Trip Type : River Cruise
Christmas Markets Along the Rhine tour

Christmas Markets Along the Rhine

Grand Circle Cruise Line
3.4 . Average
58%
Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Premium - 4 star
11 days
From: $ 1,645 $ 150 / day
Checking price

Overview

Highlights

  • Visit Kaysersberg
  • Visit the nearby commune of Riquewihr, a renowned "wine village" known for its Rieslings
  • Enjoy a sightseeing tour by boat along Strasbourg's canals
  • Discover romantic Heidelberg, a historic university town
  • Explore Koblenz and stroll among the stalls of its wonderful Christmas Market
  • Visit the Deutsches Eck, or "Corner of Germany"
  • See the ruins of Roman temples
  • Visit to the National Liberation Museum

Short Description

Maybe it's the sight of medieval landscapes glittering with colorful lights, or the familiar, heartwarming melodies of "Silent Night" and "O Christmas Tree" sung in their original German. Or maybe it's the excitement of the traditional Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market), brimming with handmade toys and ornaments, and filled with the delicious aromas of freshly baked cookies and warm mulled wine ... For many, Christmastime in the Old World is simply the most satisfying way to experience the holidays. And this festive Grand Circle River Cruise—which includes ALL meals onboard, and wine with dinner—is a wonderful gift to yourself that will remain a treasured holiday memory for years to come

These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Trip Type River Cruise
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Premium - 4 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City Basel
End City Amsterdam

Trip Includes

Choose to purchase Grand Circle's airfare, and your airport transfers, government taxes, fees, and airline fuel surcharges are included. Or, make your own air arrangements

Accommodations: for 10 nights aboard a private Grand Circle river ship in an outside cabin

ALL meals: 10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, and 10 dinners (with complimentary wine with dinner)

6 exclusive, included tours: Kaysersberg • Strasbourg • Baden-Baden • Mainz • Koblenz • Cologne

4 Exclusive Discovery Series events: Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch • Christmas Traditions discussion • Stollen cooking demonstration • Europeans Today discussion

Program Director: We are the only cruise line to provide the exclusive services of a resident Program Director (assigned to no more than 47 travelers)

Plus, enjoy these features on every Grand Circle River Cruise:

Personal headset on all included and optional tours

Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions and Dinners

5% Frequent Traveler credit toward your next Grand Circle trip—an average of $157

Baggage handling for 1 piece of luggage per person, including tips

Now included for 2015

Beverages during lunch and dinner onboard, including beer, wine, and soft drinks

All port charges

Gratuities for local guides and motorcoach drivers on your main trip

Find your perfect trip
A vast selection of trips on every continent, for every style. Thousands of itineraries from hundreds of trusted travel companies.
Save time
Use simple search and comparison tools to easily find the best trip. Don't sweat the logistics -- travel providers plan for you.
Save money
Book directly with the operator. Find inclusive packages for the best value and get access to amazing deals.
Travel confidently
Read unbiased user reviews, pick the company that fits your style, and connect with them directly. No worries, just memories.

Travelers Also Viewed

See all similar trips

Itinerary

Day 1: Depart U.S.

Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Basel, Switzerland.

Day 2: Arrive in Basel, Switzerland

Meals: Lunch and Dinner

This morning, you arrive at the Basel airport, where you are met and transferred to the pier to embark your river ship. From Basel, located where Switzerland, Germany, and France all meet, ships can navigate the Rhine all the way to the North Sea.

A light lunch will be served onboard this afternoon. Otherwise, the balance of the day is at leisure.

Gather this evening to meet your Program Director and traveling companions over dinner, and for a ship briefing on your upcoming cruise.

Day 3: Breisach, Germany • Kaysersberg, France

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

This morning, you'll sail toward Breisach, Germany, set just on the edge of the Black Forest.

Upon arrival this afternoon, you'll head into Alsace on the French side of the Rhine to visit Kaysersberg. This was the birthplace of Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian and recipient of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize, who is famous for his philosophy of "reverence for life" and his work in Africa. Your tour includes a visit to Dr. Schweitzer's former home, now a museum, where his study is preserved exactly as it was when he last used it in 1959. You'll also see the city center, and have time to discover more of Kaysersberg on your own.

You'll also visit the nearby commune of Riquewihr, a renowned "wine village" known for its Rieslings. After an informative stroll, you'll have free time to explore on your own.

