Day 1 - Zürich, Switzerland/Basel/Rhine River
Arrive in either Zürich or Basel, Switzerland, and transfer to the Scenic Space Ship this afternoon. At this evening’s welcome reception, raise your glass to the journey ahead as we set sail on the Rhine. If flying into Zurich, please book your flights to arrive prior to 1:00pm. If flying into Basel, please book your flights to arrive prior to 3pm. (Dinner)
Day 2 - Strasbourg, France/Mittelbergheim/Black Forest, Germany
This morning, venture ashore at Strasbourg, the capital of France’s wine-growing Alsace region. Our exploration begins with a tour of the canal-laced La Petite France district, where artisans lived and worked during the Middle Ages. Then stroll through the Old Town, designated a World Heritage site for its wealth of architectural gems, including half-timbered houses, Alsatian winstubs (taverns), and Strasbourg’s Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame. Alternatively, journey to the village of Mittelbergheim and sample some of the distinctive wines for which the Alsace region is known. Or enjoy a scenic hike through the Northern Black Forest through the lush woods passing old farm houses before reaching a "Schaps-fountain" where we can have a taste of some local Schnaps. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 3 - Heidelberg, Germany
Home to the oldest university in Germany, Heidelberg also boasts a rich literary history. Join a local guide on a tour of this delightful city, which inspired 19th-century German Romantics as well as Mark Twain, who recorded his observations of the city in A Tramp Abroad. Stroll through the Altstadt, or Old Town, and visit Heidelberg’s sandstone castle—a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. Or take a funicular up the hill, enjoying spectacular views as you hike back down to town. Alternatively, embark on an excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Grube Messel, a fossil site that was featured in a February 2000 National Geographic magazine story. “Ida,” the most perfectly preserved primate fossil in the world, was discovered here in 1983 and later analyzed by National Geographic Emerging Explorer Jorn Hurum and his team in 2009.
This evening, enjoy a private concert at a baroque palace. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 4 - Rüdesheim/Koblenz
Arrive in Rüdesheim and board the Winzerexpress mini-train. Freechoice: At Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Cabinet, peruse a large collection of mechanical musical instruments, which includes a vast array of music boxes. Then ride a cable car high above the city to the Niederwald Monument, built between 1877 and 1883 to commemorate the unification of Germany. Alternatively, go hiking through the vineyards of Rüdesheim, enjoying picturesque views. This afternoon, our ship continues to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, often called the Rhine Gorge. This 40-mile stretch of river flows past medieval towns, castles, and vineyards, and has been designated a World Heritage site for its historical importance and natural beauty. Later, arrive in Koblenz. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 5 - Koblenz/Cochem
Spend the day exploring Koblenz, an ancient Roman city that straddles two of Europe’s most beautiful rivers—the Rhine and Moselle. Discover the highlights of the Old Town, including the 13th-century Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) and the 18th-century Rathaus (town hall), which was formerly a Jesuit college. Or venture to Cochem, a medieval gem situated on the banks of the Moselle. Discover this fairy-tale city on a guided tour that includes a visit to the 1,000-year-old Reichsburg Castle, which presides over the valley from a hilltop perch. Alternatively, you may opt to visit a winery or go biking along the river. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6 - Cologne/Mettmann
The largest city on the Rhine, Cologne boasts an intriguing blend of ancient and modern architecture. Here, amid the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town, Roman ruins mix with Romanesque churches and contemporary museums.
Enjoy a scenic ride on Germany’s oldest cog railway and discover Schloss Drachenburg, or Dragon Castle, which overlooks the Rhine Valley. Or stroll through Cologne’s historic quarter and get up close to the filigreed twin towers of its Gothic cathedral—one of Germany’s most famous landmarks. Alternatively, visit the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, located in the valley where the bones of an Ice Age human—a Neanderthal—were recovered for the first time. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 7 - Amsterdam, Netherlands/Volendam/Edam
Known as the “Venice of the North,” Amsterdam is a vibrant city with an arts scene that has flourished since the Middle Ages.
Cruise through the city’s picturesque canals, which form a ring of waterways that has collectively been designated a World Heritage site. You may instead choose to go biking on the outskirts of the city, or take a guided visit to the renowned Rijksmuseum to examine masterpieces including Rembrandt’s Night Watch. National Geographic’s book The 10 Best of Everything ranks the Rijksmuseum among the top 10 museums in the world. Alternatively, discover the fishing village of Volendam, with its unusual raised homes and quaint wooden church. Then head to charming Edam and sample some of the round cheese for which the village famous. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 8 - Amsterdam
After breakfast, disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight home. (Breakfast)
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.
National Geographic Expert, Daniel Stone
Departure date: July 15, 2020
Daniel Stone is a National Geographic contributing editor and a professor of environmental science at Johns Hopkins University. For the magazine, he has covered archaeology in the German Alps, urban design and planning in the Netherlands, and the historic preservation of Western Europe's classic architecture. He has circled the world on assignment for National Geographic and led Onward, one of the Geographic's early experiments in multimedia reporting. He edits Your Shot and Proof, the magazine's spotlights on photographers around the world. Daniel is the author of The Food Explorer, about the true adventures of early 20th-century food spy David Fairchild, and about the origins of the modern global food system. He has a life-long passion for travel, adventure, and sharing great stories.
National Geographic Photographer, Susan Seubert
Departure date: July 15, 2020
Award-winning travel and editorial photographer Susan Seubert has photographed more than 30 feature stories for National Geographic Traveler. Her subjects range from Canada to the Caribbean and from Europe to Asia and beyond. Based in Portland, Oregon and Maui, Hawaii, Susan travels throughout the world shooting a variety of subjects and capturing a sense of place through her wide-ranging imagery. She has gone on assignment in Europe for National Geographic Traveler magazine, including for a piece covering the Grand Tour of Switzerland. Seubert has joined numerous National Geographic Expeditions over the years, from Alaska to Antarctica, and she also lectures regularly at such institutions as Harvard University and the Portland Art Museum. Her work has been recognized by Columbia University's Alfred Eisenstadt Award and most recently by the North American Travel Journalists Association for excellence in photography. Susan'sin-depth knowledge of digital technologies and her multimedia skills keep her at the cutting edge of visual storytelling.
20 meals including 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches and 7 Dinners
The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.