Rhine River Christmas Markets All-Gay Cruise 2024
8 days from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Basel, Switzerland
4 days Amsterdam, Netherlands Pre-Cruise Extension
December 14 21, 2024
Emerald Cruises Emerald Sun
Spend Christmas cruising OUTbound and experience the finest European traditions of the holiday season. Sail from gay friendly Amsterdam on a holiday adventure as we explore the romantic Rhine Valley and the famous Christmas markets of Germany, France and Switzerland. Immerse yourself under a glittering Christmas tree while enjoying the festive storybook atmosphere of the holidays in Europe! Be carried away by the festive and magical German atmosphere that animates Cologne and Heidelberg. Discover charming French traditions in Strasbourg and the village of Colmar. And warm your heart when you visit the Swiss city of Basel and indulge in the most authentic cup of hot chocolate you’ve ever tasted while reveling in the Christmas spirit! Come celebrate an old-fashioned family Christmas with your chosen all-gay cruise family!
The waft of delicious mulled wine and roasting chestnuts, along with a backdrop of festive sounds and twinkling lights ensure the air is filled with delightful Christmas-time cheer. Remaining true to their roots, many stall-holders at these wonderfully festive markets are local trades-people selling hand-crafted gifts and decorations, along with a delicious array of seasonal food to tempt you. From sizzling bratwurst and candied toasted almonds to Christmas cookies known as Lebkuchen, not forgetting the fruity festive favorite, stollen.
Be sure to join us for a special “Welcome to Amsterdam” night, starting with our special holiday welcome toast at the Swissotel Amsterdam. We’ll break out the egg nog for this festive night of holly jolly cheer.
Next, join us for a stroll through town to a couple of the larger Christmas markets. Amsterdam’s markets create fairy-tale settings along the iconic canals and city squares, made all the more magical during the holiday season. Typical of traditional markets are clusters of wooden huts manned by artisans selling their handcrafted wares. You might even see the vendors at work… carving wood, making candles or decorating gingerbread.
Cruise through the heart of Europe’s finest cities, many of whom host large traditional Christmas markets. There’s nothing quite like taking a Rhine River cruise at Christmas time, as you’ll be able to take advantage of the hundreds of stalls all selling ideal Christmas presents for the folks back home.
All Included! All Inclusive!
Remember, EVERYTHING is included from the moment you step onboard! From your food and alcohol to the incredible entertainment to the tours we'll take together as a family and even the minibar in your suite or stateroom... everything is included in the price of your trip! The only thing you'll need to budget for is your airfare, transport to and from the ship and any souvenirs or purchases you make while touring some of the incredible cities we'll visit together.
Your Ship - Emerald Sun
The Emerald Sun is specially designed to traverse the Rhine River in style with tasteful and modern décor visible throughout the ship. The Reflections Restaurant on the Vista Deck is the center of our dining experience, where oversized windows offer excellent views of the passing landscapes. For a more intimate experience, head to the contemporary Horizon Bar & Lounge, where OUTbound entertainment will be enjoyed by all.
Boasting more than eighty suites and staterooms, the Emerald Sun has a lot to offer when it comes to comfort, with features that would be aligned with those of a world-class hotel. You can spend your time on this vessel relaxing as picturesque views pass by, watching them from your private balcony as we sail past.
The tastefully decorated Horizon Lounge, located at the front of the ship, was named for the superb views of the passing coastlines that guests will enjoy courtesy of the oversized windows. Intimate seating areas are peppered throughout the open floor plan, allowing you the choice of going all in with the group or enjoying a little private time between you and a smaller gathering of friends. The lounge also has a self-service beverage station with a machine that dispenses espresso, capuccino, mochaccino, hot chocolate, and hot water for a selection of teas... an OUTbounder favorite!
Enjoy a cocktail at the Horizon bar with us while watching a spectacular sunset together. Located within the Horizon Lounge, you’ll find originality and innovation, with a new twist on the ol’ purveyors of gin and tonics and buckets of beer. This is the place where you’ll spend an enjoyable evening nursing a cocktail with great friends, old and new! Whether you’re in the mood for a mixed drink or glass of wine, we invite you to join us and enjoy one of best bars on the river with your fellow OUTbounders. Order your favorite festive holiday cocktail you’ll savor after a long day exploring the Christmas markets.
Get set for a gastronomic adventure in Reflections Restaurant, your go-to dining area for sumptuous local dishes expertly prepared by skilled chefs. Spacious and contemporary, with flexible seating options, this is your space to discover the local tastes of the season. Located on the Vista Deck, the restaurant comfortably seats all our OUTbounders at tables which vary in size with a panoramic view. The atmosphere is casual but elegant. The selection and presentation of the food is outstanding, and you’ll find the quality of service is unmatched.
