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Enjoy a post Thanksgiving tour you'll be very thankful for experiencing.

Cruise along the Rhine from Basel, where Switzerland, France and Germany all meet, to Cologne, and then up the Dutch canal network to Amsterdam.

Plenty of included shore excursions (at no extra charge) make this a varied kaleidoscope of European life, enhanced by the seasonal Christmas markets where a delightful variety of local craft items are offered for sale.

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Rhine River Christmas Markets Cruise

Day by Day Itinerary

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Every day brings fresh delights and new places to visit on our Rhine River Christmas Markets Cruise.

You'll travel through beautiful scenery and visit lovely towns in Switzerland, France, Germany and Holland, with optional time in Zurich and Lucerne prior to the start of the cruise.

This is the itinerary for the 2015 Christmas Markets Cruise.  Amawaterways may need to slightly vary the schedule to fit in with lock times, etc, and so this itinerary could slightly change.

Click here for the main details of this cruise and the booking form to confirm your interest.

If you'd like more information on what you'll see and enjoy on this cruise, here is a day by day photo journal of a recent (Danube) Christmas cruise.


Day 1 (Sunday 13 December - or sooner) :  Leave the US

Take an overnight flight from the US to Europe today.

You can either make your own arrangements to travel to Basel, or else take advantage of the air addon to the cruise fare.

You should leave the US today or earlier, so as to arrive in Basel on Monday afternoon (or sooner) in time for the start of the Rhine River Christmas Markets Cruise.

If you're not taking the optional extension in Switzerland, you might also want to consider arriving in Basel a day early.

Note - If you've chosen the pre-cruise extension in Switzerland, please read on below


Optional Pre-Cruise Extension in Switzerland
(4 nights in Zurich and Lucerne)

If you would like to add a four day pre-cruise extension, spending two nights each in Zurich and Lucerne, this optional module below would apply.  Note that in such a case, you should leave the US on Wed 9 Dec or sooner, so as to arrive into Zurich on Thu 10 Dec or sooner.

Four Day Pre-cruise Extension in Switzerland
(Thursday 10 Dec - Monday 14 December)

A view over Zurich and looking towards the lake it is situated on the shores of.
A view of the Old Town in Zurich.
Another view of Zurich.
Lucerne is one of Switzerland's most popular tourist destinations.  We'll find out why.
The medieval town center of Lucerne.

Thursday 10th :  You arrive into Zurich today and check in to the central hotel for the next two nights.

Friday 11th :  After the included breakfast, a morning walking tour of picturesque Zurich is given.  This includes Grossmnster Abbey, St. Peter (with the world’s largest church clock face), the Old Town, Town Hall and Fraumnster, which was fully renovated in 2004 and now offers an exceptional 360 view of Zurich.

The afternoon and evening are free for you to explore the town on your own, and probably you will wish to visit Europe’s largest indoor Christmas Market.  An optional excursion to Rhine Falls is also available.

 Saturday 12th :  After breakfast and then a free morning in Zurich, check out of the hotel and head off on a scenic drive around the lake before reaching Lucerne.

Upon arrival, enjoy a cruise across the tranquil waters of Lake Lucerne, surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery.

The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy as you wish.  You'll stay at a central hotel for the next two nights.

Sunday 13th :  This lakeside city is truly a medieval gem.  After breakfast, enjoy a walking tour that will explore some of the city’s famous cobblestone streets, monuments, fountain-embellished public squares, covered bridges and colorful fresco-covered buildings.

You will have free time in the afternoon to shop for watches, Swiss knives, and delicious chocolates or visit the enchanting Christmas Market.  As an alternative, you may take an optional tour and cable car ride (seasonal) to the top of Mount Pilatus, the mountain that dominates the city.  The return trip down the mountain is via the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, an engineering marvel.

Monday 14th :  This morning, depart from Lucerne after breakfast, and visit the Lion Monument en route to Basel.

Arrive in Basel for a city tour before embarking your luxurious river cruise ship.

Basel - Switzerland’s second largest city - is ideally located at the crossroads of Switzerland, France and Germany. Long an important university, banking and trade center, Basel’s glorious past is still evident in its medieval Town Hall and exquisite 18th- century patrician homes.

Please now read on for the main cruise.

Included meals - the pre-cruise option includes four Breakfasts


Day 2 (Monday 14 December)  :  Board our cruise boat, the Amacerto, in Basel

Our boat is the lovely Amacerto, one of the fleet of luxury ships operated on the European rivers and canals by Amawaterways.
Basel as seen from the Rhine.

Join the ship in Basel today.

The crew will be preparing the cabins for arriving passengers, and you are given access to your cabin as soon as it becomes available, generally by 4pm.

If you arrive early, you can spend your time relaxing in the ship’s lounge or doing some exploring on your own in beautiful Basel.

Switzerland’s second largest city is ideally located at the crossroads of Switzerland, France and Germany (in the middle of the Rhine).

Long an important university, banking and trade center, Basel’s glorious past is still evident in its medieval Town Hall and exquisite 18th-century patrician homes.  You may wish to visit Basel’s Christmas Market on Barfsserplatz where you will find ultramodern as well as vintage and traditional gifts, colorful toys and typical Swiss crafts.

Tonight, gather onboard for a Gala Welcome Dinner.

