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Day by Day Itinerary

Join us on our new 2014 holiday River Cruise Tour to experience a special seasonal voyage along Germany’s storied Elbe River—disembarking to explore medieval lands where the “yule tree” originated, and the bustling, open-air stalls of festive Christmas Markets. Dresden—where you’ll also have a three-night sojourn—presents Striezelmarkt, the oldest holiday market in all of Germany, and you’ll have free time to explore these markets after included city tours, as you will in Berlin. You’ll also witness relics of the Middle Ages in the quaint towns of Magdeburg and Quedlinburg, and experience the comfort of traveling on the M/S Allegro, the #2 ranked River Cruise Ship in the World, according to Condé Nast Traveler’s 2013 Readers’ Poll. Throughout your trip, you’ll enjoy several Discovery Series events, like a tour of Meissen’s porcelain factory, and a Home-Hosted Visit with a local family in Wittenberg. You can also enhance your European River Cruise exploration with our optional extensions to Hamburg, Germany; Prague, Czech Republic; and Poland: Wroclaw & Warsaw.

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    Depart today on your flight to Berlin, Germany.

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    View the Brandenburg Gate while touring Berlin

    Depending on your departure city, you will arrive either this morning or afternoon. A Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and assist you to your hotel, where you’ll get to know the lively surrounding neighborhood during a vicinity walk with your Program Director.

    Meet your fellow Grand Circle travelers—including those joining us after their pre-trip extension to Hamburg, Germany—for a Welcome Drink this evening. Dinner will be on your own.

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    See Checkpoint Charlie while exploring Berlin

    This morning, after an included breakfast at your hotel, it’s time to set out on your first full day of discovery with an included city tour of Berlin.

    The second-largest urban area in Europe, Berlin is an enormous city, but most of its most iconic sites are relatively close together. Divided at the end of World War II, blockaded by the Soviets during the Cold War, riven by a cruel grey wall, and finally delivered by the sledgehammers of freedom fighters, Berlin is once again a united city. The city’s lakes and forests provide bucolic retreats in an urban setting, while the city’s divided history has led to a truly unique collection of architectural styles. In the old Soviet sector of the city, keep your eyes open for extant Ampelmannchen, the “little traffic light man” who adorned East German traffic lights. The Reichstag, site of the final defense of the Third Reich, was rebuilt after World War II and now features an enormous glass sphere, emphasizing the transparency and openness of the new Germany. Like so much of Berlin, the future and past are inextricably mixed.

    After lunch on your own, use your new-found knowledge of Berlin to explore the city at your own pace this afternoon. Perhaps you'll enjoy a ride to the glass dome at the top of the Reichstag, take a walk on the remaining portion of the Berlin Wall itself, or visit the Olympic Stadium where American track-and-field star Jesse Owens incensed Hitler by winning four gold medals in 1936.

    Or, you may choose to explore one of several nearby Christmas Markets. Berlin's are open at various times throughout the holiday season. Commonly found in town squares, they feature open-air stalls brimming with handcrafts like ornaments and nutcrackers, and scrumptious, local delicacies like Lebkuchen, a kind of gingerbread.

    Tonight, you'll enjoy a Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant with your fellow travelers.

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    Discover Vienna during a river cruise through Austria

    After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy the day making your own discoveries in Berlin. Perhaps you'll explore Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site conveniently located near the city center. Or maybe you'd like to visit Schloss Charlottenburg, the largest remaining palace in the city.

    Or, join us for Another Look at Berlin, an optional tour that will take you through several of Berlin's newly emerging neighborhoods. You'll be introduced to Kreuzberg—at one time, one of the poorest boroughs in West Berlin, it is now thriving, and attracting a wave of young residents. You'll also visit two up-and-coming East Berlin territories: Friedrichschain, with its grand boulevard, the Karl-Marx-Allee; and Prenzlauer Berg, where gentrification is unfolding amidst a setting of more than 300 protected, historical buildings. Other highlights include delving deeper into Mitte, Berlin's historical city center; visiting an abandoned, underground "ghost station"; and meeting with a former watch tower guard.

