Rhine Holiday Market
Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

Day 1: Basel (Embark)

Arrive at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer, or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
Important Note: Uniworld's airport services and transfers to the ship will take place on the Switzerland side of the Basel-Mulhouse Airport. Be sure to enter Customs on the Switzerland side, as guests cannot return to the Switzerland side after they have exited the airport from the France side.
Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit Uniworld.com/transfers. For Port Location details, please visit Uniworld.com/ports.

Day 2: Basel

Basel is a cultural and artistic powerhouse, with all sorts of galleries, theaters and museums. And at this time of year, the city’s Christmas Market draws visitors from all over Europe, as does its Christmas Street, lined with more than 100 beautifully decorated and illuminated Christmas trees. Do you have a special wish for Christmas? Write it in the Wish Book, which lies open in Basel’s 17th-century Town Hall during Advent, waiting for residents and visitors to express their hopes and dreams for the holiday—or for the world.

Lucerne - a Swiss gem

  • Duration: 5.5 hours
  • Intermediate:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $105 pre-purchase / €91 EUR onboard

Located on the frosty shores of Lake Lucerne and framed by the snow-capped Alps, Lucerne enchants visitors with all the sights of a traditional Swiss Christmas. Stroll past the 13th-century Water Tower and across the famous covered Chapel Bridge, with its 15th-century painted panels (depicting scenes from the Plague). Admire the stately façades of the medieval family palaces and the old city ramparts, the Town Hall and the famous Lion Monument, which commemorates the Swiss Guards who died defending Louis XVI during the French Revolution—and delve into the delights of the Christmas markets on your own.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Basel walking tour with Christmas market

Do you have a special wish for Christmas? Write it in the Wish Book, which lies open in Basel’s 17th-century Town Hall during Advent, waiting for residents and visitors to express their hopes and dreams for the holiday—or for the world. Your local expert will take you past the Town Hall, whose red-brick walls feature paintings by Hans Bock, so you’ll know right where to go after your tour. The 800-year-old Münster, with its red sandstone walls, multicolored roof tiles and twin towers, is equally spectacular; spread out before it you’ll find the wondrous Christmas Market. With more than 150 stands, it offers many locally made craft items, unique ornaments and delicious seasonal baked goods. Warm your hands on a mug of hot mulled wine as you browse. 

After exploring this Swiss treat, you’ll want to visit the town’s illuminated Christmas Street, which is beautifully decorated with more than 100 Christmas trees. If you’re looking for truly unique gifts, stop by Johann Wanner’s shop, with its array of elegant angel ornaments, blown-glass figurines and pewter Victorian miniatures. You’ll also find museums and art galleries, specialty shops and cozy wainscoted restaurants near Market Square.

A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 3: Kehl (Strasbourg)

Strasbourg is invariably described as quaint, a rather overused word that in this case is perfectly apropos. It’s also been known as the “Crossroads of Europe” for its strategic location halfway between Paris and Prague. With a friendly local expert, see this historic town with its cobbled lanes, half-timbered homes, giant stork nests and impossible-to-resist pastry shops that will win your heart. You won’t want to miss the holiday treats like bûche de Noël, the delicious Christmas cake made to look like a yule log.

Alsatian Wine Road

  • Duration: 4.5 hours
  • Intermediate:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $78 pre-purchase / €68 EUR onboard

Head out along the Alsatian Wine Road, a winding road that hugs the foothills of the Vosges Mountains and links charming villages and vineyards producing the great white wines of the region, to a family-owned winery, where you’ll sample three delicious wines. Your next stop is Obernai, a picturesque town of half-timbered houses and delightfully decorated shops, where you can explore the Christmas Market.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Strasbourg walking tour with Christmas market

