Print

Day by Day Itinerary

Cruise through history along the scenic Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers, where medieval architecture beckons from every riverbank ... time-honored wine-making traditions abound at hillside vineyards ... and landscapes seem to spring from the canvases of centuries-old masterworks. As you journey to the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria, you'll get a taste of local culture both onboard and off—like during an Apfelstrudel baking lesson in the ship's kitchen, and while savoring a Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch in Wertheim, Germany. This value-packed European River Cruise has reigned as our most popular trip for more than a decade—we hope you'll see why when you join us.

  • hidden

    Depart today on your flight to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.

  • hidden

    Discover houses and boats along a canal in Amsterdam

    Arrive today in Amsterdam. You are met at the airport by a Grand Circle representative and transferred to the pier to embark your river ship.

    Enjoy a light lunch onboard and time before dinner to relax after your flight, or do some exploring on your own. Amsterdam is a thoroughly modern city that has taken extraordinary measures to retain its Old World charm and historical significance. The narrow Dutch houses with their tidy window boxes and hand-scrubbed stoops and sidewalks will charm you. The city is easy to get around in and explore on your own. You may want to spend time in Dam Square, the heart of the city. This is the spot where the Amstel River once flowed. Due to flooding caused by high river tides, a dam was built—thus, the square’s name. Or relax and do some people-watching in Rembrandt and Leidse squares.

    During your European River Cruise, whenever you approach a new port or town, you’ll receive a briefing about the area prior to arrival so you can make the best use of your free time. These are called "port talks."

    Tonight, you'll gather for your first Ship Briefing, and you'll be joined by those travelers who took the pre-trip extension to Bruges, Belgium. Then get better acquainted with your Program Director and travel companions over a Welcome Drink, followed by dinner.

  • hidden

    View five passengers enjoying a cruise down an Amsterdam canal

    After breakfast, join us for a boat tour introducing you to Amsterdam’s illustrious canals, providing a matchless perspective of the city’s architectural achievements. You'll also see the Anne Frank House, where the famous diarist wrote Het Achterhuis, or The Diary of a Young Girl, while in hiding from the Nazis. A walk in downtown Amsterdam will follow, and you'll have free time to explore on your own.

    After returning onboard for lunch, the ship will begin its cruise on the Rhine River towards Germany. You're invited to join your Program Director for an Orientation Briefing about your upcoming trip (during which you will have the opportunity to purchase optional tours).

    This evening, meet your crew and fellow travelers at the Captain's Welcome Drink and Dinner.

  • hidden

    This morning, your ship will continue sailing toward Germany. 

    You'll arrive in Cologne after an onboard lunch, and you'll disembark for an included walking tour. Cologne was a Roman settlement called Colonia Agrippina after AD 50 and came under Frankish control in the fifth century. You can still see the ruins of Roman temples scattered throughout the city, including the Roman Gate near the cathedral, once part of the medieval town walls. During the 15th century, the city flourished as a member of the Hanseatic League.

    View a few passengers enjoying their time in Cologne Germany

    Your tour will end at Cologne’s magnificent Gothic cathedral—the Dom. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral largely escaped the World War II damage that ravaged the city and the rest of Germany. There’s evidence that Allied forces had orders to avoid damaging this beautiful structure. It is the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, boasting beautiful stained-glass windows, an ornate gold shrine on its elaborate altar, and the intricate detail common to 14th-century Gothic churches.

    The rest of the afternoon is yours to spend at leisure or to continue your explorations. You may want to go inside the cathedral, or perhaps explore the Roman Germanic Museum to see its magnificent mosaic floor, discovered in the ruins of a Roman villa.

    Share your day's experiences over dinner onboard tonight.

  • hidden

    View a few passengers enjoying their tour of Koblenz Germany

    This morning, enjoy a walking tour of Koblenz, set at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Originally established as an outpost of the Roman Empire and named Castellum apud Confluentes, the town became a city in the 13th century and served as a haven for French refugees during the French Revolution. During your tour, you'll see the highlights of the Old Town. After your tour, you'll have free time to explore on your own before returning to your ship for lunch.

    You'll then continue sailing toward Rudesheim. En route, you'll pass Lorelei, a large rock rising 440 feet above the river. Since the time of Ancient Greece, there have been legends of sirens, women-creatures who lure sailors to their death with sweet songs. Ancient Germanic legend places one such siren (Lorelei) here, and it is said she enticed sailors to destruction below the rock.

    Upon arrival in Rudesheim, you'll disembark for an included dinner featuring traditional folk music at a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    View a beautiful bridge in Heidelberg Germany

    Disembark in Frankfurt, where the morning is yours to enjoy on your own; or, you may transfer by motorcoach for a full-day included tour of Heidelberg. You begin by touring the impressive ruins of the city’s Gothic castle where you’ll have an expansive view of the surrounding area. Your tour continues with a walk in the city.

    From here, you’ll enjoy lunch in a traditional Gasthaus that has been part of Heidelberg’s Old Town for centuries. After some free time to make discoveries on your own, you return to the ship in time for dinner onboard.

  • hidden

    View a few passengers enjoying their tour of Wertheim Germany

    As you cruise, enjoy a glassblowing demonstration.

    Then you'll disembark midmorning for a walking tour of Wertheim, a charming fairy-tale town located at the meeting of the Main and Tauber rivers. Admire the imposing ruins of its castle, set on a hill overlooking the town.

