Willkommen in Deutschland – Welcome to Germany! On this spectacular cruise vacation, enjoy one of Germany’s largest cities, Munich, and many of its charming villages and towns with picturesque scenery along the way. Visit two of King Ludwig’s most famous castles—Neuschwanstein, the inspiration for Disneyland’s Castle, and Linderhof, the smallest of his castles. Savor beer tasting in Nuremberg and explore Regensburg, one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities and home to Germany’s oldest restaurant. Enjoy the picturesque Bavarian village of Miltenberg with its medieval homes, and explore La Petite France district in Strasbourg. Cruise through the Rhine Gorge, the most dramatic part of the river, and drive through the garden-like landscapes of the Bavarian Alps. This is just a sampling of the scenic wonders and delightful destinations waiting for you to discover on this cruise—a memorable vacation!
Day #1 Arrive in Munich, Germany. Welcome to Munich! The rest of the day is free to start exploring.
Day #2 Munich. Munich is the capital of Bavaria and this morning a Certified Local Guide will show you the highlights of this city: Olympic Stadium, the 1,000-foot-high television tower, Nymphenburg Palace, MARIENPLATZ with its Old and New Town Halls, and the gothic Frauenkirche. Then, enjoy time on your own in this vibrant city. Why not visit the Viktualienmarkt with its Maypole that carries figurines featuring the arts and crafts of this region. This large market is popular for fresh produce, meats, cheeses, spices, baked goods, flowers, and more. Or, maybe relax alongside the locals at one of the many Biergartens or breweries to sample one of the Bavarian beer specialties. (B)
Day #3 Munich. Excursion to Neuschwanstein & Oberammergau. This morning, drive into the garden-like landscapes of the Bavarian Alps and visit King Ludwig’s fairytale NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE, situated high above the village of Hohenschwangau. Continue to the town of Oberammergau, famous for its once-a-decade production of the Passion Play. Enjoy free time here to stroll the streets and admire the typical Bavarian houses, many beautifully painted with scenes from fairytales. End your day with a visit to the smallest of King Ludwig’s three castles—LINDERHOF PALACE, whose style was inspired by the Palace of Versailles outside Paris. (B)
Day #4 Munich–Passau (Embarkation). Today you can choose your experience. Maybe enjoy a free morning in Munich. Then, after lunch, drive to Passau, ideally located at the confluence of the Rivers Inn, Ilz, and Danube. Join a Certified Local Guide for a walking tour through this charming town of graceful arcades and cobblestone streets before boarding your river cruise vessel. Alternatively, you might like to join an optional excursion from Munich to Salzburg, which will end in Passau with embarkation on your ship. Meet your crew at a welcome reception this evening as you set sail for Regensburg. (B,D)
Day #5 Regensburg. Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Architectural highlights include the Old Town Hall and Porta Pretoria—gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. The city is the capital of Upper Palatinate, a bustling university town, and one of Bavaria’s cultural centers. It is here you will find Germany’s oldest restaurant, the 12th-century Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen). (B,L,D)
Day #6 Nuremberg. Although Nuremberg suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it was restored to its original style. Marvel at this historic city with its fabulous gothic churches and elegant patrician houses. Nuremberg’s traditions include famous Lebkuchen, toy making, and metal working. After dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS! (B,L,D)
Day #7 Bamberg–Kitzingen. Leave your ship after breakfast this morning and head for medieval Bamberg, a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your walking tour with a Certified Local Guide takes in its breathtaking cathedral, the Old Town Hall straddling the River Regnitz, and serpentine streets with charming houses and 18th-century mansions. After a LOCAL LUNCH, continue on to Kitzingen, the center of the wine trade in the region known as Franconia. Join a Certified Local Guide for a visit of this city on the River Main, then rejoin your ship. (B,L,D)
Day #8 Würzburg. Known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” Würzburg is surrounded by sloping hills covered with vineyards. The magnificent BISHOP’S RESIDENZ is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The afternoon is free for you to explore or shop. Or, you may wish to join an optional excursion to the walled city of Rothenburg on the “Romantic Road.” (B,L,D)
Day #9 Miltenberg. Located on the Main River, Miltenberg is a picturesque Bavarian village that thrived on income from river traffic. Its cultural wealth and affluence are reflected in the beautiful medieval and renaissance houses and the gothic splendor of the Merchant Hall. There is free time in this charming city before your ship departs. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon on board as you sail out of the River Main and head for the Rhine. (B,L,D)
Day #10 Boppard–Rhine Gorge–Rüdesheim. This morning, arrive in Boppard on the left bank of the Rhine. After breakfast, a guided walk will acquaint you with this town, which saw its beginnings as a Celtic settlement, then a Roman stronghold, and today as a spa center and a popular tourist destination. After lunch, sail southward through the most dramatic part of the river, the RHINE GORGE, before arriving in Rüdesheim, the perfect example of a Rhine Valley wine town. SIEGFRIED’S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM is a real surprise! Enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT, then there’s free time to explore the Drosselgasse and pick up some souvenirs. (B,L,D)
Day #11 Excursion to Heidelberg. After breakfast, drive to Heidelberg, where you may choose to spend either a full day or only the morning, returning to your ship for lunch. Heidelberg is Germany’s oldest university town and of Student Prince fame, a world-famous love musical. Take pictures of the ruins of imposing Heidelberg Castle, built of red sandstone and towering above the city, then enjoy free time to explore. (B,L,D)
Day #12 Strasbourg, France. Situated on the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg is influenced by the culture of both countries and is the capital of the Alsace region. It is the seat of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament. A Certified Local Guide shows you the noteworthy sights: the GOTHIC CATHEDRAL, the lovely LA PETITE FRANCE district, Place Kléber, and Place Gutenberg with the statue of the inventor of the printing press. A choice of optional excursions is available this afternoon: a trip into the Alsace wine region in France may strike your fancy, or on the other side of the river in Germany, the Black Forest beckons. (B,L,D)
Day #13 Basel, Switzerland (Disembarkation). Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. Departure flights should not leave Zürich airport before 10 am. (B)