Catch the highlights of multinational Strasbourg from the warmth of a comfortable motorcoach: it’s a city with deep connections to both France and Germany. The European Quarter—Strasbourg is home to many EU institutions—is stunningly modern, but you’ll find a beautifully preserved old town to explore on foot. Enchanting half-timbered houses line the canals of Petite France, one of the oldest districts, and the medieval cathedral—a religious institution has stood in its spot for 3,000 years—is extraordinary. Step inside with your guide to see the 15th-century astronomical clock and the gorgeous rose window (the craftsmen who built Chartres Cathedral created it). Since Strasbourg calls itself the Capital of Christmas, you won’t be surprised to find that this town really goes all out for the holidays. The Christmas tree on Place Kléber towers over hundreds of stalls—but it’s only one part of the market, which spreads through 10 neighboring locations, all of them both historic and wonderfully decorated. Browse on your own among chalets stocked with finely crafted toys, ceramics, jewelry and handmade Nativity figurines, not to mention the giant toy storks in Santa hats that are a playful tribute to Strasbourg’s beloved storks, and keep warm with mulled wine and holiday treats like buche de Noël.

“Taste of Christmas” Strasbourg walking tour

Alsace is famous for its excellent cuisine, which combines French and German elements in delectable and unique ways. Roam through Petite France with your local expert, where the little shops are all charmingly decked out for Christmas, and explore the Christmas Market set up in Broglie Square. Stroll from chalet to chalet, as the stalls are known here, which brim with ornaments, pretzels, steaming vats of mulled wine and Alsace’s best-known Christmas cookies, called bredele. There are many kinds—hirschhörnle, anise, makrenle, rochers, speculatius—each with a distinctive shape, history and flavoring, all of which your guide can tell you about as you sample them.

During the afternoon, you will have some free time to wander through the beautiful Old Town. You might want to spend more time at the Christmas Market, which takes on an especially festive look as darkness falls and the lights illuminate the entire area; visit the magnificent cathedral; or simply stroll along the lanes of Petite France. You could learn about Alsatian wines in the medieval wine cellars of the old city hospital, spend some time among the treasures of the Rohan Palace’s museums or shop along the Grand Arcades. Stop for a warm drink at a café on Place Gutenberg, named for the man who invented moveable type here in Strasbourg some 560 years ago.

Shuttles will be available to take you to and from the ship, in case you want to drop off your finds and return for more.

Day 4: Mannheim (Heidelberg)

Your ship left France behind and sailed into Germany during the wee hours of the morning. If you speak no German, here’s one phrase you might want to learn now: “Fröhliche Weihnachten,” or “Merry Christmas!” Today you’ll have two choices: Venture into the storied city of Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in the country, or visit the Doktorenhof vinegar estate for a special vinegar tasting. The atmospheric cellar is like no other you’ll ever experience, and the candlelit tasting room is decked for the holidays.

Gourmet vinegar cooking class

  • Duration: 4.5 hours
  • Easy:
  • Price: $144 pre-purchase / €125 EUR onboard

Learn the secrets of creative but easy cooking when you join a chef in his 300-year-old village home—one with a very modern kitchen—near Doktorenhof. Schnitzel and sauerkraut may include vinegar in their ingredients, but the four courses you help prepare for lunch today take vinegar in a whole new direction. You might use orange blossom vinegar to season prawns or cherry vinegar in chocolate tartlets. This is a friendly, hands-on experience with a chef who welcomes novices as well as experienced cooks into his kitchen. The menu will be determined by what’s fresh and local, and your chef instructor is a master at pairing regional wines with regional foods. Sauté, sip, sample—and enjoy!

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Heidelberg tour with Christmas market

Heidelberg’s castle, high above the town, may have been destroyed by lightning in the 1700s, but it remains a beautiful and intriguing destination. Your walk up to the castle ruins will end in the vast courtyard, partially enclosed by the wings of the once-great palace. The castle was the official residence of the prince electors, one of whom built the world’s largest wine barrel in 1751—the Heidelberg Tun, able to hold 58,100 gallons (220,000 liters) of wine—to contain the wine he collected as taxes from local vintners. It still stands as a monumental memento of the economic importance of wine in the region, and though it has been empty for centuries, you could, if you like, climb up to the top and take a spin on the dance floor that has been built on it.

