Discover fairytale castles and historic vineyards as part of this spectacular Rhine River cruise fantasy. Start by exploring the canal-laden city of Amsterdam, with its neat rows of buildings and rich history. Then it’s off to Germany, where you’ll discover not only the grand city of Cologne but charming villages like the winemaking hamlet of Rüdesheim and the university town of Heidelberg. Enjoy cruising through the UNESCO-designated Rhine Gorge, where 40 castles are strung like pearls along the river banks. Cross the border into France’s Alsace region in enchanting Strasbourg and take in spectacular panoramas of the Swiss Alps. Encompassing the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland, as well as iconic landmarks and majestic mountain landscapes, this distinctive itinerary is truly a dream come true.
AMSTERDAM – EMBARKATION. Board the ship for your Rhine Castles & Swiss Alps cruise.
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS. There are 165 canals in Amsterdam, and you’ll get enjoy some of them on your canal cruise. Later in the day, set sail out of Amsterdam.
COLOGNE, GERMANY. Enjoy cruising to Cologne. Join a guided tour through the Old Town and explore the UNESCO-designated Cologne Cathedral, one of Germany’s most revered Gothic masterpieces. Continue to the Cologne Rathaus, Germany’s oldest town hall, the Overstolzenhaus, and the Festival Hall. During your free time, browse through the city’s most impressive Christmas markets, offering 160 attractively designed wooden pavilions. For a different view, visit a local tavern to taste its famous Kölsch beer, only made in Cologne, and reibekuchen mit apfelmus, potato pancakes typically served with applesauce. Active adventurists will want to join a guided bike ride along the Rhine and through the historic Stadtgarten.
RHINE GORGE - RÜDESHEIM. Cruise through the captivating UNESCO-designated Rhine Gorge, the most stunningly beautiful stretch of the river before reaching the winemaking town of Rüdesheim. In the afternoon, join a wine tasting to discover the flavors of the town’s iconic vineyards. Aftewrwards, enjoy free time in the town, perhaps to explore the Drosselgasse, the town’s cultural heart, and the Christmas markets. Or drink up the stunning views by soaring high above the vineyards with a gondola ride to the Niederwalddenkmal and with free time visiting the Christmas markets. For a more active adventure, hike through the town’s beautiful vineyards or join a guided bike tour along the scenic Rhine River. Later in the day, let Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum charm you with its remarkable collection of self-playing musical instruments; or taste one of the town’s special delights, Rüdesheimer coffee, ceremoniously made with brandy, coffee and whipped cream.
LUDWIGSHAFEN. Ludwigshafen is your gateway to a choice of four excursions. Visit Heidelberg, the perfectly preserved medieval city nestled in the Neckar River Valley along Germany’s Castle Road. Discover the iconic red sandstone Heidelberg Castle and Great Vat, an 18th-century, 49,000-gallon wine cask. Here you can also enjoy visiting some of the festive Christmas Markets. For a more active adventure while in Heidelberg, join a guided hike up the Philosopher’s Path, aptly named during the Romantic Period, and enjoy panoramic views of the city. Alternatively, you can visit one of Germany’s oldest cities, Speyer, known for the largest Romanesque cathedral in Europe—a UNESCO World Heritage Site—and the medieval Old Gate, Altpörtel. In your free time, you might choose to visit the Christmas Markets or Technik Museum featuring exhibits of vintage cars, military aircraft and even a submarine!
STRASBOURG, FRANCE. Strasbourg offers flavors of both France and Germany because of its borderline location. Enjoy a panoramic tour past the stunning Parc de l’Orangerie, the European Parliament and the Place de la République before walking through its iconic “La Petite France” district, lifted straight from the pages of a fairytale. Wander through charming streets past the Cathédrale de Nôtre Dame with its famous astronomical clock. During the tour you will receive free time to visit the Christmas markets. Alternatively, take a guided bike ride through the city and Parc de l’Orangerie.
BASEL, SWITZERLAND. Enjoy getting to know Basel, Switzerland’s third largest city. Long an important university, banking and trade center, Basel’s glorious past is still evident in its medieval town hall, richly decorated market square and exquisite 18th-century patrician homes. Tour the city by foot or on a guided bike tour that takes you through three countries: Switzerland, France and Germany. Later in the day, visit Lucerne, known for its Lion Monument – the figure of a dying lion carved into a hillside in memory of the Swiss Guards massacred during the French Revolution in 1792 – which Mark Twain described as “the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world.” You’ll also see Lucerne’s spectacular medieval walls and towers, dating back to the 13th century.
BASEL, SWITZERLAND – DISEMBARKATION. Bid farewell to Basel and prepare for your flight home.