Stride climate

Trip Type : River Cruise
Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland tour
Amsterdam Basel Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland Trip

Remarkable Rhine & Historic Holland

Uniworld
5.0 . Excellent
100%
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: $ 3,999 $ 364 / day
Checking price

Overview

Short Description

Explore Europe’s rich history and Jewish heritage on an incredible discovery of The Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. Dive deep into the region’s culture, natural wonders, traditions and historical significance in a one-of-a-kind experience along the Rhine.

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 N/A
Start City Amsterdam
End City Basel
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Itinerary

2019 version

Amsterdam to Basel


Day 1 - Amsterdam (Embark)

Port - Amsterdam

Arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and be transferred to your ship. 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.


Day 2 - Amsterdam, Zaandam

Port - Amsterdam

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, where 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 duo of enticing excursions: Admire the city’s narrow, gabled homes lining the canals on a “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour; or opt for our Jewish Heritage tour, with stops at the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Museum.

This evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Excursion(s) - "Morning with the Masters" at the Hermitage Amsterdam
Excursion Price - $70

The doors open early to give you a crowd-free viewing of an extraordinary collection of Dutch master paintings: 30 monumental group paintings from the golden age that have been called “cousins of The Night Watch.” Drawn from both the Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum, these works have rarely been displayed because of their enormous size. The Amsterdam Hermitage, however, devotes an enormous gallery space to this exhibit, which reveals the connections and activities of Amsterdam’s power elite in the 17th century. Meet mayors and regents, colonels of the civil guard, wealthy merchants and their wives and learn something of their lives and the lives of the artists who painted these massive portraits.

Excursion(s) - “Do as the Locals Do” Amsterdam walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Uncover some of Amsterdam’s most charming and little-known treasures with a stroll to the city’s most notable sights. Cross over the historic and richly-decorated Blauwbrug (Blue Bridge) that sits over the river Amstel. The original Blue Bridge was a wooden structure built in 1600 and painted to match the blue color from the Dutch flag. Next, board a streetcar and head to Rokin Street for a taste of a traditional Dutch delicacy, Haring (a unique raw herring dish) before pressing on towards Begijnhof–one of the oldest groups of historic buildings in Amsterdam. Next, you’ll head into the oldest parts of Amsterdam via Warmoesstraat, one of the oldest, shop-lined streets in the city, that is also adjacent to the city's infamous Red-Light District. Wander along charming streets and indulge in a little bit of window shopping before arriving in Oudezijds Voorburgwal, one the city's central canals flanked by quintessentially Dutch façades, where you’ll see the Oude Kerk (translation: Old Church), the city’s oldest building. Your tour will end in Zeedijk, Amsterdam’s Chinatown, which was originally constructed as a means of protection from the sea.

Excursion(s) - Discover Dutch crafts, windmills and museums at the Zaanse Schans
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Visit to the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Museum
Excursion Price - $70

Anyone who has read The Diary of Anne Frank knows what happened to Amsterdam’s Jews under the Nazis. But not everyone knows that the Jewish community began in the city when Sephardic Jews fled Spain and Portugal after 1492, a group of successful merchants and professionals who in turn sponsored Ashkenazi migrants fleeing Central Europe in the 17th century. Visit the Jewish Historical Museum, with its meticulous re-creation of the Great Synagogue, compelling exhibit called “Friday Night” and lively children’s area, and the nearby Portuguese Synagogue, before strolling through the former Jewish Quarter (Rembrandt lived in in this neighborhood, and he often asked his Jewish neighbors to pose for his Old Testament scenes; his house is now a museum and is one of the few original houses still standing in the area). Today’s Jewish community is largely centered in Amstelveen, where some 15,000 Jews live, work and worship in one of the largest and most vibrant communities in Europe.


Day 3 - Rotterdam

Port - 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. Or you can 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. Or you can choose to join a walking tour exploring Rotterdam's profound Jewish history and heritage.

Excursion(s) - Culinary Stroll of Rotterdam’s SuperDutch, supersized Market Hall
Excursion Price - $70

Get a taste for Rotterdam’s culinary prowess and architectural achievements on a walk to Market Hall. Built in 2014, this extraordinary building is known for its futuristic look and unique culinary offerings—from bars and food stands to full-service restaurants. Market Hall is just one example of Amsterdam’s captivating mix of 17th-century canals, gabled façades and modern architecture. You’ll also enjoy a look at the UNESCO-designated Witte Huis, an Art Nouveau masterpiece adorned with mosaics and statues. When it was built in 1898, it was the tallest office building in Rotterdam and Europe’s first skyscraper.

