Get a dose of festive cheer by visiting Christmas Markets in Europe on a P&O Ferries mini cruise.
Visit the wonderful Belgium market in Bruges or check out the markets in Amsterdam. The largest Christmas Market in The Netherlands can be found near Rotterdam.
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Before I tell you about the Christmas markets, you NEED to know about the cruise-and-stay deal P&O Ferries offers. Instead of the standard two-night mini cruise to Bruges, Amsterdam, or Rotterdam, you can book a three-night option for a small premium. This means you'll need to book one night in a hotel on land as well as the mini cruise, but trust me, Christmas markets come alive in the dark. Cruise-and-stays are nearly the same as the two-night mini cruise, except instead of catching the return coach back to the ferry on the day you get there, you catch the one on the next day. This means you'll have a night in the luxury, romantic, or budget hotel you booked separately and the perfect opportunity to explore the Christmas Markets in the evening.
Select "3 night" when you quote up your mini cruise, and once booked, remember to book your one-night hotel stay separately for the night on land.
Bruges Christmas Market
Running every day between 22nd November 2019 to 5th January 2020 are the Christmas Markets in Bruges' Grote Markt. It is open daily from around 11am to between 8pm (or 10 pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).
Book a two day mini cruise ° from Hull to Zeebrugge (Bruges) and enjoy two nights' accommodation onboard a comfortable ferry. Sail overnight while you sleep and arrive in Belgium the next morning. Take the coach transfer to Bruges and it will drop you off near the train station. Head over to Grote Markt to experience these wonderful Christmas Markets.
You'll have the day to experience the markets before you'll need to catch the bus transfer back to the ship.
Don't book this one though. Instead, book the 3-night cruise-and-stay option. You'll have two days and one night in Bruges, so you can experience the Christmas Markets as they are meant to be seen - in the cold dark night with the festive lights twinkling away. There's a small surcharge on the ferry tickets compared to a standard mini cruise (from £10 per person). You'll also need to book your one-night hotel stay separately, although this means you can book a hotel that suits your style. To book, choose the "3 night" option when you get a quote.
Amsterdam Christmas Markets
If you'd rather head to The Netherlands then you will also find a variety of festive attractions in Amsterdam. These are available later in December, with the key dates as follows:
- Winter Village at Winkelcentrum Stadshart, Amstelveen from 7th December 2019 to 5th January 2020.
- Funky Xmas Market at Westergasfabriek on 1st and 15th December 2019.
- Ice*Village*Amsterdam at Museumplein from 13th to 26th December 2019.
- Amsterdam Winter Paradise at RAI Amsterdam, Europaplein, from 21st December 2019 to 5th January 2020.
As with the sailings to Bruges, the majority of the sea voyage happens overnight as you sleep. Book a two day mini cruise ° from Hull to Amsterdam (via Rotterdam) and enjoy two nights' accommodation onboard a comfortable ferry. Sail overnight while you sleep and arrive in The Netherlands the next morning. Take the coach transfer to Amsterdam and it will drop you off near to Amsterdam Centraal Train Station. From here it is easy to visit the festive attractions using public transport.
You'll have the day to experience the festive attractions (and to cram in some last minute Christmas shopping) before you'll need to catch the bus transfer back to the ship.
To experience Amsterdam's nightlife in winter, book a three-night mini cruise from Hull to Rotterdam (via Amsterdam) instead. You will need to book a one-night hotel stay in the city separately, but this gives you the flexibility to stay wherever you choose. To book, choose the "3 night" option when you get a quote.
Rotterdam (Dordrecht) Christmas Market
Rotterdam doesn't really do Christmas Markets. There's a few events here and there but nothing as jolly as Amsterdam's Winter Village or Ice Village, or as joyous as Bruges Christmas Market in Grote Markt.
But head down the road to Dordrecht for the largest Christmas Market in The Netherlands, with 200 stalls to boot. The catch? You'll need to visit between 13th and 15th December 2019. Dordrecht train station is a 15-minute train ride from Rotterdam's Central Station, so it's feasible to cram this into a 2-night mini cruise to Rotterdam °.
Better still, book the three-night mini cruise from Hull to Rotterdam. You'll need to book a hotel stay separately but this means you could book a night in Dordrecht. So you arrive in Rotterdam port, catch the transfer bus to the train station, and then hop on a train to Dordrecht to spend the afternoon and night there. In the morning, you could catch the train back to Rotterdam and have a day exploring the city before catching the transfer bus back to the port for your return sailing. The best of both worlds, don't you think?
The sailings above are based on P&O Ferries' 'Mini Cruises Mini Prices' promotion, where two-night mini cruise fares start from just £40 per person, based on two sharing an inside cabin. Daily sailings are available, meaning you can choose the dates best suited to you. Certain days incur a surcharge, and all dates are subject to availability. The dates and times of festive attractions are subject to change. Transport, and entrance fees where applicable, to the festive attractions, are not included in the mini cruise fare. If you book a mini cruise offer, your return transport from the port to the city centre is included in the price.
The dull-but-necessary small print
All deals are subject to availability and can be withdrawn by the operator without prior notice. The lead-in prices (otherwise known as the 'from' prices) are, unless otherwise stated above, based on two adults sharing the cheapest available cabin on the cheapest available date. Typically the best prices are available at the start of any promotion period so the earlier you book the better choice of sailing dates and cabin availability you should have. Mid-week sail dates are likely to be cheaper than weekend sail dates.