An idyllic spot for breakfast and light lunches, the Terrace Café is a unique indoor/outdoor dining area located just forward of the Horizon Lounge. With a commanding position at the very front of the ship, inspiring views are guaranteed. This open-air bow seating and eating area has electric doors that make it easy to carry a drink or meal outside for a unique snack experience... snacks that are available throughout the day near the ship’s lounge at the end of the bar.
Your space for relaxation and rejuvenation, the onboard Wellness Area provides everything from facial treatments to massages, delivered by a trained beauty therapist. Downstairs on Riviera Deck is the hairdresser, where you can get haircuts, head and neck massages, and other services. Be sure to book quickly at the front desk when you embark because availability is limited.
The indoor pool is located aft on Horizon Deck. It’s surrounded by a glass-walled lounge area with chairs, tables, dressing rooms, and a bar with a self-service machine for coffee drinks and tea. The heated pool, complete with a retractable roof, is the perfect way to spend an afternoon or evening, soaking with friends while watching the incredible scenery of the Rhine drift by.
Amsterdam Gay Christmas
There’s nothing quite like the atmosphere of a Christmas market to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And Amsterdam has no shortage of seasonal shopping opportunities, with a range of independent festive markets taking place every week leading up to Christmas.
From traditional Dickensian markets that aim to capture all the magic of a traditional Victorian Christmas to trendy food festivals inside old industrial buildings, there’s a Christmas market to suit everyone.
The famous Dam Square and the flower market get a festive makeover for the season! Definitely worth a visit any time of the year, but especially during the Christmas period. Immerse yourself in the true Christmas spirit with many twinkling lights, festive music, gifts and treats on the Museumplein. The RAI Amsterdam (Amsterdam Convention Centre) is transformed inside and out into the place for your Ultimate Winter Experience.
Rhine River Christmas Markets
All-Gay Cruise 2024 Itinerary
| 14 Dec
| 15 Dec
| 16 Dec
| 17 Dec
| 18 Dec
| 19 Dec
| 20 Dec
| 21 Dec
Day 1 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Today we’ll start our holiday river cruise. Upon arriving in Amsterdam, you’ll be met at the airport for your transfer to our ship docked close to Centraal Station. After boarding our ship and settling in, you’ll meet our crew and your gay cruise family before having dinner. We’re in Amsterdam overnight, so enjoy tonight however you’d like. Explore the city and take in all the Christmas lights on your own while shopping the countless craft stalls before returning back onboard to start our OUTbound holiday traditions!
Day 2 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Today you’ll discover Amsterdam, one of our favorite cities at any time of year. Board a glass top canal boat for a tour down the Dutch capital’s canals, passing historic merchant’s houses that reflect the bygone era of the Dutch Golden Age, as well as delightful Christmas stalls. Take in the charm of the city’s biggest Christmas market in Dam Square, located in front of the Royal Palace and enjoy the atmosphere before heading back to our ship at your leisure.
Day 3 - Cologne, Germany
Seven idyllic Christmas markets effortlessly transform the postcard-worthy city of Cologne into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Following your guided tour of the city, you will have the opportunity to explore this incredible city on your own, perhaps visiting the ornate Christmas stalls beneath the Cologne Cathedral, where you can have a taste of traditional German glühwein. Make sure you take time to visit Europe’s largest LGBTQ+ Christmas market, the Pink Market, before heading back to our ship.
Day 4 - Koblenz, Germany
Today, we will take you into the heart of Koblenz, an ancient city that looks as though it has been pulled from the pages of a German fairy tale. Enjoy a picturesque backdrop of vineyards and snow-topped mountain ranges as your local guide takes you through open cobbled squares and down narrow streets. Your tour will include the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers at the German Corner and idyllic panoramic views of the Rhine from Ehrenbreitstein Fortress.
Day 5 - Heidelberg, Germany
Your guided tour of Heidelberg’s rich history includes a wine tasting and a visit to the ruins of Heidelberg Castle, overlooking the Rhine River and a red-roofed skyline. Some of the most successful painters of the Romantic era drew inspiration from Heidelberg Castle, including British artist William Turner, who depicted images of the ruins in several of his paintings. Afterwards, stroll down the cobbled streets of the Old Town, taking your time shopping in the festive Christmas markets filled with hand-made crafts and uniquely German gingerbread!
Day 6 - Strasbourg, France
This morning, we’ll visit Strasbourg, the storied capital of France’s Alsace region. Your guided tour of this historical city will include Grande Île, the center of the city known for its medieval half-timbered buildings, old tanning houses, Baroque sandstone buildings and charming canal system. We’ll visit the Strasbourg Cathedral, landmark of the city and home to countless local shops and restaurants. After our tour, you’ll have the time to visit one of the most festive Christmas markets in all of France!