Excursion(s) - Kinderdijk windmills
Excursion Price - $70

At one time 10,000 windmills operated in the Netherlands, pumping water away from low-lying lands (much of the country is below sea level) and creating what are known as polders—arable land reclaimed from the water. Though the mighty windmill has been replaced by newer technology, you can see how effective the system was in Kinderdijk, where a group of 19 windmills erected in the 18th century still function. Most are ground-sail windmills (meaning their sails nearly touch the ground as they whirl) and each one was carefully situated to make sure one did not block another’s wind. Each windmill moves the water a little farther, pumping it from field to canal, from canal to river. Climb the steep stairs of a mill and look out over the quiet fields that would be underwater were it not for the ingenuity of the Dutch. (Of course, you can simply admire it from the outside. But if you do that, you won’t see how the mill keeper’s family lived.) These mills are kept in working order partly as a backup in case modern technology fails, and they were used as recently as WWII, when there was no fuel to keep newer pumping stations working.

Note: If docking in Kinderdijk is not possible, the excursion will be arranged by motorcoach from Rotterdam.

Excursion(s) - Jewish Rotterdam
Excursion Price - $70

Embark on a walking tour through Jewish Rotterdam. Your first stop is the Witte Huis, or White House, a National Heritage Site built in 1898 with a beautiful Art Nouveau façade. During World War II, Rotterdam was the victim of a German bombing, but the Witte Huis made it out relatively unscathed despite its height for the time period. Make your way to the Wijnhaven, a charming old port, on your way to the center of Jewish life in Rotterdam, the Spaansekade (Spanish Quay). After, you’ll visit the location of the first Jewish cemetery, the former Jewish synagogue, the Jewish hospital and more. Cap your discovery of Rotterdam’s Jewish ties with a pit stop at the Holland America Line, the spot where many Jewish people left for the United States during the war.


Day 4 - Arnhem

Port - 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.

Excursion(s) - Arnhem Airborne Museum WWII
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - "Let's Go" Arnhem airborne cycle route
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Kröller-Müller Museum visit
$109

Day 5 - Cologne

Port - 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. 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.

Excursion(s) - Cologne walking tour with Cologne Cathedral
Excursion Price - $70

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. Three medieval gates remain standing, as does the old city hall with its Renaissance facade. The famous 12 Romanesque churches were reconstructed from the rubble, and the cathedral, Cologne’s iconic landmark, rises magnificently in the city center. Though it was badly damaged by WWII, the great UNESCO-designated cathedral retains many of its original treasures—the relics of the Magi and other sacred figures, which inspired its building in the 12th century, the 14th-century stained-glass windows that were stored safely throughout the war and the beautifully painted choir stalls—though other treasures are displayed separately. Enter the awe-inspiring nave and learn about the history of the cathedral and its art collections, especially the pieces surrounding the Shrine of the Magi.

Note: The number of visitors allowed in Cologne Cathedral is regulated by a very strict schedule 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.

Excursion(s) - Cologne’s Jewish Quarter
Excursion Price - $70

It's a short walk from the cathedral—where the protections granted Jews in 1266 are etched in stone—to Cologne's ancient Jewish quarter. Jews crossed the Alps with the Romans and were part of Cologne's history from the beginning: Emperor Constantine signed an edict allowing Jews to be elected to the curia in 321. No one knows for sure what happened when the Romans retreated south—did Jews remove with them or remain to form the nucleus of the substantial community that flourished in Cologne a few centuries later? The earliest physical remains of the Jewish community date to the 11th century. The medieval Judengasse, the synagogue and the mikveh were all close to the town hall. An archaeological excavation is slowly revealing the elements of this neighborhood, which is wonderfully well documented, but only the mikveh is open to the public at this time. On today's excursion, see first-hand how Cologne is once again home to a thriving Jewish community.


Day 6 - Oberwesel

Port - 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 “Let's Go” hike that will take you past the old town walls and up to a fortified 12th-century castle.

Excursion(s) - Bacharach village stroll with Riesling tasting
Excursion Price - $70

What would a cruise on the Rhine be without a stop at one of the picturesque and historic wine villages that dot the banks? Bacharach, first documented in the 11th century, was once critically important to the wine trade as a port where wine casks were transferred from smaller boats, which could navigate the rocky narrows above the town, to larger ones. Join a local guide to stroll among the timbered houses—the oldest dates to 1368 (it’s now a restaurant called, appropriately, Altes Haus)—pausing for a look at the remains of the old town walls, demolished by the French during the Nine Years’ War, the gothic ruins of the Werner Chapel and the single spired St. Peter’s Church. Vineyards rise in terraces all around the town, producing excellent Rieslings; following your tour, you’ll have a chance to taste some of them and find out for yourself just how good they are. 

