This was our eighth river cruise with Grand Circle Travel (GCT). It was our second cruise on the River Harmony. We have also cruised on the River Aria, River Concerto (two times), River Melody (two times) and Bizet. We have done the Christmas Markets Along the Danube and Christmastime on the Seine previously. Each were unique in their own way. Most of what we can say about this cruise and ship could be also said avout these other ships and cruise itineraries. Only some of their ships are listed as available to review on this site because they have not been professionally reviewed by Cruise Critic. I hope they do review them because we have found GCT to be a very good value.
We flew into Basel, Switzerland and took a taxi to the ship, since we booked our own air arrangements. After lunch on board we went into town on their included shuttle bus transportation. This was the first of the Christmas Markets we visited on this cruise. While all of them we have visited share similarities, each one has unique elements not found at the others. Each market has plenty of Gluhwine, sausages,crafts, music and decorations. I will mention the other things that are unique in each one.Basel had a particularly extensive hat stand! The one really outstanding element of the Christmastime river cruises is the fantastic atmosphere and good mood throughout the areas visited and onboard the ship (both passengers and crew!)
We went inland by bus to Kaysersberg and Riquewihr in the Alsace region of France. The Alsace has been part of Germany at other times in history and so it has a strong Christmas market tradition like Germany. The most notable aspect in these two wine towns were the extensive decorations on the fronts of the buildings along the winding streets.