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

2017 The Great Rivers of Europe

16 Days from only $3895 including international airfare

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

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

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.

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.

Trip Extension: Prague
Delight in terra-cotta cityscapes and Prague's remarkable history on our optional trip extension.
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.

Program Director

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

©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
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
$3895
16 DAYS
$244/DAY
including international airfare
15 DAYS FROM $2795 River Cruise Only
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Itinerary Overview

Venture 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. Journey on this European River Cruise—our most popular trip for more than a decade—through the Netherlands, Germany, and Austria, uncovering local cultures along the way both onboard and off, like during an Apfelstrudel baking lesson in the ship's kitchen and a Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch in Germany. Plus, enjoy NEW onboard enhancements such as complimentary house beer, wine, and soft drinks, as well as improved wireless Internet in all cabins and common areas—all at no additional cost. In fact, we’ve reduced prices $100-$500 per person on most 2017 departures.

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.

  • 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 set off to explore on your own a city that has successfully blended its Old World traditions with a thoroughly modern vibe. Marvel at Amsterdam's famous tall and skinny rowhouses during your journey, noting tidy window boxes and hand-scrubbed stoops along the way. 

    This evening, gather onboard for your first Port Talk—a nightly feature of your River Cruise, designed as an opportunity for your Program Directors to prepare you best for the following day's discoveries. Then toast to the discoveries that await—and get better acquainted with your fellow travelers, including those who took our optional Bruges, Belgium pre-trip extension—with a Welcome Drink, followed by dinner.

  • View five passengers enjoying a cruise down an Amsterdam canal

    Today's discoveries of "Venice of the North" will begin, fittingly, with a morning canal boat tour—providing you an unmatched vantage point from which you can marvel at the city's remarkable architectural achievements.

    You'll then disembark your boat to continue your discoveries by foot. Behold the exterior of one of Amsterdam's most famous residences—the Anne Frank House, where the famous diarist wrote Het Achterhuis (The Diary of a Young Girl) while hiding from the Nazis--as you explore the city's downtown area.

    Your tour concludes in Dam Square: Today the heart of the city, this is where the Amstel River once flowed. Due to flooding, a dam was built—thus, the square's name.

    Return to your ship for lunch, then enjoy your first afternoon of scenic cruising, as your ship sets off for Germany. You'll formally meet your ship crew this evening, at the Captain's Welcome Drink and Dinner.

  • As your ship continues to make its journey into Germany this morning, preview what awaits you there during a series of exclusive Discovery Series events. First, learn helpful German words and phrases during an exclusive Discovery Series language lesson led by your Program Director. Then delve into a candid discussion about immigration in Europe—and the effect of Germany's open-border policy for refugees.

    After an onboard lunch, arrive in Cologne, and set off for an included walking tour. A former Roman settlement called Colonia Agrippina, Cologne came under Frankish control in the fifth century. Traces of this layered history can be seen throughout the city: Among multiple visible Roman ruins is the Roman Gate, a medieval archway that stands guard near Cologne Cathedral. You'll also pass one of Germany's quirkiest museums, but one befitting a city linked by name to all things odorous: Cologne's Fragrance Museum.

    Your tour concludes outside the city's magnificent Gothic cathedral, the Dom. This UNESCO World Heritage Site largely escaped the World War II damage that devastated the rest of the city (and Germany)—there's evidence that Allied forces were specifically ordered to preserve the beauty of this structure. The largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, the Dom boasts incredible stained-glass windows, an ornate gold altar shrine, and the intricate detail traditional for 14th-century Gothic churches.

    The rest of the afternoon is yours to spend as you please. Perhaps you'll venture into the Dom to see the splendors contained therein. Or, consider learning more about the city's ancient history with a visit to the Roman-Germanic Museum: The building was built on the site of a third-century Roman villa, and includes a stunning Dionysus mosaic floor.

    Dinner will be aboard this evening.

  • Disembark after breakfast this morning to explore Koblenz.

    Set at the point where the Rhine and Mosel rivers meet, Koblenz was originally established as an outpost of the Roman Empire in 9 BC, and named Castellum apud Confluentes (Castle at the Confluence of the Rivers). The town benefited significantly from its prime location, and grew from a town to a prosperous city by the 13th century. Explore the narrow winding streets lined by half-timbered buildings, medieval churches, and the Weinstuben (wine taverns) that celebrate the region's famous local products. You'll have time here for your own discoveries before returning to the ship for an onboard lunch.