Included meals - Dinner


Day 3 (Tuesday 15 December) :  Breisach and Freiburg, or Riquewihr

Beautiful Riquewihr; a street scene just before Christmas
The Merchant Hall and adjoining buildings, dating to the early 16th century in Freiburg

Today, you can choose between a walking tour of Breisach and Freiburg, or travel by coach to Riquewihr.

If you decide to enjoy the tour of Breisach and Freiburg, you will visit the historical city center and visit the Augustinerplatz, site of Freiburg’s Mnster, a Gothic minster cathedral constructed of red sandstone, noted for its towering spires.  The town is bordered by the Black Forest mountains, Rosskopf and Bromberg, and is known for meticulous wood carvings and cuckoo clocks.

After your city tour, visit Freiburg’s Christmas Markets located in the heart of the town’s beautiful historical quarter.

Or, you could cross to the other side of the Rhine and take the tour to Riquewihr which is in France.  This lovely town looks much as it did in the middle ages, and has officially been labeled one of France's most beautiful towns.

As well as its beauty, it is also renowed for its fine Riesling wines.

Tonight, the ship sets sail for Strasbourg, France.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 4 (Wednesday 16 December) :  Strasbourg

Strasbourg's canals, bridges, tower and in the background, its cathedral which dominates the city skyline.

Handcrafts galore at just one of the hundreds of Christmas market stalls in Strasbourg.

The principal city of the Alsace region in northeastern France, Strasbourg is situated on the Ill River, where it flows into the Rhine on the border with Germany.

This morning, we will see the European Parliament and visit the “La Petite France” district, where we will see the sandstone Gothic Cathedral with its famous astronomical clock.  Then enjoy a canal cruise, revealing the picturesque town, known for its black and white timber-framed buildings, covered bridges and medieval watchtowers.

The remainder of the day is at our leisure to sightsee through Strasbourg’s historic city center, the “Grande le” (Grand Island), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and/or browse through one of Europe’s oldest and finest Christmas Markets, selling specialties including “Bredele,” small Alsatian biscuits, delicately crafted toys, jewelry and ceramics.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 5 (Thursday 17 December) :  Speyer and Heidelberg

Heidelberg and its massive castle.
One of the main streets in Speyer, and its cathedral in the background.

After a lovely morning cruising up the Rhine, we arrive into Speyer earl this afternoon. Speyer, is one of Germany’s oldest cities, and known for its Cathedral, churches, and the Altprtel – a 13th-century gate tower.

Choose either a tour of Medieval Speyer or a half day excursion to Heidelberg, where you will visit the red-walled Castle and its Great Vat, a 49,000-gallon 18th-century wine cask, and see beautiful views of the Neckar Valley and Heidelberg below.

You will have free time to wander what is said to be the longest pedestrian shopping street in Germany, the “Haupstrasse,” or simply relax in a caf. The ship moors overnight in Speyer.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 6 (Friday 18 December) :  Rudesheim - Rhine Castles - Koblenz

Siegfried himself and one of the many amazing mechanical musical instruments in his museum.
One of the castles above the Rhine River.
Koblenz, where the Rhine River is joined by the Mosel.

This morning, we arrive in the lovely town of Rdesheim and visit Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum, an extraordinary collection of big and small music boxes, player pianos, barrel organs, and all sort of other musical devices.

After the museum, walk down the Drosselgasse, a narrow alley lined with wine taverns and restaurants, and/or visit the Christmas Markets where there are more than 120 stands from 12 nations offering their distinctive holiday products before returning to the ship.

This afternoon, we will cruise through the Rhine Gorge, the most beautiful stretch of the river, passing castle after castle.  A highlight is the legendary Lorelei Rock, where sweet songs of local beauties reputedly lured enchanted sailors to their doom.

Arrive in Koblenz late this afternoon. Enjoy an after dinner stroll through this charming town. The ship moors overnight in Koblenz.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch Dinner


Day 7 (Saturday 19 December) :  Koblenz - Cologne

Despite being hit 14 times by bombs in WW2, Cologne's magnificent cathedral survived.

The Christmas Market by the cathedral is renowned for its tall Christmas tree.

This morning, the ship cruises to Cologne for a walking tour through the old part of the city and visit to the fabled 13th-century Gothic Cathedral.

During our free time, you might choose to return to the cathedral area and browse through the city’s most impressive of its nine different Christmas Markets, offering a range of handicrafts and gifts at 160 attractively designed wooden pavilions.

Here, you will find an assortment of delicacies and can watch artisans at work.

The ship departs tonight for Amsterdam.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 8 (Sunday 20 December) :  Amsterdam

Lovely Amsterdam is a city where the water is never very distant.

We'll spend our last morning on the Amacerto leisurely cruising to Amsterdam.

After arriving in Amsterdam in the late afternoon, we take a guided canal cruise before gathering onboard for a Gala Farewell Dinner.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 9 (Monday 21 December) :  Cruise ends in Amsterdam

Say goodbye to Amsterdam today.

After breakfast, disembark and make your way to the airport for your flight home, or extend your vacation any which way you choose (see below).

Included Meals: Breakfast


Click here for the main details of this cruise and the booking form to confirm your interest.

Click here for a day by day photo journal of what you'll see and enjoy on a (Danube) Christmas Markets Cruise.


Originally published 28 Sep 2015, last update 30 May 2021

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