DECEMBER 5-19, 2019

Our journey to the Christmas Markets of Europe begins in:






Luxe is grand, refined, bold, intimate, calm, exotic, cool, treasured

Christmas bells have already started ringing as The Vacayan elves are busy working ‘round the clock to create the perfect holiday experience for you. We’ll certainly have lots to share with you over the coming months as each and every detail of your Emerald Destiny Cruise comes together. And you’ll find that information here.

We’ll also house an email archive on this page, too. This archive will feature all the trip-specific communications we have with you throughout your pre-cruise experience with us. That way, if you happen to lose a general email somewhere along the way, you’ll be able to find it right here.

We’re often asked, “What should we expect from a VACAYA Luxe experience?” Our Luxe vacations are a celebration of the wonders of our planet. They will reach the far corners of the globe – giving VACAYA guests an opportunity to expand their horizons in completely new ways.

The VACAYA Luxe rhythm is… Bold. Refined. Intimate. Exotic. Treasured. Calm. Cool. Grand. A chance to live life to the absolute fullest.




There’s no advance online check-in required for your VACAYA river cruise vacation. Instead, you’ll simply go straight to our rivership on December 5 (for our Amsterdam-to-Nuremberg and Amsterdam-to-Budapest cruisers) or December 12 (for our Nuremberg-to-Budapest cruisers).

If you arrive in Amsterdam on December 5 or in Nuremberg on December 12 via air and have provided us with your flight information, your airport-to-ship transfers are included. As a reminder of how to provide us with this information, go HERE.

Embarkation in Amsterdam on December 5 will begin at 12:30pm and will continue through the afternoon/evening, with rooms ready at 3pm. We overnight in Amsterdam with the ship setting sail on December 6 at 12:30pm sharp. Our compulsory Lifeboat Drill will take place on December 6 at 2pm.

Embarkation in Nuremberg on December 12 will begin at 12:30pm, with rooms ready at 3pm and all aboard at 6:30pm. Destiny sets sail from Nuremberg at 7pm sharp on December 12. The time of our compulsory Lifeboat Drill on December 12 is still to be determined.

If you arrive at the ship earlier than 12:30pm in Amsterdam or Nuremberg, you are welcome to check your bags and enjoy the onboard public spaces until your room is ready. Or you can check your bags and go explore the city.

When checking in at the Front Desk, you will be asked to provide your passport, which MAY be kept overnight and returned the next day. This is also when you will register a credit card with Emerald to cover your cruise extras.

While we’ve provided approximate docking locations for both Amsterdam and Nuremberg, please note this is subject to change, but typically won’t change dramatically. Our ship will be in the general area of the indicated location. If you or your taxi/Uber driver are having difficulty locating Destiny, the direct line for the Front Desk is +49 152 5671 3873 and they can give you the exact position. The Front Desk can also be reached by email at

If this if your first time river cruising, you’ll quickly learn that the docking positions in each port are rarely fixed; they shift ever so slightly depending on myriad factors. No worries, though… you can always contact the ship directly to receive their current location. Another thing you’ll discover is that in the busiest ports of call, our ship may be “stacked” with other riverships – meaning the ships are docked parallel to each other, sometimes 3-4 deep. In those cases, you will simply walk through the lobbies of the other vessels to move from our ship to the shore.






Christmas Market at the Dom

Cologne’s largest and most popular Christmas Market certainly has the most imposing setting, having the giant gothic Cologne Cathedral as a backdrop. Beneath the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland, you can choose from numerous sweet delicacies, watch artisans at work, and enjoy the “Original Christmas mulled wine” out of the festively decorated Christmas mugs. Under a roof of fairy lights, the stage at the center hosts musical performances that make for a perfect holiday atmosphere.

Quality regional specialities and organically-certified food are an important component of the market. The large variety of gift ideas such as woodcarvings, glass balls, ceramics, accessories, children’s toys, soaps, etc. come mainly from Germany and Europe.

Christmas Heavenue
The Gay Christmas Market

With Cologne being Germany’s self-proclaimed gay capital, of course they have a Gay & Lesbian Christmas Market, which delivers an alternative Advent experience. The pedestrian zone around Sparkasse KölnBonn at Rudolfplatz will be transformed into Heavenue – a composite word of “Heaven” and “Avenue.” The entertainment program lists Bitch-Bingo, Burlesque dance, and Schlager music acts. The food and drink menu includes hot cocktails, and you might find the unconventional Christmas tree decoration as well.

Heavenue is a celebration of special and unusual attractions – starting with the unique mulled wine, created specifically for this Christmas market using red and white wines. There will also be a range of culinary delights to choose from, some of which are not available at any of the other Christmas markets in Cologne. A sophisticated lighting design consisting of LEDs, chains of lights, and special effects will transform the square into a colorful and dazzling sea of lights in the evening – which is sure to put a sparkle in the eyes of visitors.

The market enjoys the support of the Cologne AIDS Hilfe and KLuST e.V. (organizers of Cologne Pride), among others.

The Angels’ Market

This is Cologne’s oldest Christmas Market. Stop at the Angels’ Christmas Market at Neumarkt to pick up some final gifts and warm up with a mug of Glühwein or hot chocolate. Angel figures and stars carved from wood, garlands, and Christmas wreaths decorate the market square and create the illusion of being in a forested area in the midst of the city centre.

Visitors will be enchanted by this lovingly decorated Christmas market with its charming chalets and high-quality products in the heart of the city. A nostalgic flavor is provided by decorative plates with illustrations of the Christmas markets, which are sold there alongside many other artisan products.

Harbour Christmas Market

The maritime-themed Christmas Market at Cologne’s harbour in front of the Chocolate Museum has a unique flair to it. White pagoda tents resemble reefed sails, and the staff dress in sailors’ uniforms. The products sold all revolve around Christmas and seafaring and come from both local designers and international vendors.

