Dramatic rivers yielding to fairytale towns and iconic cities all come alive as you discover four countries along the storied Rhine and Moselle at this festive holiday season. From Zurich to the colorful canals of Amsterdam, delve deeply into history, legends and culture. Explore Europe's Magical Christmas Markets and fill your heart with childlike wonder while strolling beneath thousands of twinkle lights. Throughout your journey, wander through postcard-perfect towns, let your inner adventurer out as you hike through vineyards and bike along rivers, and be enchanted by fairytale castles and a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
EMBARKATION – BASEL, SWITZERLAND. Embark your ship in Basel, Switzerland and meet your fellow passengers on board.
BREISACH, GERMANY. Breisach is your gateway to several different excursions, depending on your interests. Step back in time with a visit to the enchanting Alsatian town of Riquewihr, which looks almost the same as it did in the 16th century. On your walking tour, admire historic architecture as well as famous sights, such as the Dolder Gate, plus enjoy free time to visit the Christmas Markets. Alternatively, you may wish to go to Freiburg, founded in 1120 and home to the Freiburg’s Münster, a Gothic cathedral said to have “the most beautiful spire on earth.” Your time in Freiburg also includes time to browse the Christmas Markets. Those wishing a more active excursion can cycle through the scenic countryside, or go on a hike to the Black Forest, a magical land full of cultural traditions, as well as home to elaborate cuckoo clocks.
STRASBOURG, FRANCE. Strasbourg, the capital city of Alsace, offers flavors of both France and Germany. Enjoy a panoramic tour past the stunning Parc de l’Orangerie, the European Parliament and the Place de la République. Then walk through its iconic UNESCO World Heritage “La Petite France” district, which appears to have been lifted straight from the pages of a fairytale. Wander through these charming streets and past the Cathédrale de Nôtre Dame with its famous astronomical clock. Alternatively, the active adventurer can take a guided bike ride through this captivating city and Parc de l’Orangerie.
LUDWIGSHAFEN, GERMANY – RÜDESHEIM. You have a choice of several excursions, depending on your interest. Visit Heidelberg, a perfectly preserved medieval city nestled in the Neckar River Valley along Germany’s Castle Road. Alternatively, relive a bygone era on a tour of the glorious Schwetzingen Baroque Palace. Or, you may decide to visit Schwetzingen Palace Gardens with more than 100 sculptures and an assortment of whimsical buildings. The Apollotempel houses a statue of the ancient Greek god of light and the arts, playing the lyre; and the most spectacular, the Türkischer Garten with a mosque, are a few of the many highlights you will see. For a more active adventure while in Heidelberg, join a guided hike up the Philosopher’s Path, aptly named during the Romantic Period, and be rewarded with panoramic views of the city. Later in the day, sail to Rüdesheim where you can visit Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum or taste one of the town’s special delights, Rüdsheimer coffee, ceremoniously made with brandy.
RÜDESHEIM – RHINE GORGE, GERMANY. Your exploration of Rüdesheim continues with your choice of four excursions. Take a gondola ride to the Niederwalddenkmal Statue followed by a visit to the Christmas Markets. Or, enjoy a whimsical visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, treating your senses to the delight of historic instruments. 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. You’ll also have plenty of time to enjoy Christmas traditions from all over the world at Rüdesheim Christmas Market. During the afternoon, set sail along the scenic Rhine River Gorge with its fabled legends and many castles.
BERNKASTEL, GERMANY. Sail to Bernkastel, located in the middle of the Moselle Valley’s wine-producing region. Walk through its colorful Old Town center and past many medieval and Renaissance buildings on a guided tour, and afterwards, be treated to a wine tasting. Cycling enthusiasts can choose to join a bike tour along the shores of the Moselle River, and hikers can opt to trek up to the ruins of Landshut Castle.
TRIER, GERMANY. Enjoy a scenic morning cruise along the Moselle River to Trier, Germany’s oldest city, where you can discover on a city tour why it has been called the “Rome of the North” or “Second Rome” as it has impressive Roman relics and nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Alternatively, go in search of the secrets of the Porta Nigra Gate on a tour that takes you back to a time when Rome ruled the world from the Emperor’s seat in Trier. You also have the choice of a bike tour through the historic city center and along the Moselle River; or hike high above Trier to Petrisberg.
COCHEM, GERMANY. Discover how the castle has been an integral part of the town’s history, and afterwards, go on a walking tour along Cochem’s narrow cobblestone streets lined with medieval houses. For a more active excursion, hike to the castle or go on a biking tour along the Moselle River. As an alternative excursion, you can visit one of Europe’s oldest working mustard mills where you will sample Cochem’s famous mustard.
COLOGNE, GERMANY. Join a guided tour through the Old Town. Explore the UNESCO-designated cathedral and then visit one of Europe’s largest most renowned Christmas Markets located in front of the cathedral. Continue on to the Cologne Rathaus, Germany’s oldest town hall, and see other local sights. For a different view of the city, 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.
AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS.. View Amsterdam on a scenic canal cruise followed by a walk to Begijnhof, known for its Middle Age buildings. Or taste the local flavor on a guided walk past the city’s iconic canals, gabled houses, narrow bridges and house boats, tasting Dutch specialties at a grand Amsterdam cafe.
AMSTERDAM – DISEMBARKATION. Bid Farewell to Amsterdam and prepare for your flight home.