Day 1 Basel, Switzerland - Embark
On the three-border intersection of Switzerland, Germany and France and unfolding in two sections from the banks of the Rhine, Basel has an international flair, a cultural vibrancy and is picturesque besides. A medieval town center invites exploration by foot, while an abundance of museums and galleries suggest an indoor stroll amid works of art and relics of history. The Museum of Fine Arts is home to the world’s oldest art collection accessible to the public. The city itself hosts Switzerland’s oldest university, dating to 1460. Antiquity may be Basel’s strong suit, as it is in much of Europe, but this corner of Switzerland also reveals a more modern countenance: Architects Herzog & de Meuron, best known for the design of the Tate Modern in London and the Bird’s Nest in Beijing, and Frank Gehry of Bilbao Guggenheim Museum fame have contributed their considerable talents to buildings here.
Day 2 Kehl, Germany
When you glimpse the steep-peaked, half-timbered buildings, the placid waters of narrow canals, flowers blooming on balconies and bridges, and old towers standing sentry over the scene, you know you have stepped into Strasbourg—either that, or the very pretty pages of a fairytale. Located just across the Rhine from Strasbourg, Kehl is your access point to the capital of the Alsace region, the seat of the European Parliament and, simply, one of the most photogenic old towns in existence. Strasbourg boasts a breathtakingly gorgeous Gothic cathedral (with the tallest cathedral tower in France), twisting alleyways, a sweet collection of the aforementioned half-timbered buildings and a charm that oozes from virtually every cozy corner of Grande Île, or “Large Island,— the first city center to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 3 Karlsruhe, Germany - Mannheim, Germany - Rudesheim, Germany
With its location on the Rhineland Plain near the French-German border, the city of Karlsruhe is nestled between the Black Forest, the Vosges mountains and the Palatinate Forest. A forward-thinking and cultured city, it is regarded as a hub of science and technology, often referred to as Germany’s online capital. Known for its liberal attitude, arts and culture flourish here, creating an atmosphere of dynamic vitality.
A relatively young city by European standards, it was founded in 1715 by Margave Karl-Wilhelm von Baden. As the story goes, he dreamt of a star-shaped city in his sleep, and thus was born his idea for a city of “spokes” radiating from a mighty Baroque Residential Palace at its very heart. So impressive was this urban plan, it was adopted by Washington, D.C. Today, Karlsruhe is filled with rambling parks and museums, and the nearby suburbs lined with art nouveau townhomes serve as a reminder to the city’s proximity to France.
Day 4 Rhine River Cruisng - Rudesheim, Germany - Koblenz, Germany
If Rudesheim’s scenic location on the Rhine Gorge doesn’t sweep you off your feet, then the town’s medieval Old Town with its half-timbered buildings and narrow lanes, especially the Drosselgasse overflowing with charming shops and taverns, surely will. Still more that promises to enchant and delight is the region’s renowned Rieslings, produced here for centuries from vineyards dating to Roman times. A glass of white wine or the other local specialty, Asbach brandy, sipped amid historic surroundings can make the heart flutter, not necessarily from the effects of the spirits but from the simple beauty of one of Germany’s, if not the world’s, most romantic locales.
During the holidays, the Rudesheim Christmas Market takes center stage. Try some deliciously made Rudesheim Coffee, locally made with Asbach Uralt Brandy and whipped cream, exclusively offered during the season. With more that 100 kiosks and stalls offering local wares and seasonal gifts, there is much to see at this annual event—from local Rudesheim coffee to global flavors like Finnish specialties and even Mongolian food fare.
Day 5 Koblenz, Germany - Cologne, Germany
Located where the Rhine and Moselle rivers and three low mountain ranges meet, Koblenz has a leg up in the scenery department. Add to that the city’s 2,000-year-old history, hilltop fortress and squares lined by classic Germanic architecture and you have a place ready made for photographs. You might start by aiming your lens at the Deutsches Eck, or German Corner, where the rivers merge around a corner of land marked by a monument to Emperor William I. Ambling along the river promenade and exploring the town’s narrow lanes, you might encounter medieval churches, flower-filled parks, sidewalk cafes and perhaps a weinstube, or wine tavern, an ideal venue for sipping dry Riesling and drinking in the atmosphere.
Day 6 Rhine River Cruising - Cologne, Germany
A scan of Cologne’s skyline offers a short-hand of a long essay of architecture, varying from the space-needle-type Rhine Tower to the avant-garde buildings along the river to the spectacular spires of the cathedral. One look at the magnificent church and you can’t help but draw a breath of amazement—the structure is enormous and intricately glorious, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Germany’s most visited landmark. Peel your eyes away from the famed Kölner Dom, as it is locally called, to discover other architectural notables, including remains of the Roman wall, a modern museum complex, the contemporary philharmonic hall, cozy beerhalls and the span of the Hohenzollern Bridge, reconstructed after the war.
Days 7 & 8 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Disembark
Everyone has an image of Amsterdam. For some, it’s small boats gliding on the canals and locals two-wheeling on bikes to and from work and, as frequently, to meet friends for drinks. For others, it’s gabled buildings leaning, seemingly precariously, over cobbled streets and cozy taverns illuminated by candles. Still others imagine tulips in bloom and the colors, both muted and vibrant, of the paintings Vermeer, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. All images are true and even more beguiling when experienced in person. Sit a spell in a convivial cafe, explore world-class museums and feel the significance of a unique history—one of a city reclaimed from the sea, rising in prestige and influence as merchants built trade and wealth, and forever known for its attics and attitudes that offered refuge from war. Narrow streets and great manses tell the story not only in images but with the aroma of appeltaart, a taste of the avant garde in newly constructed buildings and a feeling of warmth from the amiable locals.
Follow the romantic Rhine through quaint villages in Germany, Switzerland and Netherlands to explore Gothic cathedrals, grand palaces and imposing fortresses; stroll Rüdesheim's famous Drosselgasse and savor a locally produced pinot noir at a wine tavern.
Farm-to-table dining featuring Crystal’s innovative and acclaimed six-star cuisine with regionally-inspired menus
Unlimited fine wines, champagnes, premium spirits, beers and unlimited soft drinks and bottled water in-suite
24-hour room service, including selections from Waterside Restaurant
The only river cruise line to include European Butler service for every room category
The only all-suite river ships in Europe; every suite featuring a king-size bed, most with walk-in closets and double sink vanities
High-tech in-suite amenities including bedside iPad directory
All gratuities, shipboard and shoreside included
Complimentary airport transfers between the airport and the river ship on days of embarkation and disembarkation
Unmatched collection of multiple Complimentary Crystal Adventures® ashore in each destination: cultural, active and overland options
Complimentary, unlimited Wi-Fi/Internet
Complimentary use of Atlanta eBikes
Complimentary Crystal Signature Event on every itinerary
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.