Surrounded by the medieval Malakoff Tower, the historic harbour swing bridge, the much-visited Chocolate Museum, and the Rhine, the new atmospheric “Christmas Market on Water” is an exciting, attractive must-see for visitors to Cologne.

Old Town Christmas Market

The house gnomes will be opening their traditional Christmas market in the heart of Cologne’s old town. Just like in years past, the diligent little helpers have been busy getting things ready on Heumarkt and the Alter Market to spread the Christmas spirit in Cologne.

Legend has it that the Heinzelmännchen (house gnomes) performed all sorts of different jobs for the locals of Cologne: they prepared the sausages for the butcher, sewed the clothes for the tailor, and baked the bread for the baker, and so the winding alleys of the “House Gnomes Christmas Market” are differently themed, just like the guilds of days past. From treats, toys, and items to awaken that feeling of nostalgia,  to handicrafts and Christmas products – here you’ll find everything your heart desires.

The market’s highlight is the ice rink that’s open all day for the season. You can rent skates right there and cruise around the market or participate in a round of curling.

Village of St. Nicholas

At the Nikolausdorf, half-timbered houses decorated with evergreen garlands and fairy lights spread across Cologne’s Rudolfplatz. Next to the historic backdrop of the medieval Hahnentorburg, mulled wine, red wine punch or candy floss and decorated booths ensure that special Christmas feeling.

The Christmas spirit can also be felt by grown-ups, with wafts of magic, mulled wine, brandy punch, and candyfloss drifting through the air.
The festively decorated stalls give a convivial feeling of coziness. Set against an historical backdrop, the Rudolfplatz Christmas market will get all visitors into the mood for the upcoming festivities.


Set in the town’s chocolate-box old quarter, the Christmas Market in Rüdesheim am Rhein brings a distinctly festive feel to the romantic old town and its popular Drosselgasse Lane, as 120 stalls, representing 12 countries, gather to present Christmas customs and traditions from around the world.

Among a huge choice of local and global foods, try some Finnish specialities on the Drosselgasse or a taste of the Far East in the Mongolian marquee.

An absolute must do at the Rüdesheim Christmas Market is to try some deliciously made Rüdesheim Coffee, which is exclusively made with locally distilled Asbach Uralt Brandy, whipped cream and traditionally served in an authentic Rüdesheim coffee set. Available throughout the Rüdesheim Christmas market, Asbach Uralt is probably one of the most popular products, as they also make a great variety of brandy-filled chocolates.

For a truly stunning view of the Rhine and its sloping vineyards, take a cable car ride up to the Niederwald recreational area.

Europe’s biggest Nativity scene can also be found in Rüdesheim, with life-size figures which can be admired on the market square.


Würzburg’s traditional Christmas Market has a long history, stretching back several hundred years. Viewed as one of the most atmospheric Christmas Markets in Germany, the Würzburg Christmas Market consists of 100 beautifully decorated wooden booths, illuminated by the soft glow of Christmas lights. During the Advent season, the air is filled with spicy smells from various decorated stalls and the sound of traditional Christmas songs.

The Würzburg Christmas Market offers mulled wine, arts and crafts, as well as delicious regional produce and food.


With the traditional main Christmas Market on the central Maxplatz Square and two special crafts markets, all staged within the old town, the season of goodwill is both a rich and exciting experience in Bamberg. Church music concerts, street musicians, and choir singing resound all around, creating special and unforgettable festive moments.

Bamberg is also widely known for its abundance of Christmas Cribs on show on its Route of Nativity Scenes. At 40 places – museums, churches, public buildings, private houses and on public squares – you can see about 400 different Christmas Cribs, with regularly changing scenes depicting all the stories around Christ’s birth according to the bible. There are historical scenes with large Baroque figurines made of wood and dressed most wonderfully in historical style, many more wood carved scenes from throughout the 19th and 20th century in various styles, and quite a few modern scenes with figurines made of stone or clay.

But what is most intriguing are the many details that are lovingly integrated into the scenes telling many stories that aren’t quite part of the bible. Often, local sights make up the background of the scenes and current topics discussed in local politics are illustrated with a sly humor.


The Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg is one of the biggest and best-known in the world. The market started back in the 17th century. The first evidence of a Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt comes from a wooden box with an inscription on the bottom which reads: “Regina Susanna Harßdörfferin von der Jungfrau Susanna Eleonora Erbsin zum Kindles-Marck überschickt 1628” (essentially, “received on the occasion of a Christkindl Market in 1628”).

The Christkindl is not directly related, as some assume, to the Baby Jesus (the Christ Child), but was a figure favored by Luther and other leading figures of the Reformation (rather than the Catholic Saint Nicholas). The Christkindl is an ethereal blond being who brings presents to children who are good. Luther possibly intended a reference to the image of Jesus as a (very Germanic) baby.

The Christkind plays an important role in the Nuremberg market, with the girl playing the role being chosen from nominations and applications from the area. Originally the role was played by an actor, but these days the successful applicant has to fulfill the following conditions: she must be a native Nuremberger (have been born there or lived there for a long time) and be between 16 and 19 years of age. She should be at least 160cm tall and free from vertigo!

The six best candidates are elected by residents and then the finalists appear in front of a jury where one is chosen. She is elected for two years and has to fulfil many official functions as well as give The Prologue which opens the market. For more information click HERE.



Christkindlmarkt on Neupfarrplatz

For over 200 years, Regensburg’s oldest Christmas Market is the festively decorated and illuminated stalls that frame the Protestant Neupfarrkirche. Decorative Christmas tree decorations, gifts, and wood carvings can be bought here.

