We invite you to join us aboard the M/S River Harmony on June 21, 2017, for a proud Grand Circle Cruise Line tradition. Our annual President's Cruise celebrates the spirit of discovery with an enhanced itinerary of one-departure-only discoveries that will paint a richer, deeper picture of life along the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers. Raise a glass to discovery during our special President's Gala Dinner ... enjoy a warm welcome to Passau, Germany, as you are greeted by the city's mayor ... marvel at towering Gothic archways during an included tour of Cologne's towering cathedral ... and revel in the delights of Musical Vienna during a special evening of included music. Embark on a unforgettable—and once-in-a-lifetime—journey through the heart of Europe.
3 nights from only $695
Experience the beauty of Bruges, nestled amongst the coastal plains of northern Belgium. This former capital is said to be one of the most well-preserved cities in Europe—and has undergone many restorations in order to keep its medieval architecture intact. Stroll through the bustling streets and discover the city’s colorful market squares, cozy homes, and circle of canals, and enjoy included tours of Ghent, Belgium and Delft, the Netherlands, along with an optional tour to the Flanders Field museum.View Extension Itinerary
Depart today on your flight to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times.
Arrive in Amsterdam, where you'll be met at the airport and transferred to the pier to board your river ship.
After a light lunch onboard, enjoy time 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 exude a quaint charm, and the city is remarkably easy to navigate on your own. You may want to spend time in Dam Square, the heart of the city where the Amstel River once flowed. Due to flooding caused by high river tides, a dam was built—thus, the square's name. Or watch daily life unfold before you in Rembrandt and Leidse squares.
This evening, gather onboard for your first port talk—a feature you'll receive throughout your European River Cruise whenever approaching a new port or town, so you can make the best use of your free time. Then get better acquainted with your Program Director and fellow travelers, including those who took the Bruges, Belgium pre-trip extension over a Welcome Drink, followed by dinner.
Explore Amsterdam this morning, first by embarking on a canal boat tour through the heart of city—marveling at a matchless perspective of its architectural achievements. Then set off on a walking tour of downtown, starting at the Anne Frank House, where the famous diarist wrote Het Achterhuis, or The Diary of a Young Girl, while in hiding from the Nazis, and culminating at Dam Square.
Return to the ship for lunch, then enjoy an afternoon of cruising on the Rhine River toward Germany. This evening, formally meet your crew and fellow travelers at the Captain's Welcome Drink and Dinner.
Enjoy a relaxing morning on the ship, cruising to your first German port, Cologne—a former Roman settlement called Colonia Agrippina after AD 50 that came under Frankish control in the fifth century.
Arrive in Cologne after lunch, and set off on an included walking tour. You can still see the remains of Roman ruins 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. Finish your tour at Cologne's magnificent Gothic cathedral—the Dom.
President's Cruise Exclusive: Upon arrival at the towering, Gothic cathedral, step inside for a special included visit. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the culmination of construction started in the 13th century, halted in the 15th, and then resumed to completion in the 19th. Northern Europe's largest Gothic church is a vast and commanding example of Gothic architecture, and you'll have an opportunity to marvel at stained-glass windows 66 feet tall as a local guide leads you through the space. Take note of the cathedral's most treasured item, the twelfth-century Shrine of the Three Kings: This gilded item, formed in the shape of a church, was created to house relics traditionally believed to include the remains of the Three Wise Men.
Enjoy an opportunity to explore Cologne on your own before returning to your ship late this afternoon. Dinner will be onboard this evening.
This morning, set off on a walking tour of Koblenz, set at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers, that spans the highlights of the Old Town. 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. Learn special insights from a local guide during your tour, and then continue to explore during free time before returning to the ship for lunch.
Return to the ship for lunch, and continue sailing toward Rudesheim—witnessing Lorelei, a large rock rising 440 feet above the river, en route. 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 this evening, step ashore for dinner at a local restaurant featuring traditional folk music.
Discover Heidelberg, a historic and vibrant German university town, on a full-day excursion, disembarking in Frankfurt after breakfast for your transfer. Rebuilt in the 18th century after the French nearly leveled it, Heidelberg remained mostly unharmed during WWII—and today allures visitors with its enchanting architecture, a rich literary heritage, and striking river-side panoramas.
Upon arrival, visit the impressive ruins of the city's Gothic castle, which offers an expansive view of the surrounding area. Then, enjoy lunch in a traditional Gasthaus (a small inn with a restaurant and bar) that has been part of Heidelberg's Old Town for centuries. Continue exploring during a walking tour of Heidelberg, followed by time on your own before returning to the ship.
President's Cruise Exclusive: This evening, Grand Circle Cruise Line celebrates you with our special President’s Gala Dinner, a time-honored President’s Cruise tradition beloved by travelers and ship staff alike.
First thing this morning, enjoy a fitting introduction to your next port of call, Wertheim, as you finish cruising with an exclusive Discovery Series glassblowing demonstration.
Then, step ashore for a walking tour of Wertheim, a charming fairy-tale town located at the meeting of the Main and Tauber rivers—and admire the imposing ruins of its castle, set on a hill overlooking the town. The rest of the morning is yours to explore Wertheim on your own. Climb the stairs to the castle and follow the trail around the castle walls, or visit its renowned Glass Museum, where exhibitions display the town's long and proud tradition of glass production.
