Cruise along the Rhine and explore the black forest, a land where Christmas traditions are deeply rooted in history. Stroll through the aisles of the Christmas markets, beautifully illuminated and brimming with the gourmet fragrances of mulled wine and gingerbread. You will also be seduced by the heart-warming atmosphere in Colmar, a city of art and history with an exceptional heritage. Join us for a memorable journey full of magical discoveries and the Christmas Spirit!
Day 1 - Arrive Zurich, Switzerland
There is nothing more festive than the Christmas Markets of France and Germany where Christmas traditions date back centuries. Our Christmas River Cruise to Alsace and the Black Forest begins in Zurich, Switzerland. Upon arrival, we will check in to our hotel and meet our Tour Director. The remainder of the evening is at leisure. Perhaps you will want to get into the holiday spirit by strolling along Zurich’s best shopping street, the Bahnhofstrasse, or exploring Altstadt, Zurich’s Old Town with one-of-a-kind shops, medieval churches, and cafes.
Day 2 - Zurich - Strasburg, France
We have some time in Zurich this morning before we head to Strasbourg and embark on our ship, the M/S L’Europe. Art lovers might want to head to the Zurich Museum of Art which includes works by van Gogh, Monet, Marc Chagall, Picasso, Rembrandt, and Domenichino. Chocolate lovers will not want to miss Max Chocolatier in Old Town and Sprungli’s flagship store on Bahnhofstrasse in the heart of downtown.
This afternoon, after settling into our comfortable cabins, we will meet the crew at a welcome cocktail reception that is followed by dinner and an evening of entertainment. This vessel only has 90 cabins that are spread over three decks. Onboard there is a restaurant with large windows, a lounge/bar with a dance floor, and a sun deck.
Day 3 - Strasbourg - Breisach - Freiburg
This morning will be spent cruising down the magnificent Rhine River. We’ll reach Breisach, Germany late this morning and enjoy lunch on board. Afterward, we’ll leave for the mountain village of Breitnau located in the Black Forest. Our shore excursion today is a visit to a cuckoo clock factory. Here you will find some of the most beautiful hand-craved cuckoo clocks for sale in the Black Forest, and watch how they are made. Our tour continues to the lively university town of Freiburg where we will have time to explore our first Christmas Market. You’ll be amazed by the incredible diversity of traditional arts and crafts found in this Black Forest community such as Christmas decorations made of blown and acrylic glass, colorful wooden toys, figurines, Black Forest Finches, decorations, and everyday items meticulously hand-carved from olive wood. If you have worked up an appetite indulge in mulled wine, steaming hot chestnuts, and almonds. We’ll return to our vessel in Breisach and enjoy the holiday ambiance on board, dinner, and an evening of entertainment.
Day 4 - Breisach - Ecomuseum of Alsace - Colmar
This morning we will head to Ungersheim, France. Our first stop is at the Ecomuseum of Alsace, the largest outdoor museum in France that is set up like an Alsatian village of the early 20th century. This museum is especially interesting to visit during the holidays because it is festooned with traditional decorations giving visitors a glimpse of how the season was celebrated in yesteryear and how many traditions are still honored today. After lunch, we’ll continue on to the fairytale village of Colmar where Christmas is truly a magical experience. Twinkling lights, colorful wooden chalets, and the scent of mulled wine and cinnamon will guide you along the charming lanes of the six Christmas markets spread throughout the old town center. We’ll return to our vessel for dinner and an evening of entertainment. Our ship will cruise to Strasbourg through the night.
Day 5 - Strasbourg - Frankfurt, Gemany
This morning enjoy one last buffet breakfast on board before disembarking at 9:00 a.m. to make our way to the “global city” of Frankfurt located on the Main River. This historic city not only has one of the world’s largest stock exchanges and is the home of the German poet, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, but it also hosts one of Germany’s most sought-after and largest Christmas Markets. This afternoon we check into our hotel and the rest of your day is at leisure. For museum lovers, explore Museumsufer, or Museum Embankment where you will find 12 museums spread out along the Main River in historic homes and palaces. Among the highlights are the Stadel Museum, the Jewish Museum, the Icon Museum, and the Frankfurt Archaeological Museum.
After comfortably settling in, we head to a local restaurant for dinner.
Day 6 - Frankfurt
After breakfast, we begin our day with a city tour of Frankfurt that takes visitors through historic parts of the city and several neighborhoods. The rest of the day is spent on your own exploring Frankfurt’s, Christmas Market. This market is one of the oldest in Germany that dates to 1393. Today just about the entire city celebrates the holiday season. Festively lit and decorated wooden huts are clustered together in spacious squares, along city streets, and tucked into quiet courtyards. The huts are filled to the brim with everything from homemade ornaments, wooden toys, and local specialties, to huts that sell gluhwein (hot spiced wine), roasted almonds, and sausages. The main square of Romerber in Old Town is the focal point of all holiday festivities.
Day 7 - Frankfurt - Munich
After breakfast, we say goodbye to the city of Frankfurt and head to Munich. Along the way, we will stop at the city of Nuremberg to visit their Christmas Market known for its handmade Christmas decorations, gingerbread, Spekulatius almond cookies, and original Nuremberg bratwurst. Lunch is on your own at the Christmas Market. After lunch, we will depart for Munich and upon arrival check into our hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure to explore Bavaria’s capital city which has it all from castles and museums, historic buildings with ornate facades, to one of Europe’s oldest pedestrian areas, the Maximilianstrasse where you will find shops, cafes, and more.
Day 8 - Munich
This morning, after breakfast at our hotel, we will have a city tour of Munich. After WWII, city leaders decided to preserve Munich’s original street plan and to recreate its Neo-classic, and Neo-Gothic building facades. Today, this majestic city has amazing buildings, winding streets, squares, and gardens, as well as a collection of world-class museums, and an ardent beer-drinking culture! After our city tour, we will have the rest of the day at leisure. Munich’s Christmas Market, the largest and oldest in Germany, is located on Marienplatz Square against the Gothic backdrop of Old Town with its towering Christmas tree. The village stalls are enchanting and offer many old-world handmade crafts plus mulled wine and sausages Just up the street from Marienplatz is the famous Nativity scene market (Krippler Market) on Neuhuserstrasse.
Tonight we will have a farewell dinner where we can share the joy of the season with our fellow travelers.
Day 9 - Depart Munich
After breakfast, you can transfer to the airport anytime.