Nothing will get you in the holiday spirit like the scent of roasted chestnuts, gingerbread and hot mulled wine, and the sight of festive holiday décor as you stroll through bustling Christmas markets across Europe – or even close to home.

Christmas Markets are essentially street markets, which are associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. Usually set up outdoors, the Christmas Markets specialize in a variety of local crafts and wares, along with tasty holiday delicacies. This is a no “mass-market” shopping experience; it’s a chance to experience a long-held holiday tradition throughout many parts of Europe. In fact, these historic markets have filled medieval town squares in late November and each December for hundreds of years.

Browse row after row of highly decorated stalls, illuminated with twinkling lights, for the perfect, one-of-a-kind gift, from hand-blown ornaments and handcrafted toys to beer steins and colorful woolen scarves.

A river cruise is an excellent way to experience the magical Yuletide season, as you’ll get to partake in multiple Christkindlmarkts, as the Christmas Markets are known. At one time, Christmas Market voyages were only offered along a handful of European rivers; today, nearly every major river cruise line offers sailings that traverse the Danube, Main, Rhine and beyond. Outside of Europe, one popular route brings you to the celebrated Mississippi River, with markets that beckon you with calliopes ringing in Christmas carols.

Christmas Market river cruising also goes well with time spent with family and loved ones. Travel logistics are handled for you, so you’re free to celebrate the season. The price for each vacation generally includes riverboat and hotel accommodations, along with most meals, entertainment and guided sightseeing. It’s quickly becoming a popular time for multi-generational families to cruise together, as these voyages are a great value and a lot of fun.

As you wander through the many markets, stay merry with these tips:

  • Bundle up in layers and wear good walking shoes. It can get a bit nippy in the outdoor air, but don’t fret – a cup of hot mulled wine and delectable gingerbread as a snack will keep you on the go along the many cobbled streets and rows of stands.
  • Visit more than one market! Depending on which city or neighborhood you are in, each Christmas market has a distinct personality – some are more traditional than others, with different music and local, handcrafted items.
  • Daytime is good; nighttime is great! The markets generally open in the afternoon, and you can peruse what’s on display. Once night falls and the lights are aglow, everything is more festive.
  • Bring small bills. Many of the stalls will accept credit cards, but it’s beneficial to bring cash. You wouldn’t want to miss getting that unique gift because plastic is a no-go.
  • For a fun memory, collect the mug. Each market boasts its own distinct ceramic mugs. Highly collectible, you might just end up with a suitcase full! (You can also return it to the vendor you bought your beverage from for a small refund.)

A trip to the Christmas Markets will have you stepping back in time to a world without big-box retailers and long lines. Don’t wait too long to contact your travel professional to book – these cruises are popular and tend to fill up fast! In fact, while you’re in the holiday spirit this year, it’s the perfect time to book your Christmas Markets vacation for next year and get the best cabin and itinerary!


Written by Suzanne A. Harbison, Marketing Manager at Nexion LLC


After watching so many amazing movies on Hawaii, it’s easy to see why these islands, located in the Pacific Ocean, are the perfect destination for a family, a couple or individual, as each island embodies a different attraction.

Some of our recommended must dos on Maui, the Valley Isle, include:



First stop would be Iao Valley, which is known for its waterfalls and rainbows, as well as the amazing hiking trails. It is open from 10 to 4 daily in Wailuku in North Maui, near the airport. There is also a well-marked paved pedestrian path leading from the parking to view Iao Needle, and the ridge-top lookout provides incredible views of the valley. The needle is sometimes covered in clouds, so an early start is our best bet for a good view.




Most people visit this spectacular Haleakala National Park at sunrise, but our preference is to go for the sunset and then stay and watch the stars. It is simply stunning and a lifetime memory! Another way of enjoying the wonderful sites is to go for a bike ride and, if you start at sunrise, it’s good to do it on the first full day you are on the island to get rid of the jet lag.



The Road to Hana is located along Maui’s eastern coastline and considered one of the last unspoiled Hawaiian frontiers. It is only 52 miles away from Kahului, but the drive can take from two to four hours to complete, because it is laden with narrow one-lane bridges, hairpin turns and incredible island views. The road leads you through flourishing rainforests, flowing waterfalls, plunging pools and dramatic seascapes. Start early, since there are plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the lovely views.




For a bit of adventure, try “flying the magnificent Hawaiian skies” on the longest zipline in Hawaii. From the top of the mountains, you have incredible panoramic views of Maui and can see the entire central island, including both the north and south shore. You’ll cover more than 2.5 miles of the West Maui canopy, stretching from Waikapu to Ma’alaea, where you’ll cross nine different valleys and 11 different ridges. Eight ziplines range from 250 feet to a 3,600-foot monster, with heights over 250 feet and speed in excess of 50 mph! As an added bonus, you’ll gain insight into Maui’s rich history and culture, as your guides also share fun and interesting facts about the island, vegetation and history. This is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience!


If you are wanting to shop, find good restaurants and history, you will want to visit Lahaina, an old fishing village.

There is an old courthouse near the Banyan Tree that has a great heritage museum upstairs and information on the historic sites. You can take a self-guided walking tour through the old town, visit its galleries and watch the surfers. Parking can be a challenge, so it’s wise to get there early and make a day of it.

And if you want a fun evening out, be sure to check out Warren and Annabelle’s comedy magic dinner show – reservations are needed ahead of time.



Save another evening for a traditional luau, or better yet, the Feast at Lele, which is similar to a luau but more intimate and authentic. The scenery is breathtaking, and the food is amazing. It’s pricey but a great value for the experience. Do not forget to reserve in advance, as it is a major point of interest and sells out.




Located up country near Kula, the Lavender Farm offers delightful views of gardens that seem to just go and go with a variety of tropical flowers and plants, in addition to fields of various types of lavender.

Enjoy a cup of lavender tea and a lavender scone for a break with a wonderful view. (Tip: Bring your own cup/mug, and your tea is discounted.)

Afterward, head to the vineyards and tasting room at Maui Wine, which is close to the gardens. Tours of the grounds and wine operations are available during certain hours. By driving past the winery about five miles, you will be able to see the ‘backside’ of Haleakala and the lava flows that go down to LaPerouse Bay. If time, end the day in Makawao (the cowboy town) or Paia to find more shops and local art.


For a beautiful sunset and sand at your feet, take time to visit the Barefoot Bar at Hula Grill in Whaler’s Village (just down the road from Lahaina). Because they have live music regularly, if you request a table outside in the evening, you will have a starry ceiling while you enjoy a fabulous dinner, enormous Mai Tais and good music. Save room for their famous hula pie!

After dinner, walk through the shops at Whaler’s Village and even take a beach-walk stroll.


By using Nexion’s easy-to-use air, car and hotel booking tools, a Nexion travel professional can have you on your way to Maui in no time! One of our favorite stomping grounds is Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, which offers a tour of the stars through a hefty telescope on the property’s rooftop that you will not want to miss!








Written by Suzanne A. Harbison, Nexion Marketing Manager, and Paula Szekely on the Nexion SNAP! team