Grand Christmastime Cruise - Basel to Vienna

  • 16 Days

Experience the holiday season on this festive river cruise holiday from Basel to Vienna. Enjoy guided sightseeing in Strasbourg, Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg and Vienna. Other highlights: excursions to Germany's Black Forest; to Heidelberg for a visit to the red sandstone castle and to Rüdesheim in the heart of Rhine wine country. There's a fun tasting of German beers, and a guided visit of the awe-inspiring Benedictine Abbey in Melk. You'll have the opportunity to explore the many Christmas markets, where you can sample some tasty holiday treats, smell the festive aromas, shop for locally crafted Christmas ornaments, and delight in the holiday cheer. This year, celebrate the holiday season in style on this memorable and joyous cruise. Your ship will be decorated and dressed up in Christmas colours.

Your journey starts here

Highlights

VIP private home pick-up service
Flights
Transfers
Services of a cruise director
Accommodation
Selected meals
Wine & beer with lunch and dinner
Excursions
Gratuities on cruise
All airport and port taxes

Sorry, this holiday isn't available to book yet. Please call us on 0800 223 0179 and we'll let you know as soon as it goes on sale.

  • Overview

  • Day 1

  • Day 2

  • Day 3

  • Day 4

  • Day 5

  • Day 6

  • Day 7

  • Day 8

  • Day 9

  • Day 10

  • Day 11

  • Day 12

  • Day 13

  • Day 14

  • Day 15

  • Day 16

of 16 days

Your detailed itinerary

Meals included: 15 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 15 dinners

Overview

At a glance

ZurichTrasfer to Basel for embarkation. On board welcome reception BreisachExcursion to the Black forest; Christmas market Strasbourgguided sightseeing, visit La Petite France district and the gothic cathedral, Christmas market Excursion to Heidelbergguided visit of the castle, see the Great Vat; Christmas market FrankfurtExcursion to Rudesheim Miltenbergguided walk; Christmas market, on board culinary demonstration, St Nicholas Legend Wurzburgguided sightseeing, visit the Bishop's Residenz; Christmas market Bambergguided sightseeing, see the Old Town Hall; Christmas market Nuremberg Choice of guided sightseeing or Nuremberg Rally Grounds tour; Christmas market, Excursion to Munich RegensburgGuided walk; enjoy a snack at the Historische Wurstkuche; Christmas market - beer tasting Passau Guided walk; Christmas market MelkGuided visit of the Benedictine Abbey, Austrian Cookie baking demonstration ViennaGuided sightseeing; culinary tour at Christmas market

Day 1

Arrive in Zurcih - Basel (Embarkation)

Welcome to Switzerland. NOTE: Flights into Zürich must arrive before 3 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 2

Breisach

Located at the foot of Kaiserstuhl Mountain on the French-German border, Breisach is the gateway to Germany’s Black forest region, an area of unrivaled natural beauty with its forests of thick pine trees. There’s no better setting for this time of year than when smoke curls from the chimneys of the traditional Black Forest houses with their long sloping roofs, connoting images of warm and festively decorated interiors. Surely, the most well-known products from this region are Black Forest ham, cherry cake, and cuckoo clocks. This afternoon there’s free time in Breisach to visit the Christmas market—or you may join an optional excursion to Colmar in France’s Alsace region.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 3

Strasbourg

Situated on the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg blends the cultures of both countries in a delightful way. As capital of the Alsace region and seat of the Council of Europe and European Parliament, it is, without a doubt, an important city that manages to retain its historic charm. In fact, on your guided walking tour you will discover Europe at its most quintessential. Visit the monumental red-sandstone  Gothic cathedral with its ancient murals, stained-glass windows, and fascinating astronomical clock, as well as the magical La Petire France district, home to half-timbered houses, quaint shops, inviting bistros, and a waterfront promenade. Also spend time exploring Place Kléber, a large historic square in the heart of the city, and Place Gutenberg in the heart of medieval Strasbourg, which features a statue of the inventor of the printing press. Dating back to 1570, the traditional Christmas market is one of the oldest and finest in Europe. Located around Place de la Cathédrale and Place Broglie, its centerpiece is a giant Christmas tree. As you stroll through the festively decorated and illuminated streets you’ll notice the pleasing aromas of mulled wine, sweets, spice cakes, and biscuits—a truly magical atmosphere! This afternoon, an optional excursion into the Alsace wine region is available.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 4

Heidelberg

Today an excursion takes you to Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in Germany, which was founded in 1386. Visit the imposing ruins of Heidelberg castle, towering magnificently over the city and among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. You’ll also see the famed Great Vat, the “World’s Largest Wine Barrel.” At nearly 23 feet high and 28 feet wide, the cask holds over 58,000 gallons of wine and has a dance floor built on top of it! At this time of year, an ice rink is set up at the foot of the castle, and stalls offer Glühwein, Bratwurst, and other tasty treats. The Christmas market itself is scattered over five town squares, and you’ll find a wide array of crafts and regional delicacies.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 5

Frankfurt

After breakfast this morning, a comfortable motorcoach ride takes you to the pretty little town of Rüdesheim, a perfect example of a Rhine Valley wine town. A visit to Siegfried's mechanical Siegfrieds mechanical musical instrument museum is a real surprise! Afterward, we’ll offer you a special treat and then there’s free time to explore. The entire town transforms itself into one large Christmas market, offering products and specialties from a number of nations, all presented in a distinctive manner. You’ll be spoiled by the selection of shops offering a vast variety of Christmas presents and decorations. In the Market Square you’ll find Europe’s largest nativity scene, with life-size figures. In the afternoon, return to Frankfurt.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 6