Gather this evening with your fellow travelers and Program Director for a Captain's Welcome Drink and Dinner.

Day 4: Strasbourg

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

After breakfast, enjoy a sightseeing tour by boat along Strasbourg's canals. Strasbourg has been strategically important since ancient times. It became a free imperial city in 1262, and then was occupied by France in 1681 and Germany in 1871. France recovered the city in 1919 after World War I. From your boat, you'll see the major sights (including the Palais de L'Europe, where the European Parliament meets) and admire the city's remarkable Renaissance architecture. In mid-morning, your boat tour concludes at the Palais Rohan in the town center. If you like, you may walk on your own from the Palais to visit the city's magnificent cathedral, one of the finest of Europe's great Gothic cathedrals. Its lofty single spire dominates the city.

After lunch aboard ship, you have the afternoon free to visit Strasbourg's Christmas Market or explore more of the city on your own. There is an excellent collection of Renaissance art in the Museum of Fine Arts, while the Alsatian Museum offers folk art, including reconstructed interiors of Rhine farm and vineyard houses. You may want to visit the picturesque Petite-France area (the former Tanners district) and see the old Customs House and charming covered bridges with their defensive towers. Return to the ship for dinner on board.

Day 5: Plittersdorf, Germany • Baden-Baden • Speyer • Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

This morning, the ship docks at the German town of Plittersdorf and you depart by motorcoach for the Black Forest region. You'll stop for a visit in the spa town of Baden-Baden, nestled in thick, peaceful forests. Since Roman times, Baden-Baden has been renowned for its thermal baths, with mineral waters thought to have restorative powers. Afterwards, the motorcoach takes you to Speyer, where you reboard the ship in time for lunch.

Speyer is a city more than 2,000 years old that has retained parts of its medieval wall and gates. As you visit the city's Christmas Market later today, you can contemplate the fact that an earlier version of this town already existed in the time of Jesus.

This afternoon, you'll join a local family for coffee, cake, and conversation at a Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch. Afterwards, consider strolling through the Christmas Market and browsing its festive stalls. We return to the ship for dinner.

Day 6: Speyer • Optional Heidelberg tour

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

You have the morning free in Speyer. On your own, you might take in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate, which has large collections of pre-Roman and Roman materials and includes a wine museum. The ship begins cruising towards Mainz around noon. Or consider visiting Speyer's four-towered Imperial Cathedral. Dating from the eleventh century, it's one of the greatest Romanesque buildings in Germany and contains the tombs of eight emperors. This was also an early center of printing as the home of the 15th-century printers John of Speyer and his brother Wendelin.

Or, perhaps you'll take our all-day optional tour to discover romantic Heidelberg, a historic university town nestled between wooded hills at the edge of the Odenwald Forest and crowned with the ruins of Heidelberg Castle, which you'll have time to explore. Begun in the Gothic style of the 14th century and built up gradually over the next 400 years, the castle demonstrates the evolution of architectural style, finally completed in the Baroque period. In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, we'll also stop at Heidelberg's lively Christmas Market after lunch.

After the tour, you'll ride to Mainz to reboard the ship before dinner.

Please note: The Heidelberg optional tour will not be available on the 12/19/15 departure, as it falls on Christmas Eve and shops and restaurants will be closed.

Day 7: Mainz • Optional Rudesheim Dinner

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

This morning you'll enjoy a walking tour of Mainz and see the town's great eleventh-century Romanesque cathedral. The 2,000-year-old city of Mainz rose to prominence in the eighth century when St. Boniface, the "German Apostle," designated it an archbishopric, thereby making it the center of Germanic Christendom. The Mainz archbishops held spiritual and political power, serving as electors of the Holy Roman Empire.

But Mainz remains best known for its most famous son, Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type, who was born here in 1397. Gutenberg began his career by creating and selling indulgences—papers that could be purchased and used as "coupons" by the faithful to absolve them of some of the time they had earned in Purgatory. Gutenberg realized he could absolve himself of some of his own monetary debts if he could mass-produce the indulgences. To do this, he created uniformly sized metal molds for letters that allowed him to create error-free, repeatable text. This was the beginning of the movable type that transformed the world.

You'll see the Gutenberg Bible and the printing press, which are housed in the town's Gutenberg Museum. The museum exhibits one of the 47 extant copies of the Latin Gutenberg Bible—a 42-page volume with elaborate Gothic lettering, dating from the 1450s.