    Tonight, dinner will be on your own. Perhaps you'll seek out a restaurant serving roasted goose, a traditional Christmas dish.

  • hidden

    Discover half timbered buildings in Tangermunde

    After breakfast this morning, you'll transfer to Potsdam, where you'll have free time to explore the city's Christmas Markets. You'll find vendors dressed in medieval garb at the Bohemian Market, pierogis on offer at the Polish Market, and Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) and his helpers at the Dutch Market, amongst other holiday delights.

    Following lunch in a local restaurant, you'll transfer to Magdeburg where you'll board your private Grand Circle river ship. This evening, gather for a Captain's Welcome Drink and crew introduction, followed by a Captain's Welcome Dinner.

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    Discover the twelfth century city of Wittenberg

    After breakfast, you’ll transfer to Quedlinburg, where you'll enjoy an included tour of this town that dates back to AD 922. You’ll traverse its medieval old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of quaint half-timbered houses from as early as the 16th century. Looking up, you'll witness a striking skyline, as it’s dominated by a Romanesque castle perched on a sandstone cliff.

    After an included lunch, you'll return to Magdeburg. You can spend the afternoon relaxing onboard or go exploring in this medieval town, which was founded by Charlemagne in AD 805. Perhaps you'll explore the towering Cathedral of Saints Catherine and Maurice, or the funky, cone-shaped Jahrtausendturm (Millenium Tower), which contains exhibits depicting a 6,000-year span of human history.

    Tonight, you'll enjoy dinner onboard, followed by a festive Discovery Series event, where you'll be introduced to Glühwein—a warm, mulled wine.

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    Explore the town center of Torgaue

    After a morning of sailing and lunch onboard, you'll arrive in Wittenberg, where you'll disembark for an included tour of this twelfth-century city.

    Officially known as Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the cradle of the Protestant Reformation is best known as the place where Martin Luther lived, preached, and began his philosophical dispute with the Catholic Church. You’ll see Wittenberg’s oldest surviving structure—the twin-towered Stadtkirche (Town Church) and visit the most important landmarks in the history of Protestantism, including the Augustinian Monastery where Martin Luther first became a Catholic priest and later lived with his family following his excommunication.

    Your tour will also take you to the All Saints’ Schlosskirche (Castle Church) where the theologian first posted his 95 Theses criticizing the Catholic Church’s practice of selling “indulgences” (Pope-sanctioned absolution for any sin). As an academic who taught theology at the University of Wittenberg, Luther's posting followed a typical convention to challenge local church authorities to a theological debate. However, the Bishop never responded and, by the time Luther’s 95 Theses reached Rome, the document had been seen all over Europe. Due to his continuing theological criticism of the papacy, Luther was  declared a heretic. He escaped arrest and returned to Wittenberg in secret, where he developed the tenets of Lutheranism and forever changed the course of Christian history.

    You'll have the remainder of the afternoon to explore more of Wittenberg and its Christmas Markets on your own.

    Afterward, you'll embark your river ship and enjoy dinner onboard.

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    After breakfast, you’ll join a local family in their home for a special Home-Hosted Visit, featuring an enjoyable taste of German hospitality and culture.

    Then you'll return to your ship to relax and enjoy a leisurely afternoon of sailing. Perhaps you'll venture to the Sun Deck for panoramic views of the Elbe, marveling at its fertile plains and ancient edifices dotting the riverbank.

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    Discover the remarkable city of Dresden

    While it’s often called the “cradle of Saxony,” Meissen is internationally known for the high-end porcelain of the same name, which has been produced there for more than 300 years. After enjoying breakfast this morning, you'll disembark to visit the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory—Europe’s first and oldest continuously running porcelain maker—to learn about its five-stage production process.

    Johann Friedrich Bottger, a purported alchemist who had been unable to create gold for Augustus II, may have saved his own life when he instead presented his porcelain recipe in 1709. Though it’s unlikely that Bottger devised the recipe himself, it was regarded as “white gold” by the monarch, who opened the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory. Prior to this, all porcelain in Europe was imported from China. They began with simple tableware and quickly expanded into a range of exquisitely hand-painted products, ranging from figures to clocks.

