Day 1: Basel (Embark)
Arrive at Basel Airport and be transferred to your ship. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
Day 2: Basel
Basel historically has been divided by the Rhine into two sections: Greater Basel, on the south bank, and Lesser Basel, on the north bank—and the Lällekönig has been sticking his long red tongue out at Lesser Basel since 1640. Though the original beaten-copper head with its crown and clockwork mechanism now resides in a museum, a replica still reigns near the Middle Bridge, insulting the grittier side of the city in its time-honored way. It’s on your itinerary today as you explore both sides of this most walkable of cities, crossing between them via a traditional ferry that is powered solely by the Rhine’s current. Ramble with your guide through the historic heart of Basel, stopping to nibble some of the city’s delectable specialties, including its celebrated honey-almond cookies, and getting a glimpse of the remarkable range of shops, which display everything from designer fabrics, antique books, quirky figurines and, of course, timepieces. Every historic square you see will hold a special charm: The spectacular red sandstone 16th-century town hall faces Market Square; Barfüsser Square is named for the deconsecrated church that now houses the city museum; Cathedral Square is dominated by Basel’s 800-year-old red sandstone Münster, where Erasmus is buried.Featured Excursions:
Basel art & food: old town walk, with local tastings, Cathedral & cloisters, Rhine ferry“Let’s Go” Bike & Art: bike along the Wiese River to Fondation Beyeler MuseumFasten your helmet, mount your bike and pedal with your guide along the Wiese River (a tributary of the Rhine) to Fondation Beyeler, a contemporary glass jewel box of a museum designed by Renzo Piano that is set in a gracious green park in the village of Riehen. Some 250 impressionist and modernist works collected by Ernst and Hildy Beyeler are on view under Piano’s ingeniously designed glass roof, which can be adjusted to allow in more or less natural light; among the highlights of the collection are paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Lichtenstein, Klee and Warhol. The Beyeler’s special exhibitions are as noteworthy as its core collection is, so be sure to spend some time checking out those display spaces before heading back to the ship.
Jewish Heritage Highlight: Theodor Herzi and the first Zionist Congress
Day 3: Strasbourg
Strasbourg is invariably described as quaint, a rather overused word that in this case is perfectly apropos. Whether you see it by bicycle, on foot with an insightful local expert or opt to delve into the town’s Jewish past, Strasbourg’s cobbled lanes, half-timbered homes, giant stork nests and impossible-to-resist pastry shops will win your heart. After docking in town, you’ll have a chance to discover Strasbourg’s many charms with a choice of excursions: A guided “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour of the Petit France district, stopping to try traditional Alsatian treats along the way; a “Let's Go” bike tour that covers a bit more ground, including the European district; or an in-depth look at the city’s rich Jewish history, which dates back an astonishing 2,000 years. After lunch onboard, spend the afternoon at your leisure, perhaps shopping for handcrafted souvenirs bearing images of white storks—a beloved symbol of the city.Featured Excursions:
“Do as the Locals Do” Strasbourg walking explorerClimb aboard your coach for a short ride across the Rhine en route to enchanting Strasbourg. Teeming with narrow cobbled streets, timber-frame houses, town squares and stately patrician homes, this city is the launching pad for today’s journey. Experience local places, traditions and cuisine as you stroll through “Petite France,” along its canals and to the imposing Strasbourg Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture. Stop for a bite to eat and enjoy a delicious Butchers Sausage, gingerbread, “Flammekueche” (which is often referred to as Alsatian Pizza), or a chocolate and liquor tasting at one of the local shops. Admire the city square’s famous Maison Kammerzell, numerous winstubs (wine lounges) and shops before enjoying free time to explore on your own.
Note: Shuttle service will be provided to and from the center of Strasbourg in the afternoon.
