Holiday Markets Cruise ~ The Festive Rhine River

Holiday Markets Cruise ~ The Festive Rhine River

Feel the magic of the holidays in Germany and France on a seven-night Rhine River cruise! Celebrate centuries-old traditions in festive markets aglow with twinkling lights and good cheer and overflowing with handmade decorations and other treasures. Delight in the sounds of carolers and bells and the scent of nutmeg, cinnamon and fresh pine in the air. Visit Heidelberg’s castle and enjoy an exclusive musical performance in the romantic old town. Stroll through Freiburg, a vibrant university city. Admire Cologne’s spectacular cathedral and delight in Düsseldorf’s lively riverfront district. In the ports of Breisach, Strasbourg, Rüdesheim and Düsseldorf, select excursions that fit your interests, such as wine tastings, culinary tours or cultural experiences. Aboard your exclusively chartered, first-class ship, revel in the beauty of the Rhine Gorge and sip warm, spicy Glühwein. This heartwarming journey includes an ample meal plan, plus wine and beer with lunch and dinner. There is no supplement for solo travelers.

Trip Itinerary:

November 27 Depart Gateway City

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Zürich, Switzerland. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: ZRH.

Meals – Appropriate in-flight meal service

November 28 Zürich, Switzerland | Basel

Arrive at Zürich Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Cruise Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer to the pier in Basel and embark the MS Amadeus Silver III. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your cabin may not be immediately available.

Tonight, get to know your fellow cruisers at the Welcome Reception and Dinner.

The ship departs for Breisach, Germany, tonight.

Accommodations – MS Amadeus Silver III
Meals – Dinner

November 29 Breisach, Germany | Freiburg

The ship arrives in Breisach this morning.

Discovery: Freiburg.
Activity level: Moderate
Delight in a guided stroll through the historic center of this vibrant university city. See the 13th-century cathedral, the bright-red, turreted Merchants’ Hall and other landmarks. Then visit the colorful Christkindlmarkt and perhaps enjoy some marzipan and chestnuts, popular holiday treats.

Enjoy lunch on board the ship.

Personalize Your Journey | Choose one of the following excursions.
• Riquewihr and the Wines of the Alsace.
Activity level: Moderate
Set in a small valley near the Vosges Mountains, Riquewihr, France, is an enchanting Alsatian village that looks much as it did in the 16th century. Its architecture, including half-timbered houses and medieval fortifications, adds to its storybook quality. Selected as one of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France,” The Most Beautiful Villages of France, it charms all who visit. Relish its romantic aura on a guided walk and sample some of its fabulous wines.
• Colmar Markets.
Activity level: Moderate
Spend the afternoon in Colmar, France, and discover the Alsatian way of celebrating the holidays. Visit four of the markets in the city’s picturesque Old Town. The main market occupies the Place des Dominicains, where the beautiful Dominican Church anchors the square. Continue to the Place Jeanne d’Arc market, which gives you a taste, figuratively and literally, of being in an Alsatian village. Here, local food products are the focus, and you just might give into the temptation to treat yourself to the area’s specialties, including delicious charcuterie, liqueurs and sweets. The Place de l’Ancienne Douane market surrounds the fountain dedicated to local 16th-century hero Lazare de Schwendi. The final stop is the indoor market at the Koïfhus, where the work of local woodworkers, potters, jewelers and other artisans are for sale.

Return to the ship for dinner.

The ship departs for Strasbourg, France.

Accommodations – MS Amadeus Silver III
Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

November 30 Strasbourg, France

The ship arrives in Strasbourg, capital of the French region of Alsace, this morning.

Personalize Your Journey | Choose one of the following excursions.
• Strasbourg Panoramic Tour.
Activity level: Moderate
Discover Strasbourg’s unique blend of German and French influences. Pass by the highlights, including Palais Rohan, an 18th-century building modeled after the noble mansions of Paris, and St. Thomas Church, the main Protestant church. Continue your exploration of Strasbourg with a guided walking tour of the historic center and a visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral, considered a Gothic masterpiece.
• Culinary Strasbourg.
Activity level: Moderate
Experience the Alsatian culinary scene on a guided tour that takes you to the city’s winstubs, cozy wine pubs that typically have long communal tables, and other local cafés and shops. Along the way, taste delicious regional specialties and wines.

Return to the ship for lunch.

Free Time: This afternoon, take advantage of a complimentary shuttle from the ship to the Strasbourg city center. Stroll through the city on your own and visit the holiday market. Established in 1570, it is touted as France’s oldest marché de Noël, as the French holiday markets are known. Stay warm with a mug of mulled wine, and immerse yourself in the festive holiday spirit!

Enrichment: German Holiday Traditions.
From Advent wreaths to Christmas baking, cherished seasonal customs have been handed down from one generation to the next. Discover some of the favorite traditions in German households.

The ship remains in Strasbourg this evening.

Accommodations – MS Amadeus Silver III
Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

December 1 Mannheim, Germany | Heidelberg

The ship departs for Mannheim, Germany, in the early morning.

Discovery: Heidelberg Castle and Town.
Activity level: Moderate
Visit the nearby city of Heidelberg, and step inside the red sandstone walls of Heidelberg Castle, which stands watch over the Neckar Valley. Inside the Fassbau, the Barrel Building, see the immense wine barrel, which once held 34,342 gallons of wine. It was built in 1591 to store the wine collected as taxes. Then stroll through the city center, passing the Student Jail, Old University and the cathedral, and walk along the banks of the Neckar River.

Relax afterward at a restaurant in the area, where you’ll savor traditional German dishes and delight in the comfortable, cozy atmosphere that Germans call gemütlichkeit.

