Have you ever wondered what bustling New York would be like in the Christmas season? Join us and be mesmerised by the lights, hype and atmosphere only New York, the ‘Big Apple’ can offer at this spectacular time of the year. Then after four festive nights, journey into the heart of Europe in all its’ pre-Christmas glory. Featuring some of Germany and France’s nest cities and most celebrated Christmas markets including picturesque Bamberg, which takes up the 2,000 square metres of Maxplatz at the heart of the Old Town, and Nuremburg, one of Germany’s oldest and nest, the Christkindlmarkt, dating back to 1628. In addition to perusing Christmas markets in Würzburg, Mainz, Rüdesheim and Strasbourg, we will have the option to travel to the Black Forest and visit some of its breath taking lakes, waterfalls and mountains. Return via San Francisco and visit some more spectacular American landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Fisherman’s Wharf. So, if you like the thought of sampling local delicacies, sipping spicy mulled wine as you browse wonderful Christmas markets, exchanging pleasantries with friendly locals whilst yuletide melodies fill the invigorating air ... then you’d better be good!
“Our many di erent cultures notwithstanding, there’s something about the holidays that makes the planet communal. Even nations that do not celebrate Christmas can’ t help but be caught up in the collective spirit of their neighbors, as twinkling lights dot the landscape and carols fill the air. It’s an inspiring time of the year” - Marlo Thomas
25 november - 14 december • 20 DAYS
NEW ZEALAND – NEW YORK four nights New York
Day 1 Today we depart New Zealand bound for the ‘Big Apple’, New York City. We are met on arrival and transferred to our very comfortable hotel, perfectly located close to many of the notable landmarks of this stunning city.
Days 2-4 Over the next three days, experience this diverse city and all it has to offer. Explore the Christmas spirit of New York, from the magnificent Christmas window displays scattered across the city to surprise you at every corner, to the Christmas markets where you can find that special treasure. We will see iconic New York landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Ground Zero, Central Park, Times Square and the Empire State Building to name a few, but we will also make sure we visit the lesser known but equally beautiful attractions this city has to offer.
NEW YORK – FRANKFURT
Day 5 Today we say goodbye to New York with an overnight flight to the city of Frankfurt.
FRANKFURT – NUREMBURG two nights Nuremberg
Days 6-7 On arrival in Frankfurt we’ll make our way south by rail to Nuremburg. Nuremburg boasts one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets, Christkindlmarkt, where modern and mass produced goods are forbidden. Regulations specify that only authentic handcrafted wares are sold from the beautifully adorned stalls blanketed in red and white cloth. Today and tomorrow are free for you to spend your time however you wish. Noteworthy in particular are the 900 year old ramparts that surround this historic city, the Imperial Castle and Justice Palace where the War Crimes Tribunal sat in 1946.
CHRISTMAS TIME AVALON CRUISE, AVALON IMAGERY II nine nights Avalon
Day 8 This afternoon we board our ship, Avalon Imagery II, our home for the next nine nights. All meals whilst on board include regional wines, beer and soft drinks with dinner and complimentary soft drinks with lunch. We have included sightseeing options everyday whilst on board and the Christmas market stalls in each of our destinations await our visit! Overnight in Nuremberg on board ship.
Day 9 There are various sightseeing options today. Choose a guided tour of Nuremberg’s medieval architecture, gilded fountain, Gothic Cathedral and Kaiserburg Castle or take a guided tour to the historic Nuremberg Rally Grounds, used by the Third Reich. Spend free time browsing the spruce stalls of the Christmas markets of Nuremberg. Sample Bavarian favourites such as bratwurst, gingerbread, delicious mulled blueberry wine, roasted chestnuts and countless other Christkindlmarkt culinary delights. Later, enjoy live entertainment on board.
Day 10 In Bamberg we take a walking tour of this enchanting medieval town which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. The old town hall that straddles the river is one of the main features of Bamberg. Legend has it that the bishop would not grant people the land on which to build a town hall, so they drove stakes into the river and formed an artificial island, upon which it stands today. The city’s charm extends to its twisting streets with quaint houses and some more elaborate 18th century mansions. Stroll through dozens of Bamberg’s nativity scenes, from miniature to life-size. Take free time to enjoy the quaint Christmas markets and warm up with traditional German dumplings, sausage, and a glass of hearty Bavarian ale. Our cruising continues along the Main River.
