Cost: Starting at $1,999
About This Trip
Explore Castles & Cathedrals
Overlook the Rhine from Germany’s best preserved medieval castle. Discover the various culinary traditions of Alsace. Explore the Black Forest and visit a local workshop to see a cuckoo clock-making demonstration. Turreted fortresses, grand cathedrals, historic cities, medieval towns and spectacular scenery of the Middle Rhine—little wonder that the Rhine is one of Europe’s best-loved rivers. From Amsterdam and Cologne to Basel, this 8-day journey reveals a rich landscape of beauty and culture.
Day 1: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Capital of The Netherlands, Amsterdam is renowned for its museums, colorful gardens, abundance of bicycles and endless lattice of canals. Arrive in Amsterdam, then transfer to your ship.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to relax or explore the city on your own. If your arrival schedule permits, you may wish to visit the Rijksmuseum, or the van Gogh Museum next door.
Day 2: Kinderdijk, The Netherlands
The South Holland village community of Kinderdijk includes a set of 19 windmills and other ingenious technologies built in the 18th century to control flooding. This morning we sail to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a tour of this ingenious network of windmills and other flood management devices. You learn why the windmills were built and see how they work, plus you enter a working windmill for a tour of its mechanisms and living quarters. Return on board for lunch and an enjoyable afternoon of Dutch diversions: sample handcrafted Dutch cheeses and jenever, a distilled juniper liquor, and take in a culturally enriching presentation on the Dutch Golden Age. We cruise through the night.
Day 3: Cologne, Germany
An intriguing mix of old and new, Cologne reveals its Roman heritage in the city layout and ancient ruins that lie scattered through the town. You have a morning tour of Cologne, including a visit to the Dom, Germany’s largest cathedral and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After your tour, spend the rest of the day and evening exploring Cologne on your own: Roman ruins, interesting neighborhoods and museums like the Fragrance Museum and the Chocolate Museum. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Or, join an optional excursion on which you will ascend to the Dom’s roof, enjoying up-close views of the cathedral’s architecture and bird’s-eye vistas of Cologne. Lunch and dinner are served on board; we depart at midnight.
Day 4: Koblenz, Germany
On a breathtaking stretch of the Rhine that leads from medieval Koblenz to Braubach to Rüdesheim, the 11th-century Marksburg Castle towers over the river. Proceed along the Rhine, disembarking to tour the 700-year-old Marksburg Castle. Alternately, choose an optional excursion that offers a lively and informative tour of Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, or enjoy an optional guided exploration of Koblenz on foot. After, enjoy an onboard lunch as you cruise the scenic Middle Rhine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where turreted castles and fortresses overlook the river from their hilltop posts. Arrive in Rüdesheim in the late afternoon. Spend free time in the pedestrian-only Drosselgasse and sample a glass of locally produced wine at one of the restaurants or wine bars. Dine on board your ship, or in town if you prefer. You may also choose to experience one of our optional dinners on shore tonight. We depart after midnight.
Day 5: Heidelberg, Germany
Germany’s oldest university town, Heidelberg and its castle are situated in the Neckar Valley just east of the Rhine. Cruise into mid-morning as you enjoy the passing scenery. After breakfast, disembark for a tour of Heidelberg, the home of Germany’s oldest university, founded in 1386. Visit the beautiful sandstone ruins of imposing Heidelberg Castle and take in the scenery of the Neckar River Valley and the city’s many red rooftops from this hilltop post. Continue with a walking tour through Old Town to Heidelberg’s renowned gates. On your way back to your ship, visit the historic town of Speyer and take in views of the imposing Romanesque cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 11th century on the site of a former basilica, the building’s design influenced Romanesque architecture for centuries to come, and is the final resting place of eight German monarchs. Its soaring interior features graceful rows of sandstone columns and a large stained-glass window that was installed in the western facade during a later Gothic period.
Day 6: Strasbourg, France
Thanks to its location at the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg boasts a convivial mix of cultural influences. We dock this morning in Kehl and disembark for a guided tour of Strasbourg. See the European Parliament and tour the interior of the city’s famed cathedral. The afternoon is free to further explore this Alsatian city’s blend of French and German cultures, resplendent churches, medieval covered bridges, verdant parks and handsome Art Nouveau and modernist architecture. Alternately, join our optional excursion into Alsatian wine country for an informative winery tour and tasting. Or, spend your full day exploring culinary Strasbourg on an optional excursion; as you explore the city and take in its sights, you will savor samples of the renowned Alsatian cuisine, from regional dessert specialties and meats to wine pairings with local foods. On board this evening, enjoy a Taste of Germany dinner event.
Day 7: Breisach, Germany
Breisach is located in one of the warmest parts of Germany, next to Alsace, which is famous for its wine-growing. Arrive in Breisach this morning, gateway to the Black Forest. Take a scenic excursion through the area’s renowned mountain landscape, rolling meadows and dense forests. Once there, visit a local workshop to see a cuckoo clock-making demonstration, and learn how Black Forest Cake is made. Return to your ship for lunch. This afternoon, perhaps join an optional excursion to the quaint Alsatian town of Colmar to discover the storybook charm of its streets lined with medieval, Gothic and Renaissance buildings, and visit a fine arts museum. Alternately, choose an optional excursion that explores Colmar’s World War II history. Dine on board this evening and cruise on through the night.
Day 8: Basel, Switzerland
Located along the Rhine River, Basel sits at the point where French, German and Swiss borders meet, marking the gateway to the Swiss Rhineland. After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your journey with 2 nights in Lucerne or Basel, or 3 nights in Lake Como.