    After your tour, your Program Director will lead a walking tour encompassing Meissen's historic market square, Renaissance architecture, and Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). Enjoy a scenic sail to Dresden this evening.

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    Discover the scenic view from atop the Bastei sandstone bridge

    Today, immerse yourself in the remarkable city of Dresden. A flourishing artistic center until the rise of the Nazis, it was completely destroyed during World War II. Writer Kurt Vonnegut, himself a survivor of the controversial air raids that leveled the Baroque city, chronicled the events in Slaughterhouse-Five. Dresden has since risen from the ashes and been rebuilt from the ground up—reclaiming its place as one of Germany’s intellectual and cultural hubs.

    You’ll begin your morning onboard by meeting with a local resident who will describe what Christmas was like both before and after Germany's reunification. Then you'll enjoy an included tour of the city’s historic sights, including the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), Residenzschloss (Dresden Castle), the spectacular 18th-century Baroque Zwinger Palace, and the Semper Opera House—set in a large, public square along the banks of the Elbe.

    After an included lunch, you'll have the afternoon to make your own discoveries. Not to be missed is Striezelmarkt, Germany's oldest Christmas Market, which dates to AD 1434. Located in the historic city center with more than 250 open-air stalls, it's known for its giant Christmas tree, tiered candle pyramid, and authentic atmosphere. Beside Stollen, the Christmas cake for which this market was named, you can also find Pflaumentoffel, or traditional "plum devil" prune figurines.

    This evening, you'll enjoy dinner onboard.

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    Encounter scenic views while cruising along the Elbe River

    Spend the day exploring Dresden at your own pace.

    Or, join us for an optional tour of Seiffen, the "Christmas toy capital of Germany." Well-known for its woodcarving industry, the town is home to shops and workshops displaying the wooden crafts of local artisans. During your tour of Seiffen, you'll stop at the wooden toy workshop for a guided tour, and you'll visit the Toy Museum, where you'll witness some of the famous wooden toys the area is known for—especially its nutcrackers.

    This evening, your final night onboard, join your fellow travelers for a Captain’s Farewell Drink, followed by a Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

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    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or begin your post-trip extension to either Prague, Czech Republic, or Poland: Wroclaw & Warsaw.

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    Depart today on your flight to Dresden, Germany.

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    Depending on your departure city, you will arrive in Dresden either this morning or afternoon. A Grand Circle representative will meet you at the airport and assist you to your private Grand Circle river ship.

    Those who arrive this morning may take a vicinity walk with your Program Director, and enjoy a light lunch around noontime.

    Meet your fellow Grand Circle travelers this evening—including those joining us after their pre-trip extension to either Prague, Czech Republic, or Poland: Wroclaw & Warsaw—during a Welcome Briefing and dinner onboard.

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    View the Charles Bridge while exploring Prague

    Today, immerse yourself in the remarkable city of Dresden. A flourishing artistic center until the rise of the Nazis, it was completely destroyed during World War II. Writer Kurt Vonnegut, himself a survivor of the controversial air raids that leveled the Baroque city, chronicled the events in Slaughterhouse-Five. Dresden has since risen from the ashes and been rebuilt from the ground up—reclaiming its place as one of Germany’s intellectual and cultural hubs.

    You’ll enjoy an included tour of the city’s historic sights, including the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), Residenzschloss (Dresden Castle), the spectacular 18th-century Baroque Zwinger Palace, and the Semper Opera House—set in a large, public square along the banks of the Elbe.

    After an included lunch, you'll have the afternoon to make your own discoveries. Not to be missed is Striezelmarkt, Germany's oldest Christmas Market, which dates to AD 1434. Located in the historic city center with more than 250 open-air stalls, it's known for its giant Christmas tree, tiered candle pyramid, and authentic atmosphere. Beside stollen, the Christmas cake for which this market was named, you can also find pflaumentoffel, or traditional "plum devil" prune figurines.