“Let’s go” Strasbourg by bike: Petit France and the European districtStrasbourg loves cyclists! The city has a great network of bike routes, and more residents use bikes as their primary method of transportation than in any other city in France. You’ll soon discover that much of the old city center is car-free, which makes it an especially inviting area to explore via bicycle. Fasten your helmet and pedal with your knowledgeable guide along the charming flower-bedecked lanes of Petite France, which are lined with tall half-timbered houses that date back to the Renaissance, and cross into the European Quarter, so named because of the many pan-European institutions housed in stunning contemporary buildings there. The contrast between the quaint historic district and the glittering modern structures brings home the scope of Strasbourg’s place in Europe’s history and affairs.
Jewish Heritage: Alsace’s Jewish past
Day 4: Speyer (Worms)
Expect the unexpected in Speyer, where ancient treasures harmoniously co-exist with modern day innovation. Take it all in during a walk with a local expert, or—for something really unexpected—venture into a spooky, candlelit tasting room to sample flavorful elixirs made from wine vinegars. Utterly unique and (surprisingly) delicious! A third option is our Jewish Heritage excursion to Worms, an ancient center of learning and religion. Join a local expert for a guided stroll through the historic small town of Speyer, famous for its vast Romanesque cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll also have some free time to wander on your own, perhaps to have a coffee at a sidewalk café on the town’s bustling central plaza.Featured Excursions:
Exclusive Doktorenhof vinegar estate visit and tastingFor a different spin on the Palatinate wine region, visit the Weinessiggut Doktorenhof estate for a special vinegar tasting. Yes, you read that right—a vinegar tasting. Founded by Georg Wiedemann some 30 years ago, Doktorenhof produces vinegars from premium wines, rather than inexpensive ones. Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Riesling and Pinot Noir are aged with a century-old vinegar “mother,” as the bacteria that makes vinegar is known, and flavored with a variety of herbs and fruits. The results make complex and elegant aperitifs, intended to be sipped from a specially designed long-stemmed glass between courses or after a meal. The atmospheric tasting room (think candles, cloaks and choir music) is like no other you’ll ever experience.
Speyer – historic small town and German kingsSpeyer—“spire” in English—is well named, since the four red towers of the UNESCO-designated Romanesque cathedral dominate the Old Town just as the medieval bishops dominated the town itself. Though the bishops ruled the town, Speyer also had a special relationship with the Holy Roman emperors: Conrad II ordered the cathedral’s construction around 1030, and eight emperors are interred in its crypts. Your walking tour will take you along the pedestrian-only Maximilian Street—first laid out by Roman soldiers—from the last remaining gate of the medieval wall toward the great church. Near the church you’ll see remnants of a Jewish community established around 1090 under the auspices of the Bishop of Speyer. Though the synagogue is long gone, the vaulted ritual baths have been beautifully preserved. (The area is popularly known as the Jewish Courtyard.) Notice the former mint and Holy Trinity Church, which were built in the 18th century, following a devastating war, and stand as masterful examples of late-baroque style. You’ll have some free time after your tour: If you’re interested in automotive history, trains or aeronautical technology, be sure to drop by the Technik Museum.
Note: Because the Speyer Cathedral is an active place of worship, no tours of its interiors are given.
Jewish Heritage Highlight: Ancient Jewish center of learning and religion in WormsWill you leave a pebble on the headstone of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg? The great medieval scholar was born in Worms and is buried there, in the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Germany. In his day, Worms was one of three important centers of Jewish learning and trade in the Middle Ages, along with Mainz and Speyer, and was known as “little Jerusalem on the Rhine.” Rabbi Meir taught in Rothenburg for 25 years and died a prisoner in Alsace—and his reasons for refusing to allow anyone to ransom him were cited in discussions in 2011 when Israel exchanged 1027 Hamas prisoners for a single Israeli soldier. Today when you visit Worms’ ancient cemetery, with headstones dating to the 11th century, you’ll find a peaceful place that bears testimony to the long history of Jews in the region. Your tour will also include the re-created 12th-century synagogue and mikveh, which were destroyed on Kristallnacht.
