Classic Christmas Markets 2017

Day 1: Nuremberg

Arrive at Nuremberg International Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.

Day 2: Nuremberg

For an over-the-top, old-world holiday extravaganza, look no further than Nuremberg, which boasts the largest and grandest Christmas market in all of Germany—and that’s really saying something. The “Gingerbread Capital of the World” pulls out all the stops during the holidays, as you’ll see for yourself on a panoramic tour guaranteed to put you in a festive mood.   You could not ask for a more perfect place to begin an exploration of Christmas traditions than Nuremberg. The people of Nuremberg hold their Christkindlesmarkt very close to their hearts. The iconic Christkind, with her white-and-gold dress, long blond curls and golden crown, has been the symbol for the Christmas Market for many decades. During Advent, she is the most important representative of the city; every year she opens the Christmas Market by declaring: “Welcome, young and old, to my little community of wood and cloth. While this market’s splendor is fleeting, the joy it brings is eternal.” And with that declaration, the market festivities begin in a town that is famous for its gingerbread and long toy-making tradition.
Nuremberg city tour with Christmas Market
Beautiful at any time, Nuremberg’s Old Town is especially magical when dressed in all of its holiday splendor. Unfortunately, the city’s history also has a dark side, as you will see on a panoramic tour that shows you places where Hitler celebrated the might of his Third Reich—the Rally Grounds and the never-finished coliseum, Congress Hall—before you reach Old Town, where you’ll find the archetypal medieval German city. Stroll through the castle gardens and enjoy breathtaking views of the city, then walk through a maze of cobblestone lanes down to the central Market Square. There, spread out before the Church of Our Lady, is the largest Christmas market in Germany. Two hundred stalls filled with holiday wares—ornaments, nutcrackers, seasonal treats and hand-carved toys—await you, and the irresistible aromas of roasting nuts, cinnamon and grilled sausages waft through the air.  Adding to the fun is an area set aside especially for children, complete with a two-tiered carousel featuring carved reindeer and Santa’s sleigh. As you wander through the market, you will certainly want to indulge in some of the city’s famous gingerbread; after all, Nuremberg is known as the “Gingerbread Capital of the World.”
A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 3: Bamberg

The fact that Bamberg still exists today is something of a miracle, given that it survived WWII bombing virtually unscathed. It’s a superb example of a medieval German city, one compact enough to explore on foot with a local expert. You’ll also have free time to visit not just one but four Christmas markets.   The UNESCO World Heritage city of Bamberg, unlike most German cities, was largely undamaged by bombing during WWII. This fact, combined with the city’s prosperous thousand-year history, means that Bamberg has one of the largest intact old-town centers in Europe, so the medieval layout and architecture that was a model for other towns throughout Central Europe remains for you to see and experience.
Bamberg walking discovery tour with Christmas Market
The entire heart of historic Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it is yours to explore today. In the splendid late-Romanesque Imperial Cathedral you will find the only papal tomb in Germany, that of Pope Clement II (who was the bishop of Bamberg before he became pope), as well as the tomb of Emperor Henry II (who established the bishopric). Near it are two magnificent palaces: The Old Palace, the late-Gothic imperial residence (if you saw the 20113-D version of The Three Musketeers, you’ll recognize it immediately), sits across from the New Residence, where the 17th-century prince-bishops lived. Cross the footbridge to the old Town Hall; legend has it that the bishop refused to give the town land for their town hall, so they built an artificial island for it smack in the middle of the Regnitz River. You’ll also see parts of Bamberg’s famous Nativity Walk, which links 35 churches, museums and public spaces that display Nativity scenes, some made hundreds of years ago.  When the tour concludes, you’ll have time to explore Bamberg’s Christmas Market, which is actually four markets: the traditional one on the Market Square, one featuring medieval cultural programs and two markets that focus on local arts and crafts. Shuttles will be provided throughout the afternoon to take you between the ship and town.

