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AllThingsCruise  Answers The Two Most Frequently Asked Questions About River Cruising

What are the Christmas Markets and are Shore Excursions Included?

DETROIT (Aug. 16, 2012) – With consumer interest in river cruises on the rise, the experts at AllThingsCruise answer the two most popular questions posed by the site’s readers:

1. What and when are the Christmas markets?

The history of Christmas markets goes back to the late middle ages in the German-speaking parts of Europe. The Vienna “December Market” was a forerunner of the Christmas market and dates back to 1294.

In many of the charming towns and villages in Germany and Austria, Advent is usually ushered in with the opening of the Christmas markets. Medieval in appearance, they are held in the town square and sell food, drink and lovely handmade gifts from open-air stalls. There is usually a generous amount of singing and dancing. Wikipedia has the best description and list of the Christmas markets we have found.

The Christmas market sailings on river cruise lines generally begin in mid-November and continue through the end of the year. These sailings are typically held on the Main, Rhine, Danube and Seine rivers. They are perfect for those wanting to experience the quintessential magic of the holidays while shopping for one-of-a-kind treasures.

2. Are shore excursions included on all river cruises?

All river cruise lines include basic shore excursions in every port. Often, additional shore excursions for afternoon and evening adventures are sold separately (this varies from company to company and from itinerary to itinerary.) Personal audio systems are also included … each passenger wears a small receiver and earpiece and thus can hear all commentary by the guides.

Here are further details on what some of the lines offer:

Avalon Waterways offers a choice of a few included excursions each day in each port. Some currently included excursions include visits to the landing beaches of Normandy, wine tastings in the French village of Beaune or a stop at the spectacular Keukenhof Gardens — a must-see for tulip lovers in the spring.

In 2013, Avalon will be introducing a program called Avalon Choice, allowing guests to personalize every aspect of their voyage, including on-land discoveries. They will be able to choose from four types of tours ashore: Essential Sightseeing, Traditional Sightseeing, Leisure Sightseeing and Alternative Sightseeing (which is focused on a special interest).

AmaWaterways: For its included tours, AMA offers a “Gentle Walkers” group for those with limited mobility or those who’d like to explore at a more leisurely pace, an “Active Walkers” group for those interested in covering more ground, and a “Late Starter” group for those who prefer to sleep in. (Many other river cruise lines also offer the “Gentle Walker” option.)

The company also recently launched a “Culinary Delights – Bites & Sights” shore excursion on all European itineraries. On these included tours, smaller groups explore the culinary side of a city, visiting cooking schools, distilleries, local markets, specialty shops, chocolatiers and charcuteries.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection’s complimentary shore excursions are led by experienced English-speaking local guides most who are known by the Cruise Manager and often are preceded by local speakers. There are also several personal experiences included. For example, in Croatia all passengers enjoy a home-hosted lunch, a great way to interact with the local people.

Reservations for Uniworld’s optional excursions (which require an added fee) can be made directly with the Cruise Manager, and these charges are simply added to your onboard account.

These often offer very specific experiences, such as a day at a Hungarian cooking school.

Viking River Cruises has the most river ships sailing to the most places and with the greatest variety of shore excursions.

While Viking offers all the standard included tours, it, too, has offerings for those who want to dig a little deeper. Viking’s Culture CurriculumSM spans all manner of engaging activities that bring history and culture to life, and life to every experience. Viking also offers concierges who will make restaurant reservations, book theater tickets or spa services and arrange private guides.

Scenic Tours
has a series of different shore excursions, all included in cruise pricing. Their “FreeChoice” excursions include unique offerings such as Bucharest’s Bran Castle. Guests journey by coach to the rumored home of Count Dracula, where they enjoy an “active-paced” guided tour of the ancient castle before returning to Bucharest.

Beginning in 2013 Scenic will also offers “TailorMade” excursion option, which features a series of self-guided tour enhanced by GPS-activated directions and commentary. (Once aboard the ship, a free Scenic Tailor-made app can be downloaded to your Apple IPhone or IPad, or you can choose to take one of the line’s pre-loaded devices.) Lastly, the line offers “Scenic Enrich,” which offers a true immersion in a region’s culture, as evidenced by excursions such as one in Vukovar, Croatia: passengers can enjoy a home-made lunch as a guest in a Croatian family’s home and learn about every-day life there.

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About AllThingsCruise:

AllThingsCruise is a website for cruise enthusiasts, dedicated to the joy of cruise travel and planning the best cruise vacations ever. Its wealth of information includes valuable cruise travel tools – from cruise reviews and feedback, to helpful videos and information for choosing the right ship, to preparing for and enjoying a memorable cruise vacation. A valuable unique feature of AllThingsCruise is a complimentary e-card with vital cruise line and cruise ship contact information travelers can send to family members and others prior to departure. For more information, please visit

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Media Contact:

Renee Goyeneche

Shane and Shane, Inc.



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