    This afternoon, get your camera ready as you make your way to your ship's Sun Deck—or settle in for a window seat within the lounge—for an unforgettable stretch of scenic sailing. As your ship makes way to Rudesheim, you'll be treated to a view of the Rhine River's castle corridor, a stretch of valley liberally sprinkled with turreted hilltop structures on both shores.

    Your Program Directors will help you spot each structure—and learn about important local history—as they provide commentary from the ship's bridge. They'll also be sure to point out 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 golden-haired siren here: It is said that Lorelei entices sailors to destruction below the rock.

    Upon arrival in Rudesheim this evening, disembark your ship for a traditional German dinner in a local restaurant—and enjoy how a folk music performance helps set the mood as you dine.

  • Today, discover Heidelberg, a history and vibrant German university town that allures visitors with enchanting architecture, rich literary heritage, and striking riverside panoramas.

    After breakfast onboard, disembark in Frankfurt and board your private motorcoach for a transfer to Heidelberg. Along the way, your Program Director will set the stage for your discoveries in this town, the identity of which is hugely connected to the university that has operated here since the 14th century.

    Upon arrival, take in the view of the city from the ruins of its namesake castle, a strong example of Renaissance architecture. A castle has stood on these grounds since the 13th century, despite multiple lighting strikes, fires, and explosions over the years—most notably damage inflicted by the French in 1689, during the Nine Years' War.

    Settle in for a lunch of traditional fare in a Heidelberg Gasthaus (a small inn with a restaurant and bar) that has been part of the Old Town for centuries. You'll then discover more of the town during a walking tour of the city.

    You'll have extra time to continue your discoveries, and perhaps you'll seek out a special glimpse into historical student culture at a Studentenkarzer—a private jail cell intended for misbehaving students. Learn about this unorthodox idea—as well as how it backfired in remarkable fashion.

  • 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.

  • View a group of passengers at Residenz in Wurzburg Germany

    Enjoy a morning of scenic cruising along the Main River today, taking in views of the lush greenery that lines both sides of the river. Peppered only by the occasional small town, this stretch of river makes it easy to feel a kinship with the explorers and travelers who have, like you, journeyed through Germany by ship. Your Program Directors will provide commentary from the bridge, making sure to point out highlights along the way.

    In the mid-afternoon, dock in the Bavarian city of Wurzburg, a marvelous display of Baroque and Rococo architecture and a hot spot for wine enthusiasts. You'll explore the city, founded in the tenth century, during an included walking tour. Along the way, you'll learn how to spot the signs that several powerful prince-bishops lived here over the years—the most obvious example being the exterior of the Residenz, an ornate complex commissioned by the prince-bishop von Schönborn brothers, Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Carl. Napoleon proclaimed this building the "nicest parsonage in Europe"—while the structure was heavily damaged during WWII, it has been painstakingly restored to its pre-war form.

    Enjoy time here on your own before returning to the ship for dinner. Perhaps you'll journey into the Residenz to see its renowned grand staircase, or get a glimpse of daily life from a spot at a local cafe.

  • View a beautiful village on Main River in Schweinfurt Germany

    Your ship will stop briefly in Gerlachshausen this morning, and you'll have a choice: You can spend the morning onboard, enjoying a scenic cruise to Schweinfurt.

    Or, you can disembark and join our optional full-day excursion to Rothenburg, where you'll step into medieval times. This lovely old town, nestled on the Tauber River, is home to undamaged 14th-century city walls and beautifully preserved fortifications. As you explore, you'll see stately towers, imposing burghers' houses, and the town's whimsical mechanical clock tower. Enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant and some free time to explore on your own before you travel to meet up with the ship in Schweinfurt.

  • The Beer of Bamberg

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

    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. The city has grown famous in beer-enthusiast circles as the home to Rauchbier, a beer known for its smoky notes and malty finish.

    With more than 2,000 buildings listed as historical monuments, Bamberg's old city center is Europe's largest existing group of historic structures—and UNESCO named the town not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also "World Cultural and Natural Heritage of Mankind" in 1993. Your tour will immerse you in this vibrant display of historical locations and culture—and you'll also have time to explore 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.

