Day 1 - Amsterdam (Embark)
Arrive at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a representative and transferred to the ship.
Day 2 - Amsterdam
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. You’ll have the museum’s extraordinary collection of Dutch Masters all to yourself, with an art historian to show you Portrait Gallery highlights and part of a special exhibition of Dutch art collected by Catherine the Great—a show available only through May 2018. Afterwards, explore the city with a choice of excursions.
Exclusive “Morning with the Masters” at the Amsterdam Hermitage
The 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. (Visitors sailing in the spring will also have an opportunity to see a stunning group of 63 Dutch master paintings from the St. Petersburg Hermitage, on loan to the Amsterdam Hermitage through May 2018.)Amsterdam is rich in art, architecture, bridges, canals, bicycles and museums. Here, even the simplest of shops has a distinctive charm, and every street has a story to tell.
Amsterdam canal cruise
It’s called the “Venice of the North” for a reason: Canals crisscross the heart of the old city, and bridges link some 90 islands. As the principal city in a newly independent Holland, Amsterdam was a boom town in the early 17th century, rapidly outgrowing its medieval walls. The city’s fathers responded by demolishing most of the old city and building an entirely new one, creating Europe’s first planned city. That “new” district is now 400 years old, and as you glide along the main canals, you’ll pass stately merchants’ houses built centuries ago (some of them are now house museums you can visit on your own). But the canals are not merely scenic; they are essential thoroughfares—people take water buses to work and live in houseboats along the banks—so a canal cruise also gives you a look at the busy modern city.
Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Amsterdam walking tour
Uncover some of Amsterdam’s most charming and little-known treasures with a stroll through the canal district that will take you to two very different historic residences. One is an oasis of quiet just steps from the city’s bustle: the Begijnhof, a residential court dating to the 14th century that was once home to a quasi-religious group, where you’ll find 47 townhouses (including the oldest wooden house in Amsterdam) surrounding a serene grassy courtyard. The other is the Museum Van Loon, a remarkable house museum that shows you how wealthy Amsterdam families have lived over the centuries.
Willem van Loon was a founder of the Dutch East India Company, and the family’s history can be seen in the portraits, silver, porcelain and beautiful furniture found throughout the house. Behind the house, a formal garden leads to the classical façade of the coach house, which is now a gallery. This combination—house, garden and coach house—makes the Museum Van Loon unique; no other house museum in the city has managed to keep all three elements intact. Between your two destinations, you’ll pause for coffee and Dutch apple pie at a local café. Enjoy lunch on-board and an afternoon of scenic sailing as your ship makes its way to Cologne, Germany. This is the perfect time to take advantage of the many amenities provided by your luxurious floating boutique hotel. Sign up for a massage in the Serenity River Spa, sip a cocktail in the gorgeous lounge or simply relax in the privacy of your stateroom as the Rhine River scenery glides past your window.
A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
Day 3 - 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 favourite haunts around the Old Town and share some of the cathedral’s most intriguing and Magi-cal secrets with you. Your ship docks today in the oldest major city in Germany, lively Cologne (Köln in German). Cologne is the largest city of the Rhineland and a cultural mecca boasting more than 30 museums and hundreds of art galleries. Join a guided walking discovery tour, visit a unique museum or simply enjoy the city on your own. If you’re looking for something more physically challenging, consider a bike ride or walk along the many riverside parks and promenades. Nordic walking sticks and bicycles are available on-board.
Cologne walking discovery tour with Cologne Cathedral
As 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. The famous 12 Romanesque churches were reconstructed from the rubble, and the cathedral, Cologne’s iconic landmark, rises magnificently in the city centre. 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.Following your walking tour, you have your choice of ways to explore further: You may opt to taste the famous local beer or drop by the Roman Germanic Museum.
Kölsch beer tasting
Mingle with the locals at a tavern, where you’ll have an exclusive tasting of Kölsch, the celebrated pale ale that is unique to the city. It’s one of the few German beers to have a regional appellation similar to that given to wines; its characteristic flavor comes from the unique yeast used in its brewing. It is always served in a straight-sided narrow glass called a stange, meaning a rod or stick.
Roman Germanic Museum
The Roman-Germanic Museum is a wonderful archaeological museum featuring a large collection of Roman artefacts from the Roman settlement Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, upon which modern-day Cologne is built. The museum was meticulously constructed around the remains of an original Roman town villa, including a stunning piece of art known as the Dionysus Mosaic. Just outside, you can also see remnants of the ancient Roman road. In many ways, the museum is an archaeological site in and of itself. After your guided tour here, you can take a leisurely walk back to the ship, or stay in the city to do some exploring and shopping on your own.
