Day 1: ARRIVE IN FRANKFURT, GERMANY. TRANSFER TO WIESBADEN (EMBARKATION).
Welcome to Frankfurt, Germany's financial capital! This afternoon, transfer by motorcoach to Wiesbaden, where the AVALON FELICITY is docked. After a mandatory safety exercise, meet your friendly crew and fellow travellers at a WELCOME RECEPTION. (NOTE: Flights into Frankfurt must arrive before 3 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.) (D)
Day 2: WIESBADEN. EXCURSION TO ELTVILLE-RUDESHEIM.
This morning, start your day with a delicious buffet breakfast, after which an excursion takes you to nearby Eltville. Here, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* on a visit to the EBERBACH MONASTERY, savour the simple beauty of the monastery's monumental Romanesque church, and discover this outstanding backdrop to the famous movie, The Name of the Rose, that brought the Middle Ages back to life here in this monastery, or;
* Eltville am Rhein is picturesquely situated amid forest, vineyards, and the Rhine River and is well known as the "City of Wine, Sekt (sparkling wine), and Roses." An ideal city for a GUIDED WALK through the historic Old Town and a TASTING of some of the local wine, or;
* for some exercise before lunch, HIKE around on the first-class hiking trail, Rheinsteig. Wander through Eltville's idyllic forest or explore the numerous scenic trails through the vineyards.
This afternoon is free to relax on board, explore on your own, or perhaps join a local expert for an optional guided walk of Frankfurton- the-Main. Before dinner, set sail for Rudesheim, and this evening, enjoy a dinner of Rhineland specialties, such as Sauerbraten (slow-cooked beef roast marinated in wine), Reibekuchen (potato pancakes), and more. (B,L,D)
Day 3: RUDESHEIM-RHINE GORGE-BOPPARD-KOBLENZ - ENGERS.
Be prepared for a day of gorgeous scenery! This morning, explore Rudesheim-a quaint, quintessential Rhine Valley wine town-on your own. Alternatively, if you are feeling active, one of our optional excursions may be just right for you. During lunch, marvel at today's SCENIC HIGHLIGHT as you cruise through the dramatic Rhine Gorge, the most beautiful stretch of river. Here, ancient castles stand sentry on lofty cliffs rising 120 metres (400 feet) above the water. Cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where echs of enchanted siren song lured unwitting sailors to their doom. This afternoon, we make a stop in Boppard, and here CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* if you don't mind climbing steps, join an excursion to MARKSBURG, the only castle on the Middle Rhine to escape destruction or ruin. You'll be taken through the kitchens and dining area, along the battlements overlooking the Rhine, to the bedrooms and torture room, and to the chapel. Marksburg Castle is one of the principal sites of the WORLD HERITAGE Rhine Gorge, or;
* explore the ancient city of Koblenz on a GUIDED WALK with an expert guide. Then, take a cable car ride up to historic EHRENBREITSTEIN CASTLE and soak up the beautiful panoramic view from above the banks of the Rhine, or;
* participate in a unique VOLCANO EXPERIENCE! A short coach transfer from your ship takes you to the "LAVA CITY" of Mendig, where basalt, cold lava, was mined. Tour this labyrinth of mining corridors which, in the early 19th century, became beer storage cellars.
Rejoin your ship and spend some free time in Koblenz late this afternoon. Standing at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, this 2,000-year-old city is the cultural and business centre of the Middle Rhine region. During dinner, cruise to Engers, where you dock overnight and enjoy a CONCERT performance at Castle Engers. (B,L,D)
Day 4: BONN-COLOGNE.
A leisurely start this morning as you head for Bonn, Germany's seat of Government before the country was reunified. The morning is yours to explore on your own, or you may prefer to participate in an optional excursion. A short sail during lunchtime brings you to Cologne, one of Germany's largest cities and capital of the Rhineland. The city straddles the Rhine and is known for its soaring, twin-steepled gothic cathedral. Step ashore and CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* Cologne is home to unusual museums that offer a unique perspective on German history, life, and death. COLOGNE OFF THE BEATEN TRACK leaves the hubbub of well-travelled tourist attractions to explore offbeat sites, including a cemetery, and museums featuring the Olympics; tolerance; and European handicrafts. And you'll be introduced to the Kolsch lifestyle and mindset, or;
* chocaholics may delight at visiting the CHOCOLATE MUSEUM and learn about the role of chocolate in old South American cultures, such as the Mayas and the Aztecs, and the European elite. Visitors are taken through the process of chocolate production from the farm to the candy store, continuing through a greenhouse where two species of cacao trees are grown and then on through the industrialization of chocolate production, including vintage advertising campaigns, or;
* for the more traditionally minded, a CITY WALK is a journey of discovery taking visitors through the area immediately surrounding the Cathedral and the narrow alleyways of the Old Town. The walk passes by the Romano-Germanic Museum with its famous Dionysus mosaic, the Town Hall, Alter Markt (the old market) and Gross St. Martin (Great St. Martin).
