cruises from Cologne are available from $849 per person and the new, five-night yuletide cruises from Budapest are priced from $939 per person. Both itineraries will be available from December 1-18, 2018. Fares are per person, twin-share or solo, subject to availability.

Bookings are available via Australian travel agents. Visit

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