Day 1: ARRIVE IN ZURICH, SWITZERLAND. TRANSFER TO BASEL (EMBARKATION).
Welcome to Switzerland. This afternoon, board your ship and meet your crew at an onboard welcome reception. (NOTE: Flights into Zurich must arrive by 3 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.) (D)
Day 2: BREISACH, GERMANY. EXCURSION TO THE BLACK FOREST.
Located at the foot of Kaiserstuhl Mountain on the French- German border, Breisach is the gateway to Germany's BLACK FOREST region, an area of unrivaled natural beauty with its forests of thick pine trees. The area got its name because the forests are so dense that local residents once described them as black. There's no better setting this time of year than when smoke curls from the chimneys of the traditional Black Forest houses with their long sloping roofs. Surely, the most well-known products from this region are Black Forest ham, cherry cake, and cuckoo clocks. This afternoon, there's free time in Breisach to visit the Christmas market-or you may join an optional excursion to Colmar in France's Alsace region. (B,L,D)
Day 3: STRASBOURG, FRANCE.
Situated on the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg blends the cultures of both countries in a delightful way. As capital of the Alsace region and seat of the Council of Europe and European Parliament, it is, without a doubt, an important city that manages to retain its historic charm. In fact, on your GUIDED WALKING TOUR, you will discover Europe at its most quintessential. Visit the monumental red-sandstone GOTHIC CATHEDRAL with its ancient murals, stained-glass windows, and fascinating astronomical clock, as well as the magical LA PETITE FRANCE district, home to half-timbered houses, quaint shops, inviting bistros, and a waterfront promenade. Also spend time exploring Place Kleber, a large historic square in the heart of the city, and Place Gutenberg in the heart of medieval Strasbourg, which features a statue of the inventor of the printing press. Dating back to 1570, the traditional Christmas market is one of the oldest and finest in Europe. Located around Place de la Cathedrale and Place Broglie, its centrepiece is a giant Christmas tree. As you stroll through the festively decorated and illuminated streets, you'll notice the pleasing aromas of mulled wine, sweets, spice cakes, and biscuits-a truly magical atmosphere! This afternoon, an optional excursion into the Alsace wine region is available. (B,L,D)
Day 4: EXCURSION TO HEIDELBERG, GERMANY.
Today, an excursion takes you to Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in Germany, founded in 1386. Visit the imposing ruins of HEIDELBERG CASTLE, towering magnificently over the city and among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. You'll also see the famed GREAT VAT, the "World's Largest Wine Barrel." At nearly 7 metres (23 feet) high and 8.5 metres (28 feet) wide, the cask holds over 260,000 litres (58,000 gallons) of wine and has a dance floor built on top of it! At this time of year, an ice rink is set up at the foot of the castle, and stalls offer Gluhwein, Bratwurst, and other tasty treats. The Christmas market is scattered over five town squares, and you'll find a wide array of crafts and regional delicacies. There is plenty of free time to shop for Christmas decorations or gifts. (B,L,D)
Day 5: WIESBADEN (DISEMBARKATION).
Your holiday ends after breakfast today (NOTE: Departure flights should not leave Frankfurt Airport before 10 am.). (B)