Day 5: Frankfurt
Frankfurt is known as the “Mainhattan” of Europe, a financial powerhouse with soaring skyscrapers as well as traditional Old Town architecture. Experience the city with your choice of adventures today—visit Germany’s oldest museum, take a guided “Let's Go” bike ride or learn about the Rothschild family’s rags-to-riches saga. Step ashore and walk a short distance to the Old Town for our “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour. This part of the city has charming old homes, stately churches and a lively covered market where you can sample all sorts of local delicacies. Later, you can visit Germany’s oldest museum, the Städel, with 700 years of European art housed under a single roof. If you prefer, opt for a guided “Let's Go” bike ride that takes you through the Old Town, along the Main River promenade and down the city’s world-famous “Museum Mile”—which boasts no fewer than 13 acclaimed institutions. For something completely different, you can spend your time in Frankfurt delving into the city’s fascinating Jewish legacy.Featured Excursions:
Frankfurt “Do as the Locals Do” and world-class Städel MuseumAlthough Frankfurt is unabashedly modern, with a dynamic international population and a skyline dominated by skyscrapers, it has a much-loved historic core, and your ship docks within easy walking distance of it. Stroll with your guide through Römer Square, bordered by the re-created 15th-century mansions that constitute the old city hall, to the Klein Market Hall, where you’ll sample Frankfurt’s beloved apple cider and sausages as you take in the colorful scene: locals choose produce and sausage, cider and eggs, and flowers and spices from the covered market’s 154 stalls. The city’s residents come from more than 200 nations, so you’ll find plenty of international specialties, too, along with regional items. Your next stop is Goethe House, the house museum devoted to Germany’s national poet, who was born in this city. Though Goethe’s work belongs to the world, Frankfurters take particular pride in their native son; the rooms here display furnishings from the writer’s day, as well as family portraits and the desk where Goethe completed Faust—not to mention a puppet theater with which the four-year-old future poet played. You’ll encounter the city’s bustling present-day economic power as you walk past the Frankfurt stock exchange and continue to Main Tower. Nothing exemplifies Frankfurt more than this lofty skyscraper: The façade of a historic building is incorporated in its base, and 56 stories of glass-encased offices soar above it. Ride up to the viewing platform for an amazing view of the city and its surroundings.
Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Eyck, Botticelli, Lucas Cranach the Elder—the Städel’s collection encompasses a magnificent group of Old Master paintings but is by no means limited to them: Monet, Picasso, Francis Bacon, Baselitz, Yves Klein and many other artists also find space on the walls of the 200-year-old museum, which anchors Frankfurt’s Museum Mile, home to a dozen notable art institutions. Explore this collection with a knowledgeable guide, then venture into some of the neighboring galleries and museums. The ship is anchored nearby, so this wealth of artistic treasures is just steps from the gangplank.
“Let’s Go” Frankfurt by bikeGet a different view of the city via bicycle, pedaling through the old town area that was meticulously reconstructed after WWII (St. Paul’s Church was one of the first structures to be rebuilt because of its important place in the development of German democracy—the country’s first freely elected parliamentary body met in St. Paul’s oval hall), along Museum Mile and down the shady, pleasant Main Promenade, which stretches along both banks of the river.
Jewish Heritage: Frankfurt Jewish Heritage Museum and the legacy of the RothschildsThe Rothschild family fortune began in Frankfurt, along with the family name—taken from the red shield on the family home on Judengasse, the quarter-mile-long street where all of Frankfurt’s Jews were required to live between 1462 and 1811. It was a crowded but prosperous community (it had to be prosperous, since the only way Jews enjoyed imperial protection was by paying enormous fees to the emperor). Mayer Rothschild started as a coin dealer, expanded into dealing antiques, and by 1792, he was a wealthy banker with an international clientele. His five sons followed in his footsteps, extending the family business throughout Europe and lending their names to a raft of famous enterprises—and to numerous cultural and charitable institutions in Frankfurt and elsewhere. The Frankfurt Jewish Museum, located in a former Rothschild home that was recently renovated, offers a fascinating look at the family’s saga. Though none of the houses on Judengasse are still standing, you can see the foundations of some of them when you visit Museum Judengasse., which outlines the history of Jews in Frankfurt and their relations with the Christian community through the centuries. It abuts the Jewish cemetery and the memorial to victims of the Shoah, listing the names of 12,000 Frankfurt Jews who died in the death camps.