Your second destination is downtown Heidelberg’s splendid Christmas Market, one of the largest in the country. It fills square after square, offering an inviting array of unusual arts and crafts, as well as exquisite hand-blown glass ornaments. Marvel at the Christmas pyramid, with its figures from the city’s history rotating inside the tower at Market Square; take a ride on the carousel at University Square; or try out your ice skating skills on the rink in Charles Square.

Your local expert can recommend places for you to enjoy a hearty lunch on your own; be sure to try some typical German fare like sauerbraten. Afterwards, you can continue to wander around Old Town, where you’ll encounter the 15th-century Holy Spirit Church and the Student Prison. Heidelberg has one of the longest pedestrian streets in Germany—perfect for strolling and window shopping. Or simply spend a little more time at the Christmas Market before returning to the ship.

Note: Lunch is not included with the full-day Heidelberg tour.

Private Doktorenhof vinegar estate visit and tasting

For a different spin on the Palatinate wine region, visit the Weinessiggut Doktorenhof estate for a special vinegar tasting. Yes, you read that right—a vinegar tasting. Founded by Georg Wiedemann some 30 years ago, Doktorenhof produces vinegars from premium wines, rather than inexpensive ones. Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Riesling and Pinot Noir are aged with a century-old vinegar “mother,” as the bacteria that makes vinegar is known, and flavored with a variety of herbs and fruits. The results make complex and elegant aperitifs, intended to be sipped from a specially designed long-stemmed glass between courses or after a meal. The atmospheric cellar (think candles, cloaks and choir music) is like no other you’ll ever experience, and the candlelit tasting room is decked for the holidays. You’ll have plenty of time to explore their enticing gift shop, too.

Day 5: Mainz, Rüdesheim

Mainz’s Old Town brims with specialty shops tucked into lovingly restored buildings. You’ll find jewelry, leather goods, books, toys—something special for every special person on your list. Or opt to explore neighboring Wiesbaden’s Christmas Market. However you choose to spend your time in Mainz, you’ll head back to the ship for a short cruise to Rüdesheim, which, like many cities along the Rhine, dates back to Roman times, when the Rhine was the northern border of the empire. Today, Rüdesheim is famous for its beauty and its entertaining alley of shops and wine bars called the Drosselgasse.

Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instruments Museum with Christmas Market

Board a delightfully quaint mini train to Siegfried’s Museum of Mechanical Musical Instruments. This small, personal museum houses one of the world’s best collections of mechanical musical instruments in a 16th-century mansion, the Brömserhof. Here a guided tour will introduce you to rare mechanical instruments; some of them are 300 years old, and all of them are wonderfully inventive and fun. Listen as tiny birds pop out of music boxes and begin to sing; marvel as colorfully costumed mechanical figures play miniature violins. It’s an enchanting and surprising experience. Your enchantment continues at Rüdesheim’s fabulous Christmas Market. Browse the more than 120 stalls packed with holiday delights, and don’t miss Rüdesheim’s life-sized Nativity scene—one of Germany’s largest. If a hot beverage appeals to you, order a Rüdesheimer coffee and enjoy the ritual as it is prepared before you: The local brandy is set a-fire as it is poured into the drink. Be sure to take a look at the illuminated decorations on the rooftops—Rüdesheim’s residents have a friendly competition to see who can mount the brightest and most unusual lighted holiday display.