Day 4: Kitzingen (Rothenburg), Würzburg

Rothenburg looks like something straight out of the pages of a storybook, with its medieval walls, cobbled streets, Gothic churches and Hansel-and-Gretel houses. Join a local expert for an insightful walking discovery tour, and then wander amongst the stalls at one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets.   Your ship docks in the Bavarian town of Kitzingen in the morning, and after breakfast you’ll take a ride along the Romantic Road, once a medieval trade route, to Rothenburg. The minute you step down from the motorcoach in Rothenburg (also known as Rothenburg ob der Tauber), you’ll know why the route, which links picturesque and well-preserved old towns, is called the Romantic Road. Rothenburg is right out of a storybook: Wide medieval walls still enclose its charming core of Gothic churches and gabled houses.
Full-day Rothenburg with walking discovery tour and Christmas Market
Rothenburg really does look like a fairytale version of the Middle Ages. Great stone walls surrounding the medieval core stand tall, linking towers, bastions and parapets, and timber-framed houses decked out for the holidays line the narrow cobblestone streets and tiny squares. Walk with a local expert to the magnificent Town Hall, whose Gothic, Renaissance and baroque features reveal its long history. The Gothic Franciscan Church is revered for its famous Tilman Riemenschneider altarpiece depicting St. Francis receiving the stigmata.  Your local expert can suggest the best places to enjoy a lunch on your own before you wander among the stalls of one of Germany’s oldest and most celebrated Christmas markets. You’ll find charming handcrafted wares and souvenirs, as well as pastries and mulled wine to keep you warm. Don’t miss a favorite seasonal treat, the schneeball, or snowball, made from strips of sweet dough shaped into a ball that is fried and covered in powdered sugar or chocolate. Be sure to check out the original Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Store opposite the market. A huge Christmas tree revolves in the center of the store, and some 35,000 Christmas-themed items line the shelves.

Day 5: Würzburg

One of the best ways to embrace a different culture is through encounters with local residents, which you’ll experience today in a typical Franconian village. Make new friends over hot drinks and homemade seasonal treats, then head off to see the Würzburg Residence, a baroque-style palace famous for its gigantic ceiling fresco. Later, visit the town’s renowned Christmas market for some one-of-a-kind gifts for friends back home (or yourself!).   The town of Würzburg owes many of its most notable monuments to the ambitious building programs of the wealthy prince-bishops of the Schönborn family, who controlled the town in the 17th-and 18th-centuries. Their spectacular episcopal residence is on your schedule for today, as is a delightful encounter with the residents of a Franconian village.
Exclusive Franconian “Village Day”
Travel through Franconia’s rolling hills and farms to the picture-perfect village of Aschfeld, which features a historic church with a defensive wall that protected residents throughout the Middle Ages. A visit to Aschfeld offers a truly special opportunity to interact with small-town Franconians and chat with them about their daily lives. Locals will share traditional homemade Christmas goodies such as cookies, stollen and gingerbread, along with coffee and tea. Their English-speaking abilities vary, so this is a great opportunity for you to try out your German, just as your hosts are trying out their English. Here’s one phrase you might want to know: “Fröhliche Weihnachten,” which means “Merry Christmas!”
Würzburg Residence with Christmas Market
This 300-room UNESCO World Heritage–designated residence was constructed over a period of 60 years in the 18th century. An extraordinarily lavish palace, it was created under the auspices of two Schönborn prince-bishops, Lothar Franz and Friedrich Carl, who brought enormous knowledge and passion to the project, as well as a budget for the best of the best. The magnificent grand staircase boasts the world’s largest ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Portions of the building were damaged by Allied bombing in 1945, but fortunately most of the historic furnishings had been stored off-site and key rooms were unharmed, so you can see the original—and matchless—artwork, gilding and statuary. Check out the spectacular Hall of Mirrors and the imposing Imperial Hall, which boasts a large oval dome and 20 half-columns.  At the conclusion of your tour, you’ll head back to Würzburg’s glorious Christmas Market, which is held in the square in front of the old City Hall. Beautifully decorated wooden booths are illuminated by the soft glow of Christmas lighting, and the air is filled with the scent of roasted chestnuts and the sound of Christmas carols. As you rove among the booths, you can watch glassblowers and wood carvers at work and buy their handiwork directly from them.

