Christmas Markets on the Rhine
7-NIGHT CRUISE WITH 2-NIGHTS AMSTERDAM PRE-CRUISE AND 2 NIGHTS LUCERNE, 2 NIGHTS ZURICH POST-CRUISE
CRUISE FROM : Amsterdam to Basel
Experience the deep-rooted holiday traditions of Europe at its most festive time of year. From the iconic canals of Amsterdam to Switzerland’s glittery cities, Lucerne and Zurich, get caught up in the magic of the holidays with visits to some of the world’s most timeless Christmas Markets. Warm up with a mug of steamy glühwein while at the Cologne Christmas Market located in front of its UNESCO-designated Gothic cathedral. Let the "Capital of Noël," Strasbourg, the oldest and largest Christmas Market in France, captivate you the way it has for so many others for centuries. Meander through Heidelberg’s majestic Christmas Market nestled idyllically amongst the historic squares of the Old Town. And while in Gengenbach, marvel at the world’s largest Advent calendar, where every evening at 6:00 PM, the brightly lit windows of the neo-classical town hall open and behind each one is a picture by a famous artist, such as Andy Warhol. Cherish all the glory of the season in grand European style as you cruise along the Rhine.
On our cruises, you will enjoy an extensive lineup of included tours. In many cases, you will have a choice of excursions, such as standard tours, bike tours, hikes and Special Interest Tours. We always include a large variety of activities so that you can choose how you want to explore. No matter your preference, your days will be full of discovery and wonder.
ARRIVE IN AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS
Arrive in Amsterdam and check into your hotel.
Get acquainted with the Netherlands’largest city, Amsterdam, boasting history, art,
architecture, bridges, canals, cobblestone streets, world-class museums, bicycles and narrow alleys on a city tour.
Afterwards, enjoy leisure time exploring the city even more; perhaps visit one of its many prestigious museums,
such as the Rijksmuseum, home to Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” and Vermeer’s “The Kitchen Maid.” (B)
AMSTERDAM – EMBARKATION
Check out of your hotel and, before transferring to your ship, visit
Zaanse Schans, where you can observe life as it used to be lived in the Netherlands. Authentic windmills, houses,
and shops were relocated to this picturesque area, creating a typical 17th- to 18th-century village. (B,D)
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. (B,L,D)
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 UNESCO-designated 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.
RHINE GORGE – RÜDESHEIM
Cruise through the castle-laden Rhine River Gorge before reaching the winemaking town of Rüdesheim. Once in Rüdesheim, you will have three choices of morning excursions. Wine connoisseurs will want to go to a wine cellar for a wine tasting or go on a hike through the vineyards. You may also opt to join a guided bike tour through the town and along the Rhine River. Later in the day, you can visit
Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, or taste one of the town’s special delights, Rüdesheimer
coffee. You’ll also have plenty of time to enjoy Christmas traditions from all over the world at Rüdesheim Christmas Market.
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. Alternatively, you can 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).
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. During the afternoon, visit Gengenbach Christmas Market where, every
year, the locals count down to Christmas with a 24-day, larger-than-life Advent calendar.
Visit the enchanting Alsatian town of Riquewihr, beautifully dressed in her holiday finery with twinkling decorations and a lively Christmas Market. On your walking tour, admire historic architecture, as well as famous sights such as the Dolder Gate. Alternatively, you may wish to visit Freiburg, founded in 1120 and home to Freiburg’s Münster, a Gothic cathedral constructed of red sandstone, as well as its enchanting Christmas Market. Those wishing a more active excursion will want to cycle through the scenic countryside.
BASEL, SWITZERLAND – DISEMBARKATION – LUCERNE
After disembarking your ship, you’ll go on a highlights tour of Basel before being transferred to Lucerne. Once in Lucerne, get acquainted with the city on a walking tour along with a visit to the Christmas Market before checking into your hotel.
The iconic Lion Monument, which you’ll visit, was sculpted in memory of the Swiss Guards
massacred during the French Revolution in 1792. It has captured the hearts and minds of visitors for centuries.
You’ll also visit the spectacular medieval walls and towers, dating back to the 13th century. Afterwards, soak up
the festive atmosphere of this medieval gem while wandering through its Christmas Market, located at the
Franziskanerplatz, and enjoy a mug of holiday cheer, glühwein.
LUCERNE – ZURICH
Check out of your hotel, and then take a cruise across the tranquil waters of
Lake Lucerne. While cruising, enjoy the breathtaking mountain scenery, marked by steep Alpine peaks, sloped
forests and fertile meadows and valleys beyond. Once in Vitznau, you will board a motorcoach for a scenic drive
through the countryside to Zurich.
Join a walking tour of Zurich and experience the magic of the city dressed in her holiday
best. You’ll visit Zurich’s Christmas Markets, including the largest indoor Christmas Market in Europe located
in Zurich’s Main Train Station. An absolute highlight is a 50-foot-tall Christmas tree decorated with thousands of
sparkling Swarovski crystals.
After breakfast, bid farewell to Switzerland and prepare for your return flight home.