Day 1: ARRIVE IN AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS – EMBARKATION
Board the ship in Amsterdam for your Christmas Markets on the Rhine cruise. This evening we will dine together as a group and get to know one another. You will receive a notebook so that you can journal/doodle – now is a great time to set your intention for the cruise.
Day 2: AMSTERDAM
There are 165 canals in Amsterdam, and you’ll get to enjoy some of them on your canal cruise. Later in the day, set sail out of Amsterdam.
Day 3: COLOGNE
Enjoy cruising to Cologne, home to one of Germany’s most revered Gothic masterpieces, the Cologne Cathedral. Join a guided tour through the enchanting Old Town. Explore the UNESCOdesignated cathedral and then visit one of Europe’s largest and most renowned Christmas Markets located in front of the cathedral. Alternatively, ride a bike along the Rhine or visit a local tavern to taste Cologne’s traditional Kölsch beer and reibekuchen mit apfelmus—potato pancakes served with applesauce.
Day 4: RHINE GORGE – RÜDESHEIM
Cruise through the castleladen Rhine River Gorge before reaching the winemaking town of Rüdesheim. Once in Rüdesheim, you will have four choices of morning excursions. Wine connoisseurs will want to go to a wine cellar for a wine tasting followed by a Christmas Market visit to enjoy holiday traditions from around the world. Or go on a hike through the vineyards. Alternatively, you can take a peaceful ride over the vineyards on Rüdesheim’s gondola followed by a visit to the Christmas Market. You may also opt to join a guided bike tour through the town and along the Rhine River before visiting the Christmas Market. Later in the day, you can visit Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, or taste one of the town’s special delights, Rüdesheimer coffee.
Day 5: LUDWIGSHAFEN
You have the choice to explore two of Germany’s historically rich cities, along with their festive Christmas Markets. Visit Heidelberg, a city that will capture your heart with its mighty castle and historic university. While here, wander along one of Europe’s longest pedestrian shopping streets, the Hauptstrasse, soaking up the Yuletide celebrations at the town’s Christmas Markets. Or hike along the Neckar River on the historic Philosopher’s Path followed by free time to enjoy the Christmas Markets. Alternatively, you can bike along the Neckar River to the medieval town of Ladenburg and visit its Marktplatz, or explore one of Germany’s oldest cities, Speyer, known for the largest Romanesque cathedral in Europe—a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll also have time to visit its Christmas Market in front of the “Old Mint” (Alten Münze) in the famous Maximilianstrasse, with a view of the romantic Imperial cathedral (Kaiserdom).
Day 6: STRASBOURG
Strasbourg is even more alluring during the season of Advent. The Christkindelsmärik dates back to 1570, making it the oldest Christmas Market in France. Enjoy a panoramic bus tour that takes you past the Parc de l’Orangerie, the European Parliament and the Place de la Republique. Afterwards, walk through the historic town center on the Grande Île, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and through the lovely “La Petite France” district, where you will see the Cathédrale de Nôtre Dame with its famous astronomical clock and then visit the town’s famous Christmas Market. You can also choose to explore Strasbourg’s different districts by bicycle. Later in the day, opt to visit Gengenbach’s Christmas Markets and the town’s famous illuminated town hall Advent calendar.
Day 7: BREISACH
Breisach is your gateway to several different excursions. Step back in time with a visit to the enchanting Alsatian town of Riquewihr, which looks almost the same as it did in the 16th century. On your walking tour, admire historic architecture and famous sights, such as the Dolder Gate, followed by a visit to its charming Christmas Markets. Alternatively, head to Freiburg, founded in 1120 and home to the Freiburg’s Münster, a Gothic cathedral said to have “the most beautiful spire on earth.” Then enjoy free time at the Freiburg Christmas Markets. Those wishing a more active excursion can cycle through Breisach’s countryside.
Day 8: BASEL
Disembark the ship and bid farewell to Basel as you prepare for your return flight home. If you would prefer to stay longer or go somewhere else we can work on these arrangements for you.