Day 7 - Colmar, France
Today we’ll set out on a tour of the Wine Route of France. You’ll be enchanted by its picturesque villages wonderfully decorated for Christmas. During our tour you’ll be amazed by the magical smell of Black Forest specialties and unique handcrafted regional products sold here. In the afternoon, we’ll discover the storybook Christmas Markets in Colmar. In the wonderful setting of the old town, the beautifully decorated streets will invite you to linger and daydream.
Day 8 - Basel, Switzerland
This morning we’ll end our holiday river cruise together. After one final breakfast onboard, we’ll disembark in Switzerland where you’ll take a scenic drive through the Swiss Alps to the capital city of Zürich. Once in Zürich you’ll have your choice of heading straight to the airport for your flight home or to one of our favorite Swiss hotels where you can extend your stay and explore a little more of Switzerland on your own. As all of our OUTbounders know, we never say ‘goodbye’, we only say ‘until we see you next time!’
Optional Pre-Cruise Amsterdam Holiday Extension
December 11 - 14, 2024
4 Day/3 Night Package
December 12 - 14, 2024
3 Day/2 Night Package
Wednesday, December 11, 2024
Early Amsterdam Arrival
Welcome to Amsterdam, one of the most unique cities, made even more so during the festive holiday season. Choose to arrive a day early on Wednesday and explore the canals decked out in holiday splendor on your own... sparkling Christmas trees, mulled wine, fairy lights, festive fare, chocolate treats and Christmas carols ringing out across the city. Delve in and find out all about the Dutch Christmas markets and the cornucopia of Christmas cheer in this festive city.
Thursday, December 12, 2024
Welcome Cocktail Party
Let your OUTbound holiday begin! Holland rocks its own unique yuletide joy, and Amsterdam is the crown jewel of the Dutch Christmas crown since the entire city literally sparkles throughout the season. Today we get the party started with our welcome cocktail toast where you'll spend the evening getting to know your fellow OUTbounders. Afterward, take some time to explore the area around Dam Square on your own and discover that no one does hot mulled cider better than the Dutch, so make sure you get your fill as you stroll through the festive streets!
Friday, December 13, 2024
Exploring Amsterdam On Your Own
Get to know this amazing city with a day of exploring on your own. See for yourself why Amsterdam has developed a reputation for being one of Europe’s cleanest, wealthiest cities, with a sky-high standard of living that regularly pushes it to the top of “most livable cities in the world” lists. Take your time wandering the pedestrian-only shopping streets decked out in holiday cheer. The Christmas markets are spread out across multiple squares, meaning lots of opportunities for sightseeing and shopping. Spend as much time in the festivities as you like!
Saturday, December 14, 2024
Transfer to Our Ship
Spend your final morning in Amsterdam enjoying one of the many local cafés or do a little last-minute shopping at one of the markets. The morning is yours to do with as you please. Explore the area around our hotel during your free time. This afternoon, we’ll check out of our host hotel and transfer to our ship nearby at Centraal Station. Once onboard, we'll check into our staterooms and get settled in for a long winter's night!
Amsterdam Host Hotel
Swissotel Amsterdam Hotel
Our host hotel in Amsterdam is one of our favorites... the Swissotel Amsterdam, located just a few steps from Dam Square, home to the National Monument, the Royal Palace, and the gothic "New Church". It's a short 10-minute walk from our hotel to the ship, or choose to ride along with your luggage in the shuttle transfers... all included of course!
The hotel is surrounded by shops, museums and restaurants and is a 20-minute drive from Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport.
Behind its historical facade of 19th century buildings, Swissotel Amsterdam offers 114 luxurious, sound-proofed* guest rooms and suites in a contemporary and sophisticated style. All guests enjoy complimentary wireless internet and free access to the Swissotel Amsterdam Fitness featuring state-of-the-art TechnoGym equipment.
Swissôtel Amsterdam’s rooms include large windows, soundproofing and a spacious bathroom with free Swiss bath products. All rooms include a Nespresso machine, and some overlook Dam Square.
Guests can schedule an in-room massage, or ask staff at the 24-hour concierge desk to arrange bicycle rental or restaurant reservations. The hotel offers free WiFi throughout the whole building. Breakfast is offered seven days per week and room service is available.
