Rhine River Christmas Markets All-Gay Cruise 2022
7 days from Basel, Switzerland to Strasbourg, France
December 11 18, 2022
CroisiEurope Cruises Douce France
Spend Christmas cruising OUTbound experiencing the finest European traditions of the holiday season. Warm your heart as we 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 with us on a all-gay holiday adventure as we explore the romantic Rhine Valley and the famous Christmas markets of France, Germany and Switzerland. Immerse yourself in the glittering Christmas trees while enjoying the festive storybook atmosphere of the holidays in Europe! Discover charming French traditions in Strasbourg and be carried away by the festive and magical German atmosphere that animates Heidelberg and Speyer.
Spend some of the holidays together next year with your OUTbound family as we sail from Switzerland to France and Germany, visiting Europe's most festive Christmas markets along the way!
You'll also have the chance to start your holiday vacation a few days early and join us for a weekend in Zürich before we set sail. We'll have a tour of the city lights at night, visits to two of the biggest & most festive Christmas markets in Europe, and transportation to our ship in Basel... all included with the pre-cruise package.
Be one of the first to start a whole new holiday tradition with your OUTbound family. We'll be celebrating with unique onboard events like a night of Christmas caroling, an ugly sweater contest, gingerbread house decorating, and a gift exchange where everyone will venture OUT into a Christmas market to buy something special for a white elephant event onboard later that evening.
Bucket List Moments
• Share a Swiss hot chocolate in Basel
• Carol through the streets of Colmar
• Sip Glühwein in Heidelberg
• Get a picture with Père Noël
• Stroll through the Christkindelsmärik in Strasbourg
All Included! All Inclusive!
• All Meals & Alcoholic Beverages Included
• All Shore Excursions Included
• All Tips & Gratuities Included
Your Ship - MS Lafayette
The MS Lafayette is a unique ship specifically designed for more intimate ports of call. A limited number of lucky guests ensures you can spend time enjoying a drink from the extensive bar, reading in the lounge, or relaxing in the spacious and comfortable lounge, with abundant room to roam.
All staterooms have twin beds that can be configured as a queen and full picture windows. The Lafayette is ready to offer our OUTbounders an unforgettable experience cruising the Christmas markets of Europe.
Mixed drinks, wine, beer, sodas, juices and coffee are all included anytime onboard.
The Panorama Lounge is situated all the way forward on Upper Deck and features floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for spectacular views of the passing scenery... a distinguishing feature of river cruising. 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. Enjoy cocktails, dancing, games and entertainment in this picturesque setting.
Enjoy a cocktail at the main bar with us while watching a spectacular sunset together. Located within the Panoramic 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 at sea with your fellow OUTbounders. Order your favorite festive holiday cocktail you’ll savour after a long day exploring the Christmas markets.
At your service, OUTbounders will find everything they need at the reception desk, located at the heart of the ship on the Upper Deck. It's the perfect place to meet with friends before dinner or ask any questions you may have during our voyage. Here's where you'll leave each morning as we venture OUTbound to the Christmas markets of Europe, and where you will return at the end of each day... greeted by a friendly smile and warm drink.
Located on the Main 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.
The food is incredible, every meal every day. You’ll enjoy plenty of fish, fruits and vegetables with every meal and be impressed by how fresh everything is. In fact, the only frozen item is ice cream! You’ll have plenty of healthy choices to choose from, and loads of unhealthy ones, too!
For spectacular views of the passing landscape, head up to the Sun Deck that allows full enjoyment of the view, even when passing under low bridges. The top deck features an all-weather seating area and a walking track for those who want to keep active. It’s the perfect place to visit with old friends and new during the day while enjoying complimentary refreshments with the stunning scenery passing by.
The crown jewel of Switzerland, Zürich is a progressive, open-minded city, eager to show off its hospitable nature. The Altstadt neighborhood is considered to be the “gay area” of Zürich, with lots of gay bars, clubs, saunas, and cafés. It’s also home to lots of shops, galleries, and theatres and centrally located to all of the major Christmas markets of Zürich. Walking around this part of town, you’ll see rainbow flags hanging from the windows, while queer couples walk quietly holding hands.