Your ship remains docked in Cologne until late tonight. (B,L,D)
Day 5: DUSSELDORF-DUISBURG.
This morning, wake up in Dusseldorf, where after breakfast you might like to join an optional biking tour, or visit some microbreweries to try a variety of Altbiers. Rejoin your ship for lunch and enjoy leisurely sailing to Duisburg. Located on the western edge of the Ruhr industrial area, Duisburg is renowned for its steel industry and its large inland harbour (one of the largest in the world), and is therefore an important venue for commerce. Here, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* visit the ZOLLVEREIN COAL MINE, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hundreds of coal mines produced coal in the Ruhr area, but only one has the distinction of being a World Heritage Site-with good reason: the Zollverein Coal Mine is a masterpiece of industrial architecture, or;
* for a more active option, discover the idyllic landscapes and forests around Duisburg on a GUIDED HIKE, or;
* the culinary spectrum of the multicultural Metropolis Ruhr is gigantic. Local cuisine, with both hearty and refined creations, spoils its customers. Join us on a CULINARY WALK and experience the real life of German Essen (food) on a behind-the-scenes look at the city.
Sail away from Duisburg in the early evening. (B,L,D)
Day 6: XANTEN.
Today you are in Xanten, a historic Roman city in the German region of North Rhine Westphalia. The city is known for its archaeological park and is altogether a treasure for archaeologists, as it is the only Roman town north of the Alps which has not been built over since the collapse of the Roman Empire. This afternoon, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* you are invited to participate in the ROMAN GAMES at the Archaeological Park, where you will get first-hand experience of life during the Roman Empire, or;
* take part in a ROMAN CLOTHES WORKSHOP. The course provides an opportunity to dress up in genuine Roman attire-even in antiquity it was said, "You are what you wear!" or;
* enjoy a BIKE TOUR along the Rhine.
This evening, prepare for a special GALA FAREWELL DINNER featuring dishes that were similar to those served in Roman times. (B,L,D)
Day 7: AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND.
Holland's vibrant and sophisticated capital has a rich 700-year history and a distinct ambiance, where there is always a plethora of things to see and do. After breakfast this morning, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* discover your inner artist by joining a PAINTING CLASS to discover some of the secrets of famous names like Van Gogh, Rembrandt, or Warhol! A warm welcome with coffee, tea, and petit fours sets the tone for this interesting and artistic workshop which is sure to inspire your creativity. Get to work like Van Gogh or paint a selfportrait like Rembrandt! Of course, your work of art is yours to take home with you, or;
* perhaps a more active choice is more appealing: a RUNNING TOUR in Amsterdam is a great way to explore a city! Enjoy the beauty of Amsterdam while burning off a few calories! No need to worry about the pace-we'll take it easy with regular stops at the major sights. The distance is about 7.5 kms (4.6 miles) and a "running commentary" is provided by experienced runners, all native "Amsterdammers", or;
* take a traditional tour of the city's grachten on a CANAL CRUISE. Besides providing a stunning backdrop to the city's historical centre, floating down Amsterdam's canals is one of the most memorable ways to discover the city's sights and attractions. After the canal cruise, explore some of the off-the-beaten-track parts of the city with your expert guide.
Return to your ship for an excellent buffet lunch and then decide how to spend your afternoon. Perhaps you wish to venture out and explore more of the city on your own (but look out for the bicycles!), or stay busy by joining one of our optional excursions, such as biking in the Dutch countryside? Your last dinner on board reminds you that you are in Holland and introduces you to some Dutch specialties. (B,L,D)
Day 8: AMSTERDAM (DISEMBARKATION).
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning! (B)