    This evening, you'll enjoy dinner onboard.

  • hidden

    Encounter scenic views while cruising along the Elbe River

    Spend the day exploring Dresden at your own pace.

    Or, join us for an optional tour of Seiffen, the "Christmas toy capital of Germany." Well-known for its woodcarving industry, the town is home to shops and workshops displaying the wooden crafts of local artisans. During your tour of Seiffen, you'll stop at the wooden toy workshop for a guided tour, and you'll visit to the Toy Museum, where you'll witness some of the famous wooden toys the area is known for—especially its nutcrackers.

    This evening, you'll enjoy dinner onboard.

  • hidden

    Discover the scenic view from atop the Bastei sandstone bridge

    While it’s often called the “cradle of Saxony,” Meissen is internationally known for the high-end porcelain of the same name, which has been produced there for more than 300 years. After enjoying breakfast and scenic sailing this morning, you'll disembark to visit the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory—Europe’s first and oldest continuously running porcelain maker—to learn about its five-stage production process.

    Johann Friedrich Bottger, a purported alchemist who had been unable to create gold for Augustus II, may have saved his own life when he presented the porcelain recipe in 1709. Though it’s unlikely that Bottger devised the recipe himself, it was regarded as “white gold” by the monarch, who opened the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory. Prior to this, all porcelain in Europe was imported from China. They began with simple tableware and quickly expanded into a range of exquisitely hand-painted products, ranging from figures to clocks.

    After your tour, your Program Director will lead a walking tour encompassing Meissen's historic market square, Renaissance architecture, and Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). Spend the rest of the afternoon exploring more of Meissen—and perhaps, a Christmas Market—at your own pace.

  • hidden

    After breakfast and a morning of scenic sailing, you’ll join a local family in their home for a special Home-Hosted Visit, featuring an enjoyable taste of German hospitality and culture.

    Then you'll return to your ship for dinner, and you may join a discussion on Christmas before and after Germany's reunification.

  • hidden

    View the famous porcelain produced in Meissen

    This morning, you'll disembark in Wittenberg, where you'll enjoy an included tour of this twelfth-century city.

    Officially known as Lutherstadt Wittenberg, the cradle of the Protestant Reformation is best known as the place where Martin Luther lived, preached, and began his philosophical dispute with the Catholic Church. You’ll see Wittenberg’s oldest surviving structure—the twin-towered Stadtkirche (“Town Church”) and visit the most important landmarks in the history of Protestantism, including the Augustinian Monastery where Martin Luther first became a Catholic priest and later lived with his family following his excommunication.

    Your tour will also take you to the All Saints’ Schlosskirche (“Castle Church”) where the theologian first posted his 95 Theses criticizing the Catholic Church’s practice of selling “indulgences” (Pope-sanctioned absolution for any sin). As an academic who taught theology at the University of Wittenberg, Luther used a typical means of challenging local church authorities to a theological debate. However, the Bishop never responded and, by the time Luther’s 95 Theses reached Rome, the document had been seen all over Europe. Due to his continuing theological criticism of the papacy, Luther was officially declared a heretic and effectively sentenced to death. He escaped arrest and returned to Wittenberg in secret, where he developed the tenets of Lutheranism and forever changed the course of Christian history.

    You'll have the remainder of the morning to explore more of Wittenburg and its Christmas Markets on your own.

    Early this afternoon, your ship cruises to Magdeburg, docking just before you enjoy dinner onboard. Afterward, you'll be invited to join a festive Discovery Series event, where you'll be introduced to glühwein—a warm, mulled wine.

  • hidden

    Explore the town center of Torgaue

    After breakfast, you’ll transfer to Quedlinburg via motorcoach, where you'll enjoy an included tour of this town that dates back to AD 922. You’ll traverse its medieval old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of quaint half-timbered houses from as early as the 16th century. Looking up, you'll witness a striking skyline, as it’s dominated by a Romanesque castle perched on a sandstone cliff.

