Europe and Mediterranean: Belgian Holiday Markets Cruise

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises

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.

Included Extras

  • True All-Inclusive Boutique River Cruising™

  • All gratuities for onboard services

  • Unlimited fine wine, beer, spirits and nonalcoholic beverages**

  • Shore excursions with local experts as your guide

  • Internet and Wi-Fi

  • All arrival and departure day transfers

Executive Member Benefit

  • Executive Members receive an annual 2% Reward, up to $1,000, on qualified Costco Travel purchases

  • Receive a $50 shipboard credit per person (maximum $100 per stateroom)♦

Costco Shop Card

  • Member Exclusive: Costco Shop Card with every Uniworld river cruise†

Sailing Itinerary

Note: Cruise itineraries are subject to change. Please verify ports and times directly with the cruise line.

Day 1Brussels

Overview

Brussels is more than a 1000 years old. Today the name Brussels stands for an agglomeration of 19 communes forming one of the three Regions of the federal Belgian state; the capital of the Kingdom of Belgium; the headquarters of the French and Flemish Communities. Brussels also has an important international vocation: as the European capital the city is home to the European Commission and to the Council of ministers of the European Union (EU). Brussels is the bilingual capital of Belgium. This means that both French and Dutch are the official languages of the city. Street names and traffic sings are always in these two languages. Furthermore, it is a cosmopolitan city where many different cultures live together and where different languages can be heard on each street. This liveliness and international flair is, of course, intimately related to its role as a crossroads for all of Europe. The same variety and contrast can also be found in the different architectural styles that can be found in Brussels, the former capital of the medieval Duchy of Brabant. Gothic cathedrals and churches are next to - and sometimes in stark contrast with - gracious classical facades like the buildings around the Royal Square (Place Royale - Koningsplein), or beautiful art nouveau and art deco houses. The heart of Brussels and the place to start getting to know the city is the Grand'Place (Grote Markt). This historic market square with its splendid guild houses and the impressive Gothic beauty of the Town Hall, is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe.

Day 2Brussels

Overview

Brussels is more than a 1000 years old. Today the name Brussels stands for an agglomeration of 19 communes forming one of the three Regions of the federal Belgian state; the capital of the Kingdom of Belgium; the headquarters of the French and Flemish Communities. Brussels also has an important international vocation: as the European capital the city is home to the European Commission and to the Council of ministers of the European Union (EU). Brussels is the bilingual capital of Belgium. This means that both French and Dutch are the official languages of the city. Street names and traffic sings are always in these two languages. Furthermore, it is a cosmopolitan city where many different cultures live together and where different languages can be heard on each street. This liveliness and international flair is, of course, intimately related to its role as a crossroads for all of Europe. The same variety and contrast can also be found in the different architectural styles that can be found in Brussels, the former capital of the medieval Duchy of Brabant. Gothic cathedrals and churches are next to - and sometimes in stark contrast with - gracious classical facades like the buildings around the Royal Square (Place Royale - Koningsplein), or beautiful art nouveau and art deco houses. The heart of Brussels and the place to start getting to know the city is the Grand'Place (Grote Markt). This historic market square with its splendid guild houses and the impressive Gothic beauty of the Town Hall, is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe.

Day 3Ghent

Overview

Gent is the fourth largest city of Belgium with about 250.000 inhabitants. It is not as big as Antwerp but bigger than Bruges. It is also less famous among tourists than the often praised Bruges. However, for some people Ghent is the real diamond of Flanders and Belgium. In a unique way, Ghent has managed to preserve its medieval power while keeping up with the times. The city center alone is a showcase of medieval Flemish wealth and commercial success. Modern Ghent certainly cannot be overlooked in Belgium. The city has an important harbor, thanks to the canal Ghent-Terneuzen which allows sea-going vessels to bring their products to the city and its industrial hinterland. Because of the central location in the country, the 'Flanders Technology' fair can regularly be organized. The Belgian State University (RUG = Rijksuniversiteit Gent) continues to grow in importance. The presence of so many young people and students has turned Ghent into an important Flemish cultural center. Ghent is also the flower city of Belgium. Flower growers from the region around Ghent sell their beautiful begonia's and azalea's all over the world. Every 5 years the successful 'Gentse Floraliën" ( Ghent Flower Show) attracts thousands to the city.The tourist will not have eyes enough to admire the awesome architectural wealth , which offers a splendid combination of impressiveness and idyllic charm of the proud and (in former times) often rebellious city of Ghent.