Day 4 - Koblenz
Perfectly situated at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle, Koblenz is a medieval gem with a colourful history and eclectic architecture. Join a local expert to see the sights on foot—including charming churches, baroque-style buildings and graceful fountains (including one known to spit water at unsuspecting passersby). Or “Go Active” with a scenic bike ride along the river. Begin the morning with a pleasant stroll into the heart of Koblenz, a medieval town that lies at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine rivers, or get out in the fresh air for a guided bicycle ride.
Choice of Koblenz walking discovery tour or Exclusive guided “Let’s Go” bicycle ride
Watch the waters of the Moselle meld with the Rhine as you stand on the spit of land called German Corner: It’s the perfect spot for a symbol of German unity, an equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I, who united the nation in the 19th century. (There’s another symbol of German unity here too: three panels of the Berlin Wall.) Behind it is Koblenz’s oldest church, St. Castor’s Basilica, first erected in the ninth century, and just one of the charming churches and squares you’ll encounter as you wander through Old Town. Like many Rhineland towns, Koblenz suffered at the hands of Louis XIV’s forces— that’s why you’ll see so many baroque features in the buildings you pass, since so many needed to be reconstructed after the French left.
That’s also why the Church of Our Lady has twin onion domes. Originally built in the Middle Ages on the highest point in Koblenz, the lovely church that stands in this spot now mostly dates to the early 1700s. Despite their travails over the ages, though, Koblenz’s citizens kept their sense of humour: One example of it might catch you by surprise as you pass the fountain known as the Spitting Boy, which spits water without warning.
Exclusive guided “Let’s Go” bicycle ride
Cyclists have a treat in store today. Borrow a bike and, with an expert local guide, head to the riverside cycling path that extends for miles and miles through this beautiful corner of the world. You’ll pedal through the lovely countryside, passing orchards and meadows, farms and charming villages. A wonderful way to get some fresh air and exercise and to see experience the region’s acclaimed landscapes from a whole new perspective.
Day 5 - Cochem (Ediger-Eller)
Turner succumbed to the scenic charms of Cochem in 1839, immortalising views of the old gate tower and the castle ruins in his famously luminous watercolours. And who could blame him? Cochem boasts some of the most enchanting sights in the Moselle River wine region, and you’ll have a chance to immerse yourself in them in various ways today. When you wake up this morning and gaze out your window, you’ll see steep vineyard-covered hillsides and the distinctive profile of an imperial castle. You’re in Cochem, a village that you can explore in one of two ways today—with a walking tour that leads up to the stunning Reichsburg Castle or a hike through historic vineyards. Later, you’ll visit another village and have a chance to mingle with the locals and taste locally made wines.
Exclusive Ediger-Eller “Village Day” with wine tasting
Crossing the Moselle Bridge, you’ll venture into Old Town, passing St. Martin’s Church, the baroque-style City Hall, and the oldest half-timbered house still standing, which dates to 1625, before making your way up a set of narrow switchbacks to Reichsburg, a castle whose unmistakable silhouette looms high above the Moselle River. Reichsburg was originally built in the 11th century, but it did not escape the centuries unscathed. Louis XIV’s troops blew it up in 1689 (they did a lot of damage to the town, too). In 1868 the Ravené family purchased the ruins and rebuilt the castle, incorporating the remnants of the Gothic buildings and turning it into one of the most stunning castles on the river. Its many splendid rooms are fitted with Renaissance and baroque furniture collected by the Ravenés—and the views of the town below are well worth the trip.
Exclusive guided “Let’s Go” vineyard hike
Are you interested in a challenge? This hike explores the steepest vineyard in Europe, the Bremmer Calmont. Intended for t and active hikers, this difficult section of the scenic Moselsteig Trail, which links vineyards and picturesque villages throughout the region, rewards hikers with spectacular views. You’ll be climbing hairpin turns through the vineyard—imagine pruning and harvesting these vines!—on your way to panoramas of the Moselle Valley, which include the storied “Vierseenblick,” a view of the river far below in which the Moselle seems to have been divided into four lakes.