    After an included lunch, you'll return to Magdeburg. You can spend the afternoon relaxing onboard or go exploring in this medieval town, which was founded by Charlemagne in AD 805. Perhaps you'll explore the towering Cathedral of Saints Catherine and Maurice, or the funky, cone-shaped Jahrtausendturm (Millenium Tower), which contains exhibits depicting a 6,000-year span of human history.

    This evening, your final night onboard, join your fellow travelers for a Captain’s Farewell Drink, followed by a Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

  • hidden

    Discover the twelfth century city of Wittenberg

    After breakfast this morning, you'll disembark your ship and transfer to Potsdam, where you'll have free time to explore the city's Christmas Markets. You'll find vendors dressed in medieval garb at the Bohemian Market, pierogis on offer at the Polish Market, and Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) and his helpers at the Dutch Market, amongst others.

    Following lunch in a local restaurant, you'll transfer to Berlin where you'll check into your hotel. Get acquainted with the surrounding area during a vicinity walk with your Program Director, and then you'll have the evening to relax and enjoy dinner on your own.

  • hidden

    Discover half timbered buildings in Tangermunde

    This morning, after an included breakfast at your hotel, it’s time to set out for an included city tour of Berlin.

    The second-largest urban area in Europe, Berlin is an enormous city, but most of its most iconic sites are relatively close together. Divided at the end of World War II, blockaded by the Soviets during the Cold War, riven by a cruel grey wall, and finally delivered by the sledgehammers of freedom fighters, Berlin is once again a united city. The city’s lakes and forests provide bucolic retreats in an urban setting, while the city’s divided history has led to a truly unique collection of architectural styles. In the old Soviet sector of the city, keep your eyes open for extant Ampelmannchen, the “little traffic light man” who adorned East German traffic lights. The Reichstag, site of the final defense of the Third Reich, was rebuilt after World War II and now features an enormous glass sphere, emphasizing the transparency and openness of the new Germany. Like so much of Berlin, the future and past are inextricably mixed.

    After lunch on your own, use your new-found knowledge of Berlin to explore the city at your own pace this afternoon. Perhaps you'll enjoy a ride to the glass dome at the top of the Reichstag, take a walk on the remaining portion of the wall itself, or visit the Olympic stadium where American track-and-field star Jesse Owens incensed Hitler by winning four gold medals in 1936.

    Or, you may choose to explore one of several nearby Christmas Markets. Berlin's are open at various times throughout the holiday season.Commonly found in town squares, they feature open-air stalls brimming with handcrafts like ornaments and nutcrackers, and scrumptious, local delicacies like lebkuchen, a kind of gingerbread.

    Tonight, dinner will be on your own. Perhaps you'll seek out a restaurant serving roasted goose, a traditional Christmas dish.

  • hidden

    View Cecilienhof Palace on a guided tour

    After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy the day making your own discoveries in Berlin. Perhaps you'll explore Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site conveniently located near the city center. Or maybe you'd like to visit Schloss Charlottenburg, the largest remaining palace in the city.

    Or, join us for Another Look at Berlin, an optional tour that will take you through several of Berlin's newly emerging neighborhoods. You'll be introduced to Kreuzberg—at one time, one of the poorest boroughs in West Berlin—which is now thriving, and attracting a wave of young residents. You'll also visit two up-and-coming East Berlin territories: Friedrichschain, with its grand boulevard, the Karl-Marx-Allee; and Prenzlauer Berg, where gentrification is taking place amidst a setting of more than 300 historical, protected buildings. Other highlights include delving deeper into Mitte, Berlin's historical city center; visiting an abandoned, underground "ghost station"; and meeting with a former watch tower guard.

    Tonight, cap off your last night in Berlin by joining your fellow travelers for a Farewell Drink, followed by a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    • Meals included:
    See Checkpoint Charlie while exploring Berlin

    After breakfast, you'll transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or begin your post-trip extension to Hamburg, Germany.

Extensions

Traveler Reviews

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Striving for Excellence

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Our #1 commitment is delivering the best travel experience at the best value, so we take feedback from our travelers seriously as we strive to improve what we do. And one of the best ways for us to measure how travelers have rated our trips—including their experiences and the value we offer—is from our post-trip surveys, sent in by travelers.

