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Cruise Information

One of Europe’s most legendary rivers awaits you on this winter wonderland journey along the Rhine River, which starts in Switzerland with stops in France, Germany, and Holland! Each town is festively lit and decorated and strains of Christmas carols fill the air.
 

Board your vessel in Basel, Switzerland, then head for Breisach, Germany, the gateway to the Black Forest, an area of unrivaled natural beauty, best known for Black Forest ham, cherry cake, and the cuckoo clock. Here’s your first chance to explore a Christmas market offering many traditional items. Continue your river cruise to Strasbourg, France, where you’ll visit the red-sandstone gothic cathedral with ancient murals and fascinating astronomical clock. Strasbourg is home to one of the oldest and finest Christmas markets in Europe and its centerpiece is a giant Christmas tree. Visit the ruins of Heidelberg’s castle, towering magnificently over the city, and watch the skaters on the ice rink below. Stop in Mainz for a guided walk and visit the captivating Gutenberg Museum. Next up is the charming wine town of Rüdesheim, and unique Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum. You’re sure to be enthralled by the life-size figures of Europe’s largest nativity scene on the Market Square. Pass through the dramatic Rhine Gorge before arriving in Cologne—your last stop in Germany. Here, you’ll explore the 2,000-year-old city known for its gothic architecture and famous twin-spired cathedral. Wander through the Christmas market, try some traditional Lebkuchen and get some inner warmth with a cup of Glühwein.
 

As an exclamation point to this wonderful Rhine river cruise, you’ll spend time in Holland’s popular, modern capital of Amsterdam. The best way to see the treasures of this 700-year-old city is on a canal cruise along the elegant grachten lined with homes dating back to the city’s “Golden Age.”
 

Pricing starts at $3,648 per person based on double occupancy. Air and recommended travel insurance are additional. Passports are required. 
 

Tour prices are land only, land tour taxes are $168 per person. All tour specials are subject to availability and rates are subject to change. Travel insurance is highly recommended. Not responsible for publishing/printing errors. Additional taxes, surcharges, and luggage fees may apply.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Zürich, Switzerland – Transfer to Basel (Embarkation) 
Welcome to Switzerland, home of the Matterhorn and the majestic Alps! Transfer by motor coach to Basel, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Meet your crew at an evening welcome reception.
Meals: Dinner
 

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 once described them as black. There’s no better setting this time of year than when smoke curls from the chimneys of the traditional Black Forest houses with their long sloping roofs. Surely, the most well-known products from this region are Black Forest ham, cherry cake, and cuckoo clocks. This afternoon, there’s free time in Breisach to visit the Christmas market—or you may join an optional excursion to Colmar in France’s Alsace region.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 3: 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. In fact, on your guided 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 Kléber, 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. Dating back to 1570, the traditional Christmas market is one of the oldest and finest in Europe. Located around Place de la Cathédrale and Place Broglie, its centerpiece is a giant Christmas tree. As you stroll through the festively decorated and illuminated streets, you’ll notice the pleasing aromas of mulled wine, sweets, spice cakes, and biscuits—a truly magical atmosphere! This afternoon, an optional excursion into the Alsace wine region is available. 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 4: Excursion to Heidelberg, Germany
This morning, an excursion takes you to Heidelberg, home to Germany’s oldest university, which was founded in 1386. Visit the 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 23 feet high and 28 feet wide, it holds over 58,000 gallons of wine and has a dance floor on top of it! The Christmas market in Heidelberg is scattered over five town squares, and you’ll find a wide array of crafts and regional delicacies. In the afternoon, arrive in Mainz, which today is Germany’s largest and most important wine market. The Altstadt (Old Town) has many intriguing shops and the whimsical Fastnachtsbrunnen (Carnival Fountain) on the Schillerplatz is a tribute to the jesters at the city’s annual Carnival celebration. Gutenberg, father of modern printing, was born here, and during a guided walk you’ll visit the captivating Gutenburg Museum. Then there’s free time to explore the local Christmas market in this beautiful city. 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 5: Rudesheim – Rhine Gorge
This morning, dock in pretty 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, and enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT. During the festive period the entire town transforms itself into one large Christmas market, offering products and specialties from a number of nations, all presented in a distinctive manner. You’ll be spoiled by the selection of shops offering a vast variety of Christmas presents and decorations. In the Market Square you’ll find Europe’s largest nativity scene, with life-size figures. Downstream from Rüdesheim is the dramatic RHINE GORGE, the most beautiful stretch of river. Here, ancient castles stand sentry on lofty cliffs rising 400 feet above the water. Cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where echoes of enchanted siren song lured sailors to their doom. 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 6: 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. This morning, join an included guided city walk. The Old Town abounds with cafés, shops, and taverns. Be sure to try a Kölsch pale lager, locally brewed in Cologne for over a hundred years! Wander through the fabulous and magical Christmas market before leaving Cologne and sailing to Amsterdam. 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 7: Amsterdam, Holland
Welcome to Amsterdam! Holland’s sophisticated, modern capital has a rich and fascinating history. This delightful 700-year-old city with its elegant and classic architecture, cafés, and restaurants has a distinct ambiance. There is no better way to see Amsterdam than by Canal Boat, cruising through the elegant grachten lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam’s “Golden Age.” There’s free time this afternoon to enjoy the city or perhaps join an optional excursion.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 8: Amsterdam (Disembarkation)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.
Meals: Breakfast

Ship Information

Ship: Tranquility II

Another exciting Suite Ship® graces the rivers of Europe in 2015. The intimate setting of the Avalon Tranquility II features two full decks of Panorama Suites with Wall-to-Wall Panoramic Windows that transform the living space into a unique Open-Air Balcony®. With 200 square feet, Panorama Suites are more than 30% larger than the industry standard-perfect for stretching out and relaxing-or even throwing a private cocktail party for up to six adults in the spacious sitting area. Onboard amenities and services include complimentary computer use in public areas and free Wi-Fi access, a Fitness Center with state-of-the-art equipment, a hair salon, elevator, and a spacious Sky Deck with shade system, whirlpool, deck games, and the delightful Sky Bistro for al-fresco lunches of light grill fare. This ship is equipped with 361 crew members, 12 staterooms and 52 suites.