Exclusive Ediger-Eller “Village Day” with wine tasting
Take a short, scenic drive to the picturesque winemaker’s village of Ediger-Eller, which is nestled between steep hillside vineyards on the banks of the Moselle. If you think these slopes look particularly precipitous, you’re right: This region boasts the steepest vineyards in all of Europe. You’ll be greeted by Ediger-Eller’s mayor—in medieval robes!—who will act as your host for your visit as you join him on a walking tour of his charming village. Stroll past the old city walls and gates to St. Martin’s Church, which dates to the 16th century. It’s one of the treasures of the town, particularly noted for its beautifully ornamented bell tower. The mayor will invite you to step inside and listen to a brief organ concert before heading off to experience Ediger-Eller’s lively winemaking culture at a local tavern. You’ll savor three delicious local Rieslings and a light snack while watching a rare ethnographic documentary from the 1950s: a silent movie offering a glimpse into the daily life of a vintner’s family half a century ago.
Day 6 - Cruising the Moselle River Trier (Luxembourg)
After a morning of scenic cruising, the ship arrives in Germany’s oldest city today, Trier, which dates back to ancient Roman times (and was also the birthplace of Karl Marx). Get to know this fascinating locale with an in-depth city tour with an insightful local guide. Spend this morning relaxing on-board the regal River Queen as the romantic Moselle River Valley unfolds before you. Quiet hamlets and magnificent castles dot the rolling hillsides, and each bend in the river reveals new and thrilling scenic surprises. The ancient Romans and Celts planted the first grapevines on these steep riverside slopes thousands of years ago, and you can see the remnants of their handiwork even today. Once the ship docks, you get to know Trier with a city tour.
Trier city tour
In ancient times Trier was the largest Roman settlement north of the Alps, and six emperors ruled the Western Empire from here. Remnants of that Roman city still stand, despite intervening centuries of warfare, earning it UNESCO protection. It’s easy to see the shape of the ancient Roman city, since the layout of the Old Town still exists. Start your visit at the Basilica of Constantine, one of two basilicas built by Emperor Constantine in AD 306. The throne room is the largest surviving single-room structure from Roman times in Germany; it features two tiers of windows with high-rising arches that even now show some of the original wall paintings.
The other basilica is St. Peter’s Cathedral, home to the Holy Tunic, a sacred relic donated by Constantine’s mother, St. Helena. Your route to Porta Nigra, the great double-arched stone gate that is all that remains of the Roman wall that used to surround Trier, takes you through Market Square. Though it is the lively heart of the district, even here you can spot Roman ruins: The cross in the centre stands on a Roman plinth. You have some time to enjoy Trier on your own, too. If you happen to notice people flocking to an old burgher’s house just outside the pedestrian zone, you’ll have found the house where Karl Marx was born; it is now a museum. Later, enjoy some scenic cruising along the upper Moselle River.
Day 7 - Trier Cruising the Moselle River Bernkastel
You’ll encounter a new country today—Luxembourg—and its historically rich capital city of the same name. Stay here to visit the American cemetery and WWII memorial or venture further into the past at an ancient wine village and an even more ancient Roman villa. The oldest city in Germany, Trier delights visitors with its cheerful blend of old and new, as its illustrious history is matched by a vibrant social scene. Enjoy the day in Trier and later enjoy the scenes of the ever-changing and always beautiful Moselle.
Choice of Luxembourg with WWII cemetery
Over the course of 900 years, Luxembourg grew into one of the greatest fortified sites in Europe because of its strategic geographical position and ever-changing political affiliations (the city was variously controlled by Spanish, Austrian, French and Prussian forces, among others). Today Luxembourg’s partially demolished fortifications—including subterranean tunnels and barracks—are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, not least because some were designed by Louis XIV’s master military architect, Vauban. Your panoramic city tour will introduce you to centuries-old battlements as well as to the gleaming high-rises that denote the city’s status as a 21st-century international financial centre.
To best discover the heart of Old Town, though, you’ll want to walk with a local expert to Notre Dame Cathedral, a fine example of late-Gothic architecture, and the Grand Ducal Palace, where both Louis XIV and Napoleon resided. It has been the official residence of the reigning Grand Duke since 1890. Your tour ends at Place d’Armes, “the city’s sitting room.” Surrounded by shops and sidewalk cafés, with frequent free afternoon concerts, this is the lively heart of Luxembourg. You’ll have some free time to enjoy yourself on your own there.You’ll continue to the WWII Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, which lies just within the limits of Luxembourg City. The 50-acre (20-hectare) cemetery was established on December 29, 1944, by General George S. Patton’s Third U.S. Army, which liberated Luxembourg. More than 5,000 U.S. military dead are buried here—many of whom lost their lives in the Battle of the Bulge—along with General Patton himself. The beautiful grounds, white stone chapel and monument honoring the fallen make for a moving memorial.