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” Castle Stahleck hike
Excursion Price - $70

The round tower and sturdy stone walls of Castle Stahleck guard the heights above Bacharach. The counts Palatine used the fortress to defend their territories from other German lords and from numerous French incursions, so it suffered considerable damage over the centuries, but it has been beautifully restored and enjoys a new life as a youth hostel. Join your guide for a hike—it won’t be too strenuous but you will be climbing the hill outside the village—through the vineyards up to the castle. You’ll be rewarded with fabulous views of the Rhine and the Lorelei valley as well as the town below. 


Day 7 - Frankfurt

Port - 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 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 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.

Excursion(s) - Frankfurt “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Although Frankfurt is unabashedly modern, with a dynamic international population and a skyline dominated by skyscrapers, it has a much-loved historic core, and your ship docks within easy walking distance of it. Stroll with your guide through Römer Square, bordered by the re-created 15th-century mansions that constitute the old city hall, to the Klein Market Hall, where you’ll sample Frankfurt’s beloved apple cider and sausages as you take in the colorful scene: locals choose produce and sausage, cider and eggs, and flowers and spices from the covered market’s 154 stalls. The city’s residents come from more than 200 nations, so you’ll find plenty of international specialties, too, along with regional items. Your next stop is Goethe House, the house museum devoted to Germany’s national poet, who was born in this city. Though Goethe’s work belongs to the world, Frankfurters take particular pride in their native son; the rooms here display furnishings from the writer’s day, as well as family portraits and the desk where Goethe completed Faust—not to mention a puppet theater with which the four-year-old future poet played. You’ll encounter the city’s bustling present-day economic power as you walk past the Frankfurt stock exchange and continue to Main Tower. Nothing exemplifies Frankfurt more than this lofty skyscraper: The façade of a historic building is incorporated in its base, and 56 stories of glass-encased offices soar above it. Ride up to the viewing platform for an amazing view of the city and its surroundings.

Excursion(s) - Städel Museum visit
Excursion Price - $70

Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Eyck, Botticelli, Lucas Cranach the Elder—the Städel’s collection encompasses a magnificent group of Old Master paintings but is by no means limited to them: Monet, Picasso, Francis Bacon, Baselitz, Yves Klein and many other artists also find space on the walls of the 200-year-old museum, which anchors Frankfurt’s Museum Mile, home to a dozen notable art institutions. Explore this collection with a knowledgeable guide, then venture into some of the neighboring galleries and museums. The ship is anchored nearby, so this wealth of artistic treasures is just steps from the gangplank.

Excursion(s) - Frankfurt Jewish Museum and the legacy of the Rothschilds
Excursion Price - $70

The Rothschild family fortune began in Frankfurt, along with the family name—taken from the red shield on the family home on Judengasse, the quarter-mile-long street where all of Frankfurt’s Jews were required to live between 1462 and 1811. It was a crowded but prosperous community (it had to be prosperous, since the only way Jews enjoyed imperial protection was by paying enormous fees to the emperor). Mayer Rothschild started as a coin dealer, expanded into dealing antiques, and by 1792, he was a wealthy banker with an international clientele. His five sons followed in his footsteps, extending the family business throughout Europe and lending their names to a raft of famous enterprises—and to numerous cultural and charitable institutions in Frankfurt and elsewhere. The Frankfurt Jewish Museum, located in a former Rothschild home that was recently renovated, offers a fascinating look at the family’s saga. Though none of the houses on Judengasse are still standing, you can see the foundations of some of them when you visit Museum Judengasse, which outlines the history of Jews in Frankfurt and their relations with the Christian community through the centuries. It abuts the Jewish cemetery and the memorial to victims of the Shoah, listing the names of 12,000 Frankfurt Jews who died in the death camps.

Excursion(s) - Mainhattan by bike
Excursion Price - $70

Get a different view of the city via bicycle, pedaling through the old town area that was meticulously reconstructed after WWII (St. Paul’s Church was one of the first structures to be rebuilt because of its important place in the development of German democracy—the country’s first freely elected parliamentary body met in St. Paul’s oval hall), along Museum Mile and down the shady, pleasant Main Promenade, which stretches along both banks of the river. 


Day 8 - Speyer (Worms)

Port - Speyer

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.

Excursion(s) - Private Doktorenhof vinegar estate visit and tasting
Excursion Price - $70

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 tasting room (think candles, cloaks and choir music) is like no other you’ll ever experience.