Abbey Eberbach: Rheingau Riesling in historic walls

  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Strenuous:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $75 pre-purchase / €65 EUR onboard

Stunning, austere stone arches loft far overhead, and footsteps echo through cloisters built nearly a millennium ago. This is Eberbach Abbey, the first Cistercian monastery in Germany, which was founded by Bernard of Clairvaux back in 1136. Canny Frenchman that he was, he encouraged the development of wine culture at the abbey, which at one time housed the largest wine barrel in the region (it held more than 50,000 liters); the historic vineyards--some 300 hectares--are mostly planted with Riesling grapes. Today you can taste some delightful locally grown Rieslings as you stroll through the ancient cloisters on a tour that includes a look at the enormous medieval wine presses, the vaulted wine cellar known as the Cabinetkeller (whose name gave rise to the use of Kabinett as a Riesling classification), the Romanesque chapel and the vast, chilly dormitory. Many scenes for the movie The Name of the Rose were filmed here--do you recall how cold all the actors looked? Unless you’re here during high summer, you’ll understand why! This excursion is as atmospheric and informative as it is delicious.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 6: Cruising the romantic Rhine River, Koblenz

Spend a spectacular morning onboard your luxurious boutique ship as you sail the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stretch of the Rhine is extraordinarily picturesque: Castles perch atop steep cliffs above the water and each quaint village is marked by the spire of its historic church. After sailing past 40 miles (65 kilometers) of gorgeous scenery, you’ll reach the famous intersection of the Rhine and the Moselle. Here, where the two rivers meet, you’ll find the enchanting town of Koblenz. Watch the waters of the Moselle gush into the Rhine as you stand on the spit of land called German Corner before embarking on a walking tour of Koblenz’s historical treasures.

Koblenz walking tour with Christmas market

Watch the waters of the Moselle gush into the Rhine as you stand on the spit of land called German Corner. It’s an appropriate spot for a symbol of German unity: an equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I, erected in honor of German unification in 1871. Behind it is Koblenz’s oldest church, St. Castor’s Basilica, originally built in the ninth century and the first of the charming churches and squares you’ll encounter as you wander through Old Town. Like many Rhineland towns, Koblenz suffered at the hands of French forces under Louis XIV—that’s why you’ll see so many baroque features in the buildings you pass, since so many needed to be rebuilt after the French left. That’s also why the Church of Our Lady has twin onion domes. Originally built in the Middle Ages on the highest point in Koblenz, the lovely church that stands in this spot now mostly dates to the early 1700s. Following your tour, delve into the Koblenz Christmas Market, which spills from square to square, with stalls full of unique Rhine Valley handicrafts, baked goods and wines. Be sure to check out the Advent calendar in the baroque town hall’s windows.

Day 7: Cologne

Your local expert will show you favorite haunts around the Old Town and share some of the cathedral’s most intriguing and magical secrets with you.

Cologne walking tour with Cologne Cathedral visit and Christmas markets

As you walk through the narrow lanes of the Old Town, you’ll find it hard to believe that more than 70 percent of the city was destroyed by bombs during WWII. The famous 12 Romanesque churches were reconstructed from the rubble, and the UNESCO-designated cathedral, Cologne’s iconic landmark, rises magnificently in the city center. Though it was damaged, the great cathedral retains many of its original treasures, including a gold- embellished reliquary believed to contain the earthly remains of the fabled Magi. What could be more appropriate at this time of year? Your local expert can tell you the history of the cathedral and its artwork, especially the pieces surrounding the Shrine of the Magi, which has drawn Christian pilgrims for centuries.

When you step out of the cathedral, you won’t be able to miss the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland—it marks one of seven Christmas markets for you to explore. Here in the cathedral square, you’ll discover 160 wood pavilions with a variety of gifts and souvenirs. You can return to the ship or stay in town to visit other holiday markets. Each one has a unique theme. There’s the fun Old Market and the romantic Angels’ Market at New Market, which, despite its name, is actually the oldest Christmas market in Cologne. Rudolf Square displays fairytale figures and spectacular holiday lighting. You’ll even find a lively harbor-themed market next to the Chocolate Museum, complete with juggling pirates and performers singing sea shanties.

Note: The number of visitors allowed in Cologne Cathedral is regulated by a very strict set of time slots. Sightseeing will be arranged around the time slots obtained. On Sundays and Catholic holidays, guided tours inside the cathedral will not be possible.

