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Christmas may seem a long way off, but the holiday season will be here before you know it and now is the time to make any essential winter reservations. Those few weeks in December are notoriously the most expensive time to travel, but with these London holiday deals you may consider splurging for a Christmas across the pond. Maybourne Hotel Group is offering Christmas packages (December 24-26) at all three of its prize 5-star hotels in London: Claridge’s, The Connaught, and The Berkeley. The festive offers include luxe accommodations for two nights, delectable meals at the hotels’ famed restaurants, magical horse-drawn carriage rides, and more. The hotel packages are similarly elegant, but each has its own distinct personality, décor, and holiday experiences to treasure.
After a night stranded in Vienna airport due to the winter storm in Washington, D.C., I’ve made it back safe and sound from my Viking Christmas Market cruise along the Danube. Although it was bitter cold throughout my trip, there was a gentle snow fall in every port that made this unique voyage a bit magical. I had traveled from one snow-globe city to another, stopping for a mug of rich hot chocolate or mulled wine in each bustling marketplace while the season’s spices lingered in air.
When I left sunny Fort Lauderdale in the middle of December for a week long vacation on the frigid Danube River I began to question my sanity. Further doubts arose after the all-stars at United botched the connecting flight and lost our luggage which contained my winter wardrobe. Our Christmas market cruise was off to a rough start before we even boarded the ship.
All that changed when my friend Morgan and I arrived at the port in Passau, Germany, where the crew of the Viking Europe was waiting to welcome us aboard and take what little carry-on luggage we had to our cabin. There were no security checkpoints – we simply stepped onto gangway and made our way to the registration desk. After explaining our lost luggage situation, the Viking crew assured us that they would take care of the problem – and they did. We had our bags before setting sail for the first port of call: Linz, Austria.
The cozy interior of the Viking Europe was adorned in cheerful Christmas decorations that instantly made the ship feel like home. While waiting for our rooms to be prepared (we had arrived an hour early), we had a light lunch in the Viking Lounge – one of two public areas on the ship (the small library being the second).
This was my first river cruise, and I was pleasantly surprised with my cabin – which was larger than expected – and boasted an enormous vanity and plenty of drawer space. Instead of a tiny porthole, our room had a panoramic window so we wouldn’t miss a moment of the scenery along the Danube. After settling in, an announcement was made that dinner was being served in the dining room. For each meal, passengers can choose where they’d like to sit, which turned out to be an excellent way to get to know the other guests onboard.
With the exception of a few night owls reading, playing cards, and drinking tea, the entire ship retired early to rest up for our first all-day excursion. I stayed awake and watched the snow fall outside the window as the icy river slipped by, illuminated by the warm glow of the houses along the riverbank. I realized that for once, instead of trying to cram as much as possible into seven days, I may get to experience a vacation that provides a little time to sit back and take it all in.
Check back throughout the week to learn more about my Christmas market cruise from Passau to Vienna.
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