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Christmas River Cruises: Why Winter is the Hottest Season to Set Sail

By Margaret Manning January 11, 2016 Travel

“Why on Earth would anyone want to take a Christmas river cruise?” That was the question that one of my friends asked me when I mentioned that I would be joining Viking on their Rhine Getaway.

On the surface, her question makes a lot of sense. After all, isn’t everything better when the sun is shining? If you are going to spend a considerable amount of money on a luxury river cruise, shouldn’t you wait until the summer to set sail? After spending 8 days aboard the Viking Hlin, I can say that the answer to both questions is definitely “no!”

As I write this article, I am sitting in my cozy little cabin, watching the castles of the Middle Rhine Valley drift by. Outside, winter is taking hold on the German countryside and it feels like it might snow at any minute. Here’s a short video from my trip.

Despite the weather, I have never felt warmer. In fact, I have come to the conclusion that winter is actually the hottest time of the year to take a river cruise with Viking.

You may not feel the warmth in the air, but, you certainly feel the energy of the people around you more intensely. There is a buzz in every city that you visit as the locals prepare for Christmas. Even the hot chocolate tastes better. Really, it does!

Here are 3 reasons that winter really is the hottest season to take a river cruise.

You Feel a Special Warmth from the Other Passengers

There is something so special about the period leading up to Christmas and New Year’s. It is a time for sharing our generosity with others. The holiday period is also a time for self-reflection.

From the second that I stepped onto the Viking Hlin, I could sense something different in the air. Everyone took the time to introduce themselves. As I walked through the ship, I passed couples and families laughing and sharing stories. Their holiday cheer was a wonderful contrast to the silent rain outside the window.

Over the next 8 days, I had the opportunity to talk with dozens of passengers and I can tell you that every single one of them really wanted to be there. They had chosen a winter cruise for a reason. As a result, they were more willing to reach out to others and share their stories.

The Christmas Markets in Europe and Seasonal Activities Are Spectacular

Viking Cruise Saint Nikolas and Margaret SelfieNothing can prepare you for the scale of the Christmas markets in Europe. In some cities, like Cologne, in Germany, you could spend the entire day experiencing the festivities. The markets offer more than an opportunity to drink hot spiced wine – they provide a view into the local culture that you could not experience during any other time of the year.

Back on the ship, the seasonal activities were no less inviting. There was something so magical about the Christmas tree decorating party that the crew organized for us. As each of us wrote our special holiday wishes on a Christmas tree ornament, I couldn’t help but think about how lucky I was to be there. It was a magical moment and I saw more than a few teary eyes in the audience.

December Cruises Can Offer an Amazing Value

While not universally the case, winter cruises tend to be less expensive than summer cruises. The ships are just as spectacular and the locations that you visit are just as intriguing. So, if you are willing to accept some clouds, Christmas river cruises can actually be an amazing value.

When it comes to river cruising, every season has its charms. As I discovered on my trip with Viking Cruises, winter can be a fabulous time to take a cruise. The warmth of the passengers and crew more than makes up for the chill in the air. The seasonal activities add a special flare that the summer can’t match. You may even be able to save a little money. And, who doesn’t want to have a little bit left over to spend on spiced wine and Christmas cookies?

Would you ever take a winter cruise? Why or why not? What is the most amazing trip that you have ever taken? Let’s get a conversation started!

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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