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 8: Cologne (Disembark)

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer, or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Cologne Bonn Airport for your flight home.
Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

Day 1: Cologne (Embark)

Arrive at Cologne Bonn Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer, or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit Uniworld.com/transfers. For Port Location details, please visit Uniworld.com/ports.

Day 2: Cologne

Your local expert will show you favorite haunts around the Old Town and share some of the cathedral’s most intriguing and magical secrets with you.

Cologne walking tour with Cologne Cathedral visit and Christmas markets

As you walk through the narrow lanes of the Old Town, you’ll find it hard to believe that more than 70 percent of the city was destroyed by bombs during WWII. The famous 12 Romanesque churches were reconstructed from the rubble, and the UNESCO-designated cathedral, Cologne’s iconic landmark, rises magnificently in the city center. Though it was damaged, the great cathedral retains many of its original treasures, including a gold- embellished reliquary believed to contain the earthly remains of the fabled Magi. What could be more appropriate at this time of year? Your local expert can tell you the history of the cathedral and its artwork, especially the pieces surrounding the Shrine of the Magi, which has drawn Christian pilgrims for centuries.

When you step out of the cathedral, you won’t be able to miss the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland—it marks one of seven Christmas markets for you to explore. Here in the cathedral square, you’ll discover 160 wood pavilions with a variety of gifts and souvenirs. You can return to the ship or stay in town to visit other holiday markets. Each one has a unique theme. There’s the fun Old Market and the romantic Angels’ Market at New Market, which, despite its name, is actually the oldest Christmas market in Cologne. Rudolf Square displays fairytale figures and spectacular holiday lighting. You’ll even find a lively harbor-themed market next to the Chocolate Museum, complete with juggling pirates and performers singing sea shanties.

Note: The number of visitors allowed in Cologne Cathedral is regulated by a very strict set of time slots. Sightseeing will be arranged around the time slots obtained. On Sundays and Catholic holidays, guided tours inside the cathedral will not be possible.

A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 3: Koblenz, Cruising the romantic Rhine River

This morning, you’ll reach the famous intersection of the Rhine and the Moselle. Here, where the two rivers meet, you’ll find the enchanting town of Koblenz. Watch the waters of the Moselle gush into the Rhine as you stand on the spit of land called German Corner before embarking on a walking tour of Koblenz’s historical treasures. Later, spend a spectacular afternoon onboard your luxurious boutique ship as you sail the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stretch of the Rhine is extraordinarily picturesque: Castles perch atop steep cliffs above the water and each quaint village is marked by the spire of its historic church.

Abbey Eberbach: Rheingau Riesling in historic walls

  • Duration: 2.5 hours
  • Strenuous:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $75 pre-purchase / €65 EUR onboard

Stunning, austere stone arches loft far overhead, and footsteps echo through cloisters built nearly a millennium ago. This is Eberbach Abbey, the first Cistercian monastery in Germany, which was founded by Bernard of Clairvaux back in 1136. Canny Frenchman that he was, he encouraged the development of wine culture at the abbey, which at one time housed the largest wine barrel in the region (it held more than 50,000 liters); the historic vineyards--some 300 hectares--are mostly planted with Riesling grapes. Today you can taste some delightful locally grown Rieslings as you stroll through the ancient cloisters on a tour that includes a look at the enormous medieval wine presses, the vaulted wine cellar known as the Cabinetkeller (whose name gave rise to the use of Kabinett as a Riesling classification), the Romanesque chapel and the vast, chilly dormitory. Many scenes for the movie The Name of the Rose were filmed here--do you recall how cold all the actors looked? Unless you’re here during high summer, you’ll understand why! This excursion is as atmospheric and informative as it is delicious.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Koblenz walking tour with Christmas market