Miltenberg

Tucked away behind medieval defensive walls and towered gates, the picturesque Bavarian village of Miltenberg is a cultural gem on the banks of the Main River. This afternoon’s guided walk will acquaint you with the town’s delightful Marktplatz (market square), which centers around a Renaissance-era fountain and features striking half-timbered buildings, cobblestone lanes, and one of the oldest inns in Germany, Haus zum Riesen (the giant’s house) and the gothic splendor of the Merchant Hall. Later continue your cruise on the Main river to Würzburg .and enjoy a culinary demonstration onboard. Tonight let your Cruise Director introduce you the St. Nicholas' legend.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 7

Wurzburg

Known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” Würzburg is surrounded by sloping hills covered with vineyards. The city makes an immediate impression with imposing Fortress Marienberg perched above town and the 15th-century Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge). On your guided sightseeing tour, visit the magnificent baroque Bishops residenz, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. This afternoon you are free to explore the beautifully decorated streets on your own, visit the Christmas markets, or perhaps join an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg where you will have the opportunity to visit the Christmas Museum.. Here, try a Schneeball (snowball), a local specialty not at all suitable for a diet!

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 8

Bamberg

Learn everything about Christmas Traditions during an onboard lecture this morning. Medieval Bamberg is the former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guided walking tour takes in its historic center, including the great 13th-century Romanesque cathedral and the fascinating Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)—built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River when the bishop refused to give the townspeople land for a town hall! At this time of year, the town is decked out for Christmas and especially interesting are the many nativity scenes built by local citizens and exhibited throughout the town. Enjoy the Christmas market, where, in addition to candles and decorations, you’ll find many regional delicacies such as gingerbread and nut bread. Be sure not to miss the special gift we have reserved for you in a local brewery

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 9

Nuremberg

Although 90% of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Choose either a guided sightseeing tour and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialized “Nuremberg rally grounds” tour. The Old Town is illuminated with festive lights and decorations, and the Christmas market is one of the most famous in the world. You’ll find 200 stalls offering traditional wares, including Nuremberg Lebkuchen (spicy gingerbread), baked goods and sweets, Christmas decorations, ornaments, and more

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 10

Nuremberg (Disembarkation) - Munich (Embarkation)

After breakfast, disembark the vessel which has brought you to Nuremberg and drive to Munich, where a local expert will proudly show you the sights of the Bavarian capital. An inspiring mix of historic buildings and impressive architecture, you’ll see the Olympic Stadium, 1,000-foot-high Television Tower, Nymphenburg Palace, Marienplatz in the historic heart of the city with the Old and New Town Halls, and the gothic Frauenkirche. Later, there’s free time to explore on your own. The traditional Christmas market is located on the Marienplatz, with aromas of toasted almonds, roasted chestnuts, and gingerbread filling the air and the strains of alpine Christmas music coming from the town hall. At the nearby Rindermarkt, you’ll find the Kripperlmarkt, one of the largest markets in Germany to specialize in mangers and other nativity accessories. And don’t leave Munich without paying a visit to the famous Hofbräuhaus for a stein of beer! Return to Nuremberg in the late afternoon and embark on the ship which will take you to Vienna.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 11

Nuremberg

A full morning to day to relax and enjoy Nuremberg at your own pace. Stroll through the festively lit streets, buy those last-minute Christmas gifts, or ask your Cruise Director for suggestions of things to do. After your free time at the Christmas Market, a shuttle bus service will be at your disposal to take you back to the ship. During your sail to Regensburg, enjoy an onboard lecture about Christmas Traditions.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 12

Regensburg

Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, Regensburg has at least 1,300 listed buildings of “historic interest.” Highlights included on your guided sightseeing tour are the 13th-century Old Town Hall, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the city’s alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers, built by wealthy families in the Middle Ages to emphasize their status. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy a snack at the Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. This afternoon is free to explore on your own or to visit the Regensburg Christmas market, including those hosted by the Thurn and Taxis Palace. The tempting aromas of mulled wine, sweet roasted almonds, sausages, and gingerbread create an unforgettable atmosphere. Before dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s famous beers.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 13

Passau

Uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge, Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. The Christkindlmarkt, Passau's charming Christmas market, is set against the stunning backdrop of St. Stephen's Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture. Take in the highlights of the "City of Three Rivers" on an included GUIDED WALK. Afterwards, set sail for Linz, where you arrive in the evening. Alternatively, you might like to join a full-day optional excursion to Salzburg to see some of the sites from The Sound of Music, find out how mice caused the composition of the famous Silent Night Christmas carol, and learn how the Austrians celebrate Christmas.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 14

Melk - Vienna

This morning, enjoy a guided visit of Melk’s 11th-century Benedictine Abbey, one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The abbey houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. Words cannot describe the splendor of the frescoed ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 210-foot-high cupola. During lunchtime, cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pass the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade, the landmark of Dürnstein, before arriving in Vienna this evening. During your sail in the Wachau Valley, enjoy a special onboard Austrian cookie baking demonstration and tasting. This Vienna , the “City of Music” inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available tonight.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 15

Vienna

Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its Vienna Boy’s Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral—and countless other sights you’ll see on your guided sightseeing tour. We will offer you a special culinary tour at Viennese Christmas markets where you can taste all the best flavours that Austria has to offer during Christmas time. Be sure to enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic Viennese coffee houses, historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture!

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Day 16

Vienna (Disembarkation)

Your cruise ends with breakfast this morning.

Meals included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner

Notes

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