Visit to the wine village of Perl, the reconstructed Roman Villa Borg, and the Saar Bow river bend
Visit the wine village of Perl before continuing on to the Roman Villa Borg—a reconstructed Roman villa rustica discovered at the end of the 19th century. The site was excavated in the late 1980s and reconstruction work was virtually completed in late 2008, with additional excavation work still ongoing. Another highlight today—the Saar Bow, Germany’s most beautiful river loop.
Day 8 - Bernkastel Cruising the Moselle River
Just when you thought you’d seen the most stunning scenery Germany had to offer, along come the emerald fields, beguiling cottages and historic vineyards of Bernkastel. Explore the village and some of the surrounding region, with your choice of excursions—including a visit to the famous Bernkasteler Doctor. Today you’ll embark on a morning walking tour of Bernkastel, followed by a sampling of luscious local wines at the region’s most prestigious wine estate; or, if you are feeling active, enjoy an invigorating bicycle ride along the banks of the winding Moselle.
Choice of Bernkastel walking discovery tour with exclusive Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler wine estate visit and tasting
A fourth-century Roman poet was among the first to sing the praises of this region—and today you’ll see why. As you ramble through the picture-perfect village with your expert guide, you might feel as though you’ve stumbled onto a Hollywood set: The narrow, cobbled streets are lined with half-timbered houses, bright blossoms bloom on window ledges and fountains burble in secluded courtyards. Naturally, the ruins of a great gray castle loom romantically on a hilltop above the town, and Market Square is one of the loveliest in Germany, with remarkably well-preserved Renaissance-era buildings clustered around the early-17th-century St. Michael’s Fountain.
Before you know it, you’ll find yourself at the famed Bernkasteler Doctor. According to local legend, centuries ago wine from this estate brought a prince back from the brink of death, and vintages from this historic winery have been widely coveted ever since. The vineyard itself is tiny and almost impossibly steep; it’s rumoured to be the most valuable agricultural land in Germany. Enter the vaulted tasting room and take a seat at the long wooden table, where you’ll enjoy samples of exquisite estate Rieslings accompanied by expert commentary. You’ll have some free time to shop in the village before heading back to the ship.
Exclusive guided “Let’s Go” bike ride along the Moselle River
Pedal beside the serene Moselle, over bridges, past steep vineyards and through picturesque wine villages, following a bike path that is mostly paved and at, making for easy riding that gives you time to admire the scenery. You’ll wheel out of Bernkastel with your guide, heading along the Moselle for Graach, famous for fine Rieslings produced from vineyards with names that react ecclesiastical ownership over the centuries (Abbot’s Mountain and Cathedral Provost, for instance), and then over the river to other celebrated wine villages.
You’ll take a break at the foot of one of the steepest vineyards in the district, Erdener Treppchen, where you can enjoy a glass of wine (or some cold water) and, if you think you haven’t gotten enough exercise, you can climb the steps up the vineyard and pity the vintner who has to toil up those steps regularly to tend the vines. Back on your bike, your route carries you into Traben-Trarbach, past the lovely art deco mansions built in the town’s heyday, when it rivalled Bordeaux as a wine centre. You’ll follow the river promenade back to the ship.This afternoon’s cruise along the winding Moselle will take you past some of Germany’s steepest vineyards and most picturesque villages.
Day 9 - Boppard Cruising the Romantic Rhine River Rüdesheim,
While every day of this journey brims with beautiful sights, today’s may be the most ravishing, as you cruise an extraordinarily scenic stretch of the Rhine River, book-ended by two charming little towns.
Boppard village stroll
Join the Cruise Manager on a walk through this attractive town with a long and surprising history. They will point out its highlights and recommend a host of activities: Take a chairlift to the top of the hill for a great view of the valley and the river (you can hike the return route, if you’re up for it); enjoy a glass of wine at a local tavern and watch the water traffic on the river; or ride a bicycle along the Rhine promenade. You might also visit Saint Severus Church, whose twin towers dominate the waterfront, or explore the remains of a fourth-century Roman fort.
