Empress, Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland ex Basel to Amsterdam 10 Night Cruise sailing from Basel to Amsterdam aboard River Empress.
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10 Night Cruise sailing from Basel to Amsterdam aboard River Empress.
NOTE: Cruise operates in approximate reverse order to the itinerary outlined below.
Day 1: Amsterdam (Embark)
Day 2: Amsterdam, Zaandam
Enjoy the luxury of a full day in the “Venice of the North,” starting with a private “Morning with the Masters” tour of the Amsterdam Hermitage. Afterwards, visit significant Jewish Heritage sites or explore the city on foot or by bike. At your private “Morning with the Masters” tour of the Amsterdam Hermitage, you’ll have the museum’s extraordinary collection of Dutch Masters all to yourself, as an art historian shows you Portrait Gallery highlights. Afterwards, choose from a trio of enticing excursions: Admire the city’s narrow, gabled homes lining the canals on a “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour; explore the hip and trendy Jordaan district on two wheels, the quintessential way to experience this bike-obsessed city; or opt for our Jewish Heritage tour, with stops at the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Museum.
Day 3: Rotterdam
You’ll spend your day exploring Rotterdam’s historic splendor, vibrant culture, varied architectural landscape and maritime heritage. Embark on a stroll around the port city’s most enticing spots, like Market Hall. The impressive residential and office building is adorned with a futuristic, all-glass façade, doubling as an art installation of sorts. While you’re in the heart of the city, you’ll stop along the way to sample mouthwatering Dutch pastries. Venture to the nearby village of Kinderjik and marvel at a group of 19 towering windmills. The World Heritage Site holds the largest concentration of old windmills in The Netherlands and its entire vicinity is a protected village view. Rotterdam is the “Gateway to Europe” and you’ll want to discover why. Upon your arrival in Arnhem that evening, choose to explore the Genealogy Museum of Jewish People.
Day 4: Arnhem
Arnhem, once almost completely destroyed by WWII, has blossomed into a burgeoning Dutch city, with several wonderful museums, charming shop-lined streets and historically significant landmarks. Get a glimpse into Arnhem’s WWII-era past at the Airborne Museum. It’s dedicated to the Battle of Arnhem, where Allied Airborne Forces (paratroopers) attempted to secure bridges in the surrounding areas to prevent further invasion. Learn the history of the infamous battle from enemy, ally and civilian perspective and explore an extensive collection of equipment and weaponry. Opt for more active exploration on the Arnhem Airborne Cycle route. Bike past major battle landmarks such as John Frost Bridge, Doorwerth Castle and the Airborne Cemetery as you travel along the river banks.
Day 5: Cologne
You simply cannot visit Cologne without paying homage to its most notorious site, the Gothic masterpiece that serves as the city’s cathedral. A local expert will show you favorite haunts around the Old Town and share some of the cathedral’s most intriguing and Magi-cal secrets with you. Afterwards, you have a choice of three enticing excursions highlighting beer, contemporary art or Jewish history. Our first stop today is Cologne’s massive cathedral, a UNESCO-designated Gothic masterpiece with a shrine to the Three Magi that has drawn religious pilgrims for centuries. From there, beer aficionados can visit an Old Town pub for a taste of Kölsch, a brew made only in Cologne. Art lovers can see Europe’s most significant collection of contemporary art at Museum Ludwig. And guests interested in the city’s Jewish past are welcome to explore the centuries-old mikveh and other notable sites in Cologne’s Jewish quarter, once home to Europe’s first Jewish settlement north of the Alps. No matter which excursion you choose, you’ll also have ample free time to explore the city on your own.
Day 6: Oberwesel
Bacharach is an ancient village that appears straight out of the pages of a storybook. Enjoy a guided stroll through town and taste some locally grown Rieslings, a specialty of the region. Alternatively, join a “Go Active” hike that will take you past the old town walls and up to a fortified 12th-century castle.
Day 7: Frankfurt
Frankfurt is known as the “Mainhattan” of Europe, a financial powerhouse with soaring skyscrapers as well as traditional Old Town architecture. Experience the city with your choice of adventures today—visit Germany’s oldest museum, take a guided “Go Active” bike ride or learn about the Rothschild family’s rags-to-riches saga. Step ashore and walk a short distance to the Old Town for our “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour. This part of the city has charming old homes, stately churches and a lively covered market where you can sample all sorts of local delicacies. Later, you can visit Germany’s oldest museum, the Städel, with 700 years of European art housed under a single roof. If you prefer, opt for a guided “Go Active” bike ride that takes you through the Old Town, along the Main River promenade and down the city’s world-famous “Museum Mile”—which boasts no fewer than 13 acclaimed institutions. For something completely different, you can spend your time in Frankfurt delving into the city’s fascinating Jewish legacy.
Day 8: Speyer (Worms)
Expect the unexpected in Speyer, where ancient treasures harmoniously co-exist with modern day innovation. Take it all in during a walk with a local expert, or—for something really unexpected—venture into a spooky, candlelit tasting room to sample flavorful elixirs made from wine vinegars. Utterly unique and (surprisingly) delicious! A third option is our Jewish Heritage excursion to Worms, an ancient center of learning and religion. Join a local expert for a guided stroll through the historic small town of Speyer, famous for its vast Romanesque cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll also have some free time to wander on your own, perhaps to have a coffee at a sidewalk café on the town’s bustling central plaza.
Day 9: Strasbourg
Strasbourg is invariably described as quaint, a rather overused word that in this case is perfectly apropos. Whether you see it by bicycle, on foot with an insightful local expert or opt to delve into the town’s Jewish past, Strasbourg’s cobbled lanes, half-timbered homes, giant stork nests and impossible-to-resist pastry shops will win your heart. After docking in town, you’ll have a chance to discover Strasbourg’s many charms with a choice of excursions: A guided “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour of the Petit France district, stopping to try traditional Alsatian treats along the way; a “Go Active” bike tour that covers a bit more ground, including the European district; or an in-depth look at the city’s rich Jewish history, which dates back an astonishing 2,000 years. After lunch onboard, spend the afternoon at your leisure, perhaps shopping for handcrafted souvenirs bearing images of white storks—a beloved symbol of the city.
Day 10: Basel
Basel historically has been divided by the Rhine into two sections: Greater Basel, on the south bank, and Lesser Basel, on the north bank—and the Lällekönig has been sticking his long red tongue out at Lesser Basel since 1640. Though the original beaten-copper head with its crown and clockwork mechanism now resides in a museum, a replica still reigns near the Middle Bridge, insulting the grittier side of the city in its time-honored way. It’s on your itinerary today as you explore both sides of this most walkable of cities, crossing between them via a traditional ferry that is powered solely by the Rhine’s current. Ramble with your guide through the historic heart of Basel, stopping to nibble some of the city’s delectable specialties, including its celebrated honey-almond cookies, and getting a glimpse of the remarkable range of shops, which display everything from designer fabrics, antique books, quirky figurines and, of course, timepieces. Every historic square you see will hold a special charm: The spectacular red sandstone 16th-century town hall faces Market Square; Barfüsser Square is named for the deconsecrated church that now houses the city museum; Cathedral Square is dominated by Basel’s 800-year-old red sandstone Münster, where Erasmus is buried.
Day 11: Basel (Disembark)