Day 1: Cologne (Embark)
Arrive at Cologne Bonn Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer, or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
Day 2: Cologne
You simply cannot visit Cologne without paying homage to its most notorious site, the Gothic masterpiece that serves as the city’s cathedral. Your local expert will show you favorite haunts around the Old Town and share some of the cathedral’s most intriguing and Magi-cal secrets with you. Later, you can explore the city’s seven (!) Christmas markets to your heart’s content. Cologne is the largest and oldest city of the Rhineland and a cultural mecca, with more than 30 museums and hundreds of art galleries. A congenial atmosphere and a mix of ancient, modern and reconstructed buildings characterize the heart of the city.
A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening. (Welcome Dinner)
Day 3: Koblenz, Cruising the romantic Rhine River
Step ashore in Koblenz, a historic town with a colorful past, eclectic architecture and an enchanting Christmas market. On today’s cruise along the Rhine, watch out for the Loreley rock, a tall slate cliff towering over the narrowest point of the river. Celebrated in song and shrouded in legend, the rock is famous for the tale of Loreley, a beautiful siren whose beguiling song doomed passing sailors. This morning you’ll reach the famous intersection of the Rhine and the Moselle. Where the two rivers meet, you’ll find the enchanting town of Koblenz. Later, spend a spectacular afternoon onboard your luxurious boutique ship as you sail the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stretch of the Rhine is extraordinarily picturesque: Castles perch atop steep cliffs above the water and each quaint village is marked by the spire of its historic church.
Day 4: Rüdesheim, Mainz
Double your fun today with visits to two Christmas markets. The first is in Rüdesheim, a town famous for its life-sized Nativity scene, brandy-infused coffee and a quirky museum devoted to mechanical musical instruments. The next is in Mainz, the birthplace of Gutenberg’s revolutionary printing press and home to a 200-year-old Christmas market. Rüdesheim, like many cities along the Rhine, dates back to Roman times, when the Rhine was the northern border of the empire. Today, Rüdesheim is famous for its beauty and its entertaining alley of shops and wine bars called the Drosselgasse. It’s also home to a unique and fascinating little museum devoted to mechanical musical instruments. Then you’ll head back to the ship for a short cruise to Mainz. Mainz, standing at the confluence of the Rhine and the Main rivers, may be best known as the city where Johannes Gutenberg prepared his priceless 42-line bible for publication in 1485, using his newly invented printing press. You have the afternoon at leisure to explore the city that inspired such ingenuity, venturing off on your own to visit the Gutenberg Museum or one of the other intriguing museums nearby. Or you could stroll with the Cruise Manager through the Old Town neighborhood known as the Cherry Orchard, which is lined with picturesque half-timbered houses, on your way to the 200-year-old St. Nicholas Christmas Market. The millennium-old St. Martin’s Cathedral acts as its backdrop, and the holiday pyramid smack in the middle of the square reflects Mainz’s history— figures of Gutenberg and the ancient Roman commander Dresus join the standard angels and Santas. Mainz’s Old Town brims with specialty shops tucked into lovingly restored buildings: You’ll find jewelry, leather goods, books, toys—something special for every special person on your list. In your free time, a shuttle bus will also be provided to those who would like to visit the Wiesbaden Christmas markets.
Day 5: Germersheim (Heidelberg)
Wake up and choose your adventure for the day. You can join an excursion to the historic university town of Heidelberg, where you’ll see the castle ruins and visit the Christmas market. Or for something really unexpected, venture into a spooky, candlelit tasting room to sample flavorful elixirs made from wine vinegars. Utterly unique and surprisingly delicious! If you speak no German, here’s one phrase you might want to learn now: “Fröhliche Weihnachten,” or “Merry Christmas!”
Day 6: Kehl (Strasbourg)
Strasbourg is invariably described as quaint, a rather overused word that in this case is perfectly apropos. When you see it on foot with a friendly local expert, this historic town with its cobbled lanes, half-timbered homes, giant stork nests and impossible-to-resist pastry shops will win your heart. Kehl, directly across the river from Strasbourg, will be your ship’s base while you explore the Alsatian capital, which is known as the “Crossroads of Europe” for its strategic location halfway between Paris and Prague. It is home to a magnificent, single-spire Gothic cathedral and many beautiful half-timbered houses.
Day 7: Basel
Basel is a cultural and artistic powerhouse, with all sorts of galleries, theaters and museums. And at this time of year, the city’s Christmas market draws visitors from all over Europe, as does its Christmas Street, lined with more than 100 beautifully decorated and illuminated Christmas trees. Be sure to make a wish in the town’s Wish Book! Your day in Basel begins with a short panoramic tour of Switzerland’s second-largest city. Long an important center of education, banking and trade, Basel boasts a glorious history that stretches back to the Roman Empire. During the Renaissance, its university and master printers drew intellectuals from all over Europe, including the great thinker Erasmus of Rotterdam, whose tomb is found within the walls of the Romanesque cathedral. To this day, the city remains a cultural and artistic powerhouse, with numerous art galleries, theaters and more than 30 museums. And at this time of year, a beloved Christmas market draws visitors from all over Europe.
A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening. (Farewell Dinner)
Day 8: Basel (Disembark)
Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer, or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg for your flight home.
A festive journey destined to delight travelers of all ages.
Switzerland, France and Germany provide the perfect backdrop for this true connoisseur’s Christmas market cruise. Discover the roots of our Christmas traditions as you explore some of Europe’s most charming towns. Browse for unique ornaments in Basel’s Christmas Market. Sip vin chaud as you stroll to Place Kléber to behold the enormous, brilliantly lighted tree that Strasbourg offers modern celebrants. See how the baroque town hall of Koblenz is transformed into an Advent calendar and find unexpected treasures in the red-roofed stalls clustered around Cologne’s magnificent cathedral.
Savor tantalizing once-a-year treats with Uniworld’s “Taste of Christmas” program, including gingerbread, crepes with cinnamon and warm spiced wine. Revel in brightly painted carousels and handmade ornaments, medieval squares illuminated by twinkling lights, life-sized Nativity figures and joyful brass choirs. Sail through castle-strewn hillsides and visit charming towns decked in holiday finery for a holiday season you will never forget.
Who will enjoy this cruise? Shoppers searching for unique gifts, and Christmas enthusiasts looking for the origins of many cherished holiday traditions. Anyone who loves seasonal treats and festive holiday decorations and lights.
All meals onboard, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
7 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 7 dinners
Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions
Welcome and Farewell Gala Dinners
Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, specialty coffee and tea, soft drinks and mineral water
6 days of excursions, including “Choice Is Yours” options, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
Guided “Taste of Christmas” program
State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions
Use of Nordic walking sticks
7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom on the exquisite S.S. Antoinette
Lavishly appointed riverview staterooms and suites have handcrafted Savoir® Beds of England, high thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, and a menu of pillow options
Free Internet and Wi-Fi access
3 countries: France, Germany, Switzerland
3 UNESCO World Heritage sites
Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
All transfers on arrival and departure days
Captivating onboard local entertainment
Cultural enrichment, including a Signature Lecture
Cruising cabin onboard: S.S. Antoinette
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.