Ratings based on percentage of travelers who rated these features "Excellent".

Ship Excellence
96%
Program Director Excellence
95%
Overall Trip Excellence
83%
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Weather & Regional

Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region of the world you'll discover on this trip. From weather and currency information to details on population, geography, and local history, you'll find a comprehensive introduction to your destinations below.

Visit our “What to Know” page to find information about the level of activity to expect, vaccination information resources, and visa requirements specific to this vacation.

What to Know

For more detailed information about this trip, download our Travel Handbook below. This document covers a wide range of information on specific areas of your trip, from passport, visa, and medical requirements; to the currencies of the countries you’ll visit and the types of electrical outlets you’ll encounter. This handbook is written expressly for this itinerary. For your convenience, we've highlighted our travelers' most common areas of interest on this page.

Download the Travel Handbook

What to Expect

  • This program features a fair amount of walking over uneven surfaces. The M/S River Allegro does not have an elevator onboard. For your comfort and safety, we recommend this trip only to individuals in good physical condition. If you have difficulty walking or are wheelchair-bound, please ask your Travel Counselor about choosing another Grand Circle vacation.
  • We reserve the right for our Program Directors to modify participation, or in some circumstances send travelers home if their limitations are impacting the group’s experience.
  • Throughout our River Cruise season, and particularly on the Elbe River, weather conditions affect European river depths, and water levels may require adjustments to your itinerary.
  • Expect cooler temperatures, damper conditions, and occasional icy surfaces.
  • Christmas Markets are likely to be quite crowded. Many of the local vendors at the craft stalls do not speak English, and you cannot use credit cards or U.S. dollars to make purchases at this market.
  • Many shops, museums, and other sites are closed after 1pm on Dec 24, all day on Dec 25 and 26, and on Jan 1. The sequence of events on your trip may be adjusted to reflect this.
  • In some ports, the local Christmas Markets do not open until Dec 5.

Travel Documents

Passport

Your passport should meet these requirements for this itinerary

  • It should be valid for at least 6 months after your scheduled return to the U.S.
  • It should have the recommended number of blank pages (refer to the handbook for details).
  • The blank pages must be labeled “Visas” at the top. Pages labeled “Amendments and Endorsements” are not acceptable.

Visas

U.S. citizens do not need a visa for this trip.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, do not travel with a U.S. passport, or will be traveling independently before/after this trip, then your entry requirements may be different. Please check with the appropriate embassy or a visa servicing company. To contact our recommended visa servicing company, PVS International, call toll-free at 1-800-556-9990.

Vaccinations Information

For a detailed and up-to-date list of vaccinations that are recommended for this trip, please visit the CDC’s “Traveler’s Health” website. You can also refer to the handbook for details.

Before Your Trip

Before you leave on your vacation, there are at least four health-related things you should do. Please check the handbook for specifics, but for now, here’s the short list:

Step 1: Check with the CDC for their recommendations for the countries you’ll be visiting.
Step 2: Have a medical checkup with your doctor.
Step 3: Pick up any necessary medications, both prescription and over-the-counter.
Step 4: Have a dental and/or eye checkup. (Recommended, but less important than steps 1-3.)

What to Bring

In an effort to help you bring less, we have included checklists within the handbook, which have been compiled from suggestions by Program Directors and former travelers. The lists are only jumping-off points—they offer recommendations based on experience, but not requirements. You might also want to refer to the climate charts in the handbook or online weather forecasts before you pack. Refer to the handbook for details.

Accommodations

Main Trip

  • M/S River Allegro

    The M/S River Allegro was ranked #3 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll.

    While aboard, you’ll enjoy leisure time in the bar and lounge, library, and Sun Deck. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in select common areas. Wireless Internet access is not available in cabins and connectivity is limited in certain locations on River Cruise itineraries. Your cabin features a flat-screen TV, radio, direct-dial telephone, individual heating and air-conditioning controls, twin beds that convert to sofas, and private bath with shower and hair dryer.