    Enjoy the rest of the morning exploring Wertheim on your own. You may want to climb the stairs to the castle and follow the trail around the castle walls. Or you could visit the renowned Glass Museum in Wertheim, where exhibitions trace the history of glassblowing and showcase many exquisite pieces, from classical to contemporary.

    In the early afternoon, you'll visit with a local family and share coffee and cake with your hosts. This is a great opportunity to experience what life is like for a typical family in this section of Europe.

  • hidden

    View a group of passengers at Residenz in Wurzburg Germany

    Early this morning, your ship will set off from Wertheim as your European River Cruise continues.

    This afternoon, we’ll dock in Wurzburg, a city on the Main River in Bavaria. Founded in the tenth century, Wurzburg was home to several powerful prince-bishops for many centuries.

    We’ll enjoy an informative walk here. Perhaps you'll view the Residenz, commissioned by prince-bishop brothers Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Karl von Schönborn. The complex was almost completely destroyed during World War II, but has since been rebuilt to its original grandeur prior to the war.

  • hidden

    View a beautiful village on Main River in Schweinfurt Germany

    Spend the day on the water as we cruise the Main River and sail into Schweinfurt this afternoon.

    Or, disembark during a stop in Gerlachshausen for an optional tour of Rothenburg. This lovely old town sits on the Tauber River and boasts undamaged 14th-century city walls and beautifully preserved fortifications.

    During your walking tour, you’ll see stately towers and imposing burghers’ houses. After an included lunch, you have the afternoon free to make your own discoveries in this charming town before transferring to meet the ship in Schweinfurt.

  • hidden

    Explore Old Town Hall in the city of Bamberg Germany

    Go ashore this morning for a walking tour of Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded in AD 902. Bamberg began to prosper in the twelfth century and was the center of southern Germany’s Enlightenment in the late 18th century. The great German philosopher Hegel lived here, and Bamberg was the second city (after Mainz) to introduce book-printing.

    Today, Bamberg boasts 2,000 buildings listed as historical monuments, and its old city center is Europe’s largest existing group of historic buildings. The city was awarded the title of “World Cultural and Natural Heritage of Mankind” by UNESCO in 1993. After your tour, you have some free time to explore Bamberg on your own before returning to the ship for lunch.

    This afternoon, you'll set sail for Nuremberg. En route, your ship will enter the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, and your Program Director will tell you about the construction and history of this engineering marvel. Please note: During the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal transit, it may be necessary for the Captain to close the Sun Deck because of low-standing bridges.

  • hidden

    View a group of travelers in front of a beautiful fountain in Nuremberg Germany

    This morning, you'll disembark for an included tour of Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second-largest city and the most important city in Franconia, with a local guide. Once the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, Nuremberg evokes its exalted past with its imposing medieval Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle). However, its more recent history is intricately linked to its role in World War II.

    During your included tour here, you’ll visit the Zeppelin Field where the Nazi party held rallies for up to 100,000 spectators. The rally grounds were designed by Hitler’s chief architect, Albert Speer, who went down in history as “the Nazi who said sorry” during the Nuremberg Trials. You’ll learn more about the trials during an included tour of Room 600, the courtroom in which the hearings took place.

    After lunch onboard, you may choose to relax or take advantage of our shuttle bus that will bring you into town. There, you might explore the Documentation Center, which offers a sobering look at the causes, context, and consequences of the National Socialist reign of terror.

    Or take time to explore Nuremberg's Old Town on your own. Nuremberg was devastated by bombs during the war. Afterward, much of the city was rebuilt and its Old World charm was painstakingly restored. Today, the city thrives as a bustling industrial and commercial center.

    Dinner is served onboard the ship this evening.

  • hidden

    This morning, we sail to Kelheim. You can enjoy leisure activities aboard ship.

    Or, delve deeper into the Danube's scenic splendor this morning during our optional Bavaria: Baroque & Beer excursion. In Kelheim, you'll board a ferry for a ride through the beautiful Danube Gorge, Donaudurchbruch, the river’s narrowest and deepest stretch. From your ship’s outdoor deck, you'll enjoy up-close views of towering Jurassic-era limestone cliffs as you wend your way along this scenic passage.

    View a beautiful bridge in Regensburg Germany

    Then you'll arrive at the Weltenburg Monastery, a Baroque construction of stucco, polished marble, gilt, and painted ceilings. There, you have the opportunity to reflect in the cool stillness of the abbey—Germany's oldest, founded at the beginning of the seventh century by the Abbot Eustasius. The compound also houses the oldest monastery brewery in the world. Here, visitors have enjoyed its famous dark brew for nearly 1,000 years. You’ll then transfer by motorcoach to Regensburg, where the ship has cruised to meet you.

    After lunch onboard, enjoy a walking tour of Regensburg, Germany’s largest medieval city. Since the historic city center was undamaged during World War II, it remains beautifully preserved.

    Your tour features the Old Town Hall and the famous Stone Bridge (Germany’s oldest bridge), constructed during the twelfth century. You also see soaring St. Peter’s Cathedral, a Gothic church adorned with beautiful stained glass. Admire the narrow medieval streets and the relics of Regensburg’s Roman past at the ruins of Castra Regina fort—the Porta Praetoria—containing a stone inscribed in AD 179, when Marcus Aurelius was emperor.