Day 6: Oberwesel
Bacharach is an ancient village that appears straight out of the pages of a storybook. Enjoy a guided stroll through town and taste some locally grown Rieslings, a specialty of the region. Alternatively, join a “Let's Go” hike that will take you past the old town walls and up to a fortified 12th-century castle.Featured Excursions:
Bacharach: storybook wine village walk & Riesling tastingWhat would a cruise on the Rhine be without a stop at one of the picturesque and historic wine villages that dot the banks? Bacharach, first documented in the 11th century, was once critically important to the wine trade as a port where wine casks were transferred from smaller boats, which could navigate the rocky narrows above the town, to larger ones. Join a local guide to stroll among the timbered houses—the oldest dates to 1368 (it’s now a restaurant called, appropriately, Altes Haus)—pausing for a look at the remains of the old town walls, demolished by the French during the Nine Years’ War, the gothic ruins of the Werner Chapel and the single spired St. Peter’s Church. Vineyards rise in terraces all around the town, producing excellent Rieslings; following your tour, you’ll have a chance to taste some of them and find out for yourself just how good they are.
“Let’s Go” Castle Stahleck hikeThe round tower and sturdy stone walls of Castle Stahleck guard the heights above Bacharach. The counts Palatine used the fortress to defend their territories from other German lords and from numerous French incursions, so it suffered considerable damage over the centuries, but it has been beautifully restored and enjoys a new life as a youth hostel. Join your guide for a hike—it won’t be too strenuous but you will be climbing the hill outside the village—through the vineyards up to the castle. You’ll be rewarded with fabulous views of the Rhine and the Lorelei valley as well as the town below.
Day 7: Cologne
You simply cannot visit Cologne without paying homage to its most notorious site, the Gothic masterpiece that serves as the city’s cathedral. A local expert will show you favorite haunts around the Old Town and share some of the cathedral’s most intriguing and Magi-cal secrets with you. Afterwards, you have a choice of three enticing excursions highlighting beer, contemporary art or Jewish history. Our first stop today is Cologne’s massive cathedral, a UNESCO-designated Gothic masterpiece with a shrine to the Three Magi that has drawn religious pilgrims for centuries. From there, beer aficionados can visit an Old Town pub for a taste of Kölsch, a brew made only in Cologne. Art lovers can see Europe’s most significant collection of contemporary art at Museum Ludwig. And guests interested in the city’s Jewish past are welcome to explore the centuries-old mikveh and other notable sites in Cologne’s Jewish quarter, once home to Europe’s first Jewish settlement north of the Alps. No matter which excursion you choose, you’ll also have ample free time to explore the city on your own.Featured Excursions:
Cologne walking discovery tour with Cologne CathedralAs you walk through the narrow lanes of the Old Town, you’ll find it hard to believe that more than 70 percent of the city was destroyed by bombs during WWII. Three medieval gates remain standing, as does the old city hall with its Renaissance facade. The famous 12 Romanesque churches were reconstructed from the rubble, and the cathedral, Cologne’s iconic landmark, rises magnificently in the city center. Though it was badly damaged by WWII, the great UNESCO-designated cathedral retains many of its original treasures—the relics of the Magi and other sacred figures, which inspired its building in the 12th century, the 14th-century stained-glass windows that were stored safely throughout the war and the beautifully painted choir stalls—though other treasures are displayed separately. Enter the awe-inspiring nave and learn about the history of the cathedral and its art collections, especially the pieces surrounding the Shrine of the Magi.