Watch the waters of the Moselle gush into the Rhine as you stand on the spit of land called German Corner. It’s an appropriate spot for a symbol of German unity: an equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I, erected in honor of German unification in 1871. Behind it is Koblenz’s oldest church, St. Castor’s Basilica, originally built in the ninth century and the first of the charming churches and squares you’ll encounter as you wander through Old Town. Like many Rhineland towns, Koblenz suffered at the hands of French forces under Louis XIV—that’s why you’ll see so many baroque features in the buildings you pass, since so many needed to be rebuilt after the French left. That’s also why the Church of Our Lady has twin onion domes. Originally built in the Middle Ages on the highest point in Koblenz, the lovely church that stands in this spot now mostly dates to the early 1700s. Following your tour, delve into the Koblenz Christmas Market, which spills from square to square, with stalls full of unique Rhine Valley handicrafts, baked goods and wines. Be sure to check out the Advent calendar in the baroque town hall’s windows.

Day 4: Rüdesheim, Mainz

Your day begins in Rüdesheim, which, like many cities along the Rhine, dates back to Roman times, when the Rhine was the northern border of the empire. Today, Rüdesheim is famous for its beauty and its entertaining alley of shops and wine bars called the Drosselgasse. Then you’ll head back to the ship for a short cruise to Mainz. Mainz’s Old Town brims with specialty shops tucked into lovingly restored buildings. You’ll find jewelry, leather goods, books, toys—something special for every special person on your list. Or opt to explore neighboring Wiesbaden’s Christmas Market.

Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instruments Museum with Christmas Market

Board a delightfully quaint mini train to Siegfried’s Museum of Mechanical Musical Instruments. This small, personal museum houses one of the world’s best collections of mechanical musical instruments in a 16th-century mansion, the Brömserhof. Here a guided tour will introduce you to rare mechanical instruments; some of them are 300 years old, and all of them are wonderfully inventive and fun. Listen as tiny birds pop out of music boxes and begin to sing; marvel as colorfully costumed mechanical figures play miniature violins. It’s an enchanting and surprising experience. Your enchantment continues at Rüdesheim’s fabulous Christmas Market. Browse the more than 120 stalls packed with holiday delights, and don’t miss Rüdesheim’s life-sized Nativity scene—one of Germany’s largest. If a hot beverage appeals to you, order a Rüdesheimer coffee and enjoy the ritual as it is prepared before you: The local brandy is set a-fire as it is poured into the drink. Be sure to take a look at the illuminated decorations on the rooftops—Rüdesheim’s residents have a friendly competition to see who can mount the brightest and most unusual lighted holiday display.

Day 5: Germersheim (Heidelberg)

Wake up and choose your adventure for the day. Today you’ll have two choices: Venture into the storied city of Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in the country, or visit the Doktorenhof vinegar estate for a special vinegar tasting. The atmospheric cellar is like no other you’ll ever experience, and the candlelit tasting room is decked for the holidays. If you speak no German, here’s one phrase you might want to learn now: “Fröhliche Weihnachten,” or “Merry Christmas!”

Gourmet vinegar cooking class

  • Duration: 4.5 hours
  • Easy:
  • Price: $144 pre-purchase / €125 EUR onboard

Learn the secrets of creative but easy cooking when you join a chef in his 300-year-old village home—one with a very modern kitchen—near Doktorenhof. Schnitzel and sauerkraut may include vinegar in their ingredients, but the four courses you help prepare for lunch today take vinegar in a whole new direction. You might use orange blossom vinegar to season prawns or cherry vinegar in chocolate tartlets. This is a friendly, hands-on experience with a chef who welcomes novices as well as experienced cooks into his kitchen. The menu will be determined by what’s fresh and local, and your chef instructor is a master at pairing regional wines with regional foods. Sauté, sip, sample—and enjoy!