    After your tour, enjoy time to explore on your own.

    Tonight, just before dinner, join a shipboard discussion on Germany Today that relates to the great political, social, and cultural changes that have swept the country in recent years.

  • hidden

    View St. Steven's Cathedral and Danube River in Passau Germany

    After breakfast, you'll enjoy a walking tour of Passau, situated at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz, and Inn rivers. Called the Dreifluessestadt (City on Three Rivers), Passau is an elegant town that has served as a German cultural and intellectual hub for centuries.  

    Your tour includes a visit to the Dom, the lavish St. Stephen's Cathedral. This magnificent 17th-century cathedral contains one of the world’s largest pipe organs, with 17,774 pipes and 234 resounding stops. While the cathedral underwent a 17th-century reconstruction in the grand Baroque style, its original Gothic plan is still evident. One of its most striking features is the gorgeous octagonal dome that hovers over the intersection of the nave, where the congregation sits, and the transept, which runs perpendicular to it.

    Then the afternoon is yours to make your own discoveries. Perhaps you'll visit the impressive Bishop’s Residenz, the 14th-century Town Hall.

    Our evening cruise carries us into Austria, the third country on our itinerary. Join your traveling companions for a cocktail, toasting the close of your cruising days with this group. Then, the crew bids you an official adieu at the Captain’s Farewell Dinner, as the ship cruises toward Melk.

  • hidden

    View some passengers aboard a boat enjoying a cruise down a river in Melk

    You arrive at Melk early in the morning. From your ship, you'll be able to see the formidable Melk Abbey as it rises up from the surrounding countryside along the Danube. After breakfast, you can disembark to explore the town on your own.

    Or, you may choose to join an optional excursion to the dramatic 900-year-old Baroque abbey. This magnificently ornate structure has a long and storied history. Strategically situated on a steep, cliffside perch, Melk Abbey's earliest incarnation was as a Roman border post. Later, it served as a tenth-century Babenberg fortress. It became a Benedictine monastery in 1089 and earned a distinguished reputation for medieval scholarship. Its library includes more than 70,000 books and 2,000 manuscripts, chiefly from the ninth through the 15th centuries.

    Umberto Eco, author of the well-known book The Name of the Rose, a murder mystery of monastic intrigue, was inspired by the grandeur of Melk Abbey. Heinrich von Melk, a Benedictine brother from Melk Abbey who wrote the ironic poem "About Priestly Life," is one of the novel's main characters. The novel contains a great deal of scholarly information about the Middle Ages (Eco is known primarily as a scholar) and the compelling politics of medieval religion. The book's setting is fictional, but the story climaxes with a devastating fire that mirrors the real history of Melk Abbey, which was ravaged by fires in 1297 and 1683. The stately Baroque edifice that stands today, with its twin towers and 208-foot-high dome, dates from its reconstruction in 1736.

    In addition to those thousands of volumes, the Abbey library houses a remarkable collection of cherubs, and 365 windows—one for every day of the year. The interior of the Abbey's church is a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and gold—with a magnificent carved pulpit and shimmering ceiling frescoes. During your tour, you'll get the chance to observe and explore it up close, learning more about Melk Abbey's fascinating story. The cost of this optional tour includes a winetasting in the Abbey's restaurant.

    After setting sail again, your travel on the river takes you through the lovely landscape of the Wachau Valley—past terraced vineyards and lush flowering fields—on your way to Vienna.

    In the early evening, you arrive in Vienna, Austria's capital. Here, you can relax or spend time exploring and dining on your own.

    Or, join us on an optional Musical Vienna tour. Vienna without music wouldn't be Vienna. So, subject to availability of tickets, you can enjoy an unforgettable evening in one of Vienna's famed concert halls. You'll hear enchanting performances of some of the most wonderful melodies of classical Austrian music by professional singers.

  • hidden

    View some passengers aboard a boat enjoying a cruise down a river in Melk

    After breakfast onboard the ship, you'll enjoy a tour of Vienna, including the Ringstrasse, one of the many achievements of the Emperor Franz Joseph. In 1857, the Emperor ordered the demolition of the ancient city walls, which were no longer needed as fortifications and which were impeding the growth of the city. In their place was constructed an elegant 2.5-mile-long boulevard, encircling the Innere Stadt (Vienna's Old Town). The Neo-Classical buildings along the Ringstrasse bring together all the greatest architectural styles in an exuberant celebration of all that seemed possible during the Industrial Revolution.

    Our stroll continues along the city sidewalks, passing by the well-known Imperial Palace, home to many generations of the Habsburg family, and the renowned Spanish Riding School.

    The afternoon is then yours to relax or do some more exploring.

    Later, after dinner onboard, you're free to do as you please this evening. Ask your Program Director for exciting suggestions.

  • hidden

    After breakfast, you'll disembark the ship, and you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight home. Or, you may opt to begin your post-trip extension in Vienna, Austria or Prague, Czech Republic.

  • hidden

    Depart today on your flight to Vienna, Austria. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.

  • hidden

    Explore the Rhine River on a Cruise in Aria Germany

    Arrive today in Vienna. A Grand Circle representative meets you at the airport and helps you transfer to the pier, where you embark your river ship.