In the early afternoon, head to the home of a local family for a traditional Kaffeeklatsch to share coffee and cake, and experience what life is like for a typical family in this section of Europe, during an exclusive Discovery Series Home-Hosted Visit.
Relish a morning spent cruising the Main river, taking in the lovely scenery and enjoying a leisurely start to the day.
In the mid-afternoon, dock in the Bavarian city of Wurzburg, founded in the tenth century and home to several powerful prince-bishops for many centuries. The Residenz, a complex commissioned by prince-bishop brothers Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Karl von Schönborn, was almost completely destroyed during World War II, but has since been rebuilt to its original pre-war grandeur. After an included walking tour, continue your explorations with time on your own.
Spend a relaxing day onboard as the ship continues cruising to Schweinfurt.
Or, disembark during a stop in Gerlachshausen this morning for an optional full-day excursion to Rothenburg—a lovely old town that sits on the Tauber River, where undamaged 14th-century city walls and beautifully preserved fortifications stand tall to this day. During this optional tour, see stately towers and imposing burghers' houses, enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant, and spend time making your own discoveries before meeting back up with the ship in Schweinfurt.
Set out on a morning walking tour of Bamberg, which was founded in AD 902, 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.
Bamberg now features 2,000 buildings listed as historical monuments, and its old city center is Europe's largest existing group of historic structures. The town is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but was awarded the title of “World Cultural and Natural Heritage of Mankind” by UNESCO in 1993. You'll then enjoy time to explore Bamberg on your own before returning to the ship for lunch.
Begin cruising to Nuremberg this afternoon—entering the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal en route, and learn about the history and construction of this engineering marvel during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion. 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.
Set out on a morning panoramic tour of Nuremberg, Bavaria's second-largest city and the most important city in Franconia. 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, and your tour takes you to 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.
President's Cruise Exclusive: After lunch in a local restaurant, delve deeper into the city's complex WWII history with an included visit to the Documentation Center. Erected within the North Wing of the National Socialists' Congress Hall, the center offers a sobering look at the Nazi reign of terror, from its causes to consequence. With a special focus on Nuremberg, you'll journey through the history and rise of the party, the post-war trials, and how Nuremberg grappled with post-WWII life.
Enjoy free time to further discover Nuremberg on your own before returning to your ship via a complimentary shuttle late this afternoon. Dinner will be onboard this evening.
Arrive in Regensburg this morning, and disembark after breakfast to discover Germany's largest—and one of its best-preserved—medieval cities.
Experience its Old Town Hall and the famous Stone Bridge (Germany's oldest bridge), constructed during the twelfth century. You'll also see soaring St. Peter's Cathedral, Bavaria’s most impressive Gothic wonder and home to a famous boys’ choir. 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.
President's Cruise Exclusive: Then step behind the scenes to see how one Germany's most famous companies produces some of the world's most iconic automobiles. Regensburg's BMW factory will open its doors to you for a special guided tour, where you'll learn about the manufacturer's long history (including life post-WWII), and see how more than 1,100 cars are produced within the factory daily.
Disembark your ship this morning for a walking tour of Passau, the German city situated at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz, and Inn rivers.
President's Cruise Exclusive: Your discoveries will begin with a special moment: Passau's mayor will greet and welcome you, giving you a unique perspective on the city you are poised to explore.
Called the Dreifluessestadt (City on Three Rivers), Passau is an elegant town that has served as a German cultural and intellectual hub for centuries. During your walking tour, witness the Dom, St. Stephen's Cathedral: This lavish 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.
Return to the ship for lunch, then enjoy the afternoon to pursue your own interests in Passau, like visiting the impressive Bishop's Residenz, the 14th-century Town Hall.
Late this afternoon, say auf Wiedersehen to your last Germany port and begin cruising to Austria. As you make your way to the last of three countries, join your fellow travelers for a cocktail, followed by the Captain's Farewell Dinner.
Awake to find yourself in Melk, where you can glimpse the formidable Melk Abbey from the ship, as it rises up from the surrounding countryside along the Danube.
Disembark after breakfast for a guided tour of the magnificently ornate 900-year-old Baroque abbey. 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 then 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. The abbey 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 intricately carved pulpit and shimmering ceiling frescoes, which you'll observe up close during your tour.
Continue on to Vienna this morning, cruising through the captivating, lovely landscape of the Wachau Valley—past terraced vineyards and lush flowering fields.
Arrive in Austria's capital this evening.
President's Cruise Exclusive: Enjoy a fitting introduction to Vienna with an evening of music in one of the city's famed concert halls. Typically an optional tour on The Great Rivers of Europe, this Musical Vienna outing showcases the city's influential classical musical heritage, and the music of Strauss and Mozart.
Discover Vienna this morning during a panoramic tour that includes 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 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. You'll also witness the well-known Imperial Palace, home to many generations of the Habsburg family, and the renowned Spanish Riding School.
The afternoon is yours in Vienna to spend as you please.
After breakfast, disembark the ship and transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or, continue your discoveries in Vienna, Austria with our post-trip extension.
3 nights from only $645
Explore Vienna, Austria—a magnificent, culture-rich hub that retains the grace and charm that has helped it stand out among great European cities for centuries and walk the streets where Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Freud strolled. Once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna came to symbolize the splendor of an age, one recaptured by wandering among the city’s Baroque palaces and other stunning architecture.View Extension Itinerary