Length: 135 m • Guests: 180 • Guest Cabins: 91 • Decks: 4 • Crew: 51
Rhine River Christmas Markets
All-Gay Cruise 2024 Rates
|Owners Balcony Suite
|The Owners Suite has it all. A separate lounge and bedroom allows the luxury of space to enjoy your continental breakfast in the morning, a drink from your fully stocked minibar or after-dinner sweet treats. Your queen-size bed is draped in high quality linens, plus you’ll select your preferred pillow from an extensive menu. A walk-in wardrobe makes unpacking a dream. You’ll also have the option to have four items laundered a day. In the morning, enjoy a fresh coffee from your in-suite Nespresso machine. Sip it on the balcony, wrapped in the comfort of your bathrobe and slippers.
|Grand Balcony Suite
|The Grand Balcony Suites make waking up and going to sleep a dream. Open your balcony with the press of a button from the comfort of your queen-size bed, dressed with luxurious linens. Wake up with a revitalizing shower, complete with sumptuous toiletries. Have a continental breakfast brought to your door to enjoy on your own private balcony. Complimentary bathrobes and slippers make lounging comfortable along with your own in-suite Nespresso machine. Select your preferred pillow from an extensive menu.
|Horizon Balcony Suite
|Located on the Horizon Deck, your Panorama Balcony Suite offers everything you could possibly need. You’ll be surrounded by elegant décor and opulent, comfortable furnishings. Relax on your balcony and transform it from an indoor to an outdoor space with ease, as the floor-to-ceiling window lowers to a halfway point at the touch of a button. Treat yourself to a drink from your suite’s minibar. When it’s time for bed, you can look forward to exceptional comfort in your queen-size or twin hotel-style bed, complete with luxurious linens.
|Vista Balcony Suite
|Located on the Vista Deck, your Panorama Balcony Suite offers everything you’ll need throughout your cruise and more. Relax on your balcony as the stunning landscapes pass by, and transform it from an indoor to an outdoor space with ease, as the floor-to-ceiling window lowers to a halfway point at the touch of a button. When it’s time for bed, you’ll find exceptional comfort in your queen-size or twin hotel-style bed. Treat yourself to an indulgent shower with luxury toiletries, to really prepare yourself for an excellent night’s sleep.
|Your Riviera Stateroom is home to all the amenities you need. A picture window lets in the perfect amount of light, and each room features individual climate control, allowing you to personalize your room’s temperature to suit your preferences. The bathrooms are designed as a relaxing retreat with a sumptuous shower complete with indulgent toiletries. Settle into your queen or twin hotel-style bed, complete with luxurious linens, as you enjoy a nightcap from your mini-bar.
|Riviera Single Stateroom
|Located on the Riviera Deck, the Single Staterooms featuring picture windows and individual climate control, allowing you to personalize your room’s temperature. Relax with a shower complete with indulgent toiletries before settling into your twin size hotel-style bed, complete with luxurious linens, as you enjoy a movie on your flat screen TV and infotainment system with a nightcap from your mini-bar.
|Amsterdam Pre-Cruise Extension (3 Nights)
December 11 - 14, 2024
|Package Includes: 3 Nights in Swissotel Amsterdam Hotel (Swissotel Classic room, double occupancy); Welcome Cocktail Party; Light Festival Tour; Amsterdam Christmas Markets; Transfer to ship. Prices include daily buffet breakfast & all city taxes. Prices are based on Swissotel Classic room, double occupancy. Upgrades to the Swiss Select or Junior Suite available at an extra cost.
Double: $610 pp; Single: $1,125
|Amsterdam Pre-Cruise Extension (2 Nights)
December 12 -14, 2024
|Package Includes: 2 Nights in Swissotel Amsterdam Hotel (Swissotel Classic room, double occupancy); Welcome Cocktail Party; Light Festival Tour; Amsterdam Christmas Markets; Transfer to ship. Prices include daily buffet breakfast & all city taxes. Prices are based on Swissotel Classic room, double occupancy. Upgrades to the Swiss Select or Junior Suite available at an extra cost.
Double: $490 pp; Single: $875
The fares above are per person USD, based on double occupancy.
Port Charges & Gratuities of $349 per person are additional.
Single Travelers 100% single supplement applies.
Payment Option 1: (Quarterly Payments)
A 25% + $500 deposit is due at the time of booking. Subsequent payments will be scheduled quarterly in three additional equal installments of 25% each between the time of booking and the final installment, which is due 90-days prior to scheduled Vacation start date.
Payment Option 2: (Monthly Payments)
A 25% + $500 deposit is due at the time of booking. Subsequent payments will be scheduled in equal monthly installments between the time of booking and the final installment, which is due 90-days prior to the scheduled Vacation start date. The number of monthly payments will depend on how far in advance you have made your reservation.
Payment Option 3: (Pay In Full)
Pay for their reservation in full at the time of booking and you’re done! Unless you later make a change to your reservation, no further payments are necessary.
Cancelation Penalties (% of total) days before scheduled Vacation start date:
10% – 300 or More Days Prior to Event Start Date
20% – From 299 to 240 Days Prior to Event Start Date
40% – From 239 to 180 Days Prior to Event Start Date
60% – From 179 to 120 Days Prior to Event Start Date
80% – From 119 to 90 Days Prior to Event Start Date
100% – 89 or Fewer Days Prior to Event Start Date