Day 1: ARRIVE IN ZURICH, SWITZERLAND. TRANSFER TO BASEL (EMBARKATION).
Welcome to Switzerland, home of the Matterhorn and the majestic Alps! Transfer by motorcoach to Basel, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. (D) NOTE: Flights into Zurich must arrive before 3 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.
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 described them as black. Surely the most well-known products from this region are Black Forest ham, Black Forest cherry cake, and cuckoo clocks. You may opt for a visit to the workshop of a local woodcarver who produces clocks and other carvings, or to the OPEN-AIR MUSEUM of Vogtbauernhof to see how life was lived in this area centuries ago. (B,L,D)
Day 3: STRASBOURG, FRANCE.
This morning, wake up in Strasbourg. Situated on the border of France and Germany, this city 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 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. An optional excursion to the Alsace wine region or to the Maginot Line, are available today. (B,L,D)
Day 4: SPEYER. EXCURSION TO HEIDELBERG, GERMANY.
Enjoy a leisurely morning in Speyer and explore the town at your own pace. Located on the left bank of the Rhine, Speyer was a bishopric and boasts a Romanesque cathedral with six imposing towers and the finest and largest crypt in Germany. This afternoon an excursion takes you to Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in Germany, which was 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." nearly 7 metres (23 feet) high and 8.5 metres (28 feet) wide, it holds over 260,000 litres (58,000 gallons) of wine and has a dance floor built on top of it! (B,L,D)
Day 5: RUDESHEIM-RHINE GORGE.
Pretty Rudesheim is a typical Rhine Valley wine town. Here, visit SIEGFRIED'S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM, where you'll 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. Downstream from Rudesheim is 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 waters. Cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where echs of enchanted siren song lured unwitting sailors to their doom. Enjoy an afternoon relaxing on board. The confluence of the Moselle and Rhine is at Koblenz and here you enter the Moselle River, some 502 kilometres (312-miles) long, rising in the Vosges Mountains of northeastern France and entering Germany at Trier. (B,L,D)
Day 6: KOBLENZ.
Situated 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. Here, join your Local Guide for a WALKING TOUR of the city, which reveals an eventful past through its castles, fortress walls, towers, squares, and monuments. alternatively, opt to visit nearby SAYN MANOR HOUSE, belonging to counts of the same name. This afternoon, enjoy some free time in the city (B,L,D)
Day 7: BERNKASTEL.
The entire Moselle Valley is famous for its beautiful and tranquil scenery, and in the middle of this region is the charming wine village of Bernkastel with its well-preserved 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 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. This evening enjoy a TASTING of some of these well-loved German wines. (B,L,D)
Day 8: THIONVILLE, FRANCE.
Today the choice is yours. Join and 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 defense 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 9: 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 amphitheater; 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 10: BEILSTEIN-TREIS-KARDEN.
A leisurely day today - free time this morning to explore the quaint little town of Beilstein. Then this afternoon visit medieval ELTZ CASTLE, still today owned by a branch of the family who lived there in the 12th century. (B,L,D)
Day 11: COLOGNE.
Early this morning, arrive in Cologne. One of Germany's largest cities and capital of the Rhineland, Cologne straddles both sides of the Rhine, and is known for its soaring, twin-steepled gothic cathedral. Choose between a GUIDED CITY WALK or a JEWISH HERITAGE WALK. Later, during free time be sure to try a Kolsch pale lager, locally brewed in Cologne for over a hundred years! Before lunch set sail for Holland and enjoy a relaxing afternoon of cruising. (B,L,D)
Day 12: AMSTERDAM.
This morning dock in Amsterdam. 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 to join one of a number of optional excursions on offer. (B,L,D)
Day 13: AMSTERDAM (DISEMBARKATION).
Your holiday ends after breakfast this morning. (B)