As Crystal Mozart sails her maiden voyage this week, we’re already dreaming about the stunning ship’s holiday river cruises. We feel like starry-eyed children just itching to unwrap the best present of all.
Crystal Mozart will embark on its “Christmas and New Year’s Eve Along the Danube” voyage on December 22, affording the chance to relish a magical holiday that erases the mad rush of the season, yet retains the best of any holiday gathering enjoyed with friends and loved ones. The voyage promises to be much more than a holiday river cruise – it’s a very special Christmas holiday spent with Crystal River Cruises, your home away from home. Christmas and Hanukkah (Dec. 24, 2016 – Jan. 1, 2017) will be observed with traditional feasts, parties, holiday shows, and religious services amidst Crystal’s lavish seasonal décor. On New Year’s Eve, guests can celebrate with a multi-course black-tie-optional dinner, champagne, live music and a festive balloon drop.
You’ll travel along one of Europe’s original passages on the holiday river cruises, embracing seasonal traditions of wonderful cities and charming villages in four enchanting European countries where many of the Christmas traditions we know so well had their beginnings. Twinkling lights, festive music and merchants of all things festive will bring this literal winter wonderland to life as you wander, seemingly through time.
Vienna sets the perfect scene as the beginning and end of the 13-day River Danube voyage. “Frohe Weinachten” is the illuminated greeting strung up at Rathauspark in front of Vienna’s stunning City Hall, where the quintessential Christmas market is a seasonal favorite. Handmade crafts, candles, cookies and other treats dot 140 decorated outdoor stalls, while a brass ensemble performs next to the massive decorated tree and strolling choirs sing carols to passersby. *Inclusive Crystal Adventures offer complimentary transport to the Christmas markets near City Hall and Schӧnbrunn Palace.
Look for special exhibits in the Viennese Christmas Market serving “Christkindlmarkt Punsch,” an annual holiday blend created from a secret recipe of red wine, oranges, spices, rum and raspberry brandy, and handed down through generations.
You’ll journey through Austria’s outstanding Wachau Valley, where romantic castles dominate ancient towns set between the riverine vineyards, apricot orchards and the mountains. Take in sweeping Danube views and navigate through the small streets, a swirl of red roof tiles and pastel colored shop fronts.
In Passau, it’s love at first sight with Christmas Eve in Bavaria. Just a short walk from the dock, the Old Town center benefits from the imposing backdrop of beautiful baroque-era St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where Advent concerts are played on the world’s largest cathedral pipe organ. *An inclusive Crystal Adventure takes guests to the Chapel of the Silent Night in the community of Oberndorf for a presentation of the classic Christmas carol; also will provide transportation to various Christmas Eve services.
Linz has given its name to a fabled torte of 17th century origins made of jam, cloves, cinnamon and almonds, as well as to a symphony. In late 1783, a 27-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed “Linz Symphony” No. 36 during a stopover here. Its four movements were written, composed, copied, rehearsed, and premiered at the local theatre in just five days at “breakneck speed,” as Mozart wrote to his father. Named in his honor, the 16th century Mozarthaus can be seen at Altstadt 17. *An inclusive Crystal Adventure offers a full day of guided exploration of the city and its iconic sites.
In Budapest, the royal capital spanning the Danube with its celebrated Chain Bridge, just follow the aroma of mulled wine and cinnamon to Vörösmarty Square, where Winter Festival food stalls are open Dec. 30 through Epiphany on Jan. 6. Not to be missed is the famous Café Gerbeaud, one of Europe’s grandest dining rooms, where friends and families gather under high ceilings and chandeliers. You’ll be tempted by combining the experience with classic Hungarian Goulash Soup or a slice of authentic apple strudel. *Inclusive Crystal Adventures in the morning and afternoon guide guests through the highlights of the city, then to Dohány Synagogue and the local Jewish District for more historical insights.
As part of the Crystal family, we invite you and your friends and family to join us for the holidays. Or perhaps Crystal Mozart’s holiday river cruises will make the perfect gift for someone special this year?