Above all, however, the approximately 40 different types of mulled wine and the famous Knackwurstsemmeln, with horseradish, gherkins and mustard are what make this market unique. Up to 10,000 people – tourists, but also the citizens of Regensburg – come every day in the run-up to Christmas to look, buy, and enjoy the cozy atmosphere. The stalls and booths around the 500-year-old Neupfarr Church and in front of the classical columns of the former city guardhouse sell a glittering range of Christmas decorations, traditional Nativity crib scenes with carved figures, children’s toys and other very practical presents.


Through narrow streets, hidden passageways, and courtyards, you can stroll down Kohlenmarkt on to Haidplatz to find this Crafts Market. Named after Lucia, the white woman who goes from house to house with a wreath of light on her head and brings light into the dark season. This artisan market lights up every year where artists and craftsmen set up stalls laden with wonderful handmade wares such as dolls, pottery, paintings on silk and other materials, marionettes hanging amid a mass of strings, fine-quality toys (often too good to play with), and all sorts of other gifts. The creative people who have made all these objects are happy to explain techniques, and to encourage visitors to make things themselves. Alongside these stands with their works of art, other booths invite visitors to sample gingerbread, Christmas cookies, and other mouth watering goodies.

Romantic Christmas Market

Located in the courtyard of Thurn and Taxis Palace, this romantic Christmas Market offers all the bustling atmosphere of a market, traditional Bavarian delicacies, and a varied program of cultural events like Her Highness Gloria of Thurn und Taxis telling the “Christmas Story” and Regensburg’s “Christkindl” who recites poems each day.

Advent market in St. Katharinenspital

At the Spitalgarden, Regensburg’s fourth Christmas Market takes place in front of some fantastic scenery, overlooking the cathedral and the old stone bridge. With its Advent enchantments, guests can experience an extraordinary program with regional dishes and specialities like mulled wine, mulled beer, wild ragout, and much more.


Christkindlmarkt am Hauptplatz

The Christkindlmarkt in Linz is a quaint little gem among the Austrian Christmas Markets. Located next to the Linz Palace, you can really indulge in a Baroque Christmas Market fantasy in Linz.

The city goes all out with the golden city lights and the real Christmas tree towering high above the many market stalls. If you’re a foodie with a sweet tooth, be sure to try a piece of “Linzer Torte” (cake).

Christmas Market in the Volksgarten

The smell of gingerbread, roasted nuts and chestnuts in the air, the Bratwürstel sizzle on the grill, the Punschhäferl laugh in your face, and promised warm hands – who can resist that? Culinary temptations as far as the eye (and nose) can see invite you to stop at one of the cozy Konsumationsstände.

Be sure to check out ICE MAGIC, where 14 international artists present their ice sculptures, which will astonish young and old alike during the interactive tour. More than 150,000 kg of ice is worked into shape and accompanied with atmospheric lighting and sound. Enjoy the interactive fairytale-like ice world at minus 6 degrees Celsius, warm up with a hot drink at the ice bar, and let let your inner kid out and experience a new adventure on a slide made of pure ice. Admission 12 Euros.

Winter Market at the Pfarrplatz

This small market focuses on hand-crafted gifts, with craftspeople demonstrating their techniques. The focus of the food here is organic and farm-to-table. It is held in front of the Stadtpfarrkirche just a short walk from the Landstrasse.

(for those on our Salzburg Excursion)

Salzburger Christkindlmarkt

Spread out over the two biggest market squares in Salzburg, the Christkindl Market is a sight to behold. Dating back to the 15th century, this market has quite the tradition. (The Christmas Museum is right next door if you want to learn more.) The Christkindlmarkt offers plenty of huts selling Christmasy fares, gifts, drinks, and more. All is held underneath a canopy of fairy lights, known as the “starry sky.”

Schloss Mirabell Market

The Mirabell Palace is situated on the opposite bank of the river to the Residence and the Cathedral. This Christmas market in front of the Mirabell Palace has developed in recent years into a magnet for both young and old. The culinary delights, the mulled wine, and the walk through the artfully decorated huts with their fancy goods invite you to linger.

This Christmas market in Salzburg enchants its visitors with its traditional charm.


Schönbrunn Palace Christmas Market

If you want a very grand Christmas market in Vienna, then make your way to Schönbrunn Palace. The palace itself is a beauty, but illuminated with glorious Christmas lights along the paths and in the trees, it turns into a proper winter wonderland.

The market is undoubtedly one of the best Christmas Markets in Austria and specializes in local handicraft and art items as well as more rustic and traditional Christmas tree decorations.
There’s a lot to discover in the 80 lovingly decorated booths. Exhibitors from Austria and the neighboring countries create a unique atmosphere on the splendidly illuminated Parade court of Schönbrunn Palace.

The exclusive products include traditional handicrafts, nostalgic toys, and lovingly designed Christmas decorations made of glass, wood, ceramics, paper, and tin.

The culinary menu features plenty of punch and mulled wine variations as well as Austrian delicacies such as “Bauerngröstl,” “Kaiserschmarrn,” sweet chestnuts or gingerbread.

Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz

It’s like a shining fairy tale with a giant Christmas tree and is the busiest market in Vienna. The stalls are full of Christmas knickknacks. Try the chocolate-covered fresh fruits, walk around and be amazed by this magical place and spectacular City Hall. Rent some ice skates for some fun on the beautiful ice rink in the middle of the market.

Christmas Market on Spittelberg

Idyllic alleyways with lots of stalls full of artisan’s wares, the Christmas Market on Spittelberg is perfect to buy unusual Christmas gifts. It’s in the middle of a Biedermeier heritage district in the hip neighborhood Neubau, with lots of trendy bars and restaurants around it. The atmosphere is unique – you won’t be disappointed. For a bit of a break from the cold, grab a bite at Amerling Beisl! It has the most amazing courtyard in Vienna. A few minutes walk away is the best roof-top bar in Vienna: Dachboden.

