Viking River Cruises offers Christmas-related activities during these late-season sailings. // © 2015 Viking
Feature image (above): Nuremberg is one stop on Tauck’s Christmas Market Germany itinerary. // © 2015 Tauck
From late November until Christmas Eve, Europe hosts Christmas Market celebrations full of music, shopping and rich food. Cities and towns sparkle in the snow under the lights of these festive street markets, and river cruises are an exceptional way to experience them.
Here are the top 10 reasons for travel agents to sell Christmas Market sailings and get clients in the spirit.
Charming River Ports
The markets animate some of the most charming river ports in Europe, and some ports hold more than one market. Explore Germany’s fairytale beauty and half-timbered houses in Wurzburg, or discover fascinating Strasbourg, France, voted the best European Christmas Market for the second year in a row by European Best Destinations.
Other wonderful ports include Vienna; Cologne, Rudesheim and Dresden, Germany; Avignon, Bordeaux, Rouen and Paris, France; and Budapest, Hungary.
Delicious Local and Seasonal Fare
The food alone would be worth a Christmas Market cruise. All sorts of goodies are available, such as kugelhopf, bundt cake stuffed with fruit, nuts and liquor and topped with sugar; spicy bratwurst, weisswurst or feuerwurst from the grill; lebkuchen, a gingerbread-like cookie; marzipan, an almond confection used for cookies and cakes, as well as to make tiny, edible molds of fruits, vegetables and animals; langos, a fried Hungarian pastry; sweet or salty potato pancakes; whipped cream coated with crunchy chocolate; and much more.
Diverse Client Potential
Besides their general appeal, Christmas Market cruises sell well to mother-daughter groups, singles and couples, and there is practically untapped potential for church groups.
Airfare is considerably lower, and cruise fares are usually reduced, as well.
Infectious Holiday Spirit
There’s nothing like the color and lights of Christmas Markets. They represent holiday spirit at its best, with music streaming from the churches and plazas and the scent of spices in the air.
Less-Crowded Cultural Immersion
The hordes of tourists are often gone during the winter. It will be easier for travelers to meet locals during their celebrations of the season, which include music, puppetry, crafts and children’s entertainment, and learn about centuries-old traditions.
Repeat Sales and Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Many people who sail on Christmas Market cruises once will take them again, and those travelers make wonderful ambassadors to others, too. Selling a Christmas Market river cruise to a client may just get you a repeat client for life — and new ones as well.
Thoughtful Gift Shopping
Charming handmade crafts, ornaments and toys fill Christmas Markets with light and color, and sending or bringing a share of it home is one of the joys of travel. Clothing, clocks, dishes, carvings, sweets and much more all make for fabulous holiday gifts.
Warm and Festive Drinks
From Rudesheimer Kaffee, an alcoholic coffee drink with flambeed Asbach Uralt brandy, coffee, sugar and whipped cream, to gluhwein, a spicy and fruity mulled wine, drinks at Christmas Markets offer holiday cheer and a toasty way to keep warm.
Wide Variety to Choose From
There are varied lengths of Christmas Market cruises, from two days on CroisiEurope to weeklong cruises on most lines marketing to the North American consumer. These sailings usually visit destinations such as Germany, Austria, France, Hungary, Belgium and Switzerland.