After lunch aboard ship, you have the afternoon free to visit the Christkindlmarkt (Christmas Market) in Mainz. You'll have ample opportunity to explore the myriad craft stalls, and to explore the rest of the city as you please.

Dinner is onboard this evening. Or, join us for an optional evening outing to the cobbled Drosselgasse wine alley in Rudesheim for a dinner with wine, food, song, and dance.

Please note: The Rudesheim optional tour will not be available on the 12/19/15 departure, as it falls on Christmas and shops and restaurants will be closed. Instead, you will enjoy extra discoveries with your Program Director aboard the ship and on land in Mainz. The Christkindlmarkt and the Gutenberg Museum will both be closed as well; instead, enjoy a guided visit to churches in Mainz.

Day 8: Mainz • Christmas Traditions discussion • Koblenz

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Today, the ship cruises along some of the most beautiful and inspiring parts of the Rhine as you sail for Koblenz. En route, you'll learn about local holiday lore during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about German Christmas traditions, focusing on the origins of the Tannenbaum (Christmas Tree), the Advent calendar, and more.

You'll hear more enlightening commentary as you pass the Lorelei, a large rock rising 440 feet above the river. Since ancient Greek mythology, there have been legends of sirens, women-creatures who lure sailors to their death with sweet songs. Ancient Germanic legend places one such siren (Lorelei) here, and it is said she enticed sailors to destruction on the reef below the rock.

This afternoon, embark on a walking tour of Koblenz, the 2,000-year-old city that stands at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Sitting amidst hills populated with castles and fortresses, this strategic location has made the city vital to European trade—and explains why it was heavily bombed during World War II. Many of its historic buildings have since been restored and the Altstadt (Old Town) features distinct architecture like the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), a 13th-century Gothic basilica with twin towers capped by onion-shaped spires, and the Basilica St. Kastor or Kastorkirche, dedicated to Castor of Karden, featuring four towers. Across the Rhine you’ll find the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, central to a ring of fortifications built to protect the town and the region.

Day 9: Koblenz • Stollen demonstration

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

The morning is at leisure to explore Koblenz and stroll among the stalls of its wonderful Christmas Market. Savor the smell of chestnuts roasting over open fires, and perhaps savor an authentic Bratwurst as you shop for handmade gifts and enjoy watching artisans at work. Perhaps you’ll visit the Deutsches Eck, or "Corner of Germany," where both the Altstadt and the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, across the Rhine, are visible.

Enjoy an afternoon of sailing as you cruise to Cologne. En route, perhaps you'll participate in an exclusive Discovery Series cooking demonstration where you’ll learn how to make Stollen, a traditional German bread made with fruit and nuts and topped with powdered sugar.

Day 10: Cologne • Nijmegen, the Netherlands

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

After breakfast, disembark for a guided walking tour of Cologne's Old City. A Roman settlement called Colonia Agrippina after AD 50, Cologne came under Frankish control in the fifth century. You can still see the ruins of Roman temples scattered through the city, and the Roman Tower near the cathedral was once part of the medieval town walls. During the 15th century, the city flourished as a member of the Hanseatic League.

Your tour ends in front of the city's magnificent Gothic cathedral (Dom), which you may visit on your own. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral largely escaped the World War II damage that ravaged the city and the rest of Germany. (There's evidence that Allied forces worked deliberately to avoid damaging this beautiful structure.) It's the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, boasting beautiful stained-glass windows, an ornate gold shrine on its elaborate altar, and the intricate detail common to 14th-century Gothic churches.

After your tour, enjoy some time on your own in Cologne. Perhaps you'll spend time at the Romano-Germanic Museum, with its beautifully restored Roman mosaics and reconstructed tomb. The museum is the home of the largest collection of Roman glass vessels in the world and also holds a significant collection of Roman and early medieval jewelry. You could also visit Cologne's Christmas Market, and browse its wide assortment of Christmas creations.

Tonight, join your travel companions for dinner onboard.

Day 11: Nijmegen • Optional Liberation Museum tour • European's Today discussion

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

This morning, arrive in Nijmegen, a Dutch city built on seven hills overlooking the Waal River just west of its confluence with the Rhine. You'll see the arching bridge that spans the Waal, which was the site of an important battle during World War II that caused devastating damage to the city. As a result, Nijmegen, one of the oldest towns in Holland, was almost completely rebuilt. The town center, however, was remarkably unscathed by shelling, and provides a striking contrast to the newer architecture that surrounds it.