Christmas Village on Maria-Theresien-Platz

Between impressive buildings of the Museum of Natural History and the Museum of Art (and just two mins from the Museum Quarter), you’ll find the Christmas village on Maria-Theresien-Platz. The former Austrian monarch statue will look at you from the centre of the square, while you’re exploring the decorated market stalls and delicious food. Try “Kiachl” from Tyrol (similar to doughnuts, but with cranberry jam or sauerkraut).

Arts & Crafts on Karlsplatz

In front of the famous church Karlskirche you’ll find an alternative Christmas market – full of arts and crafts. Wander down the little streets and explore local food. You have to try a “Raclette Brot” (proper bread with warm cheese from the Alps) and the “Schilcher Glühwein” (mulled wine from Styria). So delicious! There’s a huge live nativity scene, too.

Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace

Baroque at its best! It’s the perfect place for a tranquil evening, not as crowded as Rathausplatz. Lots of stalls with handcrafted goods and culinary delights. You’ll fall in love with the breathtaking building and the beautiful garden. Make sure to explore the Belvedere Palace in the daytime, as well!

Christmas Market at Stephansplatz

In the heart of downtown Vienna, around St. Stephen’s Cathedral, is an elegant and noble Christmas market, contemplative, traditional, and different. The main focus is on a very high quality product range of items manufactured or refined in Austria. Walking distance from Vienna’s famous shopping streets “Kärntner Straße” and “Graben.”


Bratislava Christmas Market
(Vianočné trhy Bratislava)

The Christmas market in Bratislava takes place on the main square of the city (Hlavné Námestie) and the square of the Franciscans (Františkánske Námestie). The Christmas Market is comprised of more than 100 stalls presenting items for gifts made with wood, glass, leather, wicker, beeswax, Slovak handicrafts, Christmas trees, and many Slovak delicacies such as sausages and meat roast, cabbage soup, bread with lard and onion, potato pancakes, gingerbread, biscuits, wafers, honey, and hydromel.

Local artisans like the blacksmith, the ceramist, and the glazier present and sometimes carry their products directly next to the Old Town Hall (Starej Radnice).

A rich cultural program is organized every year, including concerts, dance performances, songs and folk dances, and performances for children. During Christmas, the entire old city of Bratislava is beautifully decorated with lights.


Budapest Christmas Fair

The Christmas Fair and winter festival in Vörösmarty ter celebrates its 21st anniversary in 2019 since its first edition and every year it surpasses the previous one in terms of size and activities.

This Christmas Market in Budapest is characterized by many rustic wooden stalls with Christmas decorations, two stages with activities, Christmas concerts with live music, and dance shows. You can enjoy all kinds of Christmas concerts: folk, jazz, blues, soul, crossover, world music concerts, dance house shows… from Monday to Friday, the performances start at 5pm.

Be sure to try at least one of the traditional local delicacies: roasted chestnuts, plum juice with cinnamon, hot chocolate, hot wine, fireplace cake (Flódni – with cinnamon or even Nutella), lángos, Sekler Cake, Strudels, Flódni (a traditional Jewish cake with layers of walnut, poppy seeds and plum jam filling), and pizza bread baked in a clay oven. For meat lovers, we suggest a very special specialty: the mangalica burger, made from the only breed of hairy pig in the world, the Hungarian mangalica.

It can be tricky to find Vörösmarty tér (Vorosmarty square) because there’s a Vörösmarty tér (square) and a Vörösmarty utca (street) in the downtown, both on the millennial subway line M1 (yes, still the very first metro line on the European continent!). So be conscious of the difference between “square” and “street.”


Despite its smaller size, many visitors vote for the Christmas Market in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica as their favorite one. The small ice skating rink and the gorgeous Christmas tree in the middle of the square offer excellent photo ops with the magnificent church in the background.

What else makes this location special? The custom-designed light show displayed on the facade of St. Stephen’s! In recent years, there are two kinds of shows, both once every hour: a “traditional” one, and a 3D one for which you can buy your 3D glasses at any vendor at the market.

Enjoy one of the amazing square-shaped donuts at The Box Donut Shop on the corner of Zrínyi and Sas Streets.


This is the Budapest Christmas Market where the locals go.

Óbuda (Old Buda) is in the north of the Buda side and has a charming old town with a beautiful town hall. In front of it, there’s a Christmas Market every year with a larger ice skating rink, a romantic looking carrousel and lots of free concerts.

In 2018, the Christmas tree of Óbuda was made by the artists of the Hellowood group, and the wood used to create it was donated to families in need who used it for heating.

To experience this less touristy atmosphere, we recommend you hop on the H5 local train at Batthyány tér and get off at Szentlélek tér. Once you’re there, we also recommend that you visit some Roman sights like the Aquincum Museum. You’ll be surprised to learn how important this location was for the Roman Empire!

Also, enjoy a specialty coffee at Esernyős (2 Fő square).



The official currency of Europe is the Euro and you’ll be able to use them easily in The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Slovakia. Although Euro are also widely accepted in Hungary, the official currency of Hungary is the Forint, which currently exchanges 1 USD to 295 Forint. If your travels take you to Prague in Czechia, you’ll use Koruna, which exchanges 1 USD to 22.9 Koruna.

When purchasing Euro, the current exchange rate is:

1 USD = 0.88 Euro

1 Euro = 1.11 USD

For the latest exchange rates, we recommend

You’ll find Euro-dispensing ATMs at all European Airports, Train Stations, and City Centers.




The docking positions of Emerald Destiny for each of our ports of call are as follows:


For Uber, input “VIVA RIVERSIDE AMSTERDAM.” Destiny will now be docked on De Ruijterkade on the WEST SIDE of Centraal Train Station.















