Welcome to Basel and embark your riverboat
Tour begins: 4:00 PM, Basel. A transfer is included from Euroairport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg or Basel SBB Bahnhof to ms Grace or ms Inspire for the start of your family's fun river cruise. Meet your riverboat crew for a welcome briefing, then kick off your cruise by joining your shipmates for a welcome dinner aboard the riverboat this evening.
Alpine fun by rail to Mt. Pilatus & in Lucerne
Disembark this morning for an excursion to the Lake Lucerne area and Mt. Pilatus - where mountain peaks, forests and meadows straight out of a picture book await your family. Travel to Alpnachstad at the edge of shimmering Lake Lucerne, where you'll board the world's steepest cogwheel train for your ascent to the summit of Mt. Pilatus. Climbing to the very top (Oberhaupt), nearly 7,000 feet high, is most definitely part of the fun, as you travel upward at a really steep 48° angle, while drinking in the views of Alpine meadows and mountain streams. Head back down the mountain at your leisure to lovely Lucerne for some time to explore on your own; sights in this "city of lights" include Altstadt (the Old City), whose narrow cobblestone lanes lead to centuries-old buildings painted with frescoes; the Kappelbrücke (Chapel Bridge), a covered wooden footbridge dating back to the 1330s, with an octagonal water tower that was once used as a prison; picturesque squares like the Kornmarkt, Weinmarkt and Hirschenplatz; and the iconic Lion Monument, honoring the Swiss mercenaries who lost their lives during the French Revolution. This afternoon, join us in Lucerne for fun with fondue and a Swiss folklore show, prior to returning to the riverboat in Basel, lying at the center of the "Three Corners," where France, Germany and Switzerland meet at the Rhine, with its city skyline dominated by the 14th-century Münster Cathedral. After a discovery briefing and dinner onboard, your riverboat departs Basel for the start of your cruise.
French for a day in Strasbourg
Wake up this morning aboard your riverboat, docked on the Rhine outside the historic city of Strasbourg, France, surrounded by the hills of southern Alsace. Renowned for its fairy-tale charm - and as the "Crossroads of Europe" for its role as home to the European Union - Strasbourg is the cultural capital of the French region of Alsace. Have some Franco-styled fun as your family becomes "French for a Day" in Strasbourg during a morning filled with learning French phrases, a sing-along featuring French songs, and a chocolate tasting! You can return to the riverboat for lunch, or stay in Strasbourg and spend the afternoon exploring as you please. Among the treasures you'll see here are the medieval canals, watchtowers and half-timbered houses of La Petite France, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; stately city residences; the modern buildings of the European Parliament' and the 11th-century Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg. Back aboard the riverboat tonight, you'll continue your cruise along the Rhine to Speyer and Heidelberg, Germany!
Castles on the Rhine
As a major transport link across the heart of central Europe for centuries, the mighty Rhine River was a source of great riches for those who controlled the trade that plied its waters... and today, the cities, towns and castles along its banks remind us of that wealth and the power it created. This morning, your family can choose to spend time on your own in Speyer, a medieval German town that thrived on trade in the 10th and 11th centuries, when construction began on its double-domed cathedral - built with natural glass windows and the first in Europe with a roof made entirely of stone; it's now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or you can head off on a morning excursion to Heidelberg, Germany's oldest university town, where the narrow lanes of the Altstadt are lined with shops and cafés set within well-preserved 17th-century buildings. Ride a funicular up a hillside to visit the romantic ruins of Heidelberg Castle, perched high above the city; you'll be awed by the castle's imposing ensemble of buildings from different centuries and architectural periods, radiating out from a central courtyard. Within its walls, you can feel the sweep of hundreds of years of history that was made here - and enjoy the sweeping views of the riverscapes from its terrace and gardens. Return to the riverboat in Speyer for lunch onboard and more Rhine cruising this afternoon. Return to the riverboat in Speyer for lunch onboard and more Rhine cruising this afternoon; dock in Bingen tonight.
Koblenz or cycling and an evening at a castle
During a morning spent cruising the Rhine aboard the riverboat, keep your eyes peeled for riverside castles as you play our "I Spy a Castle" game, and hear legends and lore of the Lorelei - the mythical siren that was said to rise from the rocky bank of the river and bewitch passing sailors - from your Tauck Directors. Have lunch on the riverboat's Sun Deck (weather permitting) before your arrival in Koblenz, a beautiful city set at Deutsches Eck - the "German Corner" - where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet. The city's roots go way back to the Middle Ages, when its prime location made it a powerful controller of trade along these important waterways. This afternoon, you can choose to join your local guide on a walking tour of Koblenz's Altstadt (Old Town), a delightful mix of medieval town squares, tucked-away corners, medieval churches, baroque residences and wine taverns. Or set off on a bicycling tour* through fields, forests and vineyards along the Rhine-Moselle (Rheinradweg) bicycle route. Bicycling is a countrywide passion in Germany, and the route's easy riverside trails take you through woods, meadows and Riesling winelands, offering views of passing pleasure boats and freighters on the river. Board the riverboat cruise mid-afternoon and cruise to Koningswinter; disembark, and head to Burg Satzvey, a moated castle in Germany's Rhineland region dating back to the 12th century, for a grand dinner and evening in the castle's banquet hall that transports your family back to the Middle Ages for some medieval fun! Rejoin the riverboat in Köln (Cologne) tonight.
Historic Köln & Carnival traditions onboard
Germany's fourth-largest city, historic Köln (also known as Cologne) was founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD; nearly destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II, modern Köln's unique mix of rebuilt, restored and new structures sprawls across both sides of the Rhine. Start your exploration with a walking tour of the city, dominated by the immense, twin-spired Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral), whose construction only took six hundred years! Completed in 1880, this Gothic "Dom" was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. The riverboat departs Köln midday; during an afternoon and evening spent cruising the Rhine, learn about the colorful history and traditions of "Carnival"; it grew out of celebrations leading up to the Christian observance of Lent, and has been an important part of the cultural scene in Germany (and in Köln in particular) for centuries. Have fun preparing costumes for and participating in an onboard "Carnival Night" celebration after dinner. Chart a course for Amsterdam on your riverboat cruise tonight.
Canals, van Gogh & more in Amsterdam
Amsterdam, the remarkable capital of The Netherlands, is all about water; like Venice in Italy, its dominated by a series of canals that link its many tiny island. Known to the Dutch as grachten, the city's 17th-century canals fan out in crescent-shaped rings from the northern waterfront - and you'll start your day with a unique view of Amsterdam on a canal boat cruise through these historic waterways, hopping on and off to explore the city's heart, which feels more like a village than the compact center of a cosmopolitan city, with your local guide. Aboard the canal boat, you'll glide beneath curved bridges carrying walkers and cyclists - as well as trams and cars - and past the narrow former homes of merchants who stored their goods on the upper floors. Along the way, see a host of 17th- and 18th-century structures, the 19th-century Centraal Station, the city flower market and more. Your time in this amazing city includes a visit to the Van Gogh Museum, displaying the world's largest collection of works by Dutch Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. This afternoon, you may return to the ship for lunch or stay in town to pursue what interests you most in Amsterdam. Back onboard this evening, please join us tonight for our farewell dinner - a great way to wrap up your family's unforgettable Tauck Bridges river cruise!
Your family river cruise ends: Amsterdam. Disembark your riverboat this morning by 9:00 AM. A transfer is included from the riverboat to Amsterdam's Schipol Airport or Central Station. Fly home anytime. Allow 3 hours for flight check-in. For guests wishing to spend more time in Amsterdam, ask at booking about extending your stay with an additional hotel night at Tauck's hotel.