Enjoy a walk throughout the city. Or, perhaps you'll join an optional excursion to nearby Groesbeek for a visit to the National Liberation Museum (Bevijdingsmuseum). Here, the occupation and liberation of wartime Holland is vividly recreated through interactive displays.

After lunch onboard, enjoy an afternoon of sailing and take in the passing landscapes as you cruise to Amsterdam.

Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers for a frank Exclusive Discovery Series discussion concerning Europeans today, followed by a Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner. Arrive tonight in Amsterdam, where you will dock for the night.

Day 12: Return to U.S.

Meals: Breakfast

After breakfast, disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 1,645
Price Per Day: $ 150 per day
Check Availability
  • Single Supplement (Single Occupancy): $ 495

Ask Our Destination Experts

Ailish Casey
Email Us

Stride Featured in

Stride Feature In

26 Grand Circle Cruise Line Travel Reviews & Ratings

58%
3.4 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 15
Great 0
Average 0
Disappointing 3
Terrible 8
Value
3.4
Guide
3.4
Activities
3.4
Lodging
3.4
Transportation
3.4
Meals
3.4

Christmas Markets Along the Rhine

Write a Review
No reviews yet for this trip. Be the first one to write a review

Company Reviews

The service and the food were excellent

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I have done ten river/sea cruises with GCC, and the history was excellent that we learned from each city we visited. Our tour directors kept us informed as to what to expect about the region, city and weather. Aboard the ship, the service and the food were excellent. Along with these trips I have done ten land trips with GCT.
Read more

The most amazing river trip in Europe

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Traveling from Belgium through 6 countries to Switzerland is one of the most amazing travel experiences in Europe, especially if traveling with Grand Circle Travel. The ship's crew and staff are the most professional and personable folks that I've ever had the fortune to travel with. Not only have I traveled European rivers with these folks once, but have done so several times. For a single traveler, traveling with Grand Circle is a great bargain, as there is very seldom an extra charge for traveling solo and if their is, the price is very modest. You can't go wrong with these folks.
Read more

Grand Circle had made a mistake in purchasing our Adria Airlines tickets

2.0
Details
Value2.0
Guide2.0
Activities2.0
Lodging2.0
Transportation2.0
Meals2.0
I just returned from a small ships cruise of Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina yesterday. We also took a post trip to Slovenia. My husband and I actually enjoyed the cruise and appreciated our program director Danijela. The post trip was a bit of a disappointment for several reasons although we discovered Slovenia is a beautiful country. Our greatest issue is with the air reservations which we purchased through Grand Circle. When we arrived at the Slovenian airport to begin our international flights to return home, we discovered Grand Circle had made a mistake in purchasing our Adria Airlines tickets connecting to Amsterdam and KLM to San Francisco.
They purchased Adria tickets which did not include the cost of baggage! Zero checked bags. Even though they tell you that one bag is included in the cost of the trip per person; even though the bags had been brought on the trip and included in the flights to Croatia; and even though all of the other 12 fellow travelers from the tour had their baggage included in the cost of the air tickets purchased through Grand Circle. We almost missed our flight dealing with the rude Adria Airlines personnel and had to pay for our bags before we were allowed to board the plane. This morning, Grand Circle said it isn't their problem that they purchased our tickets with zero checked baggage allowance and refused to refund the cost of the baggage fee. So, beware!! This could happen to you. Especially at a small airport with no Grand Circle representative present and Grand Circle transportation to the airport getting you there just one hour prior to departure. And, importantly, you may just suffer the same rude response I got when attempting to rectify the situation. Grand Circle customer service is a myth and not only do they not stand behind their performance, they are deceitful in their descriptions of what is included in their pricing. Imagine buying an air ticket with zero baggage included for participants in a cruise. Come on, Grand Circle. Admit your mistake and reimburse.
Read more

Amazing time!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
My entire family just wrapped up a 12 day trip, "Christmas Markets on the Rhine", and we had an amazing time! My grandparents are Inner Circle members, but this was the first time for the other 7 of us. The ship - MS River Rhapsody - was clean and very comfortable to stay on, the crew was absolutely phenomenal, and the program directors were very friendly and knowledgeable about the places we were visiting. The morning walking tours were something I really enjoyed, since they gave us a personal introduction to each city. I have zero complaints and will look into taking another trip with Grand Circle in the future :)
Read more

We had an amazing time!