Day 6: Wertheim, Cruising the Main River

Get a taste of life in the Middle Ages at a remarkably well-preserved German village, where you’ll meet a local butcher and baker (and perhaps even a candlestick maker) on a guided walking tour. Be sure to fortify yourself with a mug of mulled wine and a slice of delicious stollen before visiting the town’s charming Christmas market.   Located at the confluence of the Tauber and Main rivers, Wertheim (or Wertheim am Main) is a lovely village dating back over a thousand years. It epitomizes the friendly, slow-paced, small-town atmosphere of many German villages; here, residents greet each other by name as they do their daily shopping for fresh bread and sausage in tiny shops. On your guided walking tour of the village, you’ll hear a lot about daily life in Wertheim, as well as facts about the town and its history. Its many well-preserved medieval buildings— complete with low doors, tiny rooms and insufficient lighting—attest to the inconveniences of life in the Middle Ages.
Wertheim walking discovery tour with mulled wine and Christmas stollen demonstration
You’ll see the dramatic ruins of Wertheim Castle standing high above the village as you ramble through the narrow streets, passing small bakeries and butcher shops. The counts of Wertheim began building this huge fortress in the 12th century, and the town grew up in its shelter. Wertheim had defenses of its own too: The Pointed Tower, a former watchtower also used as a jail for drunkards and shrews in the 13th-century, still stands, leaning slightly toward its neighbors, not from age but because flood waters have undermined it. It’s not the only architectural wonder you’ll pass: Blue House’s spectacular half-timbering is painted with an unusual cobalt glass-based paint, and Zobel House is just 10 feet (3 meters) wide at its base. In the Market Square, you’ll see St. Mary’s Chapel, which was erected in 1447; the step-gabled house built for 16th-century wine merchant Lorenz Baunach; and the 1574 Angels’ Well, which derives its name from the two little angels that hold Wertheim’s coat of arms.  Stop in at a butcher shop for a sampling of the best local sausage; you can even buy some (canned, of course) to take home with you! Then enjoy a cup of mulled wine and a stollen (traditional German fruitcake) baking demonstration by a master baker at a private village wine estate. After the tour you can stay in town to shop for keepsakes or visit the Glass Museum before making your way back to the ship.
Michelstadt Christmas Market
The historic half-timber facades of the houses and town hall from 1484 are the worthy setting for more than 100 wooden market stalls made in a particularly attractive style. The extraordinary decoration like the magical nativity scene with life-sized figures, the giant Christmas pyramid, a group of angels and the big colorful wooden musical box conjure up a festive atmosphere. Father Christmas comes regularly to cheer up the children. In the castle's wine tasting hall, sculptors, wood turners, ivory carvers and carpenters demonstrate their craft. Even the toy museum opens its doors wide, to the joy of adult and child visitors alike. Advent music, Christmas concerts and the sound of trumpets lend everything a reflective, festive note.