Excursion(s) - Excursion to Worms
Excursion Price - $70

Will you leave a pebble on the headstone of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg? The great medieval scholar was born in Worms and is buried there, in the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Germany. In his day, Worms was one of three important centers of Jewish learning and trade in the Middle Ages, along with Mainz and Speyer, and was known as “little Jerusalem on the Rhine.” Rabbi Meir taught in Rothenburg for 25 years and died a prisoner in Alsace—and his reasons for refusing to allow anyone to ransom him were cited in discussions in 2011 when Israel exchanged 1027 Hamas prisoners for a single Israeli soldier. Today when you visit Worms’ ancient cemetery, with headstones dating to the 11th century, you’ll find a peaceful place that bears testimony to the long history of Jews in the region. Your tour will also include the re-created 12th-century synagogue and mikveh, which were destroyed on Kristallnacht.

Excursion(s) - Speyer walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Speyer—“spire” in English—is well named, since the four red towers of the UNESCO-designated Romanesque cathedral dominate the Old Town just as the medieval bishops dominated the town itself. Though the bishops ruled the town, Speyer also had a special relationship with the Holy Roman emperors: Conrad II ordered the cathedral’s construction around 1030, and eight emperors are interred in its crypts. Your walking tour will take you along the pedestrian-only Maximilian Street—first laid out by Roman soldiers—from the last remaining gate of the medieval wall toward the great church. Near the church you’ll see remnants of a Jewish community established around 1090 under the auspices of the Bishop of Speyer. Though the synagogue is long gone, the vaulted ritual baths have been beautifully preserved. (The area is popularly known as the Jewish Courtyard.) Notice the former mint and Holy Trinity Church, which were built in the 18th century, following a devastating war, and stand as masterful examples of late-baroque style. You’ll have some free time after your tour: If you’re interested in automotive history, trains or aeronautical technology, be sure to drop by the Technik Museum.

Note: Because the Speyer Cathedral is an active place of worship, no tours of its interiors are given.


Day 9 - Strasbourg

Port - 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 “Let's Go” 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.

Excursion(s) - “Do as the Locals Do” Strasbourg walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Climb aboard your coach for a short ride across the Rhine en route to enchanting Strasbourg. Teeming with narrow cobbled streets, timber-frame houses, town squares and stately patrician homes, this city is the launching pad for today’s journey. Experience local places, traditions and cuisine as you stroll through “Petite France,” along its canals and to the imposing Strasbourg Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture. Stop for a bite to eat and enjoy a delicious Butchers Sausage, gingerbread, “Flammekueche” (which is often referred to as Alsatian Pizza), or a chocolate and liquor tasting at one of the local shops. Admire the city square’s famous Maison Kammerzell, numerous winstubs (wine lounges) and shops before enjoying free time to explore on your own.

Note: Shuttle service will be provided to and from the center of Strasbourg in the afternoon.

Excursion(s) - Alsace’s Jewish past
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Black Forest: Natural beauty & living history
$102
Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” Strasbourg by bike
Excursion Price - $70

Strasbourg loves cyclists! The city has a great network of bike routes, and more residents use bikes as their primary method of transportation than in any other city in France. You’ll soon discover that much of the old city center is car-free, which makes it an especially inviting area to explore via bicycle. Fasten your helmet and pedal with your knowledgeable guide along the charming flower-bedecked lanes of Petite France, which are lined with tall half-timbered houses that date back to the Renaissance, and cross into the European Quarter, so named because of the many pan-European institutions housed in stunning contemporary buildings there. The contrast between the quaint historic district and the glittering modern structures brings home the scope of Strasbourg’s place in Europe’s history and affairs.


Day 10 - Basel

Port - 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.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” Basel by bike
Excursion Price - $70

Fasten your helmet, mount your bike and pedal with your guide along the Wiese River (a tributary of the Rhine) to Fondation Beyeler, a contemporary glass jewel box of a museum designed by Renzo Piano that is set in a gracious green park in the village of Riehen. Some 250 impressionist and modernist works collected by Ernst and Hildy Beyeler are on view under Piano’s ingeniously designed glass roof, which can be adjusted to allow in more or less natural light; among the highlights of the collection are paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Lichtenstein, Klee and Warhol. The Beyeler’s special exhibitions are as noteworthy as its core collection is, so be sure to spend some time checking out those display spaces before heading back to the ship.

Excursion(s) - “Do as the Locals Do” Basel walking tour
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Jewish Basel
Excursion Price - $70

Day 11 - Basel (Disembark)

Port - Basel

Disembark the ship and be transferred to Basel airport for your flight home.

Basel to Amsterdam


Day 1 - Basel (Embark)

Port - Basel

Arrive at Basel Airport and be transferred to your ship. 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.


