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The Leader in Small Ship and River Cruising Worldwide
Worldwide Discovery at Extraordinary Value Since 1958

2016 The Great Rivers of Europe

16 Days from only $4495 including international airfare

ABOARD OUR PRIVATELY OWNED 140- TO 164-PASSENGER SHIPS DESIGNED FOR AMERICAN TRAVELERS

Amsterdam, the Netherlands • Germany: Cologne, Koblenz, Rudesheim, Heidelberg, Wertheim, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau • Austria: Melk, Vienna

Trip Experience

Get a taste for what awaits you on this River Cruise in Passau, Germany, by meeting a few people that call it home.

Trip Itinerary

Get more information about your detailed itinerary, like optional tours, exclusive Discovery Series events, and more.

Program Director

Find out who inspired Bob Visser's love of travel, and hear about his recent transcontinental journey.

Trip Extension: Vienna

Visit the famed Spanish Riding School and sample local flavors on this optional extension.

Trip Extension: Bruges

Watch travelers take a canal tour of Bruges and visit a local lacemaker on their optional extension.

Trip Extension: Prague

Join travelers as they explore Prague Castle and the city’s Jewish Quarter on their optional extension.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Amsterdam and the Netherlands

Witness Amsterdam’s canals, a wooden shoe shop, and other Dutch traditions with travel expert Rudy Maxa.

©2014 The New York Times
36 Hours in Vienna

Discover the modern food scene, imperial heritage, and artisanal offerings that await in Vienna.

Courtesy Epiphany Morgan
Katharina: A 365 Docobites Film

Meet one of Vienna’s only female carriage drivers and hear why she chose the unorthodox profession.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Brussels and Belgium

Join travel expert Rudy Maxa to preview the medieval and modern charm awaiting on our optional Belgium extension.

Courtesy Anika Pilnei and Ian Cross
Great Railway Journeys of Europe: Vienna to Trieste

Explore the former Austrian Empire's history—and opulence—on display within Vienna's great landmarks.

Courtesy David Conover
The Beer of Bamberg

Trace the history and cultural influence of beer—and brewing—in this German town.

Courtesy BBC.com Travel
The Heart of Prague Pumps Lager

Imbibe the history and experience the beer culture in the Czech Republic on our optional Prague trip extension.

Courtesy CNN
Cruising the Canals of Amsterdam

Accompany Amsterdam locals as they showcase the city's best local delicacies and art.

Courtesy CNN
The Best Puppet Show in Prague

Local artists show off their favorite spots in Prague—from a marionette workshop to a pub.

Courtesy CNN
The Artistic Side of Amsterdam

Contemporary art to chocolate tastings—local gallery owners show you Amsterdam is more than just canals.

Courtesy CNN
Amsterdam's mouth-watering street food

Get a taste of Amsterdam’s charming culture—from exploring the savory restaurant scene to visiting a historic cinema.

Produced by Kevin Longa
Verrückt: The Snail Farmer of Vienna

Find out why a successful businessman made the “verrückt” (crazy) choice to become a snail farmer.

Produced by Darrell Hartman
This Old Coffeehouse

See why locals and visitors alike return time and again to one of Vienna’s oldest coffeehouses.

New Year, New Stories

Take a look at the films that inspire filmmaker David Conover—and preview the stories that await this year.

Climate Change & Travel

Travel with David Conover to see how people—from street protesters to Heads of State—respond to a changing climate and ocean.

Produced for CuriosityStream
Big Picture Earth Trailer

David Conover's newest television series takes us from Stonehenge to Petra, from Iceland to the Oracle at Delphi ... and beyond.

Sharing Travel Moments

Hear why visual storytelling helps to build a conversation about the world from filmmaker David Conover.

Solo Traveler Experience

Hear about one solo traveler’s experiences in Turkey and Greece.

The Grand Circle Cruise Line Experience

Travel aboard Grand Circle Cruise Line’s selection of river and small ships—from the Adriatic Sea to the Danube River.

Travel Protection Plan

Learn about the benefits of Grand Circle's plan—and how you can protect your entire trip investment.

FROM
$4495
16 DAYS
$281/DAY
including international airfare
15 DAYS FROM $3395 River Cruise Only
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Itinerary Overview

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 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.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 3 nights from only $695

    Prior to your European River Cruise, join us on an optional pre-trip extension to one of Europe's most charming cities: Bruges. Located in the northern part of Belgium, Bruges is said to be one of the most well-preserved cities in Europe—however the city has gone through many renovations in order to keep its medieval architecture intact. As you stroll through the bustling streets, you'll encounter its busy market squares, cozy homes, and circle of canals. During your extension, you'll explore this former capital, as well as 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.

  • 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 board 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, and the city is remarkably 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 Port Talk, a briefing about the area prior to arrival so you can make the best use of your free time.

    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.

  • View five passengers enjoying a cruise down an Amsterdam canal

    After breakfast, join us for an included canal boat tour through the heart of Amsterdam, from which you'll enjoy a matchless perspective of the city's architectural achievements. The boat tour ends 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. 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 toward 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.

  • View a few passengers enjoying their time in Cologne Germany

    This morning, your ship will continue sailing toward Germany. As you cruise, learn key German phrases during a language lesson, then delve into the topic of immigration in Germany and country's open borders for refugees in a series of exclusive Discovery Series discussions.

    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 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.