Day 7: Frankfurt

Frankfurt is known as the “Mainhattan” of Europe, a financial powerhouse with soaring skyscrapers as well as traditional Old Town architecture. Experience both aspects of the city today, with time to browse the local Christmas market, one of the best on the Continent. Other options include a “Taste of Christmas” walking tour featuring all sorts of sugary and savory treats or an excursion to the Christmas market in Wiesbaden.   You’ll wake up to the pulse of one of Germany’s most flourishing cities, Frankfurt. Its cosmopolitan citizens hail from more than 200 nations, and its soaring skyscrapers are home to major European transportation and financial institutions, among them the European Central Bank.
Frankfurt walking discovery tour with Christmas Market
Dive into the energy of this sophisticated city with your guide, roaming from its historic heart, Römer Square, to its landmark skyscraper, Main Tower, where you’ll take an elevator to the 650-foot-high (198 meters) viewing platform for a panorama of the 50 skyscrapers that underline the importance of this European hub. Closer to earth, you’ll see the Römer, a complex of patrician houses originally built around 1288 that has served as Frankfurt’s City Hall for more than 600 years. From here, you’ll notice the red sandstone tower of St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral; kings were elected and emperors crowned here beginning in 1356. Then you’ll have the opportunity to explore this lovely city at your own pace. Old Town, which is resplendent with the joyous sights and sounds of Frankfurt’s Christmas Market, is a great place to start. This market is one of the largest in Germany, as well as one of the most beautiful, featuring a vintage carousel and a huge, gorgeously illuminated Christmas tree.  If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping and you don’t see just what you’re looking for at the market, you could check out the designer shops on Goethe Street or the little boutiques on Berger Street. The treasures of the Römer are so close to the ship that you can take in the sights at your leisure before returning to the dock. If you’d like a break from holiday shopping, no fewer than 13 museums line the Main River right next to your ship, all of them worth exploring. The Städel has a splendid collection of works by painters ranging from Rubens to Baselitz.
Exclusive “Taste of Christmas” Frankfurt walking tour
What better way to end your holiday cruise than by sampling some of the seasonal specialties of this region? Join your local expert for an exploration of Frankfurt’s culinary delicacies, including holiday treats such as bethmännchen, a marzipan- filled pastry named for a 19th-century banking family, and quetschemännchen, quirky little plum-and-nut figures that are traditionally made for the season. (They were also traditionally sent by a young man to the young lady he was interested in; if she accepted one from him, she accepted him also.) These are just a couple of the treats awaiting you as you ramble through the picturesque area around historic Römer Square, where markets have been held since the 13th-century. Tall half-timbered houses, including the old Town Hall, enclose the square, which has hosted a Christmas market since the 1390s. Now you’ll find long rows of gaily decorated stalls filled with imaginative crafts and delicious foods, one last delightful market for you to enjoy before you head home.
Wiesbaden Christmas Market
The Sternschnuppenmarkt (or “Twinkling Star”) Christmas Market in Wiesbaden is a delight for visitors young and young at heart, festively decorated and well-organized, with a colorful stage and a good mix of friendly vendors. There’s also a one-of-a-kind backdrop, the city’s grand Town Hall, State Capitol and the Market Square Church, the latter of which is beautifully illuminated.
A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 8: Frankfurt (Disembark)

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to the Frankfurt International Airport for your flight home.

Day 1: Frankfurt (Embark)

Arrive at Frankfurt International Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.