Day 2 - Basel

Port - 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.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” Basel by bike
Excursion Price - $70

Fasten your helmet, mount your bike and pedal with your guide along the Wiese River (a tributary of the Rhine) to Fondation Beyeler, a contemporary glass jewel box of a museum designed by Renzo Piano that is set in a gracious green park in the village of Riehen. Some 250 impressionist and modernist works collected by Ernst and Hildy Beyeler are on view under Piano’s ingeniously designed glass roof, which can be adjusted to allow in more or less natural light; among the highlights of the collection are paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Lichtenstein, Klee and Warhol. The Beyeler’s special exhibitions are as noteworthy as its core collection is, so be sure to spend some time checking out those display spaces before heading back to the ship.

Excursion(s) - Jewish Basel
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - “Do as the Locals Do” Basel walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Day 3 - Strasbourg

Port - 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 “Let's Go” 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.

Excursion(s) - “Do as the Locals Do” Strasbourg walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Climb aboard your coach for a short ride across the Rhine en route to enchanting Strasbourg. Teeming with narrow cobbled streets, timber-frame houses, town squares and stately patrician homes, this city is the launching pad for today’s journey. Experience local places, traditions and cuisine as you stroll through “Petite France,” along its canals and to the imposing Strasbourg Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture. Stop for a bite to eat and enjoy a delicious Butchers Sausage, gingerbread, “Flammekueche” (which is often referred to as Alsatian Pizza), or a chocolate and liquor tasting at one of the local shops. Admire the city square’s famous Maison Kammerzell, numerous winstubs (wine lounges) and shops before enjoying free time to explore on your own.

Note: Shuttle service will be provided to and from the center of Strasbourg in the afternoon.

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” Strasbourg by bike
Excursion Price - $70

Strasbourg loves cyclists! The city has a great network of bike routes, and more residents use bikes as their primary method of transportation than in any other city in France. You’ll soon discover that much of the old city center is car-free, which makes it an especially inviting area to explore via bicycle. Fasten your helmet and pedal with your knowledgeable guide along the charming flower-bedecked lanes of Petite France, which are lined with tall half-timbered houses that date back to the Renaissance, and cross into the European Quarter, so named because of the many pan-European institutions housed in stunning contemporary buildings there. The contrast between the quaint historic district and the glittering modern structures brings home the scope of Strasbourg’s place in Europe’s history and affairs.

Excursion(s) - Alsace’s Jewish past
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Black Forest: Natural beauty & living history
$102

Day 4 - Speyer (Worms)

Port - Speyer

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.

Excursion(s) - Private Doktorenhof vinegar estate visit and tasting
Excursion Price - $70

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 tasting room (think candles, cloaks and choir music) is like no other you’ll ever experience.

Excursion(s) - Speyer walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Speyer—“spire” in English—is well named, since the four red towers of the UNESCO-designated Romanesque cathedral dominate the Old Town just as the medieval bishops dominated the town itself. Though the bishops ruled the town, Speyer also had a special relationship with the Holy Roman emperors: Conrad II ordered the cathedral’s construction around 1030, and eight emperors are interred in its crypts. Your walking tour will take you along the pedestrian-only Maximilian Street—first laid out by Roman soldiers—from the last remaining gate of the medieval wall toward the great church. Near the church you’ll see remnants of a Jewish community established around 1090 under the auspices of the Bishop of Speyer. Though the synagogue is long gone, the vaulted ritual baths have been beautifully preserved. (The area is popularly known as the Jewish Courtyard.) Notice the former mint and Holy Trinity Church, which were built in the 18th century, following a devastating war, and stand as masterful examples of late-baroque style. You’ll have some free time after your tour: If you’re interested in automotive history, trains or aeronautical technology, be sure to drop by the Technik Museum.

Note: Because the Speyer Cathedral is an active place of worship, no tours of its interiors are given.

Excursion(s) - Excursion to Worms
Excursion Price - $70

Will you leave a pebble on the headstone of Rabbi Meir of Rothenburg? The great medieval scholar was born in Worms and is buried there, in the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in Germany. In his day, Worms was one of three important centers of Jewish learning and trade in the Middle Ages, along with Mainz and Speyer, and was known as “little Jerusalem on the Rhine.” Rabbi Meir taught in Rothenburg for 25 years and died a prisoner in Alsace—and his reasons for refusing to allow anyone to ransom him were cited in discussions in 2011 when Israel exchanged 1027 Hamas prisoners for a single Israeli soldier. Today when you visit Worms’ ancient cemetery, with headstones dating to the 11th century, you’ll find a peaceful place that bears testimony to the long history of Jews in the region. Your tour will also include the re-created 12th-century synagogue and mikveh, which were destroyed on Kristallnacht.

Excursion(s) - Gourmet vinegar cooking class
$144
Excursion(s) - Romantic Heidelberg
$86

Day 5 - Frankfurt

Port - 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 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 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.

