Once upon a time, people gathered on cobblestone squares to buy the special tools and ingredients they needed to make the treats of the season. They kept warm with hot spiced wine, music and games while they shopped and chatted with the local tradesmen. Those were the first Christmas markets, 500 years ago. Today, though the light comes from twinkling electric bulbs rather than torches, bonhomie and fun still prevail. Discover villages with fairytale houses and a friendly, festive atmosphere. Share traditional holiday goodies with the people who made them. Watch as modern children abandon their usual electronics and discover the enchantment of hand-carved wooden toys, as scents of cinnamon and roasting nuts fill the air. Sail through Christmas country, trying Frankfurt’s famous apple cider, Bamberg’s specially brewed holiday beer and Nuremberg’s gingerbread. Throughout, cozy up to steaming mugs of glühwein (warm spiced wine) and do as the locals do by collecting different mugs from each stall and town you visit. Embrace the holiday spirit in Germany, the land where many Christmas traditions began, and find the magic of the season in the smiles that you meet along the way. Who will enjoy this cruise? Those wanting to experience the quintessential magic of the holidays while shopping for one-of-a-kind treasures and discovering the legends behind some of our most popular holiday traditions.