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My husband and myself went on a Christmas market cruise last year on P&O Artemis, we went to Oslo, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Rotterdam (travelled by train to Delft from Rotterdam) and Ghent. We enjoyed it very much and the markets certainly put us in a Christmas mood. The Artemis had just been in for a refurb when we sailed and there was still some work going on, it only caused minor incovenience though. I have to say that Christmas was not very much in evidence on the Artemis itself apart from some piped Christmas songs in the conservatory restaurant ,which was a bit disappointing given the theme of the cruise. I can't speak for other cruise lines as we have only done the Christmas markets with P&O.
Last year I did a Christmas market cruise on Fred Olsen Black Watch, we visited Antwerp, Copenhagen, Oslo and Hamburg via the Kiel Canal. I enjoyed it so much I booked again for this year. I went on a tour to Ghent, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful historic cities in Europe. The medieval centre was one big traditional market and the chocolate shops were to die for. A great place for edible Christmas gifts. From Hamburg I visited Lubeck, the home of marzipan, another beautiful medieval city with several Christmas markets and lovely coffee shops. I know Copenhagen and Oslo well, having visited both places on many occasions. Copenhagen has many shops and department stores in the traffic free Stroget area, selling a huge variety of expensive, but top quality gifts. The canal area of Nyhavn is well worth visiting with market stalls all the way down to the harbour. The Tivoli Gardens are an attraction for many visitors, but, for me a bit disappointing. Oslo is a very picturesque city, a visit to the Vigeland Sculpture Park is a must. Last year the Christmas market was small, but there's an excellent shopping gallery near the harbour. I've left the best until last, Hamburg, a wonderful city to spend a couple of days exploring over the Christmas period. Black Watch docked almost in town with a 15-20 minute walk to the city centre, but plenty of taxis were available if needed. The whole city was beautifully decorated with a Christmas market around every corner, with the main market the Roncalli opposite the City Hall. There are hundreds of stalls laden with wooden toys, traditional crafts and festive food and drink. There was an open air skating rink by the Alster lake being greatly enjoyed by adults and children alike. Most of the cities we visited had open air ice rinks. The thing that strikes you is that the markets are very traditional without a hint of tackiness. Families were happily browsing the stalls, in what I found to be a completely safe environment. For me that's a plus as I travel alone. The weather last December was clear, bright and very cold, a warm coat, boots and gloves were essential. This year the Black Watch cruise only visits two cities, but I've chosen this one as it has two days in Hamburg. Balmoral has a 7 day cruise from Dover leaving Dec 13th, visiting four ports. I believe P&O Aurora has a 10 night cruise in December, but it may already be sold out. I'm sure you'll have a very enjoyable trip whatever you choose to do. Happy sailing, Jan .
Thank you so much for your answer, I am going to look into this cruise, Please could you tell me if we have to dress up as my husband does not have a suit, not that would fit him anyway. Thank you. Sally,.
Hi Sally, If you choose a Fred Olsen cruise, there will generally be two formal nights during a week long cruise. Gentlemen would normally wear a dress suit, with black tie; a dark suit is acceptable. Ladies usually wear a full length or cocktail dress, alternatively dressy black trousers and a sparkly top. On informal nights gentlemen are expected to wear a jacket and tie. If you don't wish to dress up you could choose to eat in the casual restaurant. I think it would be a shame if you didn't dress up and I would suggest you tell your husband how fantastic he would look in a suit and head off to Matalan and get him kitted out. I'm not sure which age group you're in, but Fred Olsen passengers are usually 50+. In saying that, last year's Christmas Market cruise had a very mixed age group including some very well-behaved children. Happy cruising, Jan .