In the evening, you’ll find LGBTQ+ folk meandering through the streets enjoying the city lights, drag queens smoking in the doorways of bars, and even loud dance music bumping from a few of the clubs. The best part is how most of the restaurants, cafés and bars have outdoor terraces and beer gardens, which is perfect for enjoying a drink or bite to eat, even in the middle of December.
Rhine River Christmas Markets
All-Gay Cruise 2022 Itinerary
| 11 Dec
| 12 Dec
| 13 Dec
| 14 Dec
| 15 Dec
| 16 Dec
| 17 Dec
| 18 Dec
Day 1 - Basel, Switzerland
Today we’ll start our cruise with a uniquely Swiss take on the traditional European Christmas market. Once arriving, we’ll board our ship and settle into our staterooms. After boarding, we’ll have time to explore both of the city’s largest markets located in two of the most beautiful squares in Basel. We’ll take a guided tour of the city by night, with free time to explore. Tonight we’ll introduce our crew at a welcome cocktail before dinner.
Day 2 - Basel, Switzerland
We're in Basel overnight so that the next day we can discover both of the city’s largest Christmas markets, the first held on Barfüsserplatz, and the other on Münsterplatz, two of the most beautiful squares in Basel. Shop the countless craft stalls before returning back onboard to start our OUTbound holiday traditions! Late this evening we’ll begin our river cruise and set sail for France.
Day 3 - Colmar, France
Colmar could quite possibly be the prettiest town in France. Today we visit the Christmas markets in Colmar, beautifully decorated for the holiday season. You'll have plenty of time to discover this hidden gem for yourself with plenty of free time to explore on your own before we set out to discover the illuminations in the city. The whole town is decorated with garlands and Christmas decorations, creating a magical atmosphere.
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. We'll visit a wine cellar followed by a tasting of local Alsatian wines. In the afternoon, we'll discover the Christmas Markets in Colmar. In the wonderful setting of the old town, the beautifully decorated streets will invite you to linger and daydream.
Day 4 - Baden-Baden, Germany
Nestled in the mountains of the Black Forest, the traditional Christmas market of Baden-Baden will whisk you away to a winter fairy tale of a special kind. The scent of mulled wine and gingerbread accompanies you as you stroll past decorated huts at the beginning of the famous Lichtentaler Allee park and gardens. Don’t miss the live entertainment on the sky stage, which will delight young and old alike and get everyone in the Christmas spirit with festive sounds of the season!
Arrive in charming Baden-Baden, a popular spa town famous for its Roman baths. Today you’ll have a guided tour of this picturesque town and learn of its rich heritage, visiting the iconic Hohenbaden Castle on the outskirts of town for scenic views of the Black Forest. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy on your own, wandering the quaint Christmas markets located along the Rhein.
Day 5 - Heidelberg, Germany
One of the largest Christmas markets in Germany, Heidelberg is a must for those seeking a festive atmosphere while searching for the perfect mug of original ‘Christmas Mulled Wine’. Of course nothing goes better with a cup of steaming Glühwein than a piece of Lebkuchen (German Christmas gingerbread) or slice of Stollen (German Christmas cake). Be sure to visit the Old Town market where legend has it the famed Heinzelmännchen gnomes ensure no modern or mass-produced goods are sold. If you’re looking for hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind treasures, Heidelberg is the place for you!
This morning we arrive in Heidelberg, situated in a region known for its thick forests, cuckoo clocks and traditional costumes. Our guided tour of the city’s rich history includes a visit to the ruins of Heidelberg Castle, overlooking the Rhine River and a red-roofed skyline. Afterwards, stroll down the cobbled streets of the old town, stopping at the Church of the Holy Spirit and the oldest university in Germany. We’re here for a full day, so enjoy this ancient city that looks as though it has been pulled from the pages of a German fairy tale.