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

    This morning's panoramic tour introduces you to Nuremberg—a city with a long and storied history, but also forever linked to Hitler's rise to power.

    Bavaria's second-largest city, Nuremberg was once the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire—and you can see traces of its exalted past with the imposing medieval castle that looks over the city from above. It grew to serve as the heart of the German Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries.

    It was because of its connection to the Holy Roman Empire that the Nazi Party chose Nuremberg as the site of massive party conventions between 1927 and 1938. Your tour will take you to Zeppelin Field, where these rallies were held for up to 100,000 spectators, on grounds designed by Hitler's chief architect, Albert Speer. (Speer later went down in history as "the Nazi who said sorry" during the Nuremberg Trials.) While rally footage and photographs show this space as home to large, loud, boisterous activity, Zeppelin Field is quiet for visitors today—vast and almost overwhelming in its expansive magnitude.

    While Nuremberg is so closely associated with numerous events of the past, it is today a lively and vibrant city with a contemporary vibe, and you'll get a sense of daily life here during lunch in a local restaurant, where you'll sample local specialties among those who call this city home. Your afternoon is yours—and you can choose to relax or take advantage of a shuttle bus into town. If you'd like to continue to trace World War II history, you can visit the Documentation Center, which offers a sobering look at the causes, context, and consequences of the National Socialist Party's reign of terror. Or, you can explore Nuremberg's Old Town, full of Old World charm, including the Church of Our Lady—complete with a 16th-century mechanical clock depicting the Holy Roman Emperor.

  • View a beautiful bridge in Regensburg Germany

    When your ship stops in Kelheim this morning, you can elect to stay onboard for scenic cruising en route to Regensburg. Or, delve deeper into the Danube's scenic splendor with an optional Bavaria: Baroque & Beer excursion.

    No matter how you spend the morning, enjoy lunch onboard before stepping ashore for walking tour of Regensburg, Germany's largest and one of its best preserved medieval city. 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 winding 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. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for a small red plaque affixed to a home on the Watmarkt: Oskar Schindler lived here for a time after the end of World War II.

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

    Explore Passau, situated at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz, and Inn rivers, during this morning's walking tour.

    Called the Dreifluessestadt (City on Three Rivers), this elegant town has served as a German cultural and intellectual hub for centuries. Explore this kaleidoscopic assortment of pastel-colored buildings, cobblestone streets, and ornate sculptures during your tour.

    Return to the ship for lunch, then enjoy the afternoon to pursue your own interests in Passau, such as the town's Dom, the lavish, 17th-century St. Stephen's Cathedral. This structure is home to 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 a gorgeous octagonal dome hovering over the intersection of the nave (where the congregation sites) and the transept running perpendicular.

    This afternoon, a local resident for an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about her family's post-WWII relocation from an area on the German-Czech border known as Sudeten. Then say auf Wiedersehen to Germany 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.

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

    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, with the night to relax or start exploring on your own. Or, join our optional Musical Vienna excursion for the chance to celebrate this city's incredible classical music heritage. You'll attend a performance of Strauss and Mozart music at one of the city's famed concert halls, a chance to tap into the city's storied glamour and grandeur for one special evening.

  • 36 Hours in Vienna

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

    Today, discover Vienna, Austria's legendary capital and a city renowned for its elegance and culture.

    Your exploration begins with a panoramic tour along (and within) the Ringstrasse, one of Emperor Franz Joseph's many achievements. In 1857, the emperor ordered the demolition of Vienna's ancient city walls, which were impeding growth of the city. In their place was constructed an elegant 2.5-mile long boulevard, encircling the Inner Stadt (Old Town).

    Today, the Ringstrasse showcases Neo-classical buildings that bring together all the greatest architectural styles for an exuberant celebration of all that seemed possible during the Industrial Revolution. Your tour will also give you opportunity to 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.