Day 2: Frankfurt

Frankfurt is known as the “Mainhattan” of Europe, a financial powerhouse with soaring skyscrapers as well as traditional Old Town architecture. Experience both aspects of the city today, with time to browse the local Christmas market, one of the best on the Continent. Other options include a “Taste of Christmas” walking tour featuring all sorts of sugary and savory treats or an excursion to the Christmas market in Wiesbaden.   You’ll wake up to the pulse of one of Germany’s most flourishing cities, Frankfurt. Its cosmopolitan citizens hail from more than 200 nations, and its soaring skyscrapers are home to major European transportation and financial institutions, among them the European Central Bank.
Frankfurt walking discovery tour with Christmas Market
Dive into the energy of this sophisticated city with your guide, roaming from its historic heart, Römer Square, to its landmark skyscraper, Main Tower, where you’ll take an elevator to the 650-foot-high (198 meters) viewing platform for a panorama of the 50 skyscrapers that underline the importance of this European hub. Closer to earth, you’ll see the Römer, a complex of patrician houses originally built around 1288 that has served as Frankfurt’s City Hall for more than 600 years. From here, you’ll notice the red sandstone tower of St. Bartholomew’s Cathedral; kings were elected and emperors crowned here beginning in 1356. Then you’ll have the opportunity to explore this lovely city at your own pace. Old Town, which is resplendent with the joyous sights and sounds of Frankfurt’s Christmas Market, is a great place to start. This market is one of the largest in Germany, as well as one of the most beautiful, featuring a vintage carousel and a huge, gorgeously illuminated Christmas tree.  If you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping and you don’t see just what you’re looking for at the market, you could check out the designer shops on Goethe Street or the little boutiques on Berger Street. The treasures of the Römer are so close to the ship that you can take in the sights at your leisure before returning to the dock. If you’d like a break from holiday shopping, no fewer than 13 museums line the Main River right next to your ship, all of them worth exploring. The Städel has a splendid collection of works by painters ranging from Rubens to Baselitz.
Exclusive “Taste of Christmas” Frankfurt walking tour
What better way to end your holiday cruise than by sampling some of the seasonal specialties of this region? Join your local expert for an exploration of Frankfurt’s culinary delicacies, including holiday treats such as bethmännchen, a marzipan- filled pastry named for a 19th-century banking family, and quetschemännchen, quirky little plum-and-nut figures that are traditionally made for the season. (They were also traditionally sent by a young man to the young lady he was interested in; if she accepted one from him, she accepted him also.) These are just a couple of the treats awaiting you as you ramble through the picturesque area around historic Römer Square, where markets have been held since the 13th-century. Tall half-timbered houses, including the old Town Hall, enclose the square, which has hosted a Christmas market since the 1390s. Now you’ll find long rows of gaily decorated stalls filled with imaginative crafts and delicious foods, one last delightful market for you to enjoy before you head home.
Wiesbaden Christmas Market
The Sternschnuppenmarkt (or “Twinkling Star”) Christmas Market in Wiesbaden is a delight for visitors young and young at heart, festively decorated and well-organized, with a colorful stage and a good mix of friendly vendors. There’s also a one-of-a-kind backdrop, the city’s grand Town Hall, State Capitol and the Market Square Church, the latter of which is beautifully illuminated.A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
Generations Excursion: Christmas with dinosaurs
A Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton looms high overhead, and a Triceratops and a Stegosaurus lumber along a wall. You journey into the distant past when you visit Frankfurt’s Senckenberg Museum. The Messel Pit, the world’s richest site for Eocene fossils, is not far from Frankfurt and provides many of the wonders on display here, including 50-million-year-old midget horses (with four toes instead of the modern-day horse’s solid hoof), long-extinct birds and alligators that indicate that this region was once a tropical rainforest—hard as that might be to believe during Germany’s winter! When you’ve spent enough time exploring the past, cross the Main bridge to Romer Square and Frankfurt’s fabulous Christmas market.
This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the Generations program.