SEE THE ENTIRE GRAND CIRCLE FLEET

Main Trip

  • Park Inn Berlin

    Berlin, Germany | Rating: First Class

    Featuring a modern aesthetic with international flair, the First-Class Park Inn is conveniently located in the heart of Berlin, just a short walk from the Alexanderplatz metro station and sites including Museum Island and Brandenburg Gate. Amenities include three restaurants, a salon, and fitness center with spa. Each of the 1,012 rooms features a refrigerator, flat-screen TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, and private bath with hair dryer.

Extensions

  • Radisson Blu Hamburg

    Hamburg, Germany | Rating: Moderate Deluxe

    Located in Hamburg City Center, Hamburg's tallest hotel, the Moderate Deluxe Radisson Blu is also one of its greenest: certified eco-friendly by an international panel. The Radisson Blu is centrally located next to botanical gardens, the convention center, and public transportation. Your air-conditioned room includes a flat-screen TV, complimentary Internet access, safe, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Park Inn Prague

    Prague, Czech Republic | Rating: Superior First Class

    Nestled between medieval buildings, the Superior First-Class Park Inn Prague is located just a short walk from the Vltava River and local, historic sites. The updated Art Deco hotel is also convenient to public transportation and features an on-site bar, restaurant, and gym. Your air-conditioned room includes a flat-screen TV with satellite cable, minibar, Internet access, safe, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Radisson Blu Wroclaw

    Wroclaw, Poland | Rating: Superior First Class

    Located in a quiet neighborhood adjacent to Slowacki Park, the Superior First-Class Radisson Blu is just a short walk from Wroclaw's energetic downtown, including Dominikanski Square and the Old Market Square. Spend your nights in one of its 162 air-conditioned rooms, each featuring coffee- and tea-making facilities, minibar, and private bath. In your free time, perhaps you'll visit the hotel's spa, or dine at Aquarelle, the on-site restaurant.

  • The Westin Warsaw

    Warsaw, Poland | Rating: Deluxe

    Located in the heart of the city, the Deluxe Westin Warsaw is within walking distance of Warsaw's Old Town, Market Square, and many verdant parks. Hotel amenities include a fitness center, spa, and restaurant, featuring international cuisine. Each air-conditioned room includes satellite TV, telephone, safe, and private bath.

Flight Information

Flight Options to Personalize Your Trip

You can choose to stay longer before or after your trip on your own, or combine two vacations to maximize your value.

  • Extend your vacation and lower your per day cost with our optional pre- and post-trip excursions
  • Choose our standard air routing, or work with us to select the airline and routing you prefer
  • Make your own international flight arrangements directly with the airline, applying frequent flyer miles if available
  • International airport transfers to and from your ship or hotel, including meet and greet service, are available for purchase
  • Stay overnight in a connecting city before or after your trip
  • Request to arrive a few days early to get a fresh start on your vacation
  • Choose to "break away" before or after your trip, spending additional days or weeks on your own
  • Combine your choice of Grand Circle Cruise Line vacations to maximize your value
  • Upgrade to business or premium class

The air options listed above will involve an additional fee of $100 per person for confirmed requests (as well as incremental airfare costs based on your specific choice).

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $1495
w/ standard air $2795
Approximate travel times

SAVE a FULL 10% on November-December departures—
a value of up to $700 per couple. Reserve by 3/17/14.

Simply reserve any November-December departure of Christmas Markets Along the Elbe by March 17, 2014 and pay in full by check or electronic funds transfer within 14 days of making your reservation.* No matter when you depart, you'll save a full 10% off your cruise, cabin and deck upgrades, air add-ons, and pre- and post-trip extension price—reserve early for your best choice.