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, disembark the ship and transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or, continue your discoveries in Vienna, Austria or Prague, Czech Republic, with a post-trip extension.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Prague, Czech Republic

    4 nights from only $695

    Discover 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. An ancient city and new cultural capital for Eastern Europe, Prague exudes Old World character and a modern, vibrant spirit. Wander about the city’s twisting cobblestone streets and old neighborhoods, where ancient houses crowd each other along narrow lanes ... and 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

    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
  • 4 nights from only $695

    Discover 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. An ancient city and new cultural capital for Eastern Europe, Prague exudes Old World character and a modern, vibrant spirit. Wander about the city’s twisting cobblestone streets and old neighborhoods, where ancient houses crowd each other along narrow lanes ... and 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

    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
  • 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 in Vienna, 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 in Austria's capital.

    This evening, gather onboard for your first Port Talk—a nightly feature during which your Program Director shares information and tips about the discoveries that await the next day. Then get better acquainted with your Program Director and fellow travelers, including those who took the Vienna, Austria or Prague, Czech Republic pre-trip extensions over a Welcome Drink, followed by dinner.

  • Explore Vienna during a tour of Europe

    Today, discover Vienna, Austria's legendary capital and a city renowned for its elegance and culture.

    Your exploration begins with a panoramic tour along (and within) the Ringstrasse, one of Emperor Franz Joseph's many achievements. In 1857, the emperor ordered the demolition of Vienna's ancient city walls, which were impeding growth of the city. In their place was constructed an elegant 2.5-mile long boulevard, encircling the Inner Stadt (Old Town).

    Today, the Ringstrasse showcases Neo-classical buildings that bring together all the greatest architectural styles for an exuberant celebration of all that seemed possible during the Industrial Revolution. Your tour will also give you opportunity to 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. This evening, formally meet your crew and fellow travelers at the Captain's Welcome Drink and Dinner.

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

    Spend a relaxing morning cruising through the captivating, lovely landscape of the Wachau Valley—past terraced vineyards and lush flowering fields. As you cruise, delve into a candid Discovery Series discussion about immigration in Europe—and the effect of Germany's open-border policy for refugees.

    Arrive in Melk, where you can glimpse its formidable abbey from the ship, as it rises up from the surrounding countryside along the Danube. Disembark after an early lunch for a guided tour of the 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.

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

    Preview what awaits you in Germany this morning, as you learn helpful German words and phrases during an exclusive Discovery Series language lesson led by your Program Director. Then disembark for your first German explorations in Passau.

    Called the Dreifluessestadt (City on Three Rivers), this elegant town has served as a German cultural and intellectual hub for centuries. Explore this kaleidoscopic assortment of pastel-colored buildings, cobblestone streets, and ornate sculptures during your tour.

    Return to the ship for lunch, then enjoy the afternoon to pursue your own interests in Passau, such as the town's Dom, the lavish, 17th-century St. Stephen's Cathedral. This structure is home to 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 a gorgeous octagonal dome hovering over the intersection of the nave (where the congregation sites) and the transept running perpendicular.

    This afternoon, a local resident for an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about her family's post-WWII relocation from an area on the German-Czech border known as Sudeten.

  • View a German cathedral during your European cruise

    After breakfast, step ashore for a walking tour of Regensburg, Germany's largest and one of its best preserved medieval city. 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 winding 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.  Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for a small red plaque affixed to a home on the Watmarkt: Oskar Schindler lived here for after the end of World War II.

    After lunch onboard, the afternoon is yours to relax, shop, or explore the town further on your own.

    Tonight, step ashore for dinner at a local restaurant featuring traditional folk music.

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

    When your ship stops in Kelheim this morning, you can elect to stay onboard for scenic cruising en route to Regensburg. Or, delve deeper into the Danube's scenic splendor with an optional Bavaria: Baroque & Beer excursion.

    No matter how you spend the morning, enjoy lunch onboard before heading to the home of a local family in the village of Beilngries for a traditional Kaffeeklatsch. Share coffee and cake with your host and get a glimpse of life in this Bavarian community during an exclusive Discovery Series Home-Hosted Visit.

    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 noteDuring the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal transit, it may be necessary for the Captain to close the Sun Deck because of low-standing bridges.

  • This morning's panoramic tour introduces you to Nuremberg—a city with a long and storied history, but also forever linked to Hitler's rise to power.

    Bavaria's second-largest city, Nuremberg was once the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire—and you can see traces of its exalted past with the imposing medieval castle that looks over the city from above. It grew to serve as the heart of the German Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries.