Note: The number of visitors allowed in Cologne Cathedral is regulated by a very strict schedule of time slots. Sightseeing will be arranged around the time slots obtained. On Sundays and Catholic holidays, guided tours inside the cathedral will not be possible.
Jewish Heritage: Cologne’s Jewish QuarterIt's a short walk from the cathedral—where the protections granted Jews in 1266 are etched in stone—to Cologne's ancient Jewish quarter. Jews crossed the Alps with the Romans and were part of Cologne's history from the beginning: Emperor Constantine signed an edict allowing Jews to be elected to the curia in 321. No one knows for sure what happened when the Romans retreated south—did Jews remove with them or remain to form the nucleus of the substantial community that flourished in Cologne a few centuries later? The earliest physical remains of the Jewish community date to the 11th century. The medieval Judengasse, the synagogue and the mikveh were all close to the town hall. An archaeological excavation is slowly revealing the elements of this neighborhood, which is wonderfully well documented, but only the mikveh is open to the public at this time. Cologne is once again home to a thriving Jewish community, centered on the synagogue on Roonstrasse, the only synagogue of the six destroyed by the Nazis to be rebuilt after the war.
Day 8: Arnhem
Arnhem, once almost completely destroyed by WWII, has blossomed into a burgeoning Dutch city, with several wonderful museums, charming shop-lined streets and historically significant landmarks. Get a glimpse into Arnhem’s WWII-era past at the Airborne Museum. It’s dedicated to the Battle of Arnhem, where Allied Airborne Forces (paratroopers) attempted to secure bridges in the surrounding areas to prevent further invasion. Learn the history of the infamous battle from enemy, ally and civilian perspective and explore an extensive collection of equipment and weaponry. Opt for more active exploration on the Arnhem Airborne Cycle route. Bike past major battle landmarks such as John Frost Bridge, Doorwerth Castle and the Airborne Cemetery as you travel along the river banks.Featured Excursions:Arnhem Airborne Museum WWIIArnhem Airborne Cycle Route
Day 9: Rotterdam
You’ll spend your day exploring Rotterdam’s historic splendor, vibrant culture, varied architectural landscape and maritime heritage. Embark on a stroll around the port city’s most enticing spots, like Market Hall. The impressive residential and office building is adorned with a futuristic, all-glass façade, doubling as an art installation of sorts. While you’re in the heart of the city, you’ll stop along the way to sample mouthwatering Dutch pastries. Venture to the nearby village of Kinderjik and marvel at a group of 19 towering windmills. The World Heritage Site holds the largest concentration of old windmills in The Netherlands and its entire vicinity is a protected village view. Rotterdam is the “Gateway to Europe” and you’ll want to discover why. Upon your arrival in Arnhem that evening, choose to explore the Genealogy Museum of Jewish People.Featured Excursions:Culinary Stroll of Rotterdam’s SuperDutch, supersized Market HallKinderdijk windmillsJewish Heritage Highlight: Jewish Genealogy Museum visit
Day 10: Amsterdam, Zaandam
Enjoy the luxury of a full day in the “Venice of the North,” starting with a private “Morning with the Masters” tour of the Amsterdam Hermitage. Afterwards, visit significant Jewish Heritage sites or explore the city on foot or by bike. At your private “Morning with the Masters” tour of the Amsterdam Hermitage, you’ll have the museum’s extraordinary collection of Dutch Masters all to yourself, as an art historian shows you Portrait Gallery highlights. Afterwards, choose from a trio of enticing excursions: Admire the city’s narrow, gabled homes lining the canals on a “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour; explore the hip and trendy Jordaan district on two wheels, the quintessential way to experience this bike-obsessed city; or opt for our Jewish Heritage tour, with stops at the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Museum.Featured Excursions:
Exclusive "Morning with the Masters" at the Hermitage AmsterdamThe doors open early to give you a crowd-free viewing of an extraordinary collection of Dutch master paintings: 30 monumental group paintings from the golden age that have been called “cousins of The Night Watch.” Drawn from both the Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum, these works have rarely been displayed because of their enormous size. The Amsterdam Hermitage, however, devotes an enormous gallery space to this exhibit, which reveals the connections and activities of Amsterdam’s power elite in the 17th century. Meet mayors and regents, colonels of the civil guard, wealthy merchants and their wives and learn something of their lives and the lives of the artists who painted these massive portraits.
