Here is a Weihnachtsmarkt in Jena, Germany, as another example. Flickr:Rene Schwietzke

Brightly lit Christmas ornaments abound at the Weihnachtsmarkts in Germany. Flickr:frankieleon

Merlijn’s Magical Christmas Cruise in Germany

Germany Cruises

Christmas Markets in Germany the old world way

  • Your bikes are put away for the winter and the holidays approach. You are not ready to hibernate just yet! May we suggest a Christmas Market Cruise?

    Expect magical!
    Welcome to your small boat experience as you celebrate Christmas the old world way and cruise the traditional Christmas markets in Germany. This is where it all began. The history of the markets goes back to the late middle ages. The Christmas markets of Bautzen, Germany were first held in 1384! These early markets started by only selling meat but evolved to provide other everyday purchases, and eventually seasonal treats, decorations, and crafts – accompanied by singing and dancing.

    Expect mystical!
    This is a wonderful time of year to visit Germany. As the cold, dark days of winter take hold, and sun-drenched summer travel and active adventures are just a memory, all of Germany begins to sparkle as the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas markets) set up and take over. It is like stepping into a childhood fantasy.

    Expect festive!
    Everyone participates and the towns and cities take on a fairy-tale-like glow and twinkle.

    Expect enchantment!
    There's nothing in the world quite like the holiday season in Germany. Half-timbered houses all decked out for the holidays, stately cathedrals iced with snow, the old market squares twinkling in the winter evenings...not to mention the pastries such as spicy gingerbread cookies accompanied by mulled wine.


    • Small and cozy boat atmosphere (unlike the traditional Christmas cruises on very large river cruisers)
    • Focus on smaller, less crowded markets, away from the throngs
    • All the magic of the marketplaces: nativities, carved nutcrackers, arts, and crafts
    • Food! Gebrannte Mandeln (candied, toasted almonds), traditional Christmas cookies such as Lebkuchen and Magenbrot (both forms of soft gingerbread), and Bratwurst
    • Hot mulled wine! or Glühwein, (with or without a shot of brandy), or Eierpunsch (an egg-based warm alcoholic drink)
  • 2019

    Twin/double: $ 1317 £ 694 $ 1,195 795 $ 1382 kr 8572 $ 898


    Twin/double: $ 1483 £ 781 $ 1,345 895 $ 1556 kr 9650 $ 1,011  

    please note

    Rates are per person based on double occupancy.

    Information to read before you book.

    We recommend purchasing bike trip insurance.

    Please see our FAQ.

  • Travel

    Please do not make any air travel arrangements until you have been officially confirmed. Official confirmation will be based on the minimum number of participants being reached. We can provisionally confirm you and will update your status accordingly. The closest international airport to your tour start in Düsseldorf and tour end in Münster is Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS).

    Local Travel

    Düsseldorf International Airport (DUS) is located 7 km north from downtown Düsseldorf. The airport is well connected by public transportation. Within the airport, you will find two train stations.
    More than 350 trains, from the S-Bahn to the ICE, arrive and depart daily from the Düsseldorf Flughafen station located at the eastern end of the airport, connected to the terminals by SkyTrain. In addition, Düsseldorf Airport has an S-Bahn station, known as the Düsseldorf Airport Terminal. This is below Terminal C and can be reached from the arrivals area via a moving walkway. To research train travel from the airport to the center of Düsseldorf and from Münster back to the airport, the German site is a good resource.


    By December, temperatures in Germany officially begin to look like winter. Average lows in the country dip to -3 º C (27 º F) with average highs barely peeking into the pluses at 5ºC (41° F). Plan on layering!


    This tour is a self-guided tour. Your onboard crew will be well prepared to assist you with your Christmas Market itinerary.


    Before you travel, please check your country's passport and visa requirements and the passport and visa requirements of the country/countries you plan to visit. For US citizens, the US Department of State website is a good source of information. The Country Information tab in the International Travel section provides details about passport validity, blank passport pages required, etc. For our other international clients, please be sure that you research your own country's travel requirements. It is each traveler's responsibility to ensure proper documentation.

    *Important note: Beginning July 1, 2021, additional documentation from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) will be required to visit any of the 26 Schengen-member countries for tourism, business, medical, or transit. This is an additional check on security rather than a visa.

    Life on Board

    In the mornings, the boat will begin to navigate during breakfast between 8 - 9 am.
    Lunch will be served around 1 to 2 pm.
    Dinner will take place generally at 6 or 6:30 pm

    The Christmas markets are open until 10 pm.


Tour Dates

Düsseldorf to Münster: December 3, 2019


Düsseldorf - Münster: December 2 and December 10, 2020
Münster - Düsseldorf: December 6 and December 14, 2020

Please note that a minimum number of 14 is required to confirm a departure. Once you reserve, if the minimum has not been met, we will provisionally confirm you and keep you fully informed of the status of the departure.


