Experience the deep-rooted holiday traditions of Europe at its most festive time of year. Cologne’s Christmas Market with its impressive Gothic cathedral backdrop; the "Capital of Noël," Strasbourg, with its magnificent great Christmas tree; and Heidelberg’s Christmas Market nestled idyllically amongst the historic squares of the Old Town; are all timeless traditions handed down through the centuries. Cherish all the glory of the season in grand European style as you cruise along the Rhine.
BASEL, SWITZERLAND - EMBARKATION. Embark the ship in Basel. Tonight, meet your fellow passengers on board.
BREISACH, GERMANY. Visit the enchanting Alsatian town of Riquewihr beautifully dressed in her holiday finery with twinkling decorations and a lively Christmas Market. On your walking tour, admire historical architecture, as well as famous sights, such as the Dolder Gate. Alternatively, you may wish to visit Freiburg, founded in 1120, and home to Freiburg’s Münster, a Gothic cathedral constructed of red sandstone, as well as its enchanting Christmas Market.
STRASBOURG, FRANCE. Strasbourg is even more alluring during the season of Advent. The Christkindelsmärik dates back to 1570, making it the oldest Christmas Market in France. Enjoy a panoramic bus tour that takes you past the Parc de l’Orangerie, the European Parliament and the Place de la Republique. Afterwards, walk through the historic town center on the Grande Île, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and through the lovely “La Petite France” district, where you will see the Cathédrale de Nôtre Dame with its famous astronomical clock and then visit the town’s famous Christmas Market. You can also choose to explore Strasbourg's different districts by bicycle. During the afternoon, visit Gengenbach Christmas Market where every year the locals countdown to Christmas with a 24-day, larger-than-life Advent calendar.
LUDWIGSHAFEN– RÜDESHEIM. You have the choice to explore two of Germany's historically rich cities, along with their festive Christmas Markets. Visit Heidelberg, a city that will capture your heart with its mighty castle and historic university. While here, wander along one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets, the Hauptstrasse, soaking up the Yuletide celebrations at the town’s Christmas Markets. Alternatively, you can explore one of Germany’s oldest cities, Speyer, known for the largest Romanesque cathedral in Europe—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll also have time to visit its Christmas Market in front of the “Old Mint” (Alten Münze) in the famous Maximilianstrasse, with a view of the romantic imperial cathedral (Kaiserdom). Later in the day, sail to Rüdesheim where you can taste local wine or taste one of the town’s special delights, Rüdesheimer Coffee, ceremoniously made with brandy.
RÜDESHEIM – RHINE GORGE. Your exploration of Rüdesheim continues with your choice of excursions. Visit Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum or take a gondola ride to the Niederwalddenkmal Statue, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the river. Afterwards, indulge your taste buds with a sampling of Riesling wines in the vineyards. Alternatively, you can join a guided bike ride through the town and along the Rhine River to Schloss Johannisberg; or hike through the town’s beautiful vineyards. During the afternoon, set sail along the scenic Rhine River Gorge with its fabled legends and many castles.
COLOGNE. Join a guided tour through the enchanting Old Town. Explore the UNESCO-designated cathedral and then visit one of Europe’s largest and most renowned Christmas Markets located in front of the cathedral. Alternatively, ride a bike along the Rhine and through the historic Stadtgarten; or visit a local tavern to taste Cologne’s traditional Kölsch beer and Reibekuchen—potato pancakes served with apple sauce.
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS. Begin your discovery of Amsterdam with a scenic canal cruise, followed by a walking tour to the Begijnhof, known for its historic Middle Ages building and concluding with a panoramic city tour that includes the Royal Palace and Westerkerk.
DISEMBARKATION - DEPART AMSTERDAM. Bid Farewell to Amsterdam and prepare for your homeward flight.