    After a light lunch, the balance of the day is free to relax after your overseas flight, or do some exploring on your own in this Austrian capital. You might take a stroll along the Ringstrasse, linger over coffee at a Viennese cafe, spend some time at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or view the artwork and exquisite gardens of the Belvedere Gallery.

    In late afternoon, we gather aboard our river ship.

    Before dinner, join us for a Ship Briefing. Then you have time to get better acquainted with your Program Director and traveling companions—including those travelers who took our pre-trip extensions to Vienna, Austria or Prague, Czech Republic—over a Welcome Drink.

    During your European River Cruise, whenever you approach a new port or town, you’ll receive a briefing about the area prior to arrival so you can make the best use of your free time. These are called "port talks."

    Enjoy your first dinner onboard this evening.

  • hidden

    Explore Vienna during a tour of Europe

    After breakfast onboard the ship, you'll enjoy a tour of Vienna, including the Ringstrasse, one of the many achievements of the Emperor Franz Joseph. In 1857, the Emperor ordered the demolition of the ancient city walls, which were no longer needed as fortifications and which were impeding the growth of the city. In their place was constructed an elegant 2.5-mile-long boulevard, encircling the Innere Stadt (Vienna's Old Town). The Neo-Classical buildings along the Ringstrasse bring together all the greatest architectural styles in an exuberant celebration of all that seemed possible during the Industrial Revolution.

    Our stroll continues along the city sidewalks, passing by the well-known Imperial Palace, home to many generations of the Habsburg family, and the renowned Spanish Riding School.

    The balance of the day is yours to relax or do some more exploring on your own. Tonight, celebrate your voyage at a festive Welcome Dinner.

  • hidden

    As you cruise this morning, your travel on the river takes you through the lovely landscape of the Wachau Valley—past terraced vineyards and lush flowering fields toward Melk. Join your Program Director for an Orientation Briefing about your upcoming trip (during which you will have the opportunity to purchase optional tours).

    As you approach Melk, you can see its formidable abbey as it rises up from the surrounding countryside along the Danube. After an early lunch, you can disembark to explore the town on your own.

    Or, you may join an optional excursion to the dramatic 900-year-old baroque Melk Abbey. This magnificently ornate structure has a long and storied history. Strategically situated on a steep, cliffside perch, Melk Abbey’s earliest incarnation was as a Roman border post. Later, it served as a tenth-century Babenberg fortress. It became a Benedictine monastery in 1089 and earned a distinguished reputation for medieval scholarship. Its library includes more than 70,000 books and 2,000 manuscripts, chiefly from the ninth through the 15th centuries.

    View St. Steven's Cathedral and Danube River in Passau Germany

    Umberto Eco, author of the well-known book The Name of the Rose, a murder mystery of monastic intrigue, was inspired by the grandeur of Melk Abbey. Eco uses Heinrich von Melk, a Benedictine brother from Melk Abbey who wrote the ironic poem “About Priestly Life,” as one of the novel’s main characters. The novel contains a great deal of scholarly information about the Middle Ages (Eco is known primarily as a scholar) and the compelling politics of medieval religion. The book’s setting is fictional, but the story climaxes with a devastating fire that mirrors the real history of Melk Abbey, which was ravaged by fires in 1297 and 1683. The stately Baroque edifice that stands today, with its twin towers and 208-foot-high dome, dates from its reconstruction in 1736.

    In addition to those thousands of volumes, the Abbey library houses a remarkable collection of cherubs, and 365 windows—one for each day of the year. The interior of the abbey’s church is a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and gold—with a magnificent carved pulpit and shimmering ceiling frescoes. The cost of this optional tour includes a wine-tasting event in the abbey’s restaurant.

    Tonight, your ship cruises to Passau.

  • hidden

    View St. Steven's Cathedral and Danube River in Passau Germany

    This morning, you cruise to Passau, situated at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz, and Inn rivers. Called the Dreifluessestadt (City on Three Rivers), Passau is an elegant town that has served as a German cultural and intellectual hub for centuries.

    After breakfast, you'll enjoy an included German language lesson onboard.

    You'll then disembark for a walking tour of the city, which includes a visit to the Dom, the twin-towered St. Stephen’s Cathedral. This magnificent 17th-century cathedral contains one of the world’s largest pipe organs, with 17,774 pipes and 234 resounding stops. While the cathedral underwent a 17th-century reconstruction in the grand Baroque style, its original Gothic plan is still evident. One of its most striking features is the gorgeous octagonal dome that hovers over the intersection of the nave, where the congregation sits, and the transept, which runs perpendicular to it.

    After lunch, you have leisure time to explore more of Passau on your own. Later this afternoon you are invited to a shipboard discussion on Germany Today that relates to the great political, social, and cultural changes that have swept the country in recent years.

    After you set out on the river again, relax over dinner and join in this evening’s onboard activities. The ship cruises through the night on its way to your next port-of-call.

  • hidden

    View a German cathedral during your European cruise

    After breakfast, you arrive in Regensburg, Germany’s largest medieval city, and disembark for a walking tour. Since the historic city center was undamaged during World War II, it remains beautifully preserved. Your tour features the turreted Old Town Hall and the famous Stone Bridge (Germany’s oldest bridge), constructed during the twelfth century. See soaring St. Peter’s Cathedral, a Gothic cathedral adorned with beautiful stained glass.