Destiny will be docked at the River Cruise Dock on Europakai, just south of Hafenstraße.








LINZ, AUSTRIA (approximate)




VIENNA, AUSTRIA (approximate)








We’re delighted to welcome the following artists to our 2019 European River Cruises:






Shann Carr is a comedian first, but she’s also a film and event producer, author, radio host, and philanthropist. She is the Executive Producer of The Moxie Studios, a visionary company hoping to build a home for the burgeoning industry of gay entertainment production in Palm Springs, CA. The Moxie has produced media-based events in Palm Springs including Gay TV Weekend, Gay Commercial-Making Contests, Modernism Home Tour, films, film festivals, live shows, and a couple of national comedy tours. Moxie endeavors to create media-making momentum that builds Palm Springs’ reputation as the perfect work-play destination for professionals producing the next generation of gay entertainment.

Shann has a special way with people. She connects deeply with audiences on and off the stage and so much of her shows are about her audience. After 30 years of exclusively gay comedy, Shann has entertained on over 100 gay cruises and vacations for men and women, so she’s the ultimate cross gateway lesbian. She’s often dubbed the gay man’s lesbian because of her snarky observations and silly storytelling style. 







Born as a “surprise baby,” Paul J. was raised in San Antonio, Texas. That’s where he discovered that, as an often-teased high school band/choir/drama nerd, humor was going to have to be his weapon of choice in defending himself against the other kids. Gratefully, adding humor to an already talented adolescent solidified the foundation for the actor/singer/comic that Paul J. Williams is today.

Paul J.’s story has included six years with the comedy/improv group LESS MISERABLE, numerous theater roles in both musicals and plays, six years of honing his comedy craft in New York City, countless appearances as a stand-up comic across the country, a cable network comedy special appearance, performances with various professional choral ensembles, and an extended run as a featured entertainer with RSVP Vacations. When Paul J. made the difficult decision to hang up his RSVP choir robe two years ago, The Vacayans were happy to scoop him up!






Brandon James Gwinn is a singer-pianist, composer-lyricist, and producer lauded as “one hell of an entertainer” by the Bistro Awards. His debut EP Not Too Late is now available on iTunes. He produced and performed on Two Birds and One Stone, the first and second albums released by Trixie Mattel (Winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3), which both debuted at #1 on the iTunes Top Albums and the Billboard Heatseekers Albums charts. Brandon also directs and produces music for Alexis Michelle (Drag Race Season 9) and produced her debut album Love Fool for Broadway Records. He composed theme music for George Takei’s webseries It Takeis Two and he can often be found entertaining crowds at NYC’s famous piano bar Marie’s Crisis. In addition, Brandon has also arranged and played shows at Feinstein’s, Birdland, Joe’s Pub, 54 Below, and on Fire Island.

Onboard Destiny, Brandon will accompany all of our musicians, as well as lead a couple of rip-roaring Piano Bar nights!






Currently appearing in the brand new musical Scotland, PA at the Roundabout Theatre Company, Alysha made a splash on Broadway as the man hungry cab driver, Hildy, in the recent revival of On the Town. A San Francisco native and graduate of the Ruth Asawa School Of the Arts, Alysha made her broadway debut in Green Day’s American Idiot and has also appeared on Broadway in On a Clear Day You Can See Forever with Harry Connick Jr. Harry Connick Jr. and Jessie Mueller, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and Bring it On: The Musical.

Nominated for a Lucille Lortel Award for her performance in the NYC revival of Smokey Joe’s Cafe, Alysha also recently played the role of Ruth Sherwood in Wonderful Town with the London Symphony Orchestra, which was recorded on the LSO label and is available on iTunes. Alysha originated the role of Cee Cee Bloom in the world premiere of Beaches the musical at the Signature Theatre, earning her a Helen Hayes nomination for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.

Television credits include Law and Order SVU, Nurse Jackie, Royal Pains, and The Climb. Alysha can now be seen as Murphy in Netflix’s Bonding and as Zoe in the Olay Musical campaign.






Joel is a writer, performer, musician, and comedian. On Broadway, you may have seen him in Be More Chill and School of RockOff-Broadway, Joel has starred in Southern Comfort (Public Theater) and The Joel Waggoner Experience (Joe’s Pub).

TV: $100,000 Pryamid Season 3 Premiere. Composer: Presto Change-o (Barrington Stage). 2012 Dramatist Guild Fellow (Composer). MFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. His Debut Single “Unlikely Warrior” is available on iTunes.






Tori Scott is a singer, actress, and comedian who was recently called “the Bette Midler of the new millennium” by Provincetown Magazine and has been named a Top 10 Cabaret Performer by Time Out New York. She’s graced the stage of Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater for much of the past decade and has toured her solo shows to London, Edinburgh, Los Angeles, San Diego, Puerto Vallarta, Dallas, and Provincetown.

On television, she’s counted to 20 as a singing garbage woman on Sesame Street and has dubbed the vocals of a singing hooker on HBO’s Cathouse: The Musical. Huffington Post calls Tori “An absolute thrill! A soul-baring singer and sharp comedian… witty, wry and engaging. A twinkling cabaret talent and a sassy storyteller.”





There are included city tours in all of our ports of call. Optional tours are also sometimes available as noted below.