Day 4Hasselt

Overview

Hasselt is the capital of the Belgian province of Limburg. It has a population of 68,000, and is located 70 kilometers east of Brussels, in the Maas-Rhine region.The E313 roadway and the Albert Canal pass through Hasselt from northwest to southeast. Hasselt has a very contemporary demeanor, it is an administrative center as well as a commercial one. The central "Grote Markt" may not be that big, but the friendly atmosphere around thecosy terraces and the numerous sidewalk cafés on the square certainly make up for the lack of "grandeur" that typifies the Belgian Market Square in cities such as Brussels and Antwerp. A famous flavored Gin, spiced with juniper berries and called "Jenever", is made in Hasselt; there are several factories, and a museum dedicated to its history. Hasselt hoasts several interesting museums.Two museums of interest are the Stedelijk Museum, an archive of fashion from 1830 onwards, and the Stedelijk Beiaardmuseum, dedicated to carillons. An very charming tourist attraction is the beautiful Japanese Garden on the outskirts of the city. Not far from Hasselt lies also the magnificent Open Air Museum of Bokrijk, dedicated to Flemish rural architecture of the past and the Flemish country life.

Day 5Maastricht

Overview

One of the foremost attractions in the southernmost part of the Netherlands is Maastricht itself. It is a beautiful old town, a business provincial capital and a city that has preserved its hospitable international character through the centuries. Maastricht is a city with plenty to offer. It has been shaped through the ages by art and culture, and has a rich heritage and wealth of historic monuments. It is also a city of atmosphere and fun with a varied cycle of annual festivals and other events.

Day 6Antwerp

Overview

Antwerp is the largest city in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. Some 60% of the ten million Belgians are Flemings. They speak Dutch. Like their French and German-speaking compatriots they have their own parliament and government. The capital of Flanders is Brussels, also capital of federal Belgium and the heart of Europe. The city's 468 717 inhabitants (as recorded on 02/2004) live in a territory, which covers approximately 22,076 hectares. The city is located between latitude 51°13'16' and 4°23'60' eastern longitude. It has a moderate maritime climate.

Day 7Antwerp

Overview

Antwerp is the largest city in Flanders, the northern part of Belgium. Some 60% of the ten million Belgians are Flemings. They speak Dutch. Like their French and German-speaking compatriots they have their own parliament and government. The capital of Flanders is Brussels, also capital of federal Belgium and the heart of Europe. The city's 468 717 inhabitants (as recorded on 02/2004) live in a territory, which covers approximately 22,076 hectares. The city is located between latitude 51°13'16' and 4°23'60' eastern longitude. It has a moderate maritime climate.

Day 8Brussels

Overview

Brussels is more than a 1000 years old. Today the name Brussels stands for an agglomeration of 19 communes forming one of the three Regions of the federal Belgian state; the capital of the Kingdom of Belgium; the headquarters of the French and Flemish Communities. Brussels also has an important international vocation: as the European capital the city is home to the European Commission and to the Council of ministers of the European Union (EU). Brussels is the bilingual capital of Belgium. This means that both French and Dutch are the official languages of the city. Street names and traffic sings are always in these two languages. Furthermore, it is a cosmopolitan city where many different cultures live together and where different languages can be heard on each street. This liveliness and international flair is, of course, intimately related to its role as a crossroads for all of Europe. The same variety and contrast can also be found in the different architectural styles that can be found in Brussels, the former capital of the medieval Duchy of Brabant. Gothic cathedrals and churches are next to - and sometimes in stark contrast with - gracious classical facades like the buildings around the Royal Square (Place Royale - Koningsplein), or beautiful art nouveau and art deco houses. The heart of Brussels and the place to start getting to know the city is the Grand'Place (Grote Markt). This historic market square with its splendid guild houses and the impressive Gothic beauty of the Town Hall, is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful town squares in Europe.

Onboard the River Empress

Costco Member Reviews

4.8 of 5 stars4.8/5 (91 Reviews)

Ship Rating

3.0/5

River Empress features all river-view staterooms; a cozy library that provides the perfect haven for inviting conversation, game playing or simply a place for deep contemplation; a fitness center where you can unwind from a day of sightseeing; and a lounge with a full-service bar where you can gather with friends for cocktails while the evening's entertainment provides a soothing backdrop.

Onboard Activities

Activities & Services (included in cruise)

Bars/Lounges

  • Card Room
  • Movies
  • Beauty Salon
  • Fitness Center
  • Sauna/Steam Room
  • Bars/Lounges
  • Library
  • Concierge Desk
  • Duty-Free Shops/Boutiques
  • Elevators
  • Safe Deposit Boxes
  • Self-Service Laundromat

Activities & Services (available for an extra fee)

Full-Service Spa

  • Full-Service Spa

Costco Travel makes every effort to verify the accuracy of all information provided. Additional fees for amenities or services may be charged by the cruise line. Amenities or services may be discontinued or revised by the cruise line without notice. Staterooms designated as wheelchair-accessible do not necessarily meet ADA requirements. Costco Travel is not responsible for inaccuracies or provider modifications.