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Heidelberg tour with Christmas market

Heidelberg’s castle, high above the town, may have been destroyed by lightning in the 1700s, but it remains a beautiful and intriguing destination. Your walk up to the castle ruins will end in the vast courtyard, partially enclosed by the wings of the once-great palace. The castle was the official residence of the prince electors, one of whom built the world’s largest wine barrel in 1751—the Heidelberg Tun, able to hold 58,100 gallons (220,000 liters) of wine—to contain the wine he collected as taxes from local vintners. It still stands as a monumental memento of the economic importance of wine in the region, and though it has been empty for centuries, you could, if you like, climb up to the top and take a spin on the dance floor that has been built on it.

Your second destination is downtown Heidelberg’s splendid Christmas Market, one of the largest in the country. It fills square after square, offering an inviting array of unusual arts and crafts, as well as exquisite hand-blown glass ornaments. Marvel at the Christmas pyramid, with its figures from the city’s history rotating inside the tower at Market Square; take a ride on the carousel at University Square; or try out your ice skating skills on the rink in Charles Square.

Your local expert can recommend places for you to enjoy a hearty lunch on your own; be sure to try some typical German fare like sauerbraten. Afterwards, you can continue to wander around Old Town, where you’ll encounter the 15th-century Holy Spirit Church and the Student Prison. Heidelberg has one of the longest pedestrian streets in Germany—perfect for strolling and window shopping. Or simply spend a little more time at the Christmas Market before returning to the ship.

Note: Lunch is not included with the full-day Heidelberg tour.

Private Doktorenhof vinegar estate visit and tasting

For a different spin on the Palatinate wine region, visit the Weinessiggut Doktorenhof estate for a special vinegar tasting. Yes, you read that right—a vinegar tasting. Founded by Georg Wiedemann some 30 years ago, Doktorenhof produces vinegars from premium wines, rather than inexpensive ones. Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Riesling and Pinot Noir are aged with a century-old vinegar “mother,” as the bacteria that makes vinegar is known, and flavored with a variety of herbs and fruits. The results make complex and elegant aperitifs, intended to be sipped from a specially designed long-stemmed glass between courses or after a meal. The atmospheric cellar (think candles, cloaks and choir music) is like no other you’ll ever experience, and the candlelit tasting room is decked for the holidays. You’ll have plenty of time to explore their enticing gift shop, too.

Day 6: Kehl (Strasbourg)

Strasbourg is invariably described as quaint, a rather overused word that in this case is perfectly apropos. It’s also been known as the “Crossroads of Europe” for its strategic location halfway between Paris and Prague. With a friendly local expert, see this historic town with its cobbled lanes, half-timbered homes, giant stork nests and impossible-to-resist pastry shops that will win your heart. You won’t want to miss the holiday treats like bûche de Noël, the delicious Christmas cake made to look like a yule log.

Alsatian Wine Road

  • Duration: 4.5 hours
  • Intermediate:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $78 pre-purchase / €68 EUR onboard

Head out along the Alsatian Wine Road, a winding road that hugs the foothills of the Vosges Mountains and links charming villages and vineyards producing the great white wines of the region, to a family-owned winery, where you’ll sample three delicious wines. Your next stop is Obernai, a picturesque town of half-timbered houses and delightfully decorated shops, where you can explore the Christmas Market.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Strasbourg walking tour with Christmas market

Catch the highlights of multinational Strasbourg from the warmth of a comfortable motorcoach: it’s a city with deep connections to both France and Germany. The European Quarter—Strasbourg is home to many EU institutions—is stunningly modern, but you’ll find a beautifully preserved old town to explore on foot. Enchanting half-timbered houses line the canals of Petite France, one of the oldest districts, and the medieval cathedral—a religious institution has stood in its spot for 3,000 years—is extraordinary. Step inside with your guide to see the 15th-century astronomical clock and the gorgeous rose window (the craftsmen who built Chartres Cathedral created it). Since Strasbourg calls itself the Capital of Christmas, you won’t be surprised to find that this town really goes all out for the holidays. The Christmas tree on Place Kléber towers over hundreds of stalls—but it’s only one part of the market, which spreads through 10 neighboring locations, all of them both historic and wonderfully decorated. Browse on your own among chalets stocked with finely crafted toys, ceramics, jewelry and handmade Nativity figurines, not to mention the giant toy storks in Santa hats that are a playful tribute to Strasbourg’s beloved storks, and keep warm with mulled wine and holiday treats like buche de Noël.

