Arrive Basel and board your riverboat
Tour begins: 5:30 PM, Basel. A transfer is included from Basel-Mulhouse International Airport or Basel SBB railway station to the ms Inspire. Check-in for all guests is at 4:00 PM. Please join us for a welcome reception followed by dinner aboard ship this evening.
Old Town Basel or Rhine Falls excursion
The Tauck Difference in European river cruising is all about where you go, what you do, and who you meet on your shore excursions - and today, you have a choice! First choice is spending the day in Basel, a beautiful city on the banks of the Rhine River. You'll get a good overview on a brief sightseeing tour that is followed by a walking tour in the Old Town - see the bright-red Rathaus, Basel's Town Hall. After lunch, explore more of one of Europe's most attractive and best-preserved Old Towns on your own, perhaps taking in one of the city's 40 museums. Your second choice is a trip to the town of Schaffhausen for an excursion to the Rhine Falls, the largest plain waterfall in Europe, which you'll experience on a boat ride. Return to Basel late afternoon for some free time; this evening, your riverboat heads for Strasbourg, France.
A taste of France in Strasbourg
Today you'll explore Strasbourg, France, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for fairy-tale charm. You'll see the city's modern European Parliament buildings on a drive to your walking tour of the medieval canals, watchtowers and half-timbered houses of Old Town, including La Petite France and the 11th-century Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg with its dancing astronomical clock. Return to the ship for lunch or continue exploring the cobblestone streets or works of art at Palais de Rohan on your own. Shuttle service between the riverboat and town is available this afternoon. Back aboard ship, enjoy an Alsatian folkloric show before dinner.
The Black Forest & Baden-Baden
An excursion to the beautiful spa town of Baden-Baden reveals that the elegant Belle Èpoque period is still alive and well. For many generations, wealthy folks have flocked here to see and be seen, and to take the healing thermal waters for which the town is famous. Join us on a walking tour and time spent on your own discovering some of the town's treasures ranging from the ruins of Roman baths to the ornate, 250-year-old Belle Èpoque casino, the Kurhaus, which movie star Marlene Dietrich once described as "the most beautiful casino in the world." You'll also have an optional opportunity to visit the Caracalla Spa in town before returning to the riverboat for the evening.
Heidelberg or a family winery visit
Today you can opt for a full day in the historic college town of Heidelberg, home to one of the oldest universities in Europe as well as the setting for the famous operetta, The Student Prince, or visit a centuries-old family winery. In Heidelberg, take a walking tour for a close-up look at the Old Town, and ride a funicular up to the imposing Heidelberger Schloss, perched 300 feet above the city; view its examples of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Perhaps you'll be as captivated by this lovely old city as America's first travel writer, Mark Twain, was when he spent three months here with his family. Alternatively, you may choose to join us for a visit to the Karl Schaefer winery - established in 1843 and now operated by the sixth generation of the family - for a tour and a tasting. Rejoin the riverboat in Speyer, where you'll have some free time to explore, then return to the ship for an afternoon and evening of cruising.
The Lorelei & a choice in Boppard
While your riverboat glides through the Middle Rhine Valley en route to Boppard, listen to the legend of the Lorelei and see for yourself why this beautiful part of the river - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - has inspired composers, writers and artists for centuries. Have lunch on the Sun Deck (weather permitting), and gain insights on the Lorelei Valley and legends associated with the many castles you'll pass on your way through the region from your Tauck Director as this most delightful of Rhine River tours continues. Arrive in Boppard this afternoon and choose between an orientation walk through the city or a bicycle excursion along the Rhine. Return to the ship for dinner and continue on to Koblenz, where the riverboat will be docked overnight.
The Moselle Valley to Cochem & Reichsburg Castle
Start your day with an introduction to the Moselle River, where your riverboat diverges from the Rhine today, en route to Cochem for a walking tour of the town and a visit to Reichsburg Castle - a turreted beauty. Next up is a tasting at the eleven-generations, family-owned Schlagkamp Wine Museum; some 10,000 wine-related objects portray the Moselle Valley's rich heritage in winemaking. Return to the riverboat for dinner tonight.
Luxembourg & Traben-Trarbach
Dock this morning for a journey to the tiny Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. A walking tour of its well-preserved old town reveals the Cathedral, Parliament, the Palace of the Grand Duke, and centuries-old battlements that are today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pay a poignant visit to the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial; over 5,000 American casualties of World War II's Battle of the Bulge lie buried here, as does General George S. Patton. Later, arrive in the charming spa town of Traben-Trarbach. You have the choice of taking a walking tour of this lovely town, or joining us for a guided bicycle ride along the Moselle River before returning to the ship for the evening, where you can enjoy entertainment in the lounge after dinner.
A visit to Trier and cruising the Moselle Valley
On an excursion to Trier, discover this ancient city - which lays claim to being one of the oldest in Germany - during a walking tour that includes both medieval treasures and sites dating back to Roman times... from a 2nd-century city gate and a 4th-century basilica to a 16th-century fountain featuring images of St. Peter. Reboard your riverboat in Traben-Trarbach for an afternoon of classic river cruising, watching the scenery slip by from the Sun Deck as your riverboat glides along the Moselle; enjoy dinner aboard ship tonight.
Historic Köln & a castle dinner
After a morning spent cruising the Rhine, arrive this afternoon in the historic German city of Köln (Cologne), where you'll enjoy a city tour with a local guide including the Old Town. This evening, you're off to Engelskirchen for a visit to its neighboring castle, Schloss Ehreshoven. Built in the 14th Century and later expanded in the style of a grand Baroque manor house, the estate is surrounded by a moat, landscaped gardens, and a castle park. Schloss Ehreshoven is frequently used as a film location but this evening it's the elegant setting for a Tauck Exclusive cocktail reception and dinner with entertainment. Return to the ship late tonight to continue your cruise along the Rhine, bound for The Netherlands.
De Hoge Veluwe National Park and the Kröller-Müller Museum in Arnhem
Your riverboat arrives in Nijmegen for a shore excursion to Arnhem and the 5,500-hectare De Hoge Veluwe National Park, home to many endangered plant and animal species. In the midst of this natural glory, you'll find the inspiring Kröller-Müller Museum, featuring works of such luminaries as Pablo Picasso, Georges Seurat and Vincent van Gogh, along with Europe's largest sculpture garden. Your choice today is a guided visit to this renowned art institution, or a bicycle excursion through beautiful De Hoge Veluwe National Park. Rejoin the ship in Nijmegen for lunch, followed by time spent exploring this 2,000-year-old city - the oldest in the Netherlands - with your Tauck Director. Whether you're intrigued by Roman and medieval history, the legacy of World War II, African art or modern-day Dutch life, you'll find something interesting here. Return to the riverboat for dinner onboard this evening.
As your cruise comes to an end in Amsterdam, indulge yourself in the many charms of the Dutch capital today. You'll be introduced to the city's remarkable architecture on a scenic canal cruise along its 17th-century canals, winding up at Museumplein, where you'll visit the famed Rijksmuseum, home to one of the world's most important collections of artwork by the Dutch Masters. This afternoon, you have the choice of exploring more of this fascinating metropolis - at once one of Europe's most modern and most historic cities - on your own, or meeting a local family and visiting their home on an Amsterdam canal boat. Please join us this evening aboard the riverboat for a farewell reception followed by dinner and a live musical performance.
Tour Ends: Amsterdam. A transfer is included from the riverboat to Schiphol Int'l Airport or Amsterdam Centraal Station upon disembarking the riverboat - no later than 9:00 AM. Please allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.