Week One – Amsterdam to Nuremberg – Dec 5-12

December 5 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Open

December 6 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – 8:30am Included Canal Cruise Tour or 9am Included Guided Bike Tour through the outskirts of Amsterdam

December 7 – Cologne, Germany – 1:30pm Optional Tour to Drachenburg Castle / 1:45pm Included Cologne Walking Tour

December 8 – Rüdesheim, Germany – 1:30pm Included Guided Hike through local vineyards or 2pm Included Mini-train from Pier to Siegfried’s Museum and Walking Tour

December 9 – Miltenberg/Wertheim, Germany – 12:45pm Guided Tour of Miltenberg and Wertheim (includes bus transfer to Wertheim) or 2pm Included Active Walk to Miltenberg Castle (includes bus transfer to Wertheim)

December 10 – Würzburg, Germany – 9:30am Optional Tour of Rothenburg or 10am Included Tour of Würzburg 

December 11 – Bamberg, Germany – 4:30pm Included Tour of Bamberg

December 12 – Nuremberg, Germany – 8:30am Included Tour of Nuremberg, 4 hours (for those guests cruising with us to Budapest or staying on in Nuremberg) / 2:30pm Included Nuremberg Bike Tour


Week Two – Nuremberg to Budapest – Dec 12-19

December 12 – Nuremberg, Germany 2pm Optional Gingerbread Baking Class or Included 2:30pm Nürenberg Bike Tour

December 13 – Kelheim/Regensburg, Germany – 11:30am Optional Excursion to Kuchlbauer Brewery or 4pm Included Walking Tour of Regensburg

December 14 – Passau, Germany/Linz, Austria – 8am Optional Salzburg, Austria Excursion (9 hours) or 8:15am Included Passau Walking Tour and 6pm Walk into Linz, Austria

December 15 – Melk/Dürnstein, Austria – 8:45am Included Melk Abbey Tour / 1pm Included Biking Tour from Melk to Dürnstein / 3pm Included Hiking Tour to Dürnstein Castle

December 16 – Vienna, Austria – 8:30am Optional Tour of Schönbrunn  Palace / 9am Included Orientation Walking Tour of Vienna or Biking in Vienna Tour / 2:30pm Prater Walking Tour / 6:45pm Optional Viennese Evening Concert

December 17 – Bratislava, Slovakia – 9:30am Included Hiking Tour to Bratislava Castle or 9:30am Included Walking Tour of Bratislava / 2:30pm Included Home-Hosted Coffee and Cake with a Slovakian Family

December 18 – Budapest, Hungary – 9am Included City Tour or Active Walk to Buda Hill / 2pm Optional Jewish Heritage Tour / 2:30pm Budapest Walking Tour

December 19 – Budapest, Hungary – Open

OPTIONAL EXCURSIONS can be booked online through Saturday, November 30. Simply…

  • Log into MY TRIPS.
  • Find your EUROPE RIVER CRUISE reservation.
  • Click VIEW/MODIFY.
  • Click the little arrow to the right of ADD MORE OPTONS.
  • Click ADD TOUR.
  • Click SELECT for the tour you’d like to add.
  • Choose the Guests for whom you’d like to book the tour and click CONTINUE. (If you’re a solo traveler, you won’t see this option.)
  • Once you click SELECT, you’ll be taken to the account screen where you’ll see the added tour. If you’d like to add another tour, click on the little arrow to the right of ADD MORE OPTIONS and go through the same steps as earlier to SELECT another tour.
  • Once all tours have been added, click CHECK OUT to pay for them.
  • Follow the prompts on the next screens to finish paying for the additional tours.




Your onboard gratuities have been prepaid. However, as with all outstanding service moments… if a Destiny staff member has gone above and beyond for you, by all means feel free to reward their efforts.

In Europe, it’s customary to tip your tour guides. We recommend 3-5 Euro per person for shorter tours and 10 Euro per person for full-day excursions.




The Vacayans have worked with local hotel properties in each of our host cities to ensure you have the best available rates and/or the best available terms for each recommended property when you book through our website.

You’ll have total control of your reservation from our hotels page – able to book, view, or cancel your reservation at any time. Be sure to review each property’s terms and conditions (including cancellation policies) on our booking page; they vary from hotel to hotel. To fit your individual needs, select your specific dates on each page’s interactive calendar. No minimum stay required.

To enhance your pre- and post-cruise experiences, the following properties are recommended by VACAYA:



DTbH Amsterdam Centraal Station – Oosterdoksstraat 4, Amsterdam, 1011 DK






Le Meridien Grand Hotel Nuremberg – Bahnhofstraße 1-3, Nuremberg, 90402


Hampton by Hilton Nuremberg City Center Bavaria – Bahnhofstrasse 16, Nuremberg, 90402




Le Méridien Munich – Bayerstraße 41, Munich, 80335


Holiday Inn Munich City Centre – Hochstrasse 3, Munich, 81669




Augustine, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Prague – Letenská 12/33, 118 00 Malá Strana, Czechia


Courtyard by Marriott Prague City – Lucemburská Street 46, 130 00 Vinohrady, Czechia






InterContinental Hotel Budapest – Budapest Apaczai Csere J U 12, Budapest 1052


Eurostars Budapest Center – Kossuth Lajos U 7-9, Budapest, 01053



Displayed rates are the best available rates at the time of booking.

If you’d prefer to book one of our recommended hotels through your travel agent instead, just let your agent know the hotel name and dates you’d like and they’ll be able to secure it for you directly with the property. Just remember that rates and policies will vary from those found using VACAYA’s online hotel booking tool.




Emerald Destiny does not feature self-service laundry facilities, but they do offer paid services to help meet your laundry needs. For those sailing with us all 14 nights or who have extended their European adventures either before or after their cruise, you’ll be all set with Destiny’s services.






Read our BLOG to discover all our favorite places in the Dutch capital.


A few of our favorite bars are all in close proximity to each other (within a block of one another). They are:

Barcelon Colonia
Pipinstraße 3
Fun. Easy. Warm. Friendly. Opens 6pm.

Vor St. Martin 8
Great drinks. Great cakes. Opens 6pm.