    After lunch aboard ship, your afternoon is at leisure to relax, shop, or explore the town further on your own. Admire the relics of Regensburg’s Roman past at the ruins of the Castra Regina fort—Porta Praetoria—containing a stone inscribed in AD 179, when Marcus Aurelius was emperor. Stroll the narrow medieval streets, or just relax at a sidewalk cafe.

    Tonight, you'll enjoy an included dinner featuring traditional folk music at a local restaurant.

  • hidden

    This morning, we sail to Kelheim and Riedenburg. You can enjoy leisure activities aboard ship.

    Or, delve deeper into the Danube's scenic splendor this morning during our optional Bavaria: Baroque & Beer excursion. In Kelheim, you'll board a ferry for a ride through the beautiful Danube Gorge, Donaudurchbruch, the river’s narrowest and deepest stretch. From your ship’s outdoor deck, you'll enjoy up close views of towering Jurassic-era limestone cliffs as you wend your way along this scenic passage.

    Then you'll arrive at the Weltenburg Monastery, a Baroque construction of stucco, polished marble, gilt, and painted ceilings. There, you have the opportunity to reflect in the cool stillness of the abbey—Germany's oldest, founded at the beginning of the seventh century by the Abbot Eustasius. The compound also houses the oldest monastery brewery in the world. Here, visitors have enjoyed its famous dark brew for nearly 1,000 years. You’ll then transfer by motorcoach to Riedenburg, where the ship has cruised to meet you.

    View some passengers enjoying a home-hosted dinner in a village near Wertheim

    After lunch onboard, travel by bus to the village of Beilngries. Here you have a special opportunity to visit a local home for a traditional Kaffeeklatsch, where you enjoy coffee and cake with your host and get a glimpse of life in this Bavarian community.

    Later tonight we start the transit of the Main-Danube Canal. Before dinner, join us for an exclusive Discovery Series talk outlining the Main-Danube Canal's amazing history. The technological workings of this canal are an engineering marvel. During the night you cross the European watershed (at 1,332 feet, the highest point of the canal). This ridge of higher land divides the areas drained by the two different rivers, the Main and Danube. Here, rain north of the watershed flows to the North Sea; rain to the south flows to the Black Sea.

  • hidden

    Explore Old Town Hall in the city of Bamberg Germany

    This morning, you'll disembark for an included tour of Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second-largest city and the most important city in Franconia, with a local guide. Once the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, Nuremberg evokes its exalted past with its imposing medieval Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle). However, its more recent history is intricately linked to its role in World War II.

    During your included tour here, you’ll visit the Zeppelin Field where the Nazi party held rallies for up to 100,000 spectators. The rally grounds were designed by Hitler’s chief architect, Albert Speer, who went down in history as “the Nazi who said sorry” during the Nuremberg Trials. You’ll learn more about the trials during an included tour of Room 600, the courtroom in which the hearings took place.

    After lunch onboard, you may choose to relax or take advantage of our shuttle bus that will bring you into town. There, you might explore the Documentation Center, which offers a sobering look at the causes, context, and consequences of the National Socialist reign of terror.

    Or take time to explore Nuremberg's Old Town on your own. Nuremberg was devastated by bombs during the war. Afterward, much of the city was rebuilt and its Old World charm was painstakingly restored. Today, the city thrives as a bustling industrial and commercial center.

    Dinner is served onboard the ship this evening.

  • hidden

    Explore Old Town Hall in the city of Bamberg Germany

    Go ashore this morning for a walking tour of Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site founded in AD 902. Bamberg began to prosper in the twelfth century and was the center of southern Germany’s Enlightenment in the late 18th century. The great German philosopher Hegel lived here, and Bamberg was the second city (after Mainz) to introduce book-printing.

    Today, Bamberg boasts 2,000 buildings listed as historical monuments, and its old city center is Europe’s largest existing group of historic buildings. The city was awarded the title of “World Cultural and Natural Heritage of Mankind” by UNESCO in 1993. After your tour, you have some free time to explore Bamberg on your own before returning to the ship.

    This afternoon, you'll set sail for Gerlachshausen.

  • hidden

    View some remarkable statues in front of a building in Wurzburg Germany

    This morning, perhaps you'll join an optional tour of Rothenburg. This lovely old town sits on the Tauber River and boasts undamaged 14th-century city walls and beautifully preserved fortifications.

    During your walking tour, you’ll see stately towers and imposing burghers’ houses. After an included lunch, you have the afternoon free to make your own discoveries in this charming town before transferring to meet the ship.

    In the late afternoon, we’ll arrive in Wurzburg, a city on the Main River in Bavaria. Founded in the tenth century, Wurzburg was home to several powerful prince-bishops for many centuries. We’ll enjoy an informative walk here. Perhaps you'll view the Residenz, commissioned by prince-bishop brothers Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Karl von Schönborn. The complex was almost completely destroyed during World War II, but has since been rebuilt to its original grandeur prior to the war.

    We'll then reconvene onboard for dinner, and set sail for our next port.

  • hidden

    View some remarkable statues in front of a building in Wurzburg Germany

    As your European River Cruise continues, enjoy a glassblowing demonstration.

    Then you'll disembark midmorning for a walking tour of Wertheim, a charming fairy-tale town located at the meeting of the Main and Tauber rivers. Admire the imposing ruins of its castle, set on a hill overlooking the town.