Where You’ll Stay

On board the deluxe vessel, the Merlijn. The Merlijn is always dressed up in her finest but imagine this beauty decked out for the holiday. Nobody will come away feeling anything less than festive!

What’s Included

  • 4 nights accommodations on board in a double/twin room with private bathroom
  • Daily cabin cleaning service
  • Welcome drink
  • 4 breakfast buffets, 3 two-course lunches, and 3 three-course dinners
  • Excursion to Landschaftspark

What’s Not Included

  • 1 dinner
  • All beverages
  • Entrance fees, excursions other than mentioned as ‘inclusive’
  • 2 city excursions with local guide (approx. €15 per person)
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance

Extra Stay

Since this is a mini-cruise of 5 days, we recommend that you explore extending your Christmas Market experience!

TourEuropean Cruises
TypeSelf Guided
Length5 days
From795 Rates
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Day-To-Day Itinerary

Merlijn’s Magical Christmas Cruise in Germany Map

Day 1: Düsseldorf
Day 2: Düsseldorf – Oberhausen
Day 3: Oberhausen – Dortmund
Day 4: Dortmund – Münster
Day 5. Münster

 The itinerary is subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances such as inclement weather, lock repairs, and mooring requirements.

Day 1: Düsseldorf
You will be welcomed on board starting at 3 pm. The crew will assist you with check-in. Around 5 pm your captain and host will offer you a welcome drink, introduce the crew, and educate you regarding the ship, your home for the next few days, and safety. In the evening, after dinner, you can stroll to several Christmas markets in ‘der Altstadt’. Well known is the market on the ‘Engelchen-markt’ (angels market) or ‘Heinrich-Heine-platz’. To warm yourself up, you can drink a traditional ‘gluhwein’ (hot wine) or visit the longest bar in the world! Overnight in Düsseldorf.

Day 2:  Düsseldorf – Oberhausen
Before breakfast, you can enjoy a morning walk over the boulevard, along the Rhine. The Merlijn will depart during breakfast and sail the mighty river downstream towards Duisburg where you will enter the German channel, the ‘Rhein-Herne-kanal’. As the ship navigates, you can relax in the lounge, fully decked out for the holidays. After your first lunch on board, you will arrive in Oberhausen. Here your included excursion to the industrial ‘Landschaftspark” will start, which is a nice variation to all the Christmas things! After the last coal mine was closed in 1985, the steel factories were closed and mostly dismantled. Nowadays this area is an acknowledged UNESCO world heritage site. The park was designed in 1991 by Peter Latz, who wanted to emphasize understanding the industrial past, rather than trying to reject it. You will enjoy a 2 hour guided tour through an old steel factory, where you will follow the way of Iron ore until steel. You will also have the opportunity to visit the Christmas market in the town center.

Day 3: Oberhausen – Dortmund
Today starts with a sailing breakfast which is always a very relaxing way to begin your day.  You will enjoy a lunch prepared by the chef on board and by the afternoon, you will arrive in Dortmund. A local guide will be waiting for the group to show you around this beautiful old city. During this excursion, you can already look for your favorite restaurant, because this evening you can taste the local cuisine while eating out. Or perhaps you prefer to sample all the local delicacies while you visit one of the largest Christmas markets in Germany?

Day 4: Dortmund – Münster
Enjoy your warm morning coffee on the sunny aft lounge-seats or on the spacious front terrace while cruising, don’t forget to wear your winter jacket it might be cold! After breakfast, you spend
your last morning onboard. The captain steers the ship through the ‘Dortmund-Eems-kanal’. Along this channel, we will see more nature and some architectural highlights from hydraulic engineering. The ship will arrive in Münster after lunch where a local guide is waiting to walk you through the city. This is a tour that you don’t want to miss!
The captain's dinner is held this evening. This is an old tradition on ships where the captain would share the best products that he had with everybody on board. After dinner, there is plenty of time to stroll through the large but cozy Christmas market and buy your last souvenirs.

Day 5. Münster
After a delicious breakfast, your tour officially comes to an end. We hope that you have planned onward travel in Germany (perhaps Berlin for the Christmas market there or elsewhere in Europe as 5 days might not be enough!

Email or Call 800-951-4384 +1 570-965-2064

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    Merlijn’s Magical Christmas Cruise in Germany Boats + Barges

    Merlijn Photo

    Merlijn Germany, Netherlands Deluxe Class Boat "The Divine Miss M" as we lovingly call the Merlijn is a diva, for sure. What can we say? Is it the luxurious cabins with most comfortable beds you have ever slept in? Is it the lovely dining area with the large windows and skylight that let the air, light, and sun pour in? Or perhaps it is the sun deck, where you can relax with newfound friends, sharing good wine and good conversation. We think you will find it is the entire divine package! Step onboard and discover for yourself!