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8 Days | Romantic Rhine

Day 1 | Basel, Switzerland. Embark. A transfer is included from Euroairport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg or Basel SBB Bahnhof to your riverboat for the start of your cruise; check-in for all guests aboard the riverboat is 4:00 PM. Meet your riverboat crew for a welcome briefing, then join us for a welcome dinner this evening. (D)

Day 2 | Lucerne. Welcome to Switzerland! Mountain scenery, shimmering Lake Lucerne, and forests and meadows straight out of a picture book are in store for you today if you choose to join our excursion to Lucerne. In this “city of lights,” landmarks include the Kappelbrucke, a covered wooden footbridge crossing the Reuss River that dates back to the 1330s, an octagonal Water Tower once used as a prison, narrow lanes and lovely squares, like the Kornmarkt, Weinmarkt and Hirschenplatz. In Aldstadt Lucerne, narrow cobblestone lanes lead to town squares lined with houses painted with frescoes. From town, you’ll head out for the heights of Mt. Pilatus aboard the world’s steepest cogwheel train, climbing from Alpnachstad at the edge of Lake Lucerne to the very top (Oberhaupt) – nearly 7,000 ft. high. Getting to the top is definitely part of the fun, as you travel upward at a 48° angle, while soaking up views of Alpine meadows, and mountain streams, goats and flowers. Alternatively, you may prefer the pleasures of a wine tasting and lunch along the Alsatian wine route. If so, you’ll head to Château Haut-Koenigsbourg, originally built in the 1200s on a rocky promontory high above the French Alsatian plains – an ideal spot for observing comings and going. Burned, abandoned and restored to its former glory in 1899, the castle presents a picture of a mountain fortress of the Middle Ages, brimming with beautiful details. Afterward, enjoy a tasting of Alsatian wines and lunch at a local restaurant. Regardless of your choice, your day ends in Basel, which lies at the center of the “Three Corners,” where France, Germany and Switzerland meet at the Rhine. On an introductory tour of this affluent and cultured city, you’ll find green areas, parks, dozens of museums and art galleries, and chic restaurants. Along the Rhine Promenade, broad steps feature inviting cafés with views of the city skyline, dominated by the 14th-century Münster Cathedral. From the 16th-century town hall, painted in red and gold, to state-of-the-art works of architecture along the Rhine by internationally acclaimed architects like American Frank Gehry and Japan’s Yoshio Taniguchi, you’ll find a small city that has served as a major crossroads of travel and thought since the 15th century. Join us this evening for a welcome dinner aboard ship. (B,L,D)

Day 3 | Strasbourg, France. You’ll wake docked on the Rhine this morning, surrounded by the hills of southern Alsace, many checkered with vineyards. The day begins in the Alsatian cultural capital of Strasbourg, France. It is home to the charming canals and half-timbered houses of La Petite France, stately city residences, a Gothic cathedral, and plenty of winstubs, traditional Alsatian beer pubs. At the City Hospital, you’ll sample a selection of Alsatian wines downstairs in its 600-year-old wine cellar; for centuries, wine was accepted in lieu of payment for services. Alsatian wines are typically white: Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Gris and Muscat. Continue on to the German spa resort town of Baden-Baden, on the edge of the Black Forest. Here you'll have a choice, the first being a visit to Caracalla Spa, a day devoted to wellness and relaxation. The spa resembles a glass temple, with facilities that include whirlpools, waterfalls, counter-current pools, massage jets and turquoise pools of warm water sourced from natural springs. Add in a sauna complex with both hot and cold rooms (some wellness treatments at additional cost) and you’ll feel re-energized at the end of your visit. Alternatively, take a scenic drive into Schwarzwald (Black Forest) to discover the ruins of Hoehenbaden Castle, known as the “Altes Schloss” (Old Castle). Its winding staircases, dark dungeons and a lookout for eagle eyes make it a must-see for castle lovers. (B,L,D)