    Enjoy the rest of the morning exploring Wertheim on your own. You may want to climb the stairs to the castle and follow the trail around the castle walls. Or you could visit the renowned Glass Museum in Wertheim, where exhibitions trace the history of glassblowing and showcase many exquisite pieces, from classical to contemporary.

    Tonight, you'll enjoy dinner onboard, and the ship will start cruising to our next port.

  • hidden

    View the Karl Theodor Bridge in Heidelberg Germany

    This morning, you arrive in Offenbach, where you may join today’s included full-day tour of Heidelberg. You begin by touring the impressive ruins of the city’s 15th-century Gothic castle, and you’ll have an impressive view of the surrounding Odenwald Forest. We then ride into town and enjoy lunch in a traditional Gasthaus that has been part of Heidleberg’s Old Town for centuries. Your tour continues with a walk in the city.

    After some free time to make discoveries on your own, you’ll transfer to Rudesheim, where your ship has cruised to meet you. After dinner onboard, you'll disembark for an orientation walk of Rudesheim with your Program Director.

  • hidden

    View a couple of travelers walking the streets of Mainz Germany

    This morning, your ship cruises to Koblenz. En route, you'll pass Lorelei, a large rock rising 440 feet above the river. Since the time of Ancient Greece, there have been legends of sirens, women-creatures who lure sailors to their death with sweet songs. Ancient Germanic legend places one such siren (Lorelei) here, and it is said she enticed sailors to destruction below the rock.

    After lunch, you'll disembark the ship for an included walking tour of Koblenz, set at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Originally established as an outpost of the Roman Empire and named Castellum apud Confluentes, the town became a city in the 13th century and served as the home of French refugees during the French Revolution. During your tour, you’ll see the highlights of the Old Town. Then you'll have free time to explore Koblenz on your own.

    This evening, you'll enjoy dinner onboard, and the ship will start cruising for Cologne.

  • hidden

    View a few passengers enjoying their time in Cologne Germany

    This morning, disembark in Cologne for a walking tour of the city.

    Cologne was a Roman settlement called Colonia Agrippina after AD 50, and came under Frankish control in the fifth century. You can still see the ruins of Roman temples scattered through the city, and the Roman Gate near the cathedral was once part of the medieval town walls. During the 15th century, the city flourished as a member of the Hanseatic League.

    You have some free time in Cologne to do as you wish. You may want to explore its famed Cathedral, or perhaps go to the Roman-German museum, where you can see a magnificent mosaic floor discovered in the ruins of a Roman villa. You resume river cruising in the late afternoon.

    Tonight, you cruise into Dutch waters on the Rhine River, heading toward Amsterdam.

    Bring your memories and join your traveling companions for a drink toasting the end of your cruising days with this group. Then, the crew bids you goodbye at the Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

  • hidden

    View five passengers enjoying a cruise down an Amsterdam canal

    After breakfast, join us for a boat tour introducing you to Amsterdam’s illustrious canals, providing a matchless perspective of the city’s architectural achievements. You'll also see the Anne Frank House, where the famous diarist wrote Het Achterhuis, or The Diary of a Young Girl, while in hiding from the Nazis. A walk in downtown Amsterdam will follow, and you'll have free time to explore on your own.

    Return to the ship for lunch, after which you can spend the afternoon onboard or explore more of Amsterdam on your own.

    You'll enjoy dinner onboard this evening, and settle in for your final night sleeping onboard.

  • hidden

    After breakfast, you disembark ship and are transferred to the airport for your flight home. Or, begin your optional extension to Bruges, Belgium.

Extensions

Traveler Reviews

There's no better way to learn what a trip is like than from the firsthand experiences of your fellow travelers, and our Traveler Reviews are the real deal—unbiased and unedited—giving you an honest appraisal of the experiences that await you on this trip.

Have you been on this trip? Share Your Thoughts, Sign In

Please note: If you have taken this trip, please log into your My Account & return to this page. You will be prompted to post your review. Reviews are limited to 10,000 characters. Due to our moderation process, please allow up to 72 hours for your review to appear.

Striving for Excellence

Read about our goals >

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
92%
Program Director Excellence
89%
Overall Trip Excellence
80%
loading reviews

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

Pacing

  • 15 days, with 14 nights aboard a private Grand Circle river ship
  • Return flights to U.S. often require departing from ship in early morning hours

Physical requirements

  • Not accessible for travelers using wheelchairs or scooters
  • Travelers using walkers, crutches, or other mobility must travel with a companion who can assist them throughout the trip
  • You must be able to walk 1-3 miles unassisted and participate in 2-3 hours of physical activities each day, including stairs

Climate

  • Daytime temperatures range from 40-73°F during cruising season
  • June-August are the warmest months
  • March and November weather can be unpredictable and change quickly within a short period of time

Terrain

  • Travel over diverse terrain and uneven walking surfaces, including steep and unpaved paths, hills, riverbanks, 25-50 stairs without handrails, and cobblestones, which can be slippery in wet or colder conditions

Transportation

  • Travel by 45-passenger coach and 140- to 164-passenger river ship

River Cruising

  • Throughout the River Cruise season, weather conditions and tides affect European river depths; water levels may require adjustments to your itinerary, including your Amsterdam canal cruise

Cuisine

  • Meals will be a mix of local specialties and familiar American standards
  • Meals onboard feature a variety of entrée options, including vegetarian

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.

