Arrive in Amsterdam, then transfer to your ship.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to explore the city on your own. If your arrival schedule permits and you are interested, you may wish to visit the Anne Frank House. (D)
Sail to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a tour of this ingenious network of windmills and other flood management devices. You learn why the windmills were built and see how they work, plus you enter an actual working windmill for a tour of its mechanisms and living quarters. Return aboard for lunch and an enjoyable afternoon of Dutch diversions: sample handcrafted Dutch cheeses and jenever, a distilled juniper liquor, and try your hand at sjoelen (Dutch table shuffleboard). Cruise through the night. (B, L, D)
Continue along the Rhine this morning; arrive in Cologne and disembark for a walking tour. Stroll through Old Town past St. Martin’s Church, and spend some time inside Cologne’s Dom, a remarkable Gothic cathedral whose construction was begun in 1248 and which was only completed in 1880. Explore the dockside taverns, cafés and shops on your own—as always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Dinner is served aboard and we remain docked until late evening. (B, L, D)
Day 4Koblenz & Rüdesheim
Proceed along the Rhine, disembarking to tour 700-year-old Marksburg Castle and its museum. Lunch aboard as you enjoy this scenic passage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where castles overlook the river from their hilltop locations.
Arrive in Rüdesheim in the late afternoon. Spend free time in the pedestrian-only Drosselgasse and sample a glass of locally produced wine at one of the restaurants or wine bars—dine aboard or in town if you prefer. Ship departs after midnight. (B, L, D)
Day 5Heidelberg & Speyer
Cruise through the morning enjoying brunch and the passing scenery. Arrive in Mannheim and disembark for a journey to Heidelberg to see Germany’s oldest university, founded in 1386. Then visit the beautiful sandstone ruins of imposing Heidelberg Castle, and take in the scenery of the Neckar River Valley and the city’s many red rooftops from its hilltop location. Continue with a walking tour through the Old Town to Heidelberg’s renowned gates.
Rejoin your ship in Speyer this afternoon and take some time to look around. You dock in full view of the imposing Romanesque cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 11th century on the site of a former basilica, the building’s design was highly influential upon Romanesque architecture for centuries to come, and is the final resting place of eight German monarchs. Its soaring interior features graceful rows of sandstone columns and a large stained-glass window installed in the western façade during a later Gothic period. (B, L, D)
Dock this morning in Kehl and disembark for a guided tour of Strasbourg. See the European Parliament and tour the interior of the city’s famed cathedral. The afternoon is free to further explore this Alsatian city’s blend of French and German cultures—fabulous churches, medieval covered bridges, beautiful parks and some lovely Art Nouveau and modernist architecture. Dine aboard and enjoy free time this evening in the quaint little city of Kehl. (B, L, D)
After cruising through the night you arrive during breakfast in Breisach, gateway to the Black Forest. Take a scenic excursion through the area’s renowned mountain landscape, rolling meadows and dense forests. Once there, visit a local workshop and see a cuckoo clock-making demonstration. Return to Breisach for some free time before an early evening departure. Or, choose an optional excursion to the quaint Alsatian town of Colmar. Dine aboard while you cruise on to Basel, arriving around midnight. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your time in Switzerland’s Alpine region with 2 nights in lovely Lucerne or a 3-night stay at Lake Geneva. (B)