DAY 1 EMBARK IN BASEL
Arrive in Basel, where your five-star floating hotel is moored in the picturesque historic center. The dedicated English-speaking crew will welcome you aboard your first-class floating hotel, ensuring you settle into your luxurious, well-equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship.
DAY 2 BERNESE OBERLAND & LUCERNE
What a start to our cruise, as for many, today will be one of the highlights. You firstly take the short drive to Lucerne. Spectacularly nestled among stunning mountain views, it is by far Switzerland’s most beautiful city and has been attracting well-heeled visitors for two centuries, one of the most famous of which is Queen Victoria. You must take an invigorating stroll along the Chapel Bridge: a symbol of the city, a unique and covered wooden walkway crossing the lake, supported by stilts, lined with colorful flower-filled window boxes and a superb way to absorb Lucerne’s rather regal atmosphere.
The scenery becomes ever more dramatic, and as you enter the Bernese Oberland in central Switzerland, it becomes quite literally, breathtaking! This is the grand Alpine heart of Europe and amongst the finest mountain scenery on earth, described by the composer Mendelssohn as ‘the most wonderful of all in this unbelievably beautiful country’. On viewing the legendary snow-capped peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau, you’ll be quite simply awestruck; this is quintessential Switzerland at its very best.
We then ascend by mountain railway for more extraordinary vistas, with the crystal-clear lakes reflecting the grassy meadows and lush forests below. This truly magical landscape is sure to enchant you. Later we’ll descend again by mountain railway before making the coach journey back to our ship in Basel.
Please note: temperatures will be significantly lower at altitude, even during the summer months, so it’s advisable to pack suitable clothing. Lunch is not included on this full-day excursion; however, the ship will offer a packed lunch.
Tonight, you’ll enjoy another splendid dinner in the excellent restaurant as the ship cruises majestically towards our next mooring, Breisach.
DAY 3 BREISACH & BLACK FOREST
We have made steady progress overnight and this morning we are berthed in the ancient town of Breisach. After a leisurely breakfast stroll ashore, explore this picturesque town’s historic heart, which is surrounded by immense stone ramparts and dominated by the impressive Saint Stephan’s Cathedral.
Later you drive through some of Central Europe’s most stunning scenery – the Black Forest mountains. This is a fabled landscape of rugged valleys, white-water rivers, cascading waterfalls and rolling hillsides covered with huge, densely packed pine trees – exactly as you expect it to be. Our destination is the idyllic village of Titisee, nestling on the shores of its crystal-clear lake.
We re-join the ship and slip our moorings during tonight’s excellent dinner. As the sun sets and the riverside lights begin to twinkle, enjoy the views through the restaurant’s panoramic windows as we commence our cruise towards Strasbourg, arriving later tonight.
DAY 4 STRASBOURG
This morning, we have arrived in France and Strasbourg, the capital of the Alsace region. After breakfast, we enjoy a walking tour of its picturesque 16th-century old town – a maze of narrow streets and canals lined with timber-framed houses and sculptured portals. Unforgettable sights include the stupendous Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral, multi-towered Ponts Couverts – covered bridges – and the pretty Petite France quarter of pastel-colored former artisans’ houses lining the canals. Don’t be surprised if you’re tempted to linger a while in a typical Alsatian café to sample some of the region’s world-famous wines – a crisp Riesling or that particular specialty of Alsace, spicy Gewürztraminer.
During lunch, our elegant vessel glides away from our mooring as we commence an afternoon’s scenic cruising. Head up to the sun deck and take in the views from the comfort of a sun lounger or retire to the shady comfort of the lounge to chat over a coffee with newly made friends.
As evening falls, thoughts turn to what might be on the menu tonight, so head to the relaxed ambiance of the ship’s restaurant as the chef presents another delicious meal. Retire to the bar as we arrive in Speyer later tonight.
DAY 5 SPEYER
We remain moored in Speyer this morning to enjoy a guided tour of this delightful medieval gem, founded by the Celts and one of Germany’s oldest cities, celebrated for its illustrious past. The breathtaking Imperial Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is among the largest Romanesque churches in the world and also one of the finest. The beautiful four-roomed crypt, with its striking marble floors and pastel-colored pillars, is the resting place of many Holy Roman emperors and German kings. Another landmark is the magnificent neo-Gothic Gedächtniskirche, built to commemorate the 1529 ‘Protestation at Speyer’, a significant event when a group of Martin Luther’s followers protested his imperial ban. Henceforth, Luther’s religious followers were known as Protestants.
Returning on board for lunch, we commence our cruise once again, so sit back and watch the idyllic scenery slipping past through the panoramic windows: rolling hills and fertile vineyards, home to the Liebfraumilch wines of the region, oxbow lakes, long deserted by the river flow and now havens for bird and wildlife.
During dinner this evening our vessel arrives in the classic Rhine wine village of Rüdesheim, so you might fancy wandering ashore to enjoy a digestif – perhaps a glass of Asbach, the famous brandy distilled locally.