Insider Tips

Accommodations

Main Trip

  • Private Grand Circle River Ship

    All of our Rhine, Main & Danube river ships made Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll.

    Custom-built for Grand Circle with our travelers’ needs in mind, your private river ship has a passenger capacity of 140-164, with all outside cabins. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available in select common areas, but connectivity is limited in certain locations. Your cabin features a flat-screen TV, direct-dial telephone, individual heating and air-conditioning controls, twin beds that convert to sofas, and private bath with shower and hair dryer.

  • M/S River Adagio

    The M/S River Adagio was ranked #26 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll.

    One of the largest ships in Grand Circle's own deluxe fleet, the M/S River Adagio was built specifically for cruising the widest part of the Danube and the deeper waters leading to the Black Sea. Enjoy personalized attention from the ship staff, and up to four experienced Grand Circle Program Directors. And with no more than 164 fellow Grand Circle travelers aboard with you, you'll find it easy to make friends and share your experiences.

  • M/S River Aria

    The M/S River Aria was ranked #35 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll

    Launched in 2001, the M/S River Aria has a capacity of 164 passengers in 82 cabins, all with outside views. Ship amenities include an elevator, restaurant, bar and lounge, library, and Sun Deck. Your ship has an international crew of 38 and up to four English-speaking Program Directors.

  • M/S River Concerto

    The M/S River Concerto was ranked #14 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll

    The M/S River Concerto was launched in 2000. This ship has a capacity of 140 passengers in 70 cabins, all with outside views. Ship amenities include an elevator, restaurant, bar and lounge, library, Sun Deck, fitness center, and sauna. Your ship has an international crew of 34 and three English-speaking Program Directors.

  • M/S River Harmony

    The M/S River Harmony was ranked #26 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll

    The M/S River Harmony was launched in 1999. This ship has a capacity of 140 passengers in 70 cabins, all with outside views. Ship amenities include an elevator, restaurant, bar and lounge, library, Sun Deck, fitness center, and sauna. Your ship has an international crew of 34 and three English-speaking Program Directors.

  • M/S River Melody

    The M/S River Melody was ranked #13 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll

    The M/S River Melody was launched in 1999. This ship has a capacity of 140 passengers in 70 cabins, all with outside views. Ship amenities include an elevator, restaurant, bar and lounge, library, Sun Deck, fitness center, and sauna. Your ship has an international crew of 34 and three English-speaking Program Directors.

  • M/S River Rhapsody

    The M/S River Rhapsody was ranked #19 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll

    The M/S River Rhapsody was launched in 1999. This ship has a capacity of 140 passengers in 70 cabins, all with outside views. Ship amenities include an elevator, restaurant, bar and lounge, library, Sun Deck, fitness center, and sauna. Your ship has an international crew of 34 and three English-speaking Program Directors.

SEE THE ENTIRE GRAND CIRCLE FLEET

Extensions

  • NH Bruges

    Bruges, Belguim | Rating: First Class

    Housed in a former 17th-century monastery, the First-Class NH Bruges reflects the historic charm of Belgium’s best-preserved medieval city. Amenities include a restaurant serving Belgian-French cuisine, bar/lounge, fitness room, and heated indoor swimming pool. Your air-conditioned room features direct-dial telephone, cable/satellite TV, minibar, coffee- and tea-making facilities, in-room safe, and private bath with shower and hair dryer.

  • Dorint Hotel Don Giovanni

    Prague, Czech Republic | Rating: First Class

    This First-Class hotel is just an eight-minute subway ride from the city center. Enjoy the on-site restaurants, bar, and health club. Your air-conditioned room has a telephone, radio, cable TV, minibar, safe, and private bath with hair dryer.

  • Ramada Encore Vienna City Center

    Vienna, Austria

    Set in the heart of the Austrian capital, the Ramada Encore Vienna is just steps from the Midlinger Haupstrasse, a popular shopping and dining street. And with easy access to two subway stations, the hotel is an ideal home base for exploring Vienna. Each of its 122 guest rooms features air-conditioning, TV, high-speed Internet access, safe, and private bath with shower.

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 may involve additional airfare costs based on your specific choices.

Or, when you make your reservation, you can choose our standard air routing, for which approximate travel times are shown below.

Standard Air Routing

w/out standard air $2695
w/ standard air $3795
Approximate travel times

Photos From Our Travelers

On location in Europe

Here’s how Grand Circle travelers have captured moments of discovery, beauty, friendship, and fun on previous departures of our Great Rivers of Europe vacation. We hope these will evoke special travel memories and inspire you to submit your own favorite Grand Circle Travel trip photos.

  Discover new friendships during a wine tasting in Durnstein  

“Capping off” a wine tasting at a colorful local pub in Durnstein, Austria, the merry band includes 2-time travelers Rex and Kathryn McCallister from Visalia, California; 5-time travelers Joseph and Doris Schwab of Ellensburg, Washington; and 6-time traveler Everett Gibbons of Toppenish, Washington. Photo submitted by Joseph Schwab.

Thumbnail 1 Thumbnail 2 Thumbnail 3 Thumbnail 4 Thumbnail 5

How to submit your photos:

Please submit individual photos in jpeg format to: GCTtravelerphotos@gct.com.

