Cruises

Belgian Holiday Markets (2023)

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Brussels to Brussels | 8 Days

Date Range: Nov 2023 - Dec 2023

Ships : River Empress

Countries: Central Europe

There’s no more magical way to enjoy the holiday season than with a visit to a Christmas market. And on an all-inclusive, luxury river cruise, you can wander the stalls of many such markets in one trip, encountering the delights of each city’s unique rendition along the way. The holiday season in Belgium is something truly special. Not only will each city have its own quintessential Christmas setup, with rows of stalls offering handcrafted gifts and delicious wintertime treats, but they’ll also surround these markets with enchanting festivals, ice skating rinks, elaborate light displays, Ferris wheels and more characterize the holiday season in towns across Belgium.

There’s no more magical way to enjoy the holiday season than with a visit to a Christmas market. And on an all-inclusive, luxury river cruise, you can wander the stalls of many such markets in one trip, encountering the delights of each city’s unique rendition along the way. The holiday season in Belgium is something truly special. Not only will each city have its own quintessential Christmas setup, with rows of stalls offering handcrafted gifts and delicious wintertime treats, but they’ll also surround these markets with enchanting festivals, ice skating rinks, elaborate light displays, Ferris wheels and more characterize the holiday season in towns across Belgium.

There’s no more magical way to enjoy the holiday season than with a visit to a Christmas market. And on an all-inclusive, luxury river cruise, you can wander the stalls of many such markets in one trip, encountering the delights of each city’s unique rendition along the way. The holiday season in Belgium is something truly special. Not only will each city have its own quintessential Christmas setup, with rows of stalls offering handcrafted gifts and delicious wintertime treats, but they’ll also surround these markets with enchanting festivals, ice skating rinks, elaborate light displays, Ferris wheels and more characterize the holiday season in towns across Belgium.


Bordered by the bigger tourism magnets France, Germany and the Netherlands, Belgium is a small country bursting with cultural impact and well worthy of being the highlight of any European trip—whether it’s your first time on the continent or your tenth. Chocolates, french fries, specialty spirits and beers are amongst the many things this stretch of the Earth is known for doing well, and you’ll get to experience it all during Belgium’s most festive time of the year.


Visit Christmas towns unlike any other in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands—such as Brussels, Bruges and Aachen, where the markets are often named amongst the best in Europe. Discover why as you sip vin chaud and the world’s most delicious cups of hot chocolate between bites of warm liege waffles and spiced gingerbread.      


Who will enjoy this cruise: This trip is perfect for those who have been to the classic markets of Germany and are looking for something new, for anyone looking to explore a different side of Belgium than most tourists see or for those excited to lean into a holiday extravaganza for their next winter season.

Brussels to Brussels | 8 Days
Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

DAY 1 Brussels (Embark)
Arrive at Brussels Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer, or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
DAY 2 Brussels
Brussels, the capital of Belgium, offers a treasure trove of historic architecture, along with a rich culinary tradition—chocolate!—and a vibrant culinary capital. Food lovers will be lured by the divine aromas drifting from the many holiday market stalls, while others will be attracted to the city’s enchanting architecture and elaborate Christmas displays.

Featured Excursion:
DAY 3 Ghent
Visit one of two national gems: beautiful Bruges, the capital of West Flanders and one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe, or fascinating Ghent, the capital city of East Flanders, whose long history does not weigh on its vibrant present. Belgium’s second-largest city, Ghent abounds in medieval architecture, which makes for a particularly magical canvas for the town’s Christmastime decorations.

Other Excursions:
Ghent Christmas Market or Bruges Christmas Market
DAY 4 Hasselt
Today, you’ll explore the trendy-yet-quaint town of Hasselt. A blend of city interest—with plenty of cafés, shopping and the area’s largest Christmas market—and an easygoing, small-town atmosphere, the mostly car-free Hasselt is a charming place to explore on foot. It is also, as you can discover at one of the tasting booths in the market, known as the unofficial capital of Belgium’s famous spirit, Jenever.

Featured Excursion:
DAY 5 Maastricht
Venture into the Netherlands to visit Maastricht, known as one of the most beautiful and romantic cities of Holland and loved for its convivial lifestyle and historic center, which has long played a strategic role in European politics. Not only will you explore this city’s Christmas market, but you will also have the opportunity to head into Germany to visit the famous Aachen Christmas Market.

Featured Excursions:
DAY 6 Antwerp
Discover an eclectic mix of historic and modern in Belgium’s “Second City,” Antwerp. The town intersperses its well-preserved medieval buildings with artful modern architecture, but you’ll find your final Christmas market for this journey centered in Antwerp’s Old Town, lighting up nostalgic facades and the local castle to create the perfect backdrop for this festive event.

Featured Excursion:
DAY 7 Antwerp
You’ll find a penchant for all things high quality in the country’s biggest port city. Diamonds, art, fashion, and more compete for attention here, so you’re sure to find just the thing to make your time in Antwerp memorable.

Featured Excursion:
DAY 8 Brussels (Disembark)
Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer, or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Brussels Airport for your flight home.
Cruise Departure Double Occupancy Pricing Ship
Sat, 25 Nov 2023
(Brussels to Brussels)
$3,199.00 River Empress
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Sat, 02 Dec 2023
(Brussels to Brussels)
$3,199.00 River Empress
Select this date
Sat, 09 Dec 2023
(Brussels to Brussels)
$3,199.00 River Empress
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Sat, 16 Dec 2023
(Brussels to Brussels)
$3,199.00 River Empress
Select this date
  • All fares are per guest in US Dollars based on double occupancy unless otherwise noted.
  • Fares are capacity controlled and are subject to change at any time without notice.
  • Availability of all stateroom categories cannot be guaranteed.
  • Single Supplement applies for single accommodation.
  • Itineraries, hotels, and vessels may change, and substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to water level fluctuations and other uncontrollable factors.
  • The order of sightseeing and docking ports are subject to change according to port authority assignments.
  • Prices exclude additional port charges of $210 per person

Dining

  • All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
  • 7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions
  • Welcome and Farewell Gala Dinners
  • Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, specialty coffee and tea, soft drinks and mineral water

Dining

Excursions

  • 6 days of excursions, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
  • State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions
  • Use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks

Excursions

Accommodations

  • 7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the imperial River Empress
  • Lavishly appointed riverview staterooms and suites have handcrafted Savoir® Beds of England, high thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, and a menu of pillow options
  • Free Internet and Wi-Fi access

Accommodations

Experiences

  • 3 countries: Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany
  • 2 UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
  • Cultural enrichment, including a Signature Lecture
  • Group Transfers are included on arrival and departure days (please see terms and conditions for transfer guidelines)
  • Gratuities for onboard personnel (ship staff, crew, Cruise/Tour Manager) are included during the cruise/tour
  • Captivating onboard local entertainment

Experiences