Day 6 - Speyer, Germany
Today we’re in Speyer, home to a charming Christmas market with more than 130 wooden holiday booths selling various handcrafts, ornaments and holiday gifts side-by-side with other venders selling bockwurst, roasted chestnuts, candied almonds and apples, hot wine, Glühwein and a local punch that will warm your heart and soul. If you’re looking for the perfect German traditional Christmas market, look no further than Speyer.
Take a leisurely stroll around Speyer and explore its historic past with our included tour. We’ll meet our guide at Deutsches Eck, the city’s famed German Corner. Jutting into the waters like the prow of a ship where the Rhine and Moselle Rivers meet, this park is home to a popular statue of Emperor Wilhelm I. Next we’ll visit Jesuitsenplatz, or Jesuit Square, in the heart of Old Town. Admire the beautiful Speyer City Hall on the eastern side of the square before exploring the Christmas markets on your own.
Day 7 - Strasbourg, France
Today we visit Strasbourg and take in all that the holidays have to offer. 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 cheer. Remaining true to their roots, the local merchants at these wonderfully festive markets sell hand-crafted gifts and decorations, along with a delicious array of seasonal food to tempt you. Enticing smells of sizzling bratwurst, toasted candied almonds and Christmas cookies known as Lebkuchen fill the air and are impossible to resist.
This morning you’ll enjoy a guided tour of Strasbourg, where we’ll stroll through the Old Town with its half-timbered houses and distinctive Alsatian winstubs (wine lounges). Afterwards, during free time, you might wish to explore the stalls of Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärkt, one of the largest Christmas markets in Europe. After dinner we’ll meet up in the lounge and enjoy a final festive night of Christmas entertainment to get us in the holiday spirit.
Optional Pre-Cruise Zurich Holiday Extension
December 08 - 11, 2022
4 Day/3 Night Package
December 09 - 11, 2022
3 Day/2 Night Package
Thursday, December 08, 2022
Early Zurich Arrival
Welcome to Zürich, one of the most festive cities in Europe with its many Swiss Christmas markets and Advent activities found throughout this sensational Swiss city. The city has four main Christmas markets, each with their own unique highlights and experiences. Christmas in Zürich is synonymous with a quintessential holiday... 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 Zürich Christmas markets and the cornucopia of Christmas cheer in this festive city.
Friday, December 09, 2022
Welcome Cocktail Party & Light Festival
Let your OUTbound holiday begin! Switzerland is a country that rocks yuletide joy, and Zürich is the crown jewel of that Christmas crown since the entire city literally sparkles throughout the season. Today we get the party started with our welcome cocktail toast and a night tour of the Christkindlimarkt at Zürich Central Station, home of the famous 50ft Swarovski Christmas tree. No one does chocolate better than the Swiss, so make sure you get your fill of hot chocolate as you stroll through the festive stalls. Our host hotel is just a few minutes walk away, so you do you and OUTbound away!
Saturday, December 10, 2022
Zurich City Tour & Christmas Markets
Get to know this amazing city today with your included tour of Zürich, decked out in all its glory for the holidays. See for yourself why Zürich 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. During our tour, we’ll hit a few of Zürich's four main Christmas markets. The markets are spread out across multiple venues, meaning lots of opportunities for varied Christmas sightseeing. Spend as much time in the festivities as you like!
Sunday, December 11, 2022
Transfer to Basel
Spend your final morning in Zürich 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 with your free time. This afternoon, we’ll check out of the Zürich Hotel and transfer to our ship in Basel by coach. Our trip will take us through the breathtaking Swiss Alps in just over an hour. We’ll arrive at our ship docked in Basel and check into our staterooms.
Zürich Host Hotel
25hours Hotel Langstrasse
Our OUTbound host hotel is none other than the famous 25hours Hotel Langstrasse, located next to the Zürich Hauptbahnhof (Main Station) and just minutes from the Altstadt neighborhood, heart of the city’s gay scene. Regularly changing resident artists ensure a steady flow of creative input.
At the heart of the 25hours Hotel Langstrasse is the ground floor, home to the Cinchona Bar and NENI. The rooms are comfortable sanctuaries with design elements inspired by themes from the red light district, the bourgeoisie, or "the world’s penthouses" in English.