Baustelle 4U
Pipinstraße 5
Friendly German neighborhood pub. Opens 2pm. Cash only.


Our favorite LGBT+ hangouts in Vienna are all within close proximity to Vienna’s famed Night Market – Naschmarkt.

Marea Alta
Gumpendorfer Str. 28
A small quirky watering hole with great cocktails and a cool vibe. Opens 6pm.

Kisss Bar
Luftbadgasse 19
Warm friendly local hangout. Opens 4pm.

Eagle Bar
Blümelgasse 1
Vienna’s Eagle Bar has all the backroom fun you’d expect. Opens 9pm.

Red Carpet Bar
Magdalenenstraße 2
A great place to hang out and enjoy interacting with locals. Opens 7pm.

Rüdigergasse 2
One of Vienna’s most popular bathhouses/saunas for gay men. Opens 11am.

Kaiserbründl Herrensauna
Weihburggasse 18-20
An Ottoman-inspired gay bathhouse/sauna. Opens 2pm.

Café Savoy
Linke Wienzeile 36
Our favorite little Viennese Coffee House. Opens 10am.


While Budapest’s bars are scattered throughout the city, they’re all welcoming and friendly.

Phoenix Bar & Club
Hajós u. 27
Budapest’s hottest LGBT+ hangout. Opens 7pm.

Why Not Café and Bar
Belgrád rkp. 3
Fun music. Usually busy on weekdays. Opens 10am.

Mini Vendéglátó Kft.
Szép u. 1/b
A great hangout for mature LGBT+ travelers. Opens 6pm.

Magnum Sauna
Csepreghy u. 2
Budapest’s most well-known bathhouse. Clean. Large. Shared rooms. Opens 1pm.

Szimpla Kert (not gay, but one of Budapest’s most awesome “ruin bars”)
Kazinczy u. 14
Be sure to visit at least ONE Ruin Bar while in Budapest. Szimpla Kert is our favorite. For a look at the Ruin Bar phenomenon, explore HERE. Opens 12pm.


Our favorite Thermal Baths (not gay, but wonderful experiences) in Budapest:

Gellért Thermal Bath
Kelenhegyi út 4. Opens 6am daily.
Gellert Baths are well known as one of the most impressive in the city for the Art Nouveau architecture, dating back to the early 20th century. Combining two of the city’s best assets, beautiful architecture and therapeutic waters, this bathhouse is the one to visit if time is limited.

Rudas Baths
Dobrentei ter 9. Opens 6am daily.
Rudas Bathhouse in the Buda district is one of three main Turkish hamams built by Ottoman ruler Sokollu Mustafa and another of the oldest in Budapest. Some original details remain including the octagonal pool and large dome. A large 2014 renovation included adding a Turkish-Hungarian fusion restaurant along with a Jacuzzi with sweeping city views, four brand new pools, and plenty of detailed architectural highlights including ample glass features lighting up the inside.

Széchenyi Baths
Állatkerti krt. 9-11. Opens 6am daily.
The Széchenyi Baths is one of the biggest public bathing complexes in Europe with 18 coed pools and three exterior coed pools servicing thousands of people weekly. It was first built in 1913 with additional sections added in 1927. A true gem of Budapest. Not to be missed.



Part of the fun of each and every VACAYA vacation is our parties. On our Luxe voyages, they’re more of the “cocktail” variety, but they’re still tons of fun – a chance to let loose and get to know your travel mates.

And while costumes are always encouraged, they’re never required. We’ll love you in or out of costume and you’ll enjoy your time no matter what.


SLAP! Welcome Party

Our new signature party lets you get to know your fellow cruisers just a liiiiiiittle bit better as we take the traditional “hanky code” and thwack it onto your wrist with a classic slap bracelet!

VACAYA will provide slap bracelets in 10 different colors – black, red, light blue, dark blue, orange, green, gold, yellow, pink, and rainbow. If your predilections veer outside these colors, you might want to find a slap bracelet to represent them on your own.



Don we now our gay apparel! Let’s see your ugliest Christmas Sweater as we share holiday favorites all together.


This one is easy… strip down, grab the bathrobe from your stateroom, and hit the lounge!



The Christmas and Chanukah season are now in full swing, so show us your holiday spirit in red, green, or blue!



SLAP! Welcome Party

SLAP IS BACK as we welcome all the cruisers joining us in Nuremberg!


We’re going full-on ONESIE all evening long! Put on your onesie and prepare for a night of silly fun through dinner, our show, and cocktails after!


Jack Frost has been nipping at our noses all week long. Tonight, we’ll join him for an evening of frozen cocktails.


Bring a gift and we’ll do a grand swap at our final Cocktail Party!

  1. Purchase a gift from the Christmas Markets up to $10
  2. At the party, place your purchase on the Gift Table and take a number
  3. Once everyone has arrived, each person will pick a gift in numerical order
  4. Now, spend the party trading up (or down) with fellow cruisers!



Below are our initial docking times for each of our ports of call. Please note that these times are subject to change as final “lock jockeying” occurs about a month before our voyage. What’s lock jockeying? It’s where all of the cruise lines plying the rivers of Europe are assigned lock times. From Amsterdam to Budapest, we will traverse through 68 locks. They’re always a great time and in some of the tighter locks we’re mere inches away from the lock walls and you can reach out and actually touch them!