Day 4 | Speyer, Germany or Heidelberg. For centuries the Rhine River was a major transport hub and a source of wealth for many; today you’ll have a choice of visiting Speyer, a town that thrived on trade in the 10th and 11th centuries when construction on its double-domed cathedral began, or Heidelberg. On a guided visit to Speyer Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Center, you may be surprised by its use of natural glass windows, which pre-dated the use of stained glass, and its roof made entirely of stone – the first ever in Europe. Next, on a visit to Speyers’ impressive Technik Museum, you’ll find exhibits dedicated to every form of technology that moves, from vintage cars to a Boeing 747 jumbo jet and a German U9 submarine that you can go inside, and the Russian BURAN space shuttle. Afterward, relax over a refreshing bier at one of the town’s many inviting biergartens, a Rhine summer delight. Alternatively, you may spend the day on an excursion to Heidelberg, Germany’s oldest university town. Narrow lanes, shops and pubs housed in 17th-century structures in the Aldstadt are kept lively by the cadence of student life. On the hillside above the city, you’ll visit the romantic ruins of Heidelberg Castle; thecastle is an imposing ensemble of buildings, from different architectural periods, surrounding a central courtyard; from its terrace and gardens, the sweeping views impress along with the feel of 600 years of history. A special evening awaits at Reichenstein Castle, complete with a working drawbridge and a grilled door built to be lowered quickly in the event of a 14th-century attack. The castle sits on a rocky ridge high above the Rhine, in the deep Lorelei Valley, where the mythical siren, “Lorelei,” was once said to bewitch passing sailors.(B,L,D)

Day 5 | Koblenz. Rudesheim. A morning of sailing precedes arrival in Koblenz. Welcome to Deutsches Eck, the “German Corner” where the Rhine and Moselle rivers meet and the beautiful city of Koblenz stands. The city’s roots go back to the Middle Ages, when its location made it a powerful one as the controller of trade along these major waterways. Your morning offers a choice of activities: a drive along the castle route of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or cycling* along the Rheinradweg bicycle route. On the castle route, you’ll visit one of the many historic castles lining the river’s banks and tour the Aldstadt in Koblenz, a mix of delightful town squares, tucked-away corners, medieval churches, baroque residences and cozy wine taverns. If you choose to go cycling (a countrywide passion in Germany), you’ll follow easy riverside trails through forest, meadows and Riesling winelands, taking in views of the passing pleasure boats and freighters. The afternoon is spent back onboard your riverboat, cruising through the quiet Rhine River Valley, past small cities, churches, ancient walls and castles, as you make your way to Rüdesheim, a historic city of winegrowers. (B,L,D)

Day 6 | Köln. Sightseeing in Köln begins with a guided tour of the immense twin-towered Cologne Cathedral, whose construction took a mere six centuries. Completed in 1880, UNESCO declared this Gothic “Dom” a World Heritage Site in 1995, recognizing its cultural value as “a testament to the longevity of faith.” You’ll explore this intimately scaled city by coach and on a walking tour, with an optional visit to the Romano-Germanic Museum adjacent to the cathedral. The collection contains impressive examples of art, culture and everyday Roman life along the Rhine. Highlights include the Dionysus Mosaic, once the floor of a Roman banquet hall (which lies exactly where it was found in 1941, when workers were digging a World War II bomb shelter), the world’s largest collection of Roman glass, and a miniature portrait of the Roman Emperor, Augustus. Depart Köln early afternoon as one of our newest Amsterdam river cruises sails toward the final days.(B,L,D)

Day 7 | Amsterdam, Holland. In a city indelibly linked to water, it’s fitting that your day begins with a cruise on its 17th-century grachten (canals) which fan out in crescent-shaped rings from the northern waterfront. On the drive to board your canal boat, you’ll get an orientation to the city, which at its heart feels more like a village than the compact center of a cosmopolitan city. Landmarks include Centraal Station, built at the end of the 19th century and still a place in constant motion – with people, bicycles, trams and buses; De Waag (Weigh House), once a fortified gate that today houses a popular outdoor café; and the Mint Tower, a gate in the city wall (circa 1400) that marks the intersection of two canals, tram paths, a pedestrian-only shopping street, and the city flower market – an ever busy, ever interesting crossroads. Aboard the canal boat, you’ll glide beneath curved bridges carrying walkers and cyclists – sometimes trams and cars – and by narrow merchant homes, whose goods were once pragmatically stored on the upper floors. After a guided visit to one of Amsterdam’s museums, return to your riverboat and cruising through the gentile Dutch countryside. Join us tonight for the Captain's farewell reception and dinner, a fitting finale to an fantastic week and one of the most amazing Amsterdam river cruises! (B,L,D)

Day 8 | Amsterdam. Disembark. A transfer is included from the riverboat to Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport or Central Station. Fly home anytime. Allow 3 hours for flight check-in. For guests wishing to spend more time in Amsterdam, ask at booking about extending your stay with an additional hotel night at Tauck’s hotel. (B)

NOTE: Itinerary is subject to change without notice. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to the itinerary schedule you receive with your final documents. Note: For activities marked with an asterisk (*) in day-by-day descriptions, participation is at your own risk; a signed liability waiver will be required.

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