This example demonstrates how you can save, based on a 11/25/14 departure:

  ORIGINAL PRICE
per person
YOUR PRICE
when you pay in full by 3/17/14
River Cruise only price: $1495 $1345
Add a 5-night Warsaw and Wroclaw extension: $795 $715
Add international airfare out of New York: $1200 $1080
Total price per person $3490 $3140

Maximize your value by using the money you save for a cabin upgrade or optional trip extension

Call Now 1-800-221-2610

Elbe Christmas Markets: Something for All

Experiencing the season in the birthplace of Christmas traditions

by Carley D. Thornell, Grand Circle Boston associate

... Each Christmas market along the Elbe River is a reflection into the life and history of German people and customs.

From the smells of gingerbread and Glühwein to the warm and convivial atmosphere of your fellow travelers and locals celebrating timeless family traditions, each Christmas market along the Elbe River is a reflection into the life and history of German people and customs. The birthplace of yule traditions and O Tannenbaum—a festive melody brought to life by choruses performing before countless open-air stalls bedecked in fragrant greenery—the cities and towns along this central European waterway have some of the world’s oldest holiday traditions. Whether in Germany’s capital or in quaint cities, each market is like an Advent calendar; there’s a window waiting to be opened each day, a surprise awaiting you around every bend of the Elbe.

Dresden

No holiday visit to Dresden would be complete without sampling Stollen, the fruit cake for which Germany’s oldest Christmas market, Striezelmarkt, is named. First held in 1434, Striezelmarkt—which comes from the old name for Stollen (Strüzel or Stroczel)—features more than 250 stalls, where you’ll undoubtedly be tempted to delight those at the top of your shopping list with one of the locally crafted wooden ornaments or red-coated nutcrackers for which the region is famed. A special sight is the 50-foot-tall Weihnachtspyramide, or Christmas Pyramid, a tiered wooden decoration with a propeller whose motion is controlled by heat rising from the lit candles below.

Berlin

Germany’s capital celebrates the holiday season with markets across the city. One of the most famous—and largest—is at Charlottenberg Palace, which includes tours of the ornate interior, a light show, myriad musical acts, and festival rides. There’s also Winterwelt (Winter World) market with a toboggan slide and ice rink; Lucia market (named for the Nordic goddess of light), dedicated to Scandinavian traditions; and made-in-Berlin “green” gifts at the Sophienstrasse “eco” market. For something outside the Christmas gift box, there’s even a Hannukah market, featuring lamps, dreidels, and specialty foods.

Potsdam

Besides Potsdam’s most famous markets, like those in Old Town and at the Crown Estate, locals enjoy visiting three unique international markets. Enjoy colorful delights at the Bohemian market, where vendors and visitors dress in medieval clothes, reflecting the region’s ties to the weaving industry; sample Pierogi at Sternenmarkt, the Polish Market, which features myriad choir and classical performances; and enjoy a visit from Jolly Old St. Nick when the Dutch Christmas Market Sinterklaas is in season. Dressed in the traditional bishop garment, he enters not by sleigh but by ship, reflecting the Netherlands’ naval heritage.

Wittenberg

As one of Christianity’s most influential leaders, it’s apropos that theologian Martin Luther (in monument form) watches over Wittenberg town square’s cheerful holiday proceedings. Bedecked in traditional Dirndls and Lederhosen, German teens often make a market visit a group outing, and seeing them is just one of Christmastime’s many delights. Perhaps you’ll sample Lebkuchen here, a baked treat similar to gingerbread that can not only be eaten, but given as decorations. There are many varieties, and one of the more crisp varieties is often used to make hearts inscribed with holiday greetings—or inscribed to a sweetheart, for a German holiday Valentine.

Holiday cheers!

Nearly every country in Europe with holiday markets have regional recipes for Glühwein—fragrant mulled wine with various combinations of fruit and spices like aniseed, cinnamon, and clove—but perhaps nowhere is this steamy beverage more popular than Germany. Though red wine is usually featured, vendors at German Christmas markets often feature the Rieslings for which the country is famed. More adventurous sippers can also try Feuerzangenbowle, in which a burning, rum-soaked sugarloaf slowly melts into your cup. You can rent filled mugs at market stalls, and receive a “security deposit” back when it’s empty. Or, do as the locals do, and collect the cups (which usually feature the markets’ names or logos) to remember special times with friends and family.