Day 3: Cruising the Main River, Wertheim

Get a taste of life in the Middle Ages at a remarkably well-preserved German village, where you’ll meet a local butcher and baker (and perhaps even a candlestick maker) on a guided walking tour. Be sure to fortify yourself with a mug of mulled wine and a slice of delicious stollen before visiting the town’s charming Christmas market.   Located at the confluence of the Tauber and Main rivers, Wertheim (or Wertheim am Main) is a lovely village dating back over a thousand years. It epitomizes the friendly, slow-paced, small-town atmosphere of many German villages; here, residents greet each other by name as they do their daily shopping for fresh bread and sausage in tiny shops. On your guided walking tour of the village, you’ll hear a lot about daily life in Wertheim, as well as facts about the town and its history. Its many well-preserved medieval buildings— complete with low doors, tiny rooms and insufficient lighting—attest to the inconveniences of life in the Middle Ages.
Wertheim walking discovery tour with mulled wine and Christmas stollen demonstration
You’ll see the dramatic ruins of Wertheim Castle standing high above the village as you ramble through the narrow streets, passing small bakeries and butcher shops. The counts of Wertheim began building this huge fortress in the 12th century, and the town grew up in its shelter. Wertheim had defenses of its own too: The Pointed Tower, a former watchtower also used as a jail for drunkards and shrews in the 13th-century, still stands, leaning slightly toward its neighbors, not from age but because flood waters have undermined it. It’s not the only architectural wonder you’ll pass: Blue House’s spectacular half-timbering is painted with an unusual cobalt glass-based paint, and Zobel House is just 10 feet (3 meters) wide at its base. In the Market Square, you’ll see St. Mary’s Chapel, which was erected in 1447; the step-gabled house built for 16th-century wine merchant Lorenz Baunach; and the 1574 Angels’ Well, which derives its name from the two little angels that hold Wertheim’s coat of arms. Stop in at a butcher shop for a sampling of the best local sausage; you can even buy some (canned, of course) to take home with you! Then enjoy a cup of mulled wine and a stollen (traditional German fruitcake) baking demonstration by a master baker at a private village wine estate. After the tour you can stay in town to shop for keepsakes or visit the Glass Museum before making your way back to the ship.
Michelstadt Christmas Market
The historic half-timber facades of the houses and town hall from 1484 are the worthy setting for more than 100 wooden market stalls made in a particularly attractive style. The extraordinary decoration like the magical nativity scene with life-sized figures, the giant Christmas pyramid, a group of angels and the big colorful wooden musical box conjure up a festive atmosphere. Father Christmas comes regularly to cheer up the children. In the castle's wine tasting hall, sculptors, wood turners, ivory carvers and carpenters demonstrate their craft. Even the toy museum opens its doors wide, to the joy of adult and child visitors alike. Advent music, Christmas concerts and the sound of trumpets lend everything a reflective, festive note.
Generations Excursion: Medieval insights & pretzel-making
Christmas cards come to life in Wertheim, where your family guide takes you on a tour of storybook gabled houses—they almost look like the fanciest gingerbread houses in the world—and garland-bedecked cobblestone streets where kids have had snowball fights for 700 years. Wertheim has been home to glassblowers for many generations; one of today’s master glassblowers will exhibit his art and craft in a traditional Advent demonstration. Plus, you’ll get your hands in some pretzel dough and learn how to twist your own (and eat your handiwork).
This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the Generations program.

Day 4: Würzburg

One of the best ways to embrace a different culture is through encounters with local residents, which you’ll experience today in a typical Franconian village. Make new friends over hot drinks and homemade seasonal treats; see the Würzburg Residence, a baroque-style palace famous for its gigantic ceiling fresco. And visit the town’s renowned Christmas market for some one-of-a-kind gifts for friends back home (or yourself!).   The town of Würzburg owes many of its most notable monuments to the ambitious building programs of the wealthy prince-bishops of the Schönborn family, who controlled the town in the 17th-and 18th-centuries. Their spectacular episcopal residence is on your schedule for today, as is a delightful encounter with the residents of a Franconian village.
Würzburg Residence with Christmas Market
This 300-room UNESCO World Heritage–designated residence was constructed over a period of 60 years in the 18th century. An extraordinarily lavish palace, it was created under the auspices of two Schönborn prince-bishops, Lothar Franz and Friedrich Carl, who brought enormous knowledge and passion to the project, as well as a budget for the best of the best. The magnificent grand staircase boasts the world’s largest ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Portions of the building were damaged by Allied bombing in 1945, but fortunately most of the historic furnishings had been stored off-site and key rooms were unharmed, so you can see the original—and matchless—artwork, gilding and statuary. Check out the spectacular Hall of Mirrors and the imposing Imperial Hall, which boasts a large oval dome and 20 half-columns. At the conclusion of your tour, you’ll head back to Würzburg’s glorious Christmas Market, which is held in the square in front of the old City Hall. Beautifully decorated wooden booths are illuminated by the soft glow of Christmas lighting, and the air is filled with the scent of roasted chestnuts and the sound of Christmas carols. As you rove among the booths, you can watch glassblowers and wood carvers at work and buy their handiwork directly from them.
Exclusive Franconian “Village Day”
Travel through Franconia’s rolling hills and farms to the picture-perfect village of Aschfeld, which features a historic church with a defensive wall that protected residents throughout the Middle Ages. A visit to Aschfeld offers a truly special opportunity to interact with small-town Franconians and chat with them about their daily lives. Locals will share traditional homemade Christmas goodies such as cookies, stollen and gingerbread, along with coffee and tea. Their English-speaking abilities vary, so this is a great opportunity for you to try out your German, just as your hosts are trying out their English. Here’s one phrase you might want to know: “Fröhliche Weihnachten,” which means “Merry Christmas!”
Generations Excursion: Würzburg Residence & Franconian “Village Day”
The bishops’ palace—all 300 rooms of it—is overwhelming. If you saw the 2011 film The Three Musketeers with Orlando Bloom, you saw the palace in many scenes: It stood in for the king of France’s palace, which gives you a hint of just how grand it truly is. Among its many treasures is the world’s largest ceiling fresco, painted by Tiepolo; as you mount the stairs, you’ll see how the artist reveals different parts of his work depending on where you are—be sure to notice how some of the figures in the painting seem to be climbing out of the fresco onto the elaborate molding. And then check out the Christmas market: Some of the stands sell miniature replicas of the houses around the square, so perhaps you can spot both the ornament and the original house. Your day also includes a chance to meet young people in the village of Aschfeld and to sample some of their favorite homemade seasonal treats, like stollen.
This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the Generations program.