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
My entire family just wrapped up a 12 day trip, "Christmas Markets on the Rhine", and we had an amazing time! My grandparents are Inner Circle members, but this was the first time for the other 7 of us. The ship - MS River Rhapsody - was clean and very comfortable to stay on, the crew was absolutely phenomenal, and the program directors were very friendly and knowledgeable about the places we were visiting. The morning walking tours were something I really enjoyed, since they gave us a personal introduction to each city. I have zero complaints and will look into taking another trip with Grand Circle in the future
Read more

I may look Elsewhere going forward.

1.0
Details
Value1.0
Guide1.0
Activities1.0
Lodging1.0
Transportation1.0
Meals1.0
I get the brochures and e mail deals. Last two times I call immediately. The can't fine the deal. Thy send out the low price offers then Grand Circle deal arrived yesterday Thanksgiving to my e-mail. Called last night and today and throughout the day. Got an answer after 3 pm. Couldn't get the advertised rate to Paris /Normandy for 13 days. Second time now I tried. Last was English /Scotland and Ireland. We found a deal elsewhere . Anyone else feel they bait and switch at Garand Circle? It was $1000 more than the deal in the E mail and I had no date limitations . I may look Elsewhere going forward.
Read more

Details

Ship Name

M/S River Harmony

Ship Stats

Registry: Malta

Width: 38 feet

Length: 366 feet

Passenger capacity: 140

Crew/Nationality: 34/International

Entered Service: 1999

Decks: 4

Number of cabins: 70—all outside

Elevator: Yes (no elevator access to Prelude Deck)

Ship Description

The M/S River Harmony was ranked #26 in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Top 40 River Cruise Ships in the World” 2014 Readers’ Poll

The M/S River Harmony was launched in 1999. This ship has a capacity of 140 passengers in 70 cabins, all with outside views. Ship amenities include an elevator, restaurant, bar and lounge, library, Sun Deck, fitness center, and sauna. Your ship has an international crew of 34 and three English-speaking Program Directors.

Deck & Cabin Plans

All Deck & Cabin Plans

Optional Activities

Extend Your Trip

Basel, Switzerland

3 nights from only $595

Brussels & Bruges, Belgium

3 nights from only $595

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Standard Group

Cancellation Policy:

Cancellation Charges for River Cruises and Small Ships:

Prior to departure and charges

121 days or more is 10% of selling price or $300—whichever is greater

120-90 days is $300

89-60 days is 40% of selling price

59-30 days is 65% of selling price

29 days–departure is 100% of selling price

Trip ID#:

ChiMarGra

Trip Excludes

  • Internation airfare
  • Personal expenses
  • Passport and visa fees

Meals Included:

10 breakfasts, 10 lunches, and 10 dinners

Similar Trips

See all similar trips
×
Great Choice!

You can access members-only savings of up to $700 on over 6,000 Stride Select trips.

Sign in to see trip eligibility

or
or
Provide email and password

With your FREE membership you get to:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
Already a member?

We respect your privacy and take great care to protect your information. By joining you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

×
×
Sign in to Save Trips
Welcome back! We're so happy to see you. ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
  • Bookmark trips you like
  • Share with your travel companions
  • Track price changes
  • Access private discounts on trips you save
×
Sign in to see your results

TripFinder is a member-only feature. Don’t worry, it’s free!

With a membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
×
Activate your free Stride membership

Just use the email address and password provided in the email we sent.

? Forgot Password?

With your free membership you:

  • Save up to $700 per person!*
  • Access private deals and offers
  • See personalized trip recommendations
  • Save favorite trips
*See Member Savings Program details
×
To Follow, sign in or sign up (it's free) ? Forgot Password?
Don't have an account? Join
member benefits
First name is required!
Last name is required!
First name is not valid!
Last name is not valid!
This is not an email address!
Email address is required!
This email is already registered!
Please enter valid email address
Password is required!
Enter a valid password!
Please enter 6 or more characters!
Please enter 16 or less characters!
Passwords are not the same!
Terms and Conditions are required!
Email or Password is wrong!
Please select the captcha checkbox!
Please select the valid captcha!
Something went wrong! Try again later!
Find the 3 best trips for you.
Take a short quiz to recieve your top matches.

x
x
Download your brochure

Enter your email to get the "" brochure.

x
Brochure successfully sent!

We've sent the "" brochure to "". Check your inbox!