    It was because of its connection to the Holy Roman Empire that the Nazi Party chose Nuremberg as the site of massive party conventions between 1927 and 1938. Your tour will take you to Zeppelin Field, where these rallies were held for up to 100,000 spectators, on grounds designed by Hitler's chief architect, Albert Speer. (Speer later went down in history as "the Nazi who said sorry" during the Nuremberg Trials.) While rally footage and photographs show this space as home to large, loud, boisterous activity, Zeppelin Field is quiet for visitors today—vast and almost overwhelming in its expansive magnitude.

    While Nuremberg is so closely associated with numerous events of the past, it is today a lively and vibrant city with a contemporary vibe, and you'll get a sense of daily life here during lunch in a local restaurant, where you'll sample local specialties among those who call this city home. Your afternoon is yours—and you can choose to relax or take advantage of a shuttle bus into town. If you'd like to continue to trace World War II history, you can visit the Documentation Center, which offers a sobering look at the causes, context, and consequences of the National Socialist Party's reign of terror. Or, you can explore Nuremberg's Old Town, full of Old World charm, including the Church of Our Lady—complete with a 16th-century mechanical clock depicting the Holy Roman Emperor.

  • The Beer of Bamberg

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

    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. The city has grown famous in beer-enthusiast circles as the home to Rauchbier, a beer known for its smoky notes and malty finish.

    With more than 2,000 buildings listed as historical monuments, Bamberg's old city center is Europe's largest existing group of historic structures—and UNESCO named the town not only a World Heritage Site, but also "World Cultural and Natural Heritage of Mankind" in 1993. Your tour will immerse you in this vibrant display of historical locations and culture—and you'll also have time to explore on your own before returning to the ship for lunch.

    Enjoy a leisurely rest of the day cruising.

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

    Your ship will stop briefly in Gerlachshausen this morning, and you'll have a choice: You can spend the morning onboard, enjoying a scenic cruise to Wurzburg.

    Or, you can disembark and join our optional full-day excursion to Rothenburg, where you'll step into medieval times. This lovely old town, nestled on the Tauber River, is home to undamaged 14th-century city walls and beautifully preserved fortifications. As you explore, you'll see stately towers, imposing burghers' houses, and the town's whimsical mechanical clock tower. Enjoy an included lunch at a local restaurant and some free time to explore on your own before you travel to meet up with the ship (and the rest of your fellow travelers) in Wurzburg, a marvelous display of Baroque and Rococo architecture and a hot spot for wine enthusiasts.

    You'll explore the city, founded in the tenth century, during an included walking tour this afternoon. Along the way, you'll learn how to spot the signs that several powerful prince-bishops lived here over the years—the most obvious example being the exterior of the Residenz, an ornate complex commissioned by the prince-bishop von Schönborn brothers, Johann Philipp Franz and Friedrich Carl. Napoleon prolaimed this building the "nicest parsonage in Europe"—while the structure was heavily damaged during WWII, it has been painstakingly restored to its pre-war form.

  • As your ship approaches Wertheim this morning, enjoy a special introduction to what awaits you there—a local glassblower will join you onboard for an exclusive Discovery Series demonstration.

    Upon arrival, step ashore for a walking tour of this charming fairy-tale town, located at the confluence of the Main and Tauber rivers and home to a proud tradition of glass production.

    During your exploration, you'll also delve into the complex and emotional topic of Judaism and German history. A thriving Jewish community developed in Wertheim dating back to the 13th century, and numerous synagogues had been built there over time.

    But when Kristallnacht swept through Germany in 1938—the interior of Wertheim's 18th-century synagogue, as well as multiple Jewish-owned stores—were demolished. In the following years, the Jewish population disappeared—whether they moved elsewhere or were deported to concentration camps. You'll learn more about this, and see public memorials tracing this history, during your included tour, followed by free time for independent discovery.

    Dinner will be onboard this evening.

  • Today, discover Heidelberg, a history and vibrant German university town that allures visitors with enchanting architecture, rich literary heritage, and striking riverside panoramas.

    After breakfast onboard, disembark in Frankfurt and board your private motorcoach for a transfer to Heidelberg. Along the way, your Program Director will set the stage for your discoveries in this town, the identity of which is hugely connected to the university that has operated here since the 14th century. Upon arrival, take in the view of the city from the ruins of its namesake castle, a strong example of Renaissance architecture. A castle has stood on these grounds since the 13th century, despite multiple lighting strikes, fires, and explosions over the yearsr—most notably damage inflicted by the French in 1689, during the Nine Years' War.