Day 5: Kitzingen (Rothenburg), Schweinfurt

Rothenburg looks like something straight out of the pages of a storybook, with its medieval walls, cobbled streets, Gothic churches and Hansel-and-Gretel houses. Join a local expert for an insightful walking discovery tour, and then wander amongst the stalls at one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets.   Your ship docks in the Bavarian town of Kitzingen in the morning, and after breakfast you’ll take a ride along the Romantic Road, once a medieval trade route, to Rothenburg. The minute you step down from the motorcoach in Rothenburg (also known as Rothenburg ob der Tauber), you’ll know why the route, which links picturesque and well-preserved old towns, is called the Romantic Road. Rothenburg is right out of a storybook: Wide medieval walls still enclose its charming core of Gothic churches and gabled houses.
Full-day Rothenburg with walking discovery tour and Christmas Market
Rothenburg really does look like a fairytale version of the Middle Ages. Great stone walls surrounding the medieval core stand tall, linking towers, bastions and parapets, and timber-framed houses decked out for the holidays line the narrow cobblestone streets and tiny squares. Walk with a local expert to the magnificent Town Hall, whose Gothic, Renaissance and baroque features reveal its long history. The Gothic Franciscan Church is revered for its famous Tilman Riemenschneider altarpiece depicting St. Francis receiving the stigmata.  Your local expert can suggest the best places to enjoy a lunch on your own before you wander among the stalls of one of Germany’s oldest and most celebrated Christmas markets. You’ll find charming handcrafted wares and souvenirs, as well as pastries and mulled wine to keep you warm. Don’t miss a favorite seasonal treat, the schneeball, or snowball, made from strips of sweet dough shaped into a ball that is fried and covered in powdered sugar or chocolate. Be sure to check out the original Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Store opposite the market. A huge Christmas tree revolves in the center of the store, and some 35,000 Christmas-themed items line the shelves.
Generations Excursion: Medieval Crime and Justice Museum
Back in the Middle Ages, when Rothenburg was new, people could be punished—publicly and painfully—for a huge number of crimes. Touch a woman’s hand without permission? Pay a fine. Get drunk in public? You might be fitted with a heavy wooden barrel and forced to walk up and down the streets. And these were just the mild punishments. At the Medieval Crime and Justice Museum, a thousand years of legal history is on display—both the laws themselves and the many gruesome ways people were punished for breaking those laws: an iron maiden, thumbscrews, a spiked chair, the rack. It’s fascinating, horrifying, illuminating and sometimes even funny. If you prefer something a little more Christmas-y, visit the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Museum, home to thousands of enchanting Christmas ornaments. Whichever you choose, you’ll also sample a local holiday specialty, the schneeball (or “snowball”—it’s snowy with powdered sugar).
This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the Generations program.

