Day 1 Arrive in Prague, Czech Republic
Welcome to Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. This fascinating city straddles the Vltava River with domes, cupolas, spires, and pinnacles highlighting its skyline.
Day 2 Prague
Prague is a 1,200-year-old city preserved in time. See its best-known treasures, such as the Old Town’s Astronomical Clock, built in 1410 and once the envy of all of Europe; HRADCANY CASTLE GROUNDS; St. Vitus Cathedral; and the Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague. Browse the Christmas markets, where rows of brightly decorated wooden huts sell Christmas tree ornaments, wooden toys, and Czech handicrafts. Get a little inner warmth with a cup of svarene vino (hot mulled wine) and a traditional hot sausage. The beautifully decorated tree in the Old Town is an impressive sight.
Day 3 Prague–Nuremberg, Germany (Embarkation)
After lunch, drive to Nuremberg to embark your cruise vessel. Before dinner, meet your crew for a welcome reception.
Day 4 Nuremberg
Spend a relaxing morning cruising before reaching Nuremberg. Although 90% of its Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Choose from an included GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at the city’s medieval fortifications, gothic churches, and Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS tour. The Old Town is illuminated with festive lights, and the Christmas market is one of the biggest in Germany, featuring 200 stalls selling traditional wares and foods. After your free time at the Christmas Market, a shuttle bus service will be at your disposal to take you back to the ship.
Day 5 Bamberg
In the early morning hours, arrive in medieval Bamberg, former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties. Your GUIDED WALKING TOUR takes in its historic center, including the great 13th-century Romanesque cathedral and the fascinating Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)—built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River when the bishop refused to give the townspeople land for a town hall! At this time of year, especially interesting are the nativity scenes built by local residents and exhibited throughout the town. Enjoy the Christmas market, where, in addition to candles and decorations, you’ll find many regional delicacies, like gingerbread and nut bread. Be sure not to miss the special gift we have reserved for you in a local brewery. Rejoin your ship in time for lunch. This afternoon, cruise along the Main River to Würzburg, and attend a fascinating ONBOARD LECTURE to learn more about European Christmas traditions.
Day 6 Würzburg
Known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” Würzburg is surrounded by sloping hills covered with vineyards. The city makes an immediate impression with imposing Fortress Marienberg perched above town and the 15th-century Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge). On your included GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the magnificent baroque BISHOP’S RESIDENZ, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. This afternoon you are free to explore on your own—maybe visit the Christmas markets or join an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg where you will have the opportunity to visit the Christmas Museum. Be sure to try a Schneeball (snowball), a local specialty not at all suitable for a diet!
Day 7 Miltenberg
A CULINARY DEMONSTRATION will be delivered before lunch and before your arrival in Miltenberg. Tucked away behind medieval defensive walls and towered gates, the picturesque Bavarian village of Miltenberg is a cultural gem on the banks of the Main River. This afternoon’s GUIDED WALK will acquaint you with the town’s delightful Marktplatz (market square), which centers around a Renaissance-era fountain and features striking half-timbered buildings, cobblestone lanes, and one of the oldest inns in Germany, Haus zum Riesen (the giant’s house) and the gothic splendor of the Merchant Hall. Depart for Frankfurt before dinner.
Day 8 Frankfurt. Excursion to Rüdesheim
After breakfast this morning, a comfortable motorcoach ride takes you to the pretty little town of Rüdesheim, a perfect example of a Rhine Valley wine town. A visit to SIEGFRIED’S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM is a real surprise! Afterward, we’ll offer you a SPECIAL TREAT and then there’s free time to explore. 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. In the afternoon, return to Frankfurt.
Day 9 Excursion to Heidelberg–Mannheim
This morning 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.” At nearly 23 feet high and 28 feet wide, the cask holds over 58,000 gallons of wine and has a dance floor built on top of it! At this time of year, an ice rink is set up at the foot of the castle, and stalls offer Glühwein, Bratwurst, and other tasty treats. The Christmas market itself is scattered over five town squares, and you’ll find a wide array of crafts and regional delicacies. Rejoin your ship in Mannheim, and the afternoon is yours to do as you please. There is plenty of free time to shop for Christmas decorations or gifts at the Mannheim Christmas market.
Day 10 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. This evening, enjoy an onboard WOODCARVING demonstration.
Day 11 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 for this time of year than when smoke curls from the chimneys of the traditional Black Forest houses with their long sloping roofs, connoting images of warm and festively decorated interiors. 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 one more Christmas market—or you may join an optional excursion to Colmar in France’s Alsace region.
Day 12 Basel Switzerland (Disembarkation)
Your vacation ends after breakfast today.
NOTE: Flights out of Zürich airport should not leave before 10 am.
Celebrate the holiday season on this delightful cruise from Prague to Basel. Enjoy guided sightseeing in Prague, Nuremberg, Bamberg, Würzburg, and Strasbourg as well as a guided walk in charming Miltenberg. Other highlights: visit the Bishop’s Residence in Würzburg; Heidelberg with its famed red-stoned castle, and quaint Rüdesheim on the Rhine. Marvel at the traditional Christmas decorations and delight in the festive atmosphere of this special time of year. Wander through the many Christmas markets while you listen to local Christmas music, sample tasty Christmas treats, smell the aromas of the season, and shop for local Christmas ornaments and crafts. What a wonderful way to celebrate the season. Your ship will be decorated and dressed up in Christmas colors.
Captain’s welcome & farewell receptions with sparkling wine and canapés; Welcome dinner; Daily Afternoon Tea; Daily Night Fare; Farewell dinner; Complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; soft drinks with lunch; and wine, beer, or soft drinks with dinner are included daily on board your vessel
Included excursions with Certified Local Guide; sightseeing as outlined in the day by-day itinerary; inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE.
Deluxe cruise in an outside stateroom with hotel-style beds
Headsets for shore excursions
Complimentary Wi-Fi access
Personalized room options & excursions
The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.