Please be sure to include the name of your OAT adventure, along with the travel dates. Tell us where you took the photo and, if you’d like, tell us why. And don’t forget to include your name and contact information.

Please note: By submitting a photo, you (i) represent and warrant that the photo is your original work created solely by yourself and does not infringe the intellectual property rights of any party; (ii) grant to Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, transferable, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sublicensable right and license to use, in any and all related media whether now known or hereafter devised, in perpetuity, anywhere in the world, with the right to make any and all commercial or other uses thereof, including without limitation, reproducing, editing, modifying, adapting, publishing, displaying publicly, creating derivative works from, incorporating into other works or modifying the photo and (iii) hereby release and discharge Grand Circle LLC and its affiliates, officers and employees from and against any and all claims, liabilities, costs, damages and expenses of any kind arising out of or relating to the use by Grand Circle LLC of any photo submitted.

The “Most German” City at War

The two faces of Nuremberg during World War II and after

by Shannon Levi, Senior Vice President, Grand Circle Cruise Line

Like vast poppy fields, the parade grounds of Nuremberg, Germany, blazed with red in the 1940s ...

Like vast poppy fields, the parade grounds of Nuremberg, Germany, blazed with red in the 1940s, but the winds of change were lifting swastika-studded flags instead of silken petals. To Hitler, these living waves of vivid color were a thing of beauty, but to most others since, such scenes have come to represent one of history’s greatest horrors.

Why Nuremberg

Hitler’s decision that the greatest rallies of the National Socialist Party should occur in Nuremberg was not a random choice. He considered the city, by then 900 years old, to be the “most German of cities.” With traditional Germanic architecture and its history as the hub of the German Renaissance in the 15th century, the city embodied the glory of the “master race” as Hitler saw it.

That’s why he decided that rising architect Albert Speer (designer of the Reich Chancellery in Berlin) should draft an architectural plan for a massive parade area, combining an arena, multiple halls, a Zeppelin landing field, and open spaces. Though the parade grounds were never fully finished, they served as the gathering point of huge party rallies: 150,000 spectators would fill the arena stands to listen to speeches by Hitler and his deputies in displays of power that suggested a future of German dominance.

Nuremberg Laws

It was at one of these rallies—September 15, 1935, four years before Germany would invade Poland—that the notorious Nuremberg Laws were publicly announced. These laws defined who counted as Jewish. Anyone with three or four Jewish grandparents was Jewish; anyone with three or four non-Jewish German grandparents was German; and anyone in between was a “mischling,” or half-breed—unless they “looked Jewish,” in which case they counted as Jews.

Nuremberg Trials

After World War II came to an end, Nuremberg—the scene of Hitler’s ambitions—also became the setting for the debasing of his legacy after the Nazis fell and the Allies won the war. In the aftermath, Nuremberg was selected to be the site of the world’s first-ever international war crime trials. Twenty-one defendants—including architect Speer himself—were made to stand trial for their involvement in the Holocaust and other crimes against humanity in that war, which cost some 50 million lives overall. (Perhaps the best-known defendant was Herman Goering, the most senior Nazi politician, who so charmed his guards that they called him by a nickname, “Fat Stuff,” and did him favors, including providing the cyanide he used to commit suicide.)

By the time the trials concluded, Nuremberg had come to represent Germany in the way it wished to be: a place where history would be faced and justice would be done. As the lead prosecutor said, the trials served notice to all war-making factions in the world. “If we can cultivate in the world the idea that aggressive war-making is the way to the prisoner’s dock rather than the way to honors, we will have accomplished something toward making the peace more secure.”

Choose your savings:

« Back to Choose Your Savings

The Great Rivers of Europe
15 days from $4095
River Cruise Tour only

FREE two-category cabin upgrade—Save up to $1200 per couple

Code: TAAT 728

Pay for Cabin in this Category

Receive Cabin in this Category

MAY

JUN

Was

Now

Was

Now

C - Sonata

A - Serenade

$5495

$4895

$5295

$4695

D - Sonata

B - Serenade

$5295

$4795

$5095

$4595

G - Prelude

E - Cantata

$4695

$4395

$4495

$4195

Or, airfare savings—Save $500 per couple

Code: TAAT 729

Departure Cities

MAY 7-16

MAY 28, 30; JUN

Was

Now

Was

Now

Boston, New York, Newark, Philadelphia

$1200

$950

$1500

$1250

Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Miami, Wasington, DC

$1300

$1050

$1600

$1350

Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa

$1400

$1150

$1700

$1450

Additional departure cities available. Call for details.

Or, extension savings—Save $500 per couple

Code: TAAT 730

Prague, Czech Republic
Was $645 NOW from $395

Vienna, Austria
Was $595 NOW from $345

Bruges, Belgium
Was $695 NOW from $445

their

Call toll-free TODAY 1-800-221-2610

« Back to Choose Your Savings

Prices are per person based on double occupancy, do not include Single Supplements, and reflect savings of up to $600 per person. Offer applies to new reservations only on April-June 2015 departures, and cannot be combined with our any other offer, or our Groups Program. This offer is only applicable for a 1-category cabin upgrade on Cruising Burgundy & Provence to the Cote d'Azur, and not available on our Holiday River Cruises. All other credits may be applied. You must reserve by 10/31/14 to receive these savings. Additional departure cities are available. Standard Terms & Conditions apply. Every effort has been made to publish this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors.