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The Majestic Rhine, Heidelberg & Switzerland river cruise - MS Emily Brontë

15days from
£4,549*per person

Overview

15 Days - River Cruises

Itinerary

  • Arrive at your five-star cruise ship moored in Basel. Your professional, English-speaking crew will welcome you on board, show you to your cabin and help you familiarise yourself with all aspects of this floating boutique hotel.
  • Lucerne What an impressive kick-off to our cruise, as today promises to be a visual feast. We’ll take the short drive to Lucerne, spectacularly nestled among mountain views. This chic city is by far Switzerland’s most beautiful and has been attracting well-heeled visitors for two centuries - our very own Queen Victoria among them.   A must-do is a brisk stroll along the Chapel Bridge symbol of the city, a unique and covered wooden walkway crossing the lake, supported by stilts, lined with flower-filled window boxes and a superb way to absorb Lucerne’s rather regal atmosphere.  You’ll be transported back in time as you take in the views that have charmed royalty and travellers alike.  Bernese Oberland   The scenery becomes ever more dramatic, and as you enter the Bernese Oberland in central Switzerland, it becomes quite literally, breathtaking! This is the majestic Alpine heart of Europe, boasting some of the planet’s most sublime mountain landscapes. Mendelssohn, the composer, once declared it as ‘the most wonderful of all in this unbelievably beautiful country’. He wasn’t wrong.   Prepare to be awestruck as you take in the legendary snow-draped peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau; this is quintessential Switzerland at its absolute best. We’ll ascend by mountain railway for even more extraordinary vistas, with crystal-clear lakes mirroring the grassy meadows and emerald forests below - this magical landscape is sure to enchant you.   Later we’ll descend again by mountain railway, soaking up the views before making our way by coach back to our ship in Basel. Please note: temperatures will be significantly lower at altitude, even during the summer months, so it’s advisable to pack suitable clothing. While lunch is not included on this full-day excursion, the ship will offer a packed lunch.   Cap off this spectacular day with another exquisite dinner in the ship's restaurant.   Included experiences Tour of the Bernese Oberland & visit to Lucerne.
  • Breisach Relax this morning on board whilst we sail to the ancient town of Breisach, whose historic heart is surrounded by stone ramparts and dominated by the impressive Saint Stephan’s Cathedral.  Black Forest & Titisee  This afternoon you drive through some of Central Europe’s most stunning scenery – the Black Forest Mountains. This is a fabled landscape of rugged valleys, white-water rivers, cascading waterfalls and rolling hillsides covered with huge, densely packed pine trees – exactly as you expect it to be. Our destination is the idyllic village of Titisee, nestling on the shores of its crystal-clear lake.  As the sun sets and the riverside lights begin to twinkle, enjoy the views through the restaurant’s panoramic windows during tonight's excellent dinner. Afterwards retire to the lounge to enjoy tonight's live performance of popular music spanning the years by a highly talented violin soloist, before we slip our moorings to commence our cruise towards Strasbourg. Included experiences  Visit to Breisach, drive through the Black Forest with visit to Titisee & live violin soloist.
  • Strasbourg  This morning, we have arrived in France and Strasbourg, capital of the Alsace region. After a hearty breakfast, we embark on a stroll through the charming 16th-century old town; straight from the pages of a storybook, it’s a real-life maze of narrow streets and canals adorned with timber-framed houses and fancy portals.    Prepare to be wowed by the Gothic grandeur of Notre-Dame Cathedral, the multi-towered Ponts Couverts - covered bridges - and the pretty Petite France quarter with pastel-painted houses lining the canals. And let's not forget the wine. Alsace wine is famed the world over, so don't resist the urge to linger in an Alsatian café or two to sample a crisp Riesling or the spicy kick of Gewürztraminer.   During lunch, our vessel glides away from our mooring as we commence an afternoon’s scenic cruising. Flop onto a sun lounger on the sun deck or retire to the shady comfort of the lounge to chat over a coffee with newly made friends.   As evening falls, thoughts turn to what might be on the menu tonight, so head to the relaxed ambience of the ship’s restaurant as the chef presents another delicious meal. In the bar toast the day’s adventures with newly made friends as we arrive in Speyer later tonight.   Included experience Guided tour of Strasbourg.
  • Speyer We’ll remain moored in Speyer this morning to enjoy a guided tour of this medieval gem, founded by the Celts and one of Germany’s oldest cities, celebrated for its illustrious past.   The Imperial Cathedral steals the show—a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a Romanesque masterpiece, and the resting place of Holy Roman emperors and German kings. The marble-floored crypt, a serene space adorned with pastel-coloured pillars, is the resting place of many Holy Roman emperors and German kings.   Another landmark is the neo-Gothic Gedächtniskirche, built to commemorate the 1529 ‘Protestation at Speyer’, a pivotal moment in Protestant history when a group of Martin Luther’s followers rejected his imperial ban – and his religious followers subsequently known as Protestants.   Returning on board for lunch, we’ll recommence our cruise, so sit back and watch the scenery slipping past through the panoramic windows. Soak up the rolling hills and fertile vineyards, home to the Liebfraumilch wines of the region, oxbow lakes, long deserted by the river flow and now havens for bird and wildlife.   Captain’s Dinner  Tonight on board, we’ll be served a special treat - the 'Captain's Dinner,' a culinary journey featuring specialties from the regions we've explored. Dress to impress – if you fancy it; it’s the perfect way to celebrate the flavours of our cruise!   During dinner our vessel arrives in the classic Rhine wine village of Rüdesheim, so you might fancy wandering ashore to enjoy a digestif – perhaps a glass of Asbach, the famous brandy distilled locally.    Included experience Guided tour of Speyer.
  • Rüdesheim Our ship is moored in Rüdesheim, amidst crooked houses cascading down wooded hillsides and terraced vineyards. The morning unfolds with a walking tour through the bustling marketplace, (you’ll struggle not to fall for its charms), stopping to admire the half-timbered Klunkhardshof and formidable Bromserburg Castle, standing guard since 1275.  Rhine Gorge This afternoon we’ll witness a real highlight of the cruise, the dramatic Rhine Gorge. Steep vineyards give way to almost vertical rocky outcrops, towering over 1,000 feet above the sweeping valley sides. Sailing past Saint Goar and its many ruined castles, the legends of this historic river come to life, and the infamous Loreley Rock, where beautiful nymphs supposedly lured sailors to their demise, adds a touch of mystique to our journey.   Relax on the sun deck as our captain skilfully navigates the ship through the huge looping bend at Boppard – one of the river’s most captivating turns. Keep an eye out for the mighty Marksburg Castle too, an impressive fortress dating back to the 13th century. Koblenz It’s not long before we arrive in picturesque Koblenz, founded by the Romans, and strikingly located at the confluence of the Rhine and its sister, the Moselle. Wander Koblenz’s maze of medieval buildings in the Altstadt – old town – with traditional little shops and delicious aromas wafting from its classic Rhineland cafés.   On our guided tour of this town, historic buildings emerge at every turn: you’ll see the former mint, the Four Towers with their ornamental 17th-century turrets and several fascinating squares and churches, including the 9th-century Basilica of Saint Kastor. The waterfront along the Moselle is stunning too, with the medieval Balduin Bridge, staggeringly still in use.   If you manage to resist the tempting cakes on offer from the beckoning pavement cafés, then you’ll be ready for tonight’s meticulously prepared dinner on board. Afterwards, immerse yourself in the lively sounds of Rhenish folk music with a live performance featuring traditional instruments - a fitting conclusion to a day rich in history and culture.   Included experiences Cruise through Rhine Gorge, guided tour of Rüdesheim, guided tour of Koblenz & live folk music performance.  
  • Free time sailing Early birds will witness our departure from Koblenz as we set sail towards Cologne before we settle in for a leisurely morning on board as we drift through this lovely Rhineland scenery, past quaint riverside towns with pretty waterfronts and carefully tended vineyards. See the famous ruined bridge at Remagen, which was captured intact by the Allies towards the end of the Second World War, allowing thousands of troops to cross into Germany’s heartland and the forested Siebengebirge - Seven Mountains – a cluster of ancient volcanic hills. Rumour has it they inspired many of the Brothers Grimm’s legends, including Snow White.   Cologne During lunch, we arrive in historic Cologne, where you’ll have a free afternoon to explore. Perhaps visit the cathedral, the largest Gothic structure on earth. It has Europe’s most intricate stained glass, (a labour of 600 years!) and when work was finally complete, it was the largest building on earth, until eclipsed by the Eiffel Tower.   Or maybe you’ll opt to wander in the vibrant and attractive old town, beautifully restored and boasting a plethora of excellent shopping and cosy bars, some of which still traditionally brew their own beer.   This evening, the chef presents another superb menu and it’s the perfect moment to reflect with your fellow diners on some of the wonderful places you’ve seen so far – with plenty more to in store!    Included experience Visit to Cologne.
  • Free day in Cologne After a lazy breakfast there’ll be the opportunity to recharge and reset today with time to yourself to get further acquainted with this beautifully grand and historic city. Your tick list might include a wander round the Sculpture Park or indulging your sweet tooth at the famous Chocolate Museum. Take a ride on the city’s cable car as you soar over the Rhine with dazzling views of the city and beyond. Or perhaps while away a few peaceful hours in the Museum Ludwig pondering the colourful canvases in its modern art collections then head to the Flora Botanic Gardens to lose yourself in the vibrant blooms and exotic plants. Don’t forget to stop for some refreshment with a glass or two of craft beer in the quirky Belgian Quarter too, with its cool bars and laid-back feel.   Later return to the ship and relax on board (you’ll be in the swing of things by now!) before the chef wows us once again with another exquisitely presented menu.   Included experience Visit to Cologne.
  • Koblenz This morning, we’ll have the chance to explore the city of Koblenz further. Here, you can chart your own course through this 2,000-year-old city as you stroll its historic squares, taking in the beautifully restored buildings and cosy little cafes with the aroma of fresh coffee and pastries tempting you inside. Ride the city’s cable car over the rooftops or weave through the winding streets on the Noddy Train. Boppard Returning to our ship for lunch, we’ll proceed to Boppard, also known as the ‘Pearl of the Rhine’ for a guided tour, a famously picturesque town located on a long, looping bend of the river. The black and white spires of the Church of Saint Severus vie for our attention from afar, but as we draw closer the quayside comes into view.   Cobbled streets, lined by half-timbered houses, tucked-away shops selling traditional goods and characterful restaurants, lead into the town and its main square. Like many riverside settlements in the area, Boppard wears its heritage proudly, with preserved town walls that rank among Germany's finest. Take your time here, promenading along the river, or just gazing at views of the vineyard-covered hillsides. Alternatively relax on board in anticipation of more fine dining in the ship’s restaurant this evening.   Included experiences  Visit to Koblenz and guided tour of Boppard.
  • Rhine Gorge Slipping our moorings in Boppard we have another opportunity to cruise through the Rhine Gorge, where the waters narrow to one-fifth their normal width and flow more swiftly. Grab your camera, as we glide between sheer valley walls soaring 600 feet whilst birds of prey glide on the thermals above.   Teutonic knights built the numerous castles as symbols of their power and to extract tolls from ships, but the fortresses now stand as silent ruins on hillsides as reminders of how fortunes change with the passage of history. This really is the magical Rhine of our imagination, so pull up a comfy seat on the sun deck or in the lounge and enjoy the experience of cruising this famous stretch of water.   Mainz Our next port of call is historic Mainz where we’ll join our expert local for a guided tour. The city is renowned today as Germany’s wine capital but whose most famous son was Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the movable type printing press. You can visit the museum housing a reconstruction of his workshop and, outstandingly, two original 1455 Gutenberg Bibles. A beautifully restored 17th-century building in the heart of Mainz’s Old Town houses the museum, opposite the impressive Romanesque cathedral.   Included experiences Cruise through the Rhine Gorge & guided tour of Mainz.
  • Heidelberg Overnight we cruise further downstream, and, after breakfast, we take a short drive to Heidelberg, undoubtedly one of Germany’s most perfect architectural treasures and all the more remarkable because it escaped bombing during the Second World War.   Set in an almost idealised German landscape, this jewel sits on the banks of the River Neckar, surrounded by forests and with an imposing castle dominating the church spires and terracotta gabled roofs of the compact Aldstadt – the romantic Old Town. Its 14th-century university, one of the most prestigious in Europe, lends Heidelberg a genteel atmosphere that’ll put you in mind of its ‘twin’ town – Cambridge. During the 19th century it was the centre of Germany’s Romantic Movement, on the route of the ‘Grand Tour’ and visited by many artists including JMW Turner, who captured its splendours for eternity.   You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a romantic painting as you stroll the city’s streets on our guided walking tour, which reveals its principal attractions – including the stone bridge with its twin white towers – and local secrets.   After your guided tour, you’ll have time to do your own thing before returning to the ship for lunch. Included experience Guided tour of Heidelberg.
  • Free time in Strasbourg During your coffee and croissants this morning, we’ll arrive in France again and back in the charming city of Strasbourg, capital of the Alsace region. The city is a delight – its centre a mosaic of winding alleys and lanes lined with crooked, half-timbered houses largely unchanged since the 14th century. During its history Strasbourg has been both German and French, and you’ll witness the influences of both in its language, cuisine and appearance, creating its charming ambience.   This morning, we’ll have some free time to enjoy its centre – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – taking in the Petite France quarter of pretty canals lined with pastel-coloured houses crisscrossed with timbers and with flower-filled window boxes, the multi-towered Ponts Couverts, or covered bridges, and, of course, the Gothic Notre-Dame Cathedral, which Victor Hugo memorably described as a ‘veritable tiara of stone’.   Colmar A scenic drive this afternoon brings us to the medieval town of Colmar, the best-preserved in Alsace. Little known outside the area, it’s a concoction of canals, former merchants’ houses, ancient religious buildings and antique shops.   The cathedral quarter is surrounded by pastel-coloured half-timbered houses displaying the intricate wrought-iron hanging signs so typical of this area of Europe. We’ve plenty of time here to sit, enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by or just wander. We return to the ship in Strasbourg for dinner.   Live music on board Later, with your favourite digestif in tow, unwind to a medley of live music and songs performed on board by a professional duo. Included experiences Visit to Strasbourg, guided tour of Colmar & live music performance.
  • Rüdesheim After a relaxing morning cruise, we’ll arrive in Rüdesheim where you'll have the afternoon to yourself. If you imagine a typical Rhine town, then this would be it; narrow crooked streets with pointy-gabled little houses and slanty roofs lead down to the sweeping riverbank with a backdrop of wooded and vine-covered slopes. Riesling is the speciality grape here and Rüdesheim has many atmospheric Weinstuben where you can sample local wines produced from the surrounding vineyards. There’s a cable car over the town too, so you can hover above the vines taking in the views! Gala Dinner On board tonight, we enjoy a culinary spectacular – the Gala Dinner – featuring a range of irresistible specialities from the countries and regions we visit during our cruise. This special occasion is hosted, of course, by the Captain.  Included experience Visit to Rüdesheim.
  • Free time sailing This morning, early risers can enjoy phenomenal views as once again we’ll pass through the Rhine Gorge where, in Wagner’s Ring Cycle, the Rhine Maidens guard lost treasure, the ‘Rheingold’. What better way to spend the morning than relaxing on the sun deck beneath dramatic vineyard-topped valley sides dotted with ruined castles.    Cologne The valley sides dissolve and hills give way to plains as we progress to Cologne. This afternoon you’ll uncover the secrets as well as the landmarks of this city on our tour led by a local guide. We’ll see the twin-spired cathedral, the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe, miraculous survivor of Second World War bombing and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It took six centuries to complete, and among its many treasures are the magnificent stained-glass windows and gilded sarcophagus said to contain the remains of the three kings from the Nativity story.   We’ll also amble through the vibrant Old Town, beautifully restored, with winding streets crammed with shops and cosy bars, some of which still brew their own beer. As night falls, a delicious dinner provides the perfect finale to the cruise through the River Rhine.   Included experience Guided tour of Cologne.
  • Wave goodbye to your ship and crew this morning to start your journey home.

What's Included

Holiday Highlights

  • Explore some of Europe’s most interesting towns and cities, including guided tours of Strasbourg, Heidelberg, Cologne, Rüdesheim, Boppard, Mainz, Speyer, Koblenz, and visits to Colmar and Breisach.
  • Marvel at the sights along the Rhine River, including passage through the Rhine Gorge and the river bend outside of Boppard. 
  • Drive through the folkloric scenery of Black Forest on a visit to the idyllic Titisee. 
  • Travel into the mountains on a railway journey up the Bernese Oberland Mountain range and visit chic Lucerne.
  • Enjoy a live folk music show and performances from a talented violinist and professional singing duo on board. 

Our Price Includes

  • Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of sole occupancy cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes:  
  • All nights of your cruise in your choice of luxury cabin or suite
  • All meals on board, including welcome cocktails and the Captain’s Dinner
  • Complimentary on-board tea and coffee
  • Complimentary on-board Wi-Fi (connection speeds may vary) 
  • Return scheduled flights from a selection of regional airports 
  • Airport transfers and coach travel as mentioned
  • All visits and excursions as mentioned
  • Five-star service from an English-speaking crew and knowledgeable local guides
  • Services of a Riviera Travel Cruise Director and Concierge 
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Holiday code

R641

Holiday provided by Riviera Travel

BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: change your booking for free, Covid-19 cancellation protection included as standard and 100% protection with ABTA & ATOL. This holiday is sold and operated by Riviera Travel (ABTA V4744, ATOL 3430). These ABTA and ATOL bonds mean that, when you book a Riviera Travel holiday, you can be 100% sure that your money is safe.

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