    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. This evening, your Program Director will share personal insights and experiences as they outline the customs and traditions that come with growing up in this region of Europe.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • As you cruise, enjoy an onboard glassblowing demonstration, an exclusive Discovery Series event and fitting introduction to your next port of call: Wertheim.

    Upon arrival, enjoy 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 display the town's long and proud tradition of glass production.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The Beer of Bamberg

    Trace the history and cultural influence of beer—and brewing—in this German town.

    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. During an exclusive Discovery Series event, 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.

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

    This morning, you'll disembark for a panoramic 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. 

    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.

  • 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, dinner is onboard.

  • 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 ends at 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.

  • 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, enjoy a guided tour of 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. 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 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.

    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.

  • 36 Hours in Vienna

    Discover the modern food scene, imperial heritage, and artisanal offerings that await in Vienna.

    After breakfast onboard the ship, you'll enjoy a tour of Vienna via motorcoach, 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.

    After, enjoy a guided walking tour of Vienna, 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. Tonight, dinner is onboard.

  • 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.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Prague, Czech Republic

    4 nights from only $695

    Join us on our optional post-trip extension and visit the “City of 100 Spires,” the name given to Prague for its many hilltop neighborhoods, where rows of steeples stand out against the city’s skyline. This is an ancient city that is a new cultural capital for Eastern Europe. Prague is now a vibrant city, but much of its Old World charm remains. Wander about the city’s twisting cobblestone streets and old neighborhoods, where ancient houses crowd each other along narrow lanes. Experience the museums and cathedrals that make Prague stand out as one of Europe’s finest cities.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Vienna, Austria

    3 nights from only $645

    After your European River Cruise, 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. This is a city of museums and music, art and architecture, and famous people from a storied past. Walk the streets where Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Freud strolled about on their daily business. Once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna came to symbolize the splendor of an age. You can recapture some of that feeling while wandering among the city’s Baroque palaces and other stunning architecture. Vienna is a feast for the senses that you will not soon forget.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • 4 nights from only $695

    Join us on our optional post-trip extension and visit the “City of 100 Spires,” the name given to Prague for its many hilltop neighborhoods, where rows of steeples stand out against the city’s skyline. This is an ancient city that is a new cultural capital for Eastern Europe. Prague is now a vibrant city, but much of its Old World charm remains. Wander about the city’s twisting cobblestone streets and old neighborhoods, where ancient houses crowd each other along narrow lanes. Experience the museums and cathedrals that make Prague stand out as one of Europe’s finest cities.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • 3 nights from only $645

    After your European River Cruise, 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. This is a city of museums and music, art and architecture, and famous people from a storied past. Walk the streets where Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Freud strolled about on their daily business. Once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Vienna came to symbolize the splendor of an age. You can recapture some of that feeling while wandering among the city’s Baroque palaces and other stunning architecture. Vienna is a feast for the senses that you will not soon forget.

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

  • 36 Hours in Vienna

    Discover the modern food scene, imperial heritage, and artisanal offerings that await in Vienna.

    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 Port Talk, a briefing about the area prior to arrival so you can make the best use of your free time.

    Enjoy your first dinner onboard this evening.

  • Explore Vienna during a tour of Europe

    After breakfast onboard the ship, you'll enjoy a tour of Vienna via motorcoach, 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.

    After, enjoy a guided walking tour of Vienna, 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.

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

    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. As you cruise, partake in an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about German immigration, learning more about how the country has been opening its borders to refugees.

    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, enjoy a guided tour of 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. 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 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.

    Tonight, your ship cruises to Passau. This evening, your Program Director will share personal insights and experiences during a special Discovery Series discussion that will outline the customs and traditions that come with growing up in this region of Europe.

  • 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. Along the way, learn key German phrases during an exclusive Discovery Series language lesson.

    You'll then disembark for a walking tour of the city, which ends at 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.

    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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • This morning, you'll disembark for a panoramic 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. 

    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.

  • The Beer of Bamberg

    Trace the history and cultural influence of beer—and brewing—in this German town.

    This morning, transfer to Bamberg for a walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. 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.

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

    This morning, arrive in Gerlachshausen. 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, you will 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. Enjoy a guided walking tour here, including a visit to 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.

    Tonight, dinner is onboard.

  • As you cruise, enjoy an onboard glassblowing demonstration, an exclusive Discovery Series event and fitting introduction to your next port of call: Wertheim.

    Upon arrival, enjoy 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 display the town's long and proud tradition of glass production.

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

  • 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 (a small inn with a restaurant and bar) 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 remains of Roman ruins 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.

  • View five passengers enjoying a cruise down an Amsterdam canal

    After breakfast, join us for an included canal boat tour through the heart of Amsterdam, from which you'll enjoy a matchless perspective of the city's architectural achievements. The boat tour ends 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. 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.

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

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Bruges, Belgium

    3 nights from only $695

    After your European River Cruise, join us on an optional post-trip extension to one of Europe's most charming cities: Bruges. Located in the northern part of Belgium, Bruges is said to be one of the most well-preserved cities in Europe—however the city has gone through many renovations in order to keep its medieval architecture intact. As you stroll through the bustling streets, you'll encounter its busy market squares, cozy homes, and circle of canals. During your extension, you'll explore this former capital, as well as enjoy included tours of Ghent, Belgium and Delft, the Netherlands, along with an optional tour to the Flanders Field museum.

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on The Great Rivers of Europe

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