If you’re interested in design and the decorative arts, stop by the Boppard Museum to see the exhibit on native son Michael Thonet, who developed the technique of bentwood furniture in the 1840s. His iconic, lightweight chairs are still popular in cafés throughout Europe. Or simply stroll beneath the trees that line the city’s scenic riverside promenade, which is lined with the gorgeous villas of 19th-century entrepreneurs.Back onboard you’ll experience the sublime beauty of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley.
Byron described it as “a work divine, a blending of all beauties.” Turner painted it. Wagner used it as inspiration for his opera Götterdämmerung. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this scenic 40-mile (65-kilometer) stretch of the Rhine features a stunning, castle-dotted landscape that 19th- century composers, painters and poets considered the embodiment of an ideal romantic spirit, which was later dubbed “Rhine Romanticism.” Legend plays its part here too, with shipwrecks and lost lovers attributed to Lorelei who, so the tale goes, lured all to their doom from her rock—which you’ll pass—on the Rhine. Each bend and twist of the river affords new delights: Steep riverbanks are graced with sloping vineyards and picturesque towns, and hilltops are crowned by fairytale castles. Each one of those castles tells a tale: of great families raising fortresses, of warfare and ruin, and of rebuilding through the centuries. Some castles have been entirely reconstructed; others tower above the water in majestic ruin, still an inspiration for romantics.
Aerial cable car ride to the Niederwald monument
The huge statue of Germania atop the hill above Rüdesheim is visible for miles. Erected by Wilhelm I to commemorate the unification of Germany following the Franco-Prussian War in 1877, the monument may perfectly embody 19th-century imperial grandiosity—but the ride to and from it is the real point of your expedition. Hop aboard a cable car and begin your ascent to Niederwald Heights. You’ll get a great view of the town and the entire Rheingau wine-growing region as you climb high into the air, with the precipitous vineyards falling away below you and spectacular views of the Rhine valley spreading into the distance. Don’t worry if you find there are far too many glorious things to see as you ascend; anything you miss while going up, you’ll have a chance to catch coming back down. Explore the historic Niederwald Monument, then head back down into Rüdesheim, where you can enjoy some free time.Note: The aerial cable car to Niederwald Monument is covered but not heated. Cars are open on the sides, and it is recommended that you dress warmly.
Kloster Eberbach medieval monastery tour with Riesling tasting
Kloster Eberback is a former Cistercian monastery built in the Romanesque and early Gothic style, and is considered one of the most significant architectural sites in the region. In fact, some of the interior scenes of the 1986 movie The Name of the Rose—based on the best-selling novel by Umberto Eco—were filmed here. You’ll have a guided tour of the monastery followed by a tasting of locally grown Rieslings.
Day 10 - Speyer
Expect the unexpected in Speyer, where ancient treasures harmoniously co-exist with modern day innovation. For something really unexpected, venture into a spooky, candlelit tasting room to sample flavorful elixirs made from wine vinegar’s. Utterly unique and surprisingly delicious, and something you’ll experience with no other river cruise line. A host of possibilities await you today. You can either enjoy a tour of historic Speyer or visit a local vinegar estate to sample its gourmet wares. In the afternoon you can choose to relax on-board or, if you’d like to get some exercise, bike along the Rhine.
Choice of Speyer walking discovery tour
Speyer—”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 stop at the Technik Museum. Note: Because the Speyer Cathedral is an active place of worship, no tours of its interiors are given.
Exclusive Doktorenhof vinegar estate visit and tasting
For 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 vinegar’s 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. You’ll have plenty of time to explore their enticing gift shop, too.
Day 11 - Strasbourg
Strasbourg is invariably described as quaint, a rather overused word that in this case is perfectly apropos. Whether you see it via a canal boat or on foot with an insightful local expert, this historic town with its cobbled lanes, half-timbered homes, giant stork nests and impossible-to-resist pastry shops will win your heart. Situated halfway between Paris and Prague, the Alsatian town of Strasbourg is known as the “Crossroads of Europe.” It’s also located right on the border of France and Germany, which has resulted in Strasbourg’s unique blending of those nations’ traditional culinary and architectural styles. Choose which way you wish to explore it: with a panoramic tour or by rambling through the vibrant streets of Grande Île.