DAY 6 RHINE GORGE & RÜDESHEIM
This morning we moor in Rüdesheim, a classic Rhine wine village with crooked houses sloping down from wooded hillsides and terraced vineyards. During the delightful walking tour, witness the bustling marketplace, the half-timbered Klunkhardshof and Bromserburg Castle, which dates from 1275.
This afternoon we witness a real highlight of the cruise, the dramatic Rhine Gorge: steep vineyards give way to almost vertical rocky outcrops, towering over 1,000 feet above the sweeping valley sides. Sailing past Saint Goar and the many ruined castles, you get a real sense of the myths of this historic river coming alive around you. No legend is more famous than that surrounding the Loreley Rock, where beautiful nymphs distracted hapless sailors, luring them to their deaths in the treacherous waters.
Relax on the sun deck as our captain skilfully navigates the ship through the huge looping bend at Boppard – one of the most impressive on the river. Keep an eye out for the mighty Marksburg Castle too, an impressive fortress dating back to the 13th century.
It’s not long before we arrive in picturesque Koblenz; founded by the Romans, the city is beautifully located at the confluence of the Rhine and its sister, the Moselle. Founded by the Romans, this historic city is beautifully located at the confluence of the Rhine and its sister river the Moselle. Discover Koblenz’s maze of medieval buildings in the Altstadt – old town – which is studded with a fine array of traditional shops and classic Rhineland cafés.
On our guided tour of this delightful town, historic buildings appear seemingly at every turn: see the former mint, the Four Towers with their ornamental 17th-century turrets and several fascinating squares and churches, including the 9th-century Basilica of Saint Kastor.
The waterfront along the Moselle is stunning too, with the medieval Balduin Bridge, staggeringly still in use. If you managed to resist the tempting cakes on offer from the beckoning pavement cafés, then you’ll be ready for your meticulously prepared dinner on board and afterward, perhaps a quiet stroll along the riverside promenade to the Deutsches Eck – German Corner – where the great rivers Rhine and the Moselle meet.
DAY 7 COLOGNE
Early risers will witness our departure from Koblenz as we set sail towards Cologne. Enjoy a leisurely morning on board as we drift through this lovely Rhineland scenery, past quaint riverside towns with pretty waterfronts and carefully tended vineyards. See the famous ruined bridge at Remagen, which was captured intact by the Allies towards the end of the Second World War, allowing thousands of troops to cross into Germany’s heartland and the forested Siebengebirge – Seven Mountains – a cluster of ancient volcanic hills that inspired many of the Brothers Grimm’s legends, including Snow White. During lunch, we arrive in historic Cologne, where you have a free afternoon to explore the city.
Perhaps visit the superb cathedral, the largest Gothic structure on earth. It has Europe’s most stunningly intricate stained glass, which took 600 years to finish and when work was finally complete, it was the largest building on earth, remaining so until eclipsed by the Eiffel Tower. Or maybe you’ll opt to wander in the vibrant and attractive old town, beautifully restored and boasting a plethora of excellent shopping and cozy bars, some of which still traditionally brew their own beer.
This evening, the Captain’s Dinner will take place on board, serving delicious specialties of the countries and regions we visit during our cruise, as you reflect on the spectacular sights seen and wonderful places visited whilst traveling with us on this magical cruise.
DAY 8 DISEMBARK IN COLOGNE
This morning after breakfast, the crew bids you farewell before you disembark the ship.
Welcome aboard the first class river cruise ship, your luxury, floating hotel for the next seven nights. From the exceptional full-board cuisine to the luxurious cabins and suites you will very soon relax as we journey south to magnificent Switzerland.
On our journey through the Rhine valley, we visit historic Koblenz where we have time to explore the old town at the confluence of both the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Next, we continue our navigation through the dramatic Rhine Gorge where the sheer valley walls tower over 400m above our heads and onto Rudesheim, where we enjoy another evening complemented with an excellent dinner on board.
As the Rhine widens and the landscape becomes less rugged, our cruise continues south, stopping in fascinating Rudesheim onto medieval Speyer with its stunning Romanesque Basilica that dominates this pretty town. Next day we arrive at the city of Strasbourg where you enjoy a walking tour of the old town. Continuing, we drive through the typical rolling tree-clad massif of the Black Forest onto the charming town of Titisee, nestling on the shores of its namesake lake.
Experience the most breathtaking Alpine scenery on earth on a mountain rail journey into the spectacular Bernese Oberland, seeing the majestic Eiger and Jungfrau, then discover Switzerland’s most attractive city, magnificent Lucerne, on our included tour.
Seven nights on board in your choice of luxury cabin or suite, with river views
Seven visits and tours including guided tours of Strasbourg, Koblenz, Rüdesheim and Speyer, a drive through the Black Forest to Titisee, a full-day excursion to Lucerne and the Bernese Oberland, and a visit to Breisach
Live classical quartet recital on board
All meals on board from dinner on your day of arrival through to breakfast on your day of departure (except one lunch), including a welcome dinner and the Captain’s Dinner
Five-star service from an English-speaking crew and knowledgeable local guides
Complimentary on-board tea and coffee
Complimentary on-board Wi-Fi
Services of a Riviera River Cruises cruise director and concierge