Enjoy a relaxing cruise on the Romantic Rhine during this holiday season. Travel on a seven night cruise on an Emerald Cruises Star-Ship exploring the wonderful Christmas Markets of the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. Admire joyful decorations and lights along the streets and squares of the remarkable port cities of Cologne, Heidelberg, Strasbourg and the resort town of Baden Baden while absorbing the local, festive atmosphere at this magical time of year.
1 Depart the USA
Depart the USA on your overnight flight to Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
2 Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Welcome to Amsterdam! Upon arrival at the airport, you will be met by a representative of Mayflower Cruises and Tours and transferred to your Scenic Space-Ship. All flights should arrive into Amsterdam by 3:00 p.m. Relax and raise your glass in a toast to the marvelous cruise ahead at this evening’s welcome reception. Meal: D
The day begins with your choice of Freechoice activities. Explore Amsterdam on a guided walking tour, pausing along the way to sample the Dutch delicacy, herring. OR, cruise the iconic canals that have made Amsterdam world famous. If you’re feeling more active, join a guided cycling tour. Alternatively, discover charming Volendam, with its unusual raised homes and quaint wooden church, before heading to the equally charming village of Edam.
Afterwards, you may wish to visit one of the many Christmas markets in the city. Perhaps sample delicious Dutch treats such as Olibol and Poffertjes, peruse the stalls for some traditional gifts, or simply wander the streets taking in the magic of Amsterdam at this special time of the year.
Meals: B, L, D
4 Cologne, Germany
Seven markets transform the picturesque Cologne into a winter wonderland over the Christmas season. Upon arrival, stroll through the city on a guided walking tour and get upclose to the filigree twin towers of the famous cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy free time and visit the cathedral Christmas markets in the Domplatz, in the shadows of the historic cathedral. This square is also home to the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland. Decorated mugs hold steaming hot Glühwein and local vendors sell handmade sweets and local delicacies. Meals: B, L, D
Relax onboard as the ship makes her way to Koblenz. Upon arrival, there is a choice of two Freechoice
activities. Explore Koblenz on a walking tour with a local guide and see this historic city which straddles two of Europe’s most beautiful rivers. In the historic part of the city, six areas offer more than 100 glittering, festive, cottage-style stands and Lebkuchenherzen (traditional gingerbread hearts) to create a magical European Christmas experience. OR, travel by coach to Cochem and discover a true medieval gem resting on the banks of the Mosel River. Feel as if you’ve stepped straight into a fairytale during the guided tour through town, culminating with a visit to the iconic 19th-century Reichsburg Castle. Meals: B, L, D
6 Mannheim (docking site for Heidelberg excursion)
Awaken this morning in the town of Mannheim, departure point for the day’s activities. Your Freechoice
activities include a visit to Heidelberg, with two options: visiting the ruins of the famous Renaissance castle and a walking tour, OR, a guided walk through the quaint Old Town on an orientation tour. During your free time, don’t miss out on shopping for unique treasures at the Christmas Market in Heidelberg! The Old Town radiates with Christmas spirit from its decorated wooden stalls to the aromas of spices from local specialties and the merriment of the season.
This evening a special treat is in store as you enjoy a private concert in a fine baroque palace. It will be an evening of grandeur unlike any other, and a chance to create memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. Meals: B, L, D
7 Rastatt (Baden Baden)
Famous for its Roman baths, Baden Baden is a charming town in the Black Forest. Today’s Freechoice
activities, from the port of Rastatt, are: join a local guide on a tour of this picturesque town and learn of its rich heritage. OR, take an active hike to the ruins of Hohenbaden Castle (also known as Altes Schloss) where you can find dungeons and climb the stairs for an incredible view of the Black Forest, Baden Baden and Rhine Valley. Alternatively, visit the Mercedes-Benz factory where you discover the “behind the scenes” activities and learn about the fascinating history of this luxury brand. Meals: B, L, D
8 Kehl (docking site for Strasbourg, France)
A local guide leads you on a walking tour through this picturesque town. Stroll through the charming Old Quarter, “La Petit France”, admire the half-timbered houses and marvel at the gothic cathedral in the city center. Enjoy free time to visit the stalls of Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärkt, one of the largest in Europe, before returning to the ship. Meals: B, L, D
9 Basel, Switzerland – Zurich / USA
It’s time to bid farewell to the Captain and crew and depart for Zurich airport as you say goodbye to Europe and return home with lifelong memories of your Christmas Markets cruise along the Rhine River. Flights should depart Zurich after 12:00 p.m. Meal: B