Choice of Strasbourg panoramic tour with cathedral and Old Town walk
Controlled over the centuries by either France or Germany, Strasbourg—cross-cultural and bilingual—offers a delightful combination of old and new, as well as French and German characteristics. You’ll see all the highlights on a city tour before venturing inside the cathedral, one of the city’s most famous sites. The same craftsmen who built Chartres worked on it, and the rose window may be Chartres’s equal. Don’t miss the astronomical clock or the truly remarkable statuary and carvings. Climb the spiral staircase to the belfry for an amazing view of the city or visit the sumptuous apartments in the Palais Rohan to get a sense of how the mighty prince-bishops of the church once lived.
Exclusive “Do as the Locals Do” Strasbourg walking tour
Begin in the German Quarter with a stroll through the spacious green spaces of Republic Square, which is surrounded by stately neoclassical structures—among them is the Palace of the Rhine, built at great expense as a residence for the Kaiser, should he happen to visit Strasbourg—and cross over the water to Broglie Square on Grande Île. Twice a week Broglie Square is the scene of a lively outdoor market, but there’s no shortage of activity on the other days of the week in this area, where impromptu concerts and street performances take place.
Wend your way with your guide through the maze of bustling pedestrian streets lined with historic buildings— many of them housing tempting shops—toward the cathedral, whose single spire can be seen throughout the region. Stop for coffee and perhaps a pastry at a patisserie near the cathedral. Your local expert will tell you about the daily lives of the people in the area and introduce you to the delights of Alsatian cuisine before you go off to explore on your own and try out some of Alsace’s famous dishes. You have the entire afternoon to see more of Strasbourg on your own. Note: Shuttle service will be provided to and from the centre of Strasbourg in the afternoon.
Day 12 - Breisach (Colmar or Kayserberg and Riquewihr)
Look up “charming and “picturesque” in the dictionary and it could very well show images of today’s choice of destinations—two of Alsace’s best-known wine villages or a town some have hailed as the prettiest in the world. Is it really? Today, you are presented with two wonderful ways to spend the final day of your river cruise adventure. This morning, you can tour medieval Colmar or join us on an exploration of two Alsatian wine villages, Kaysersberg and Riquewihr.
Choice of Colmar city tour
Colmar has been called the prettiest town in the world, and it’s hard to argue with that designation. As you ramble through the town, you may find it easy to believe the rumour that Colmar was spared WWII bombing because pilots knew it was too beautiful to destroy. Rainbow-hued half-timbered houses front peaceful little canals, flowers tumble from baskets and window ledges, and cobblestone lanes lead to extraordinary examples of Gothic architecture (among them are the Dominican Church and St. Martin’s).
You’ll see fairy-tale 16th-century houses, including the House of Heads, so called for the 111 carved heads decorating its façade, and Pfister House, the unmistakable inspiration for a bakery in the animated feature Howl’s Moving Castle. Frédéric Bartholdi, who sculpted the Statue of Liberty, was born here; his sculptures are scattered throughout town— you’ll spot several of them in the centre of fountains. You’ll have some time to explore on your own; you might want to check out the newly remodelled Unterlinden Museum, perhaps best known for the Isenheim Altarpiece. And it’s worth remembering that Colmar is the capital of Alsatian wine—you can always just relax over a glass of cool white wine and watch the passing parade.
Alsatian “Village Day”
An old stone well in Kaysersberg bears an inscription that warns against drinking water and urges the reader to “Drink with moderation old and subtil wine . . . and leave the water to the side.” What better words could guide you as you explore some delightful Alsatian wine villages? Though the remains of a 12th-century castle speak to Kaysersberg’s strategic importance in the Middle Ages, today it is an idyllic village nestled among vineyards. Join a local guide for a one-hour walking tour, passing storybook medieval houses with steeply pitched roofs and a gorgeous Gothic cathedral that was begun by a 12th century Roman emperor.
In modern days, the village is best known as the birthplace of Albert Schweitzer.The road from Kaysersberg to Riquewihr provides quintessential wine-road scenery; lush foothills, famous vineyards, castle ruins and quaint villages. Riquewihr itself seems to have changed little since the 16th century. The timber-frame buildings still boast colourful shutters and cheerful ower boxes, and stone arches still lead to cobbled squares with cafés and carved fountains. Your tour of this enchanting village ends with a tasting of an Alsatian speciality, flammekuchen, a delicious at bread topped with onions and bacon, hot from the oven. A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
Day 13 - Basel (Disembark) Transfer
Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg for your flight home. Alternatively, you might choose to stay and explore Basel and Lake Lucerne with us on an optional post-cruise extension.