Excursion(s) - Frankfurt “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Although Frankfurt is unabashedly modern, with a dynamic international population and a skyline dominated by skyscrapers, it has a much-loved historic core, and your ship docks within easy walking distance of it. Stroll with your guide through Römer Square, bordered by the re-created 15th-century mansions that constitute the old city hall, to the Klein Market Hall, where you’ll sample Frankfurt’s beloved apple cider and sausages as you take in the colorful scene: locals choose produce and sausage, cider and eggs, and flowers and spices from the covered market’s 154 stalls. The city’s residents come from more than 200 nations, so you’ll find plenty of international specialties, too, along with regional items. Your next stop is Goethe House, the house museum devoted to Germany’s national poet, who was born in this city. Though Goethe’s work belongs to the world, Frankfurters take particular pride in their native son; the rooms here display furnishings from the writer’s day, as well as family portraits and the desk where Goethe completed Faust—not to mention a puppet theater with which the four-year-old future poet played. You’ll encounter the city’s bustling present-day economic power as you walk past the Frankfurt stock exchange and continue to Main Tower. Nothing exemplifies Frankfurt more than this lofty skyscraper: The façade of a historic building is incorporated in its base, and 56 stories of glass-encased offices soar above it. Ride up to the viewing platform for an amazing view of the city and its surroundings.

Excursion(s) - Städel Museum visit
Excursion Price - $70

Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Eyck, Botticelli, Lucas Cranach the Elder—the Städel’s collection encompasses a magnificent group of Old Master paintings but is by no means limited to them: Monet, Picasso, Francis Bacon, Baselitz, Yves Klein and many other artists also find space on the walls of the 200-year-old museum, which anchors Frankfurt’s Museum Mile, home to a dozen notable art institutions. Explore this collection with a knowledgeable guide, then venture into some of the neighboring galleries and museums. The ship is anchored nearby, so this wealth of artistic treasures is just steps from the gangplank.

Excursion(s) - Mainhattan by bike
Excursion Price - $70

Get a different view of the city via bicycle, pedaling through the old town area that was meticulously reconstructed after WWII (St. Paul’s Church was one of the first structures to be rebuilt because of its important place in the development of German democracy—the country’s first freely elected parliamentary body met in St. Paul’s oval hall), along Museum Mile and down the shady, pleasant Main Promenade, which stretches along both banks of the river. 

Excursion(s) - Frankfurt Jewish Museum and the legacy of the Rothschilds
Excursion Price - $70

The Rothschild family fortune began in Frankfurt, along with the family name—taken from the red shield on the family home on Judengasse, the quarter-mile-long street where all of Frankfurt’s Jews were required to live between 1462 and 1811. It was a crowded but prosperous community (it had to be prosperous, since the only way Jews enjoyed imperial protection was by paying enormous fees to the emperor). Mayer Rothschild started as a coin dealer, expanded into dealing antiques, and by 1792, he was a wealthy banker with an international clientele. His five sons followed in his footsteps, extending the family business throughout Europe and lending their names to a raft of famous enterprises—and to numerous cultural and charitable institutions in Frankfurt and elsewhere. The Frankfurt Jewish Museum, located in a former Rothschild home that was recently renovated, offers a fascinating look at the family’s saga. Though none of the houses on Judengasse are still standing, you can see the foundations of some of them when you visit Museum Judengasse, which outlines the history of Jews in Frankfurt and their relations with the Christian community through the centuries. It abuts the Jewish cemetery and the memorial to victims of the Shoah, listing the names of 12,000 Frankfurt Jews who died in the death camps.


Day 6 - Oberwesel

Port - 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 “Let's Go” hike that will take you past the old town walls and up to a fortified 12th-century castle.

Excursion(s) - Bacharach village stroll with Riesling tasting
Excursion Price - $70

What would a cruise on the Rhine be without a stop at one of the picturesque and historic wine villages that dot the banks? Bacharach, first documented in the 11th century, was once critically important to the wine trade as a port where wine casks were transferred from smaller boats, which could navigate the rocky narrows above the town, to larger ones. Join a local guide to stroll among the timbered houses—the oldest dates to 1368 (it’s now a restaurant called, appropriately, Altes Haus)—pausing for a look at the remains of the old town walls, demolished by the French during the Nine Years’ War, the gothic ruins of the Werner Chapel and the single spired St. Peter’s Church. Vineyards rise in terraces all around the town, producing excellent Rieslings; following your tour, you’ll have a chance to taste some of them and find out for yourself just how good they are. 