Dining

Main Dining Room

Main Dining

Main Dining Room (open seating): This seating option allows you to choose when and with whom you dine. Menus are a blend of classic cuisine with a touch of contemporary elegance, and are created using only the finest and freshest ingredients often brought onboard from local ports of call. You'll be surrounded by the beauty of passing riverbank towns and villages.


Times, costs and other specifics are outside the control of Costco Travel. All information is at the sole discretion of the cruise line and is subject to change without notice. Dining time and table size preferences are submitted to the cruise line on a first-come, first-served request basis and are confirmed aboard ship. Questions, concerns and/or special needs regarding dining arrangements must be addressed with the maitre d' hotel aboard ship. Every effort is made to accommodate travelers' preferences; however, Costco Travel cannot guarantee dining arrangements. In specialty restaurants, space is limited and reservations are recommended. A cover charge and dress code may apply.

Staterooms

Classic Stateroom with Small Window (Category: CL)

Category: CL

  • Lavishly appointed riverview stateroom (151 sq.ft – 14 sq.m)
  • Handcrafted Savoir® Beds of England, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, individual thermostat, and bottled water
  • Marble bathroom with Asprey bath and body products, plush towels, backlit magnifying mirror, cozy bathrobes and slippers

Deluxe Stateroom with Window (Category: DE)

Category: DE

  • Lavishly appointed riverview stateroom (151 sq.ft – 14 sq.m)
  • Handcrafted Savoir® Beds of England, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, individual thermostat, and bottled water
  • Marble bathroom with Asprey bath and body products, plush towels, backlit magnifying mirror, cozy bathrobes and slippers

Stateroom with French Balcony (Category: FB)

Category: FB

  • Lavishly appointed riverview stateroom (151 sq.ft – 14 sq.m) with a French balcony
  • Handcrafted Savoir® Beds of England, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, individual thermostat, and bottled water
  • Marble bathroom with Asprey bath and body products, plush towels, towel warmer, waffle bathrobes and slippers

Suite with French Balcony (Category: S)

Category: S

  • Lavishly appointed riverview suite (214 sq.ft – 20 sq.m) with a French balcony
  • Handcrafted Savoir® Beds of England, built-in closet, hair dryer, safe, flat-screen TV with infotainment center and satellite, individual thermostat, and bottled water
  • Marble bathroom with Asprey bath and body products, plush towels, towel warmer, waffle bathrobes and slippers
  • Additional special amenities and services

Deck Plan

Cruise Ship
Rhine Deck
Key to Symbols
SymbolDescription

Ship Facts

River Empress ship image
  • Ship Name: River Empress
  • Year Built: 2001
  • Year Refurbished: 2010
  • Year Entered Present Fleet: 2001
  • Maximum Capacity: 134
  • Number of Passenger Decks: 3
  • Number of Crew: 36
  • Officers' Nationality: European
  • Ocean-View without Balcony: 45
  • Ocean-View with Balcony: 18
  • Capacity Based on Double Occupancy: 134
  • Country of Registry: Switzerland
  • Total Staterooms: 67
  • Suites with Balcony: 4
  • Crew/Hotel Staff Nationality: International
Costco Travel makes every effort to verify the accuracy of all information provided. Additional fees for amenities or services may be charged by the hotel, resort or cruise line. Amenities or services may be discontinued or revised by the provider without notice. Hotels, resorts, ships or accommodations designated as wheelchair-accessible do not necessarily meet ADA requirements. Costco Travel is not responsible for inaccuracies or provider modifications.

Reviews

Terms & Conditions

*Price shown is per person based on double occupancy and is valid for select stateroom categories only. Click on Terms & Conditions link below for details.

**Unlimited beverages include premium wine and premium spirits. Diamond List of wine and spirits is available at an additional cost.

♦Executive Members receive a $50 shipboard credit per person, maximum $100 per stateroom. Executive Member benefit is valid for primary cardholder only. Shipboard credit is per stateroom based on double occupancy. Shipboard credit will be applied to your onboard account. Any unused portion of the credit is nontransferable, nonrefundable and may not be redeemed for cash.

†The exact amount of the Costco Shop Card will be calculated during the booking process. Click on the Terms & Conditions link below for additional information.

    Package ID: UNIEMPEUR20231125