“Do as the Locals Do” Amsterdam strollUncover some of Amsterdam’s most charming and little-known treasures with a stroll to the city’s most notable sights. Cross over the historic and richly-decorated Blauwbrug (Blue Bridge) that sits over the river Amstel. The original Blue Bridge was a wooden structure built in 1600 and painted to match the blue color from the Dutch flag. Next, board a streetcar and head to Rokin Street for a taste of a traditional Dutch delicacy, Haring (a unique raw herring dish) before pressing on towards Begijnhof–one of the oldest groups of historic buildings in Amsterdam. Next up? The Amsterdam Museum, located in the former city orphanage built in 1580, for an intimate look into the country’s history. After, you’ll head towards Dam Square and visit the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, the only palace in the country that is open to the public and still in use by the Dutch Monarchy. Discover its collection of artwork and furnishings before venturing to the adjacent Nieuwe Kerk, one of the most impressive churches in The Netherlands. Monarchs have been inaugurated there, royal weddings and coronations have taken place under its stained-glass windows, and on occasion exhibitions on art and history are hosted inside. Head into oldest parts of Amsterdam via Warmoesstraat, one of the oldest, shop-lined streets in the city, that is also adjacent to the city's infamous Red-Light District. Wander along charming streets and indulge in a little bit of window shopping before arriving in Oudezijds Voorburgwal, one the city's central canals flanked by quintessentially Dutch façades, where you’ll see the Oude Kerk (translation: Old Church), the city’s oldest building. Your tour will end in Zeedijk, Amsterdam’s Chinatown, which was originally constructed as a means of protection from the sea.
“Let’s Go” Discover Amsterdam – the lively Jordaan district by bikeGo native! Amsterdam is a city of bicycles; in fact, there are more bikes than there are residents—881,000 of them. Mount up and join the locals pedaling the crooked little lanes and tiny bridges that crisscross the canals of the Jordaan district, once a poor working class slum and now one of the liveliest and most interesting areas in Amsterdam. Historic houses with stone plaques indicating the one-time occupants’ line of work, attractive courtyards and dozens of art galleries and shops fill the neighborhood—which, regardless of the changing fortunes of its residents, retains a strong sense of being a neighborhood.
Discover Dutch crafts, windmills and museums at the Zaanse SchansJewish Heritage visit to Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish MuseumAnyone who has read The Diary of Anne Frank knows what happened to Amsterdam’s Jews under the Nazis. But not everyone knows that the Jewish community began in the city when Sephardic Jews fled Spain and Portugal after 1492, a group of successful merchants and professionals who in turn sponsored Ashkenazi migrants fleeing Central Europe in the 17th century. Visit the Jewish Historical Museum, with its meticulous re-creation of the Great Synagogue, compelling exhibit called “Friday Night” and lively children’s area, and the nearby Portuguese Synagogue, before strolling through the former Jewish Quarter (Rembrandt lived in in this neighborhood, and he often asked his Jewish neighbors to pose for his Old Testament scenes; his house is now a museum and is one of the few original houses still standing in the area). Today’s Jewish community is largely centered in Amstelveen, where some 15,000 Jews live, work and worship in one of the largest and most vibrant communities in Europe.
Day 11: Amsterdam (Disembark)
Disembark the ship and be transferred to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for your flight home.