Excursion(s) - “Let’s Go” Castle Stahleck hike
Excursion Price - $70

The round tower and sturdy stone walls of Castle Stahleck guard the heights above Bacharach. The counts Palatine used the fortress to defend their territories from other German lords and from numerous French incursions, so it suffered considerable damage over the centuries, but it has been beautifully restored and enjoys a new life as a youth hostel. Join your guide for a hike—it won’t be too strenuous but you will be climbing the hill outside the village—through the vineyards up to the castle. You’ll be rewarded with fabulous views of the Rhine and the Lorelei valley as well as the town below. 


Day 7 - Cologne

Port - 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. 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.

Excursion(s) - Cologne walking tour with Cologne Cathedral
Excursion Price - $70

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. Three medieval gates remain standing, as does the old city hall with its Renaissance facade. The famous 12 Romanesque churches were reconstructed from the rubble, and the cathedral, Cologne’s iconic landmark, rises magnificently in the city center. Though it was badly damaged by WWII, the great UNESCO-designated cathedral retains many of its original treasures—the relics of the Magi and other sacred figures, which inspired its building in the 12th century, the 14th-century stained-glass windows that were stored safely throughout the war and the beautifully painted choir stalls—though other treasures are displayed separately. Enter the awe-inspiring nave and learn about the history of the cathedral and its art collections, especially the pieces surrounding the Shrine of the Magi.

Note: The number of visitors allowed in Cologne Cathedral is regulated by a very strict schedule 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.

Excursion(s) - Cologne’s Jewish Quarter
Excursion Price - $70

It's a short walk from the cathedral—where the protections granted Jews in 1266 are etched in stone—to Cologne's ancient Jewish quarter. Jews crossed the Alps with the Romans and were part of Cologne's history from the beginning: Emperor Constantine signed an edict allowing Jews to be elected to the curia in 321. No one knows for sure what happened when the Romans retreated south—did Jews remove with them or remain to form the nucleus of the substantial community that flourished in Cologne a few centuries later? The earliest physical remains of the Jewish community date to the 11th century. The medieval Judengasse, the synagogue and the mikveh were all close to the town hall. An archaeological excavation is slowly revealing the elements of this neighborhood, which is wonderfully well documented, but only the mikveh is open to the public at this time. On today's excursion, see first-hand how Cologne is once again home to a thriving Jewish community.


Day 8 - Arnhem

Port - 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.

Excursion(s) - Arnhem Airborne Museum WWII
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - "Let's Go" Arnhem airborne cycle route
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Kröller-Müller Museum visit
$109

Day 9 - Rotterdam, Kinderdijk

Port - 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. Later, 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. Or you can choose to join a walking tour exploring Rotterdam's profound Jewish history and heritage.

Excursion(s) - Kinderdijk windmills
Excursion Price - $70

At one time 10,000 windmills operated in the Netherlands, pumping water away from low-lying lands (much of the country is below sea level) and creating what are known as polders—arable land reclaimed from the water. Though the mighty windmill has been replaced by newer technology, you can see how effective the system was in Kinderdijk, where a group of 19 windmills erected in the 18th century still function. Most are ground-sail windmills (meaning their sails nearly touch the ground as they whirl) and each one was carefully situated to make sure one did not block another’s wind. Each windmill moves the water a little farther, pumping it from field to canal, from canal to river. Climb the steep stairs of a mill and look out over the quiet fields that would be underwater were it not for the ingenuity of the Dutch. (Of course, you can simply admire it from the outside. But if you do that, you won’t see how the mill keeper’s family lived.) These mills are kept in working order partly as a backup in case modern technology fails, and they were used as recently as WWII, when there was no fuel to keep newer pumping stations working.

Note: If docking in Kinderdijk is not possible, the excursion will be arranged by motorcoach from Rotterdam.

Excursion(s) - Culinary Stroll of Rotterdam’s SuperDutch, supersized Market Hall
Excursion Price - $70

Get a taste for Rotterdam’s culinary prowess and architectural achievements on a walk to Market Hall. Built in 2014, this extraordinary building is known for its futuristic look and unique culinary offerings—from bars and food stands to full-service restaurants. Market Hall is just one example of Amsterdam’s captivating mix of 17th-century canals, gabled façades and modern architecture. You’ll also enjoy a look at the UNESCO-designated Witte Huis, an Art Nouveau masterpiece adorned with mosaics and statues. When it was built in 1898, it was the tallest office building in Rotterdam and Europe’s first skyscraper.

Excursion(s) - Jewish Rotterdam
Excursion Price - $70

Embark on a walking tour through Jewish Rotterdam. Your first stop is the Witte Huis, or White House, a National Heritage Site built in 1898 with a beautiful Art Nouveau façade. During World War II, Rotterdam was the victim of a German bombing, but the Witte Huis made it out relatively unscathed despite its height for the time period. Make your way to the Wijnhaven, a charming old port, on your way to the center of Jewish life in Rotterdam, the Spaansekade (Spanish Quay). After, you’ll visit the location of the first Jewish cemetery, the former Jewish synagogue, the Jewish hospital and more. Cap your discovery of Rotterdam’s Jewish ties with a pit stop at the Holland America Line, the spot where many Jewish people left for the United States during the war.

