Arrive in Budapest, capital of Hungary, and transfer to your ship.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to explore the city on your own—or join our “welcome walk” to stretch your legs and start getting oriented. (D)
The Danube River divides this Hungarian capital city into “Buda” and “Pest.” Explore both parts, starting with Pest’s National Opera House and historic Heroes’ Square. In Buda, stroll Fishermen’s Hill to Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church. Enjoy lunch aboard with the rest of the day to explore on your own. Return to your ship for a traditional Hungarian dinner. (B, L, D)
After an afternoon arrival, you embark on a walking tour of Slovakia’s charming capital to see attractions like the medieval fortifications at Michael’s Tower, baroque Jesuit Church and Gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral. You also pass by several baroque palaces from the Habsburg Dynasty before you return to your ship and depart late tonight. (B, L, D)
Ride along Vienna’s Ringstrasse, which replaced the city walls in the mid-19th century. You will also see Vienna’s world-famous Opera House, St. Stephan’s Cathedral and Hofburg Palace. Return aboard for lunch. The rest of the day is yours to further explore—as always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. After dinner, enjoy an optional classical concert.
(B, L, D)
Today, visit the abbey at Melk, a 900-year-old Benedictine monastery featuring Austria’s finest Italian baroque architecture. See its wonderful frescoes and admire the comprehensive collection of medieval manuscripts in its library. Rejoin your ship and cruise through dinner. (B, L, D)
On this morning’s walking tour, see Passau’s narrow streets and Italianate architecture, and pass the Veste Oberhaus, a 13th-century fortress that served for centuries as a bishop’s stronghold. Then, listen to a concert on Europe’s largest pipe organ in St. Stephan’s Cathedral.† Enjoy free time and dinner aboard. (B, L, D)
†Passau organ concert is only available May 1–October 31 and is closed on Sunday.
Arrive in Regensburg after breakfast and tour this wonderfully preserved medieval city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site including structures dating back to Roman times. Discover many 13th- and 14th-century patrician houses and see the splendid St. Peter’s Cathedral. During free time, visit the Alte Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), Germany’s oldest restaurant. Cruise through dinner. (B, L, D)
During morning cruising, you may choose to attend an interesting presentation about the European Union. Arrive late morning in Nuremberg; after lunch, disembark for a tour. Visit the ruins of Zeppelin Field, used in the 1930s as Nazi parade grounds, and see the Palace of Justice, site of the famous Nuremberg Trials. See the Old Town area as you walk down past the Albrecht Dürer House and Main Market Square. Spend more time exploring Nuremberg, or join an optional World War II history tour including the Documentation Center Museum. Enjoy free time throughout the evening; dinner is served aboard. Ship departs in the wee hours of the morning. (B, L, D)
Enjoy a tour of Bamberg, with its medieval city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your walking tour includes a visit to the magnificent 11th-century cathedral, reworked in late-Romanesque style in the 13th century, and the very picturesque city hall built on a tiny island in the middle of a river. Take some free time to enjoy Bamberg and sample some of the town’s distinctive smoke-flavored beer before returning aboard.
(B, L, D)
After breakfast, tour Würzburg’s Bishops’ Residenz, one of Germany’s largest and most ornate baroque palaces and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy lunch aboard—or, take an optional excursion along Germany’s “Romantic Road” to Rothenburg, which features a turreted city wall and lovely Gothic and baroque architecture. Rejoin your ship for dinner and an evening glassblowing demonstration. (B, L, D)
Wertheim is located at the confluence of the Main and Tauber Rivers. During your morning walking tour, experience life in a typical small German town. Stop in a bakery and a butcher shop, and learn about Wertheim’s glassblowing tradition. Enjoy free time to explore before returning to your ship for lunch. (B, L, D)
Day 12Middle Rhine & Koblenz
Cruise past hilltop castles along the Rhine; this stunning stretch of the river is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You pass the Lorelei Rock, which marks the river’s narrowest point; the rock is named for a local legend about Rhine Maidens who lure sailors to their doom. This afternoon, stop to visit Marksburg, the only Rhine castle never destroyed. Rejoin your ship in Koblenz and dine aboard. (B, L, D)
Arrive in Cologne during breakfast, then disembark for a tour of Germany’s fourth largest city. Stroll through the Old Town past St. Martin’s Church and visit the Dom, Germany’s largest cathedral and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Use your free time to enjoy Cologne’s atmospheric waterfront before returning aboard for dinner and evening departure. (B, L, D)
Sail along the Rhine during the morning hours, enjoying scenic views. You can try your hand at sjoelen (Dutch table shuffleboard). Arrive around lunchtime at Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; tour this fascinating network of windmills and other ingenious flood management technologies. Return to your ship for a dinner of Dutch cuisine, and then sample Dutch cheeses and jenever, a juniper liqueur, as we sail toward Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, enjoy a glass-topped canal cruise past merchant houses and the famed Skinny Bridge. The rest of the day is free to enjoy more of Amsterdam’s charming neighborhoods or visit the Van Gogh Museum and explore works by the famed artist and others. Dinner is served aboard, or you might like to experience Amsterdam’s multicultural dining options and vibrant nightlife. (B, D)
This morning we sail to Kinderdijk; you can tour the mill network a second time, take a walk or, weather permitting, rent bicycles at the souvenir shop and ride alongside the polder. Return aboard for lunch departure. Practice your sjoelen skills and enjoy Dutch cheeses and jenever as we sail along the Upper Rhine. Cruise through the night. (B, L, D)
Continue along the Rhine for a morning arrival in Cologne; enjoy a full day on your own there. Visit one of the city’s museums—perhaps the Roman-German Museum for classical art, the Wallraf-Richartz Museum for medieval and Renaissance art or the Museum Ludwig for modern art aficionados—or tour one or two of the city’s spectacular churches and cathedrals, such as Saint Gereon’s Basilica with its mosaic floor and 12-sided dome. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time, and you can take advantage of our concierge service to make arrangements. Lunch and dinner are served aboard and we remain docked until late evening. (B, L, D)
Day 18Koblenz & Rüdesheim
Proceed along the Rhine to Koblenz; you can enjoy a walking tour of this charming city while others visit Marksburg Castle. Or your concierge can arrange for you to visit one of the city’s attractions: Koblenz has the Wehrtechnische Studiensammlung, one of the best museums of military hardware in Europe; the Bundesgartenschau gardens; several lovely basilicas; and a highly recommended butterfly house which just opened in 2009 next to Sayn Castle.
Return aboard and sail to Rüdesheim, arriving 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 19Heidelberg & 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 journey with 2 nights in Lucerne. Enjoy the scenic landscape of the Swiss Alps with a view from your hotel, situated on the banks of beautiful Lake Lucerne. (B)