Day 1: ARRIVE IN AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND (EMBARKATION).
Welcome to Amsterdam! Holland's capital is sophisticated and modern, with a rich and fascinating history. This delightful 700-year-old city with its elegant and classic architecture, cafes, restaurants, and lively marketplace has a distinct ambiance. If your flight arrives early enough, you might like to take one of the optional excursions on offer. Then, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. (D)
NOTE: Flights into Amsterdam must arrive by 2 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.
Day 2: AMSTERDAM.
After breakfast, set out to discover the treasures of this city by CANAL BOAT, cruising through the elegant grachten lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam's "Golden Age." The afternoon is free to explore on your own or join in one of a number of optional excursions on offer. (B,L,D)
Day 3: COLOGNE, GERMANY.
One of Germany's largest cities and capital of the Rhineland, Cologne straddles the Rhine and is known for its soaring, twin-steepled gothic cathedral. Choose between a GUIDED CITY WALK or a JEWISH HERITAGE WALK. The Old Town abounds with cafes, shops, and taverns. Be sure to try a Kolsch pale lager, locally brewed in Cologne for over a hundred years. (B,L,D)
Day 4: KOBLENZ.
At the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, 2,000-year-old Koblenz is the cultural and business centre of the Middle Rhine region. Join a Local Guide for a WALKING TOUR of the city, which reveals an eventful past through its castles, fortress walls, towers, squares, and monuments; or visit nearby SAYN MANOR HOUSE, belonging to the counts of the same name. As you cruise the wide, peaceful curves of the Moselle River, it quickly becomes obvious why the Moselle Valley is famous for its beautiful and tranquil scenery, and that this is an important wine-growing area. (B,L,D)
Day 5: BERNKASTEL.
In the middle of the Moselle region is the charming wine village of Bernkastel with its narrow streets and half-timbered houses that have stood since the Middle Ages. Enjoy a GUIDED WALK that includes the beautiful marketplace with its renaissance-style Town Hall-built in 1608-and the "pointed house," built in 1416. Wine growers in this area look after Germany's largest expanse of vineyards, the most celebrated of the vintages being the Bernkasteler Doktor. Before dinner, enjoy an ONBOARD TASTING of some local wines. (B,L,D)
Day 6: THIONVILLE, FRANCE.
Today, the choice is yours. Join an EXCURSION TO METZ, a city with a rich history and many cultural and architectural gems, or alternatively, history buffs might prefer to participate in the excursion to a nearby area of the MAGINOT LINE, which stretched from Switzerland to the Belgian border. The line was composed of huge fortresses with smaller defence posts or simple blockhouses. Return to your vessel in time for lunch. The afternoon is free with the possibility to join an optional excursion. (B,L,D)
Day 7: REMICH, LUXEMBOURG. EXCURSION TO LUXEMBOURG CITY-GREVENMACHER. EXCURSION TO TRIER, GERMANY.
Because of its location and natural geography, Luxembourg City has been a place of strategic military significance throughout history; the first fortifications were built as early as the 10th century. The city centre occupies a picturesque site, perched high on precipitous cliffs that drop into the narrow valleys of the Alzette and Petrusse Rivers. A LOCAL GUIDE will acquaint you with this city whose layout is complex as it is set on two levels, straddling hills and dropping into the two river valleys. At the head of the Moselle Valley is Trier, Germany's oldest city. Some say Trier is even older than Rome and that it was populated over a thousand years before the Romans arrived. Many Roman remains have survived, including a 20,000-seat amphitheatre; the Porta Nigra, the only surviving fortified gate from the original Roman settlement, which still gives access to the town's centre; imperial baths; and the Roman Bridge, Germany's oldest bridge with stone pilings dating from 144-152 AD-all evidence of this once grand Roman city. Trier also offers pleasant market squares, Germany's oldest Christian church, and a cornucopia of architectural styles-Roman, baroque, neo-classicism, renaissance, and gothic. A choice of GUIDED CITY SIGHTSEEING or the more history-focused "ROMAN TRIER" guided tour, followed by some free time, gives you the opportunity to discover this magnificent town. (B,L,D)
Day 8: BEILSTEIN, GERMANY.
A leisurely day today, with free time this morning to explore the quaint little town of Beilstein. Then, this afternoon, visit medieval ELTZ CASTLE, still owned by a branch of the family who lived there in the 12th century. (B,L,D)
Day 9: RHINE GORGE-RUDESHEIM.
A highlight this morning after breakfast: cruise through the dramatic RHINE GORGE, the most beautiful stretch of river. Here, ancient castles stand sentry on lofty cliffs rising 122 metres (400 feet) above the waters. Cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where echs of enchanted siren song lured unwitting sailors to their doom. Then, arrive in Rudesheim, a typical Rhine Valley wine town. Visit SIEGFRIED'S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM to see and hear a large collection of self-playing calliopes and music boxes from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. Enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT, then there's free time to pick up some souvenirs on the narrow, cobblestoned Drosselgasse, where colourful flowers, open-air wine gardens, and live music add to the festive atmosphere. (B,L,D)
Day 10: EXCURSION TO HEIDELBERG.
This morning, an excursion takes you to Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in Germany. With a local expert, 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 high and 9 metres wide (23 feet high and 28 feet wide), the cask holds over 220,000 litres (58,000 gallons) of wine and has a dance floor built on top of it! (B,L,D)
Day 11: 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. On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, 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. An optional excursion into the Alsace wine country is available. After dinner tonight, enjoy an onboard WOODCARVING demonstration. (B,L,D)
Day 12: BREISACH, GERMANY. EXCURSION TO THE BLACK FOREST.
Located at the foot of Kaiserstuhl Mountain on the French-German border is the gateway to Germany's BLACK FOREST region, an area of unrivalled natural beauty with its forests of thick pine trees. The area got its name because the forests are so dense that local residents described them as black. Surely the most well-known products from this region are cuckoo clocks, Black Forest ham, and Black Forest cherry cake. Choose to visit the workshop of a local woodcarver and clock maker, and purchase some locally made souvenirs, or visit an OPEN-AIR MUSEUM to see just how life was lived in this area centuries ago. (B,L,D)
Day 13: BASEL, SWITZERLAND (DISEMBARKATION).
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
NOTE: Departure flights should not leave Zurich Airport before 10 am.