Free Time: Spend some time exploring on your own in Heidelberg’s historic center.

Later, enjoy a special musical performance in town. Listen to an entertaining mix of holiday songs, arias and contemporary pieces as you enjoy seasonal refreshments.

Return to the ship for dinner.

The ship departs Mannheim this evening.

Accommodations – MS Amadeus Silver III
Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

December 2 Rüdesheim | Rhine Gorge

The ship arrives in Rüdesheim this morning.

Personalize Your Journey | Choose one of the following excursions.
• Rüdesheim Walking Tour.
Activity level: Moderate
Explore Rüdesheim’s charming Old Town. Walk the Drosselgasse, the main street, which features the city’s popular restaurants, bars and shops. See the “Christmas Market of the Nations,” an international market with holiday items from around the world. Visit Siegfried’s Mechanisches Musikkabinett, a museum dedicated to self-playing mechanical musical instruments. This captivating museum’s collection includes hundreds of items from handheld music boxes to calliopes. There is some time at leisure after the tour. Why not choose a café and sit down with a Rüdesheimer Kaffee, a flaming, brandy-spiked coffee drink, as you take in the town’s holiday spirit?
• Rhine Wine Tasting.
Activity level: Moderate
Travel to the beautiful Abbey of St. Hildegard, set amid a vineyard on a hillside overlooking the river. Enjoy the serene environment as you visit the Benedictine abbey and church, where you will learn about the remarkable St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). A prominent woman in the medieval church, the multitalented Hildegard of Bingen was an abbess, mystic, author, composer, poet, healer, theologian and preacher during her lifetime. Afterward, head to a local Rüdesheim winery and taste the region’s renowned wines in an old wine cellar.

Return to the ship for lunch.

This afternoon, sail through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley en route to Cologne and pass Loreley Rock. This scenic gorge is the most famous stretch of the Rhine River. Here, vines that produce the area’s famous Riesling grapes lace the hills rising from the riverbank. Some 40 castles, built during the Holy Roman Empire, stand imposingly on the terraced hills, and fortified towns and villages once doubled as toll stations for passing ships.

Folk tales have developed around the Loreley Rock for centuries; the one most associated with it stems from a 19th-century German Romantic poem involving a beautiful, but spurned, sorceress, who upon being convicted of luring men to their deaths, jumped to her own death from the rock. Subsequent writers, most famously poet Heinrich Heine, elaborated on the theme. In Heine’s 1823 poem, “Die Lorelei,” Loreley was a siren whose bewitching song caused passing sailors to crash their ships on the rocks.

Before dinner tonight, gather for a Glühwein party with your shipmates. If you haven’t already tried it at one of the holiday markets, you’ll delight in this warm concoction of cloves, cinnamon, citrus and red wine, a wintertime favorite!

The ship arrives in Cologne late tonight.

Accommodations – MS Amadeus Silver III
Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

December 3 Cologne

Discovery: Cologne.
Activity level: Moderate
Germany’s oldest major city, Cologne takes pride in its vibrant cultural scene and its awe-inspiring Gothic cathedral. Topped by two ornately decorated spires, the Dom was under construction for more than 630 years. During a guided walking tour of the old town, marvel at the cathedral’s impressive exterior as you stand in the Domplatz, and then step inside to see the stone columns soaring upward toward the vaulted ceiling.

Return to the ship for lunch.

Free Time:The afternoon is at leisure to explore Cologne on your own. Complimentary shuttles between the ship and the city center will be available this afternoon.

The ship overnights in Cologne.

Accommodations – MS Amadeus Silver III
Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Personalize Your Journey | Choose one of the following excursions.
Riquewihr and the Wines of the Alsace.
Activity level: Moderate
Colmar Markets.
Activity level: Moderate

Return to the ship for dinner.

The ship departs for Basel, Switzerland.

Accommodations – MS Amadeus Silver III
Meals – Breakfast, lunch and dinner

December 4 Düsseldorf

Arrive in Düsseldorf this morning.

Personalize Your Journey | Choose one of the following excursions.
• Düsseldorf and Holiday Markets.
Activity level: Moderate
Get a panoramic perspective of the impressive modern architecture that defines this dynamic city, including the popular Medienhafen riverfront district. Then, on a guided walk, explore the old town, where everyone can find their favorite drink of choice, thanks to a famous, half-mile stretch of more than 250 bars, cafés and breweries. Pop into one of the establishments for a taste of the local dark brew, Altbier. Afterward, enjoy free time to meander through the city center’s seven delightful Christkindlmarkts with themes such as handicrafts, angels and German fairy tales, among others
• Aachen, City of Emperor Charlemagne.
Activity level: Moderate
After becoming king of the Franks in the eighth century, Charlemagne sought to unite all Germanic people and convert them to Christianity. Aachen later became his capital and favorite royal residence, where he also enjoyed the therapeutic hot springs. In 800, he was crowned emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III. During his reign, he instituted many reforms in his vast domain and promoted the ideals of the Carolingian Renaissance, centered on culture and scholarly learning. On a guided tour, visit the Aachen Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring Charlemagne’s richly decorated imperial chapel and his original throne. Walk through the historic city center and spa area before finishing at the city’s festive Christmas market.

Return to the ship for lunch.

Free Time: The afternoon is at leisure to explore Düsseldorf’s delightful holiday markets on your own.

Tonight, gather for a festive Farewell Reception and Dinner to celebrate your Advent adventure on the Rhine.

Accommodations – MS Amadeus Silver III
Meals – Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

December 5 Depart for Gateway City

After breakfast, disembark the ship in Düsseldorf. AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Cruise Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Düsseldorf International Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Meals – Breakfast and appropriate in-flight meal service

Map:


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