“Taste of Christmas” Strasbourg walking tour

Alsace is famous for its excellent cuisine, which combines French and German elements in delectable and unique ways. Roam through Petite France with your local expert, where the little shops are all charmingly decked out for Christmas, and explore the Christmas Market set up in Broglie Square. Stroll from chalet to chalet, as the stalls are known here, which brim with ornaments, pretzels, steaming vats of mulled wine and Alsace’s best-known Christmas cookies, called bredele. There are many kinds—hirschhörnle, anise, makrenle, rochers, speculatius—each with a distinctive shape, history and flavoring, all of which your guide can tell you about as you sample them.

During the afternoon, you will have some free time to wander through the beautiful Old Town. You might want to spend more time at the Christmas Market, which takes on an especially festive look as darkness falls and the lights illuminate the entire area; visit the magnificent cathedral; or simply stroll along the lanes of Petite France. You could learn about Alsatian wines in the medieval wine cellars of the old city hospital, spend some time among the treasures of the Rohan Palace’s museums or shop along the Grand Arcades. Stop for a warm drink at a café on Place Gutenberg, named for the man who invented moveable type here in Strasbourg some 560 years ago.

Shuttles will be available to take you to and from the ship, in case you want to drop off your finds and return for more.

Day 7: Basel

Basel is a cultural and artistic powerhouse, with all sorts of galleries, theaters and museums. And at this time of year, the city’s Christmas Market draws visitors from all over Europe, as does its Christmas Street, lined with more than 100 beautifully decorated and illuminated Christmas trees. Do you have a special wish for Christmas? Write it in the Wish Book, which lies open in Basel’s 17th-century Town Hall during Advent, waiting for residents and visitors to express their hopes and dreams for the holiday—or for the world.

Lucerne - a Swiss gem

  • Duration: 5.5 hours
  • Intermediate:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $105 pre-purchase / €91 EUR onboard

Located on the frosty shores of Lake Lucerne and framed by the snow-capped Alps, Lucerne enchants visitors with all the sights of a traditional Swiss Christmas. Stroll past the 13th-century Water Tower and across the famous covered Chapel Bridge, with its 15th-century painted panels (depicting scenes from the Plague). Admire the stately façades of the medieval family palaces and the old city ramparts, the Town Hall and the famous Lion Monument, which commemorates the Swiss Guards who died defending Louis XVI during the French Revolution—and delve into the delights of the Christmas markets on your own.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Basel walking tour with Christmas market

Do you have a special wish for Christmas? Write it in the Wish Book, which lies open in Basel’s 17th-century Town Hall during Advent, waiting for residents and visitors to express their hopes and dreams for the holiday—or for the world. Your local expert will take you past the Town Hall, whose red-brick walls feature paintings by Hans Bock, so you’ll know right where to go after your tour. The 800-year-old Münster, with its red sandstone walls, multicolored roof tiles and twin towers, is equally spectacular; spread out before it you’ll find the wondrous Christmas Market. With more than 150 stands, it offers many locally made craft items, unique ornaments and delicious seasonal baked goods. Warm your hands on a mug of hot mulled wine as you browse. 

After exploring this Swiss treat, you’ll want to visit the town’s illuminated Christmas Street, which is beautifully decorated with more than 100 Christmas trees. If you’re looking for truly unique gifts, stop by Johann Wanner’s shop, with its array of elegant angel ornaments, blown-glass figurines and pewter Victorian miniatures. You’ll also find museums and art galleries, specialty shops and cozy wainscoted restaurants near Market Square.

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 8: Basel (Disembark)

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer, or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg for your flight home.

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