Week One – Amsterdam to Nuremberg – Dec 5-12

December 5 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – 12:30pm Embarkation Begins / Overnight in Amsterdam

December 6 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – 12:30pm Set sail from Amsterdam to Cologne / 2pm Lifeboat Drill

December 7 – Cologne, Germany – 1pm Arrival / 9pm Departure

December 8 – Rüdesheim, Germany – Morning Cruising the Rhine Gorge / 1:30pm Arrival / 5pm Departure

December 9 – Miltenberg/Wertheim, Germany – 12:30pm Arrival in Miltenberg / 2pm Departure from Miltenburg / 7pm Arrival in Wertheim / 7:30pm Departure from Wertheim*

December 10 – Würzburg, Germany – 10am Drop-off in Flusshafen and bus to Würzburg / 11:30am Ship Arrival in Würzburg / 5pm Departure

December 11 – Bamberg, Germany – 4:30pm Arrival / 8pm Departure

December 12 – Nuremberg, Germany – 7:30am Arrival / 9am Disembarkation


Week Two – Nuremberg to Budapest – Dec 12-19

December 12 – Nuremberg, Germany – 12:30pm Embarkation / 7pm Departure

December 13 – Kelheim/Regensburg, Germany – 11am Arrival in Kelheim / 11:30am Departure from Kelheim / 4pm Arrival in Regensburg / 7pm Departure from Regensburg*

December 14 – Passau, Germany/Linz, Austria – 8am Arrival in Passau / 10:30am Departure from Passau / 5:30pm Arrival in Linz / 10pm Departure from Linz*

December 15 – Melk/Dürnstein, Austria – 6:30am Arrival in Melk / 1pm Departure from Melk / 2:30pm Arrival in Dürnstein / 10pm Departure from Dürnstein*

December 16 – Vienna, Austria – 4:30am Arrival / 2am (12/17) Departure

December 17 – Bratislava, Slovakia – 8:30am Arrival / 7pm Departure

December 18 – Budapest, Hungary – 8:30am Arrival / Overnight in Budapest

December 19 – Budapest, Hungary – 9am Disembarkation

*Some days we make TWO stops. Typically, the first stop is a drop-off for excursions that are farther afield and the second stop is the pick-up. Occasionally, though, we’ll have sightseeing time in both ports of call. 




Emerald Destiny staterooms and suites feature standard 2-prong European 220-Volt outlets. Be sure to carry an adaptor or two in order to keep all of your electronic devices fully charged. Our favorite basic European adaptor is the Tessan, which also includes 2 USB ports. It can be purchased from Amazon HERE.




Destiny is one of the only riverships currently offering both salon and spa services onboard. From standard haircuts and facials to deep tissue massages, you’ll have opportunities aplenty to melt into this luxury. All services can be booked once onboard.





Share this Facebook Post to tell your friends all about your upcoming VACAYA European Cruise!

Spend your holidays with friends aboard a luxurious 5-star Emerald Waterways Star-Ship as we sail from Amsterdam to Budapest.

Posted by VACAYA on Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Retweet this to tell your friends all about this upcoming VACAYA European Cruise!



Complimentary transfers are available as follows:

  • December 5 – Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to Emerald Destiny
  • December 12 – Emerald Destiny to Nuremberg Airport
  • December 12 – Nuremberg Airport to Emerald Destiny
  • December 19 – Emerald Destiny to Budapest Airport

Please note that transfers are only available on the dates listed above. If you’re flying into our embarkation cities or out of our disembarkation cities on different dates than noted above, you can take a taxi/Uber/local transport from the airport to your hotel and from your hotel to the ship (or vice versa) as needed.

Look for the Emerald Representative at the black and white “MEETING POINT” sign near Train Platforms 3-4 and 5-6. This is very close to the Burger King seating area.

Meet the Emerald Representative near the Sixt Car Rental in the Arrivals Hall next to the entrance/exit.

Depending on the flight arrival schedule in both Amsterdam and Nuremberg, you may be transferred to the ship individually or if another flight is coming in soon after yours, you may wait a bit until those fellow travelers arrive. You’ll then be transferred together as a larger group. You can use any down time to grab a coffee, a bite to eat, or some Euro from a nearby ATM.




For schedule changes, we encourage you to download WhatsApp. We’ve set up a group broadcast channel where we can push notifications out to all guests who’ve joined the group. This is a one-way channel – VACAYA to you – and will allow us to notify you quickly of any schedule shifts/important updates/pop-up events/etc.




You can also join the VACAYA Broadcast Channel by using the following QR Code:




The weather in Europe in December is brisk. Here are the average high and low temperatures for several of our key ports of call:

  • Amsterdam – Average High: 45°F / 7.2°C  Average Low: 37°F / 2.8°C
  • Cologne – Average High: 44°F / 6.6°C  Average Low: 35°F / 1.6°C
  • Nuremberg – Average High: 39°F / 3.8°C  Average Low: 33°F / 0.5°C
  • Vienna – Average High: 36°F / 2.2°C  Average Low: 32°F / 0°C
  • Budapest – Average High: 36°F / 2.2°C  Average Low: 31°F / -0.5°C

While the average temperatures can be cold, we recommend layers just in case temps warm up unexpectedly.




It’s Christmas-time, so don’t be afraid to go all out with festive wear!

Winter coats, gloves/mittens, scarves, hats, and a lighter jacket are recommended. Layering is key so that as the day’s temperatures rise and fall you can easily add or shed additional clothes as needed.

Evenings on ship are casually elegant. The ship’s public spaces warrant a bit of dressing up, but there’s no need to go over the top. Slacks/nice jeans and a collared shirt are perfect on all nights.

Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit, as well, if you plan on using Destiny’s indoor heated pool!




September 6, 2019 – Party Themes – Your Party Themes are Ready!

November 5, 2019 – 1 MONTH TO GO – Amsterdam to Nuremberg River Cruise

November 5, 2019 – 37 DAYS TO GO – Nuremberg to Budapest River Cruise

November 25, 2019 – 10 DAYS TO GO – Amsterdam to Nuremberg River Cruise

December 2, 2019 – 10 DAYS TO GO – Nuremberg to Budapest River Cruise