This Christmas river cruise begins in Switzerland and takes you down the Rhine River to France and Germany, with beautiful passing landscapes and quaint villages festively lit and decorated—a unique and unforgettable way to celebrate the season!
Board your ship in Basel, Switzerland, then stop in Breisach, considered the gateway to Germany’s Black Forest. An area of unrivaled natural beauty, best known for Black Forest ham, cherry cake, and the cuckoo clock. There is no better setting than at this time of year when smoke curls from the chimneys of the traditional Black Forest houses.
Strasbourg, France, located on the border with Germany, perfectly blends the cultures of both countries. The city is home to one of the oldest and finest Christmas markets in Europe—dating back to the 16th century. Take in the aromas of mulled wine, spice cakes, and biscuits. Bask in the holiday atmosphere as you visit Strasbourg Cathedral, a gothic masterpiece made of red sandstone, and containing ancient murals and fascinating astronomical clock.
You’ll go on an excursion to Heidelberg, Germany, to visit the fascinating ruins of Heidelberg Castle, towering magnificently over the city. This time of year, an ice rink can be found at the foot of the castle and the Christmas market is spread over five town squares. Delight in the holiday cheer with Glühwein (hot mulled wine), bratwursts, and other regional delicacies. There’s plenty of time to find just the right Christmas present amongst the array of crafts, Christmas decorations, and gifts before this magical European river cruise ends in Wiesbaden, Germany.
Avalon has designed included activities with a choice of experiences. We invite you to select the tours, activities, and events that interest you most, so you can experience your cruise your way. There are 3 types of included shore excursion on every Europe cruise:
- CLASSIC – Your local expert is ready to guide you through the history and heritage of local destinations. You’ll marvel at the legends, lore, and spectacular architecture of iconic and historic sites.
- DISCOVERY – We’ve found inspiring and interactive activities to speak to your interests – from cooking classes, to painting workshops – to immerse yourself in each culture you explore.
- ACTIVE – Embark on energetic excursions to keep you in motion and on the go – from a guided jogging tour of Amsterdam, to biking, paddling, and hiking your way through scenic locales.
- Day 1 – Monday December 2, 2019 – BASEL, SWITZERLAND (EMBARKATION) – Welcome to Switzerland! – Your Avalon Suite Ship® is ready for boarding. (Flights into Zürich must arrive by 3 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.) Sroll through the city centre, enjoy the festive illumination and savor Christmas delicacies like waffles, gingerbread, sweets, and Swiss raclette. EVENING CRUISE TO BREISACH. (Dinner)
- Day 2 – Tuesday December 3, 2019 – BREISACH, GERMANY. EXCURSION TO THE BLACK FOREST – History, Artistry, and the Beautiful Black Forest. DISCOVERY ACTIVITY – Join a full-day Guided Tour to the magical Black Forest to experience local traditions and the vibrant Christmas mood. You may choose to join a Guided Optional Excursion to visit the charming village of Colmar, with its half-timbered medieval and early renaissance buildings. Alternatively, spend your afternoon leisurely browsing Breisach’s lovely Christmas market to sample bretzels, mulled wine, and Black Forest cake. OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO STRASBOURG. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
- Day 3 – Wednesday December 4, 2019 – STRASBOURG, FRANCE – A Gothic Cathedral, Heaven’s Time, and Joyeux Noël – CLASSIC ACTIVITY – Come along for City Sightseeing, including the city’s gothic, stained-glass cathedral with its celebrated ancient murals and astronomical clock, as well as the magical La Petite France District. You may choose to join a Guided Optional Excursion to beautiful Alsace, for an afternoon in a French wine-country village. Savor the warmth and glow of Christmas tradition by spending your free time this afternoon wandering the French winter markets of Strasbourg. Take in the lights, music, and the pleasures of the season. EVENING/OVERNIGHT CRUISE TO SPEYER. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
- Day 4, Thursday December 5, 2019 – SPEYER, GERMANY. EXCURSION TO HEIDELBERG – Winter Wonders and a Wine Barrel – Fit for a King. CLASSIC – Take a half-day Guided Tour that includes the magnificent Heidelberg Castle and the Great Vat—the world’s largest wine barrel. This afternoon, visit the local German Christmas Markets in Heidelberg, or Speyer. Explore at your own pace to soak up the sights and sounds, tantalizing treats, and seasonal handiwork of these sparkling winter wonderlands. EVENING/OVERNIGHT TO WIESBADEN. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
- Day 5, Friday December 6, 2019 – WIESBADEN (DISEMBARKATION) – Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)