    Settle in for a lunch of traditional fare in a Heidelberg Gasthaus (a small inn with a restaurant and bar) that has been part of the Old Town for centuries. You'll then discover more of the town during a walking tour of the city.

    You'll have extra time to continue your discoveries, and perhaps you'll seek out a special glimpse into historical student culture at a Studentenkarzer—a private jail cell intended for misbehaving students. Learn about this unorthodox idea—as well as how it backfired in remarkable fashion, before returning to the ship for dinner onboard.

  • This morning, get your camera ready as you make your way to your ship's Sun Deck—or settle in for a window seat within the lounge—for an unforgettable stretch of scenic sailing. As your ship makes way to Koblenz, you'll be treated to a view of the Rhine River's castle corridor, a stretch of valley liberally sprinkled with turreted hilltop structures on both shores.

    Your Program Directors will help you spot each structure—and learn about important local history—as they provide commentary from the ship's bridge. They'll also be sure to point out 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 golden-haired siren here: It is said that Lorelei entices sailors to destruction below the rock.

    Upon arrival in Koblenz this afternoon, set at the point where the Rhine and Mosel rivers meet. Koblenz was originally established as an outpost of the Roman Empire in 9 BC, and named Castellum apud Confluentes (Castle at the Confluence of the Rivers). The town benefited significantly from its prime location, and grew from a town to a prosperous city by the 13th century. Explore the narrow winding streets lined by half-timbered buildings, medieval churches, and the Weinstuben (wine taverns) that celebrate the region's famous local products. You'll have time here for your own discoveries before returning to the ship for dinner.

  • After breakfast, arrive in Cologne and set off for an included walking tour. A former Roman settlement called Colonia Agrippina, Cologne came under Frankish control in the fifth century. Traces of this layered history can be seen throughout the city: Among multiple visible Roman ruins is the Roman Gate, a medieval archway that stands guard near Cologne Cathedral. You'll also pass one of Germany's quirkiest museums, but one befitting a city linked by name to all things odorous: Cologne's Fragrance Museum.

    Your tour concludes outside the city's magnificent Gothic cathedral, the Dom. This UNESCO World Heritage Site largely escaped the World War II damage that devastated the rest of the city (and Germany)—there's evidence that Allied forces were specifically ordered to preserve the beauty of this structure. The largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, the Dom boasts incredible stained-glass windows, an ornate gold altar shrine, and the intricate detail traditional for 14th-century Gothic churches. Return to your ship for an onboard lunch.

    The rest of the afternoon is yours to spend as you please. Perhaps you'll venture into the Dom to see the splendors contained therein. Or, consider learning more about the city's ancient history with a visit to the Roman-Germanic Museum: The building was built on the site of a third-century Roman villa, and includes a stunning Dionysus mosaic floor.

    Tonight, cruise into Dutch waters on the Rhine River, heading toward Amsterdam. Gather with your fellow travelers for a drink this evening, followed by the Captain's Farewell Dinner.

  • View five passengers enjoying a cruise down an Amsterdam canal

    This morning, discover Amsterdam, a city that has successfully blended its Old Word traditions with a thoroughly modern vibe. Today's discoveries of "Venice of the North" will begin, fittingly, with a morning canal boat tour—providing you an unmatched vantage point from which you can marvel at the city's remarkable architectural achievements, including its famous tall and skinny rowhouses, many with tidy window boxes and hand-scrubbed stoops.

    You'll then disembark your boat to continue your discoveries by foot. Behold the exterior of one of Amsterdam's most famous residences—the Anne Frank House, where the famous diarist wrote Het Achterhuis (The Diary of a Young Girl) while hiding from the Nazis—as you explore the city's downtown area. Your tour concludes in Dam Square: Today the heart of the city, this is where the Amstel River once flowed. Due to flooding, a dam was built--thus, the square's name.

    Return to your ship for lunch, before an afternoon of leisure that will give you time to discover more of the city as you'd like. Return to the ship this evening for dinner onboard.

  • After breakfast, disembark the ship and transfer to the airport for your flight home. Or, continue your trip with an 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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