Day 11 Enjoy a relaxed morning cruising before our arrival in Würzburg, the capital of Lower Franconia. ‘The Pearl of the Romantic Road’ is surrounded by sloping hills covered with vineyards. During our morning tour we’ll visit major sights of interest including the expansive Residential Palace. Alternatively you could visit Kathe Wohlfahrt German Christmas Museum, which houses the most extensive collection of traditional German decorations. Or you may prefer to take an optional tour to the Bavarian town of Rothenberg, a UNESCO medieval town virtually unchanged since the 11th century.
MAIN RIVER VILLAGE
Day 12 Today join a guided tour of a picturesque Bavarian village located along the Main River. Many of the villages along this stretch of the river’s original settlers were Romans who built two castles here for the protection of the Northern Frontier of the then Roman Empire. Today the feel is very much medieval and beautifully timber framed and gabled houses are abundant, due largely to legislation granting residents free construction timber from communally owned forests. Then back on-board for tonight’s cookie-baking demonstration.
MAINZ, EXCURSION TO RÜDESHEIM
Day 13 On arrival to Rüdesheim, we take a guided tour to the incredible Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, a one-of-a-kind experience where you can admire and play unique instruments, one of the absolute highlights of previous cruise tours. Or if you prefer, explore Mainz at your own leisurely pace.
SPEYER, HEIDELBERG EXCURSON
Day 14 Today for those who wish, we take a guided tour that includes the magnificent Heidelberg Castle and the Great Vat, the world’s largest wine barrel. After the tour, visit the local German Christmas markets in Heidelberg, or Speyer. Explore at your own pace to soak up the sights and sounds, tantalizing treats and seasonal handiwork of these sparkling winter wonderlands. This evening enjoy live entertainment on board.
Day 15 Today we join a guided city tour including the gothic, stained-glass Strasbourg Cathedral with its celebrated ancient murals and astronomical clock as well as the magical La Petite France District. You may choose to join a guided optional excursion to the beautiful Alsace, for an afternoon in a French wine-country village. Savour the warmth and glow of traditional Christmas by spending your free time this afternoon wandering the French winter markets of Strasbourg. Take in the lights, music and the pleasures of the season.
BREISACH, GERMANY. EXCURSION TO BLACK FOREST
Day 16 History, artistry and the beautiful Black Forest – in sight and in taste today! We visit Badische Winzerkeller, the largest German wine producer in Europe. Discover Germany’s southernmost wine country in Baden, ideally situated between the hills of the Black Forest and the Rhine River. Learn about the vintners’ process in the vineyards here and enjoy a wine tasting. Alternatively, join a guided tour to the magical Black Forest to experience local traditions and the vibrant Christmas mood. You may choose to join a guided optional excursion to visit the charming village of Colmar, with its half-timbered medieval and early renaissance buildings and enjoy the warmth and glow of the Christmas season.
BASEL – ZURICH – SAN FRANCISCO one night San Francisco
Day 17 After breakfast we disembark our ship and are met portside by our driver to begin our scenic drive to Zurich airport and our flights bound for San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO – NEW ZEALAND
Days 18-20 After a good night’s sleep you have a free day to explore this vibrant city until our late evening transfer for our flight to New Zealand. There are plenty of ways to spend your day. Some ideas would be to take a trolley bus and visit many iconic attractions such as Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Chinatown, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. Maybe hop over to Sausalito to visit one of the speciality stores. No trip to San Francisco is complete without visiting the historic Ghirardelli Square, home of the famous delicious chocolates. During Christmas though, the square is transformed with lights everywhere, holiday decorations and a massive Christmas tree and so much more. We travel home and arrive amidst the buzz of pre-Christmas excitement, heads filled with incredible memories of the past couple of weeks together and wonderful stories to share with friends and family. Unpack those incredible and special Christmas decorations and place them on your tree, just in time for the ‘Down Under’ summer Christmas festivities to begin!