Day 6: Bamberg

The fact that Bamberg still exists today is something of a miracle, given that it survived WWII bombing virtually unscathed. It’s a superb example of a medieval German city, one compact enough to explore on foot with a local expert. You’ll also have free time to visit not just one but four Christmas markets.   The UNESCO World Heritage city of Bamberg, unlike most German cities, was largely undamaged by bombing during WWII. This fact, combined with the city’s prosperous thousand-year history, means that Bamberg has one of the largest intact old-town centers in Europe, so the medieval layout and architecture that was a model for other towns throughout Central Europe remains for you to see and experience.
Bamberg walking discovery tour with Christmas Market
The entire heart of historic Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it is yours to explore today. In the splendid late-Romanesque Imperial Cathedral you will find the only papal tomb in Germany, that of Pope Clement II (who was the bishop of Bamberg before he became pope), as well as the tomb of Emperor Henry II (who established the bishopric). Near it are two magnificent palaces: The Old Palace, the late-Gothic imperial residence (if you saw the 20113-D version of The Three Musketeers, you’ll recognize it immediately), sits across from the New Residence, where the 17th-century prince-bishops lived. Cross the footbridge to the old Town Hall; legend has it that the bishop refused to give the town land for their town hall, so they built an artificial island for it smack in the middle of the Regnitz River. You’ll also see parts of Bamberg’s famous Nativity Walk, which links 35 churches, museums and public spaces that display Nativity scenes; some made hundreds of years ago.  When the tour concludes, you’ll have time to explore Bamberg’s Christmas Market, which is actually four markets: the traditional one on the Market Square, one featuring medieval cultural programs and two markets that focus on local arts and crafts. Shuttles will be provided throughout the afternoon to take you between the ship and town.

Day 7: Nuremberg

For an over-the-top, old-world holiday extravaganza, look no further than Nuremberg, which boasts the largest and grandest Christmas market in all of Germany—and that’s really saying something. The “Gingerbread Capital of the World” pulls out all the stops during the holidays, as you’ll see for yourself on a panoramic tour guaranteed to put you in a festive mood.   You could not ask for a more perfect place to begin an exploration of Christmas traditions than Nuremberg. The people of Nuremberg hold their Christkindlesmarkt very close to their hearts. The iconic Christkind, with her white-and-gold dress, long blond curls and golden crown, has been the symbol for the Christmas Market for many decades. During Advent, she is the most important representative of the city; every year she opens the Christmas Market by declaring: “Welcome, young and old, to my little community of wood and cloth. While this market’s splendor is fleeting, the joy it brings is eternal.” And with that declaration, the market festivities begin in a town that is famous for its gingerbread and long toy-making tradition.
Nuremberg city tour with Christmas Market
Beautiful at any time, Nuremberg’s Old Town is especially magical when dressed in all of its holiday splendor. Unfortunately, the city’s history also has a dark side, as you will see on a panoramic tour that shows you places where Hitler celebrated the might of his Third Reich—the Rally Grounds and the never-finished coliseum, Congress Hall—before you reach Old Town, where you’ll find the archetypal medieval German city. Stroll through the castle gardens and enjoy breathtaking views of the city, then walk through a maze of cobblestone lanes down to the central Market Square. There, spread out before the Church of Our Lady, is the largest Christmas market in Germany. Two hundred stalls filled with holiday wares—ornaments, nutcrackers, seasonal treats and hand-carved toys—await you, and the irresistible aromas of roasting nuts, cinnamon and grilled sausages waft through the air.  Adding to the fun is an area set aside especially for children, complete with a two-tiered carousel featuring carved reindeer and Santa’s sleigh. As you wander through the market, you will certainly want to indulge in some of the city’s famous gingerbread; after all, Nuremberg is known as the “Gingerbread Capital of the World.”
A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 8: Nuremberg (Disembark)

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to the Nuremberg International Airport for your flight home.