One of Europe’s most legendary rivers, the Rhine meanders through a storied landscape dotted with castles, vineyards, and medieval towns. On an 8-day cruise, journey to four countries linked by this fabled waterway, discovering their intertwined histories and cultures. Set out from Switzerland to encounter Strasbourg’s charming half-timbered houses, glide along Amsterdam’s iconic canals in the Netherlands, and marvel at Germany’s magnificent castles and cathedrals from Heidelberg to Cologne. Pass through the dramatic Rhine Gorge—a UNESCO World Heritage site of stunning natural beauty—and take in panoramic views while biking along the river.
Arrive in Amsterdam and transfer to the ship this afternoon. Settle into your spacious suite, or head to the sundeck for your first al fresco cocktail hour overlooking the river. This evening, set sail on the Rhine.
Scenic Opal for the entire voyage
Set out to explore timeless Amsterdam, known as the Venice of the North for its picturesque canals. Here, you can see the city from water level during a canal cruise, or take a guided visit through the renowned Rijksmuseum. There are also opportunities to explore the Dutch countryside by bike or on a visit the fishing village of Volendam and the town of Edam, famous for its round cheese.
Dock in Cologne and venture north to Mettmann, a town located in a valley where Neanderthal fossils were first found. The Neanderthal Museum is a tribute to human evolution, and we are invited on an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of its fossil exhibits. There is also the option to explore Cologne, including its iconic Gothic cathedral. Or head south and board Germany’s oldest cog railway for the ride up to Schloss Drachenburg (Dragon Castle), offering sweeping views over the Rhine Valley.
Today there are several options for exploring in or around Koblenz, an ancient Roman city straddling the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. A guided tour through our port of call features stops at the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) which dates back to the 5th century, and the 17th-century Rathaus (town hall). Available excursions beyond the city limits include a guided visit through the fairy tale town of Cochem, a bike ride along the riverfront, or wine tasting at a nearby vineyard.
In Rüdesheim am Rhein, board the Winzerexpress mini train for a visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet, home to a collection of elaborate self-playing musical instruments. Then ride a cable car to the Niederwald Monument, built to commemorate the unification of Germany. Or set out on a hike through the vineyards surrounding town. This afternoon, we’ll glide past the many medieval towns and castles that dot the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, or Rhine Gorge—a World Heritage site. Head to the ship’s sundeck and practice landscape photography alongside our National Geographic photographer, capturing the perfect angle on this stunning scenery.
Go ashore in Heidelberg and travel north to Grube Messel, a fossil pit that has revealed discoveries critical to our understanding of mammalian evolution. Explore this World Heritage site, featured in a February 2000 National Geographic magazine article. It was here that “Ida,” the world’s most complete primate fossil, was found in 1983. Or stay back in Heidelberg, a baroque beauty that inspired authors and composers from the 19th-century German Romantic movement. Stroll the old town and visit its sandstone castle; or take a funicular up the hill, enjoying spectacular views as you hike back down to town. Tonight we’ll gather at an intimate theater in Schwetzingen Palace for a private concert.
Having switched allegiances between France and Germany several times, Strasbourg is a fascinating cultural amalgam. Today you’ll have the option to explore the city on a guided tour of its half-timbered old town, or to venture beyond the riverbank, deeper into either France or Germany. Travelers who fancy a day in the French countryside will visit charming Mittelbergheim to sip Alsatian wines at a local winstub, while the excursion to Germany features a hike through the coniferous Black Forest of Brothers Grimm fame.
After breakfast, disembark in Basel and transfer to the Zürich airport for your flight home.
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