Excursion(s) - Visit famous Delft
$66

Day 10 - Amsterdam

Port - Amsterdam

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, where 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 duo of enticing excursions: Admire the city’s narrow, gabled homes lining the canals on a “Do as the Locals Do” walking tour; or opt for our Jewish Heritage tour, with stops at the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Museum.

Excursion(s) - "Morning with the Masters" at the Hermitage Amsterdam
Excursion Price - $70

The doors open early to give you a crowd-free viewing of an extraordinary collection of Dutch master paintings: 30 monumental group paintings from the golden age that have been called “cousins of The Night Watch.” Drawn from both the Amsterdam Museum and the Rijksmuseum, these works have rarely been displayed because of their enormous size. The Amsterdam Hermitage, however, devotes an enormous gallery space to this exhibit, which reveals the connections and activities of Amsterdam’s power elite in the 17th century. Meet mayors and regents, colonels of the civil guard, wealthy merchants and their wives and learn something of their lives and the lives of the artists who painted these massive portraits.

Excursion(s) - “Do as the Locals Do” Amsterdam walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Uncover some of Amsterdam’s most charming and little-known treasures with a stroll to the city’s most notable sights. Cross over the historic and richly-decorated Blauwbrug (Blue Bridge) that sits over the river Amstel. The original Blue Bridge was a wooden structure built in 1600 and painted to match the blue color from the Dutch flag. Next, board a streetcar and head to Rokin Street for a taste of a traditional Dutch delicacy, Haring (a unique raw herring dish) before pressing on towards Begijnhof–one of the oldest groups of historic buildings in Amsterdam. Next, you’ll head into the oldest parts of Amsterdam via Warmoesstraat, one of the oldest, shop-lined streets in the city, that is also adjacent to the city's infamous Red-Light District. Wander along charming streets and indulge in a little bit of window shopping before arriving in Oudezijds Voorburgwal, one the city's central canals flanked by quintessentially Dutch façades, where you’ll see the Oude Kerk (translation: Old Church), the city’s oldest building. Your tour will end in Zeedijk, Amsterdam’s Chinatown, which was originally constructed as a means of protection from the sea.

Excursion(s) - Discover Dutch crafts, windmills and museums at the Zaanse Schans
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Visit to the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Museum
Excursion Price - $70

Anyone who has read The Diary of Anne Frank knows what happened to Amsterdam’s Jews under the Nazis. But not everyone knows that the Jewish community began in the city when Sephardic Jews fled Spain and Portugal after 1492, a group of successful merchants and professionals who in turn sponsored Ashkenazi migrants fleeing Central Europe in the 17th century. Visit the Jewish Historical Museum, with its meticulous re-creation of the Great Synagogue, compelling exhibit called “Friday Night” and lively children’s area, and the nearby Portuguese Synagogue, before strolling through the former Jewish Quarter (Rembrandt lived in in this neighborhood, and he often asked his Jewish neighbors to pose for his Old Testament scenes; his house is now a museum and is one of the few original houses still standing in the area). Today’s Jewish community is largely centered in Amstelveen, where some 15,000 Jews live, work and worship in one of the largest and most vibrant communities in Europe.


Day 11 - Amsterdam (Disembark)

Port - Amsterdam

Disembark the ship and be transferred to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for your flight home.

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Oct-16-2019Oct-27-2019$ 4,499$ 5,099$ 7,899Basel to AmsterdamAvailable Reserve
Oct-26-2019Nov-06-2019$ 3,999$ 4,599$ 7,399Amsterdam to BaselAvailable Reserve

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This is a review of the Uniworld China + Tibet + Yangtze tour in June, 2019, taken by my wife (80) and me (77). Since knowledge of a reviewer helps readers to judge the applicability to themselves: we are both former academics, normally spry and immersed in cultural, political, and healthful life activities, but we sometimes found the trip daunting, as discussed below. We resist aging, but not always with full success.

The tour had pluses and minuses.

The biggest minuses:
• My wife’s breathing difficulty in our 3-night stay in Lhasa, Tibet (she spent the whole time breathing oxygen and couldn't go on any outings)
• The (inevitable) problem of touring a totalitarian country where citizens are intimidated from talking honestly about the full scope of their lives

The biggest pluses:
• Our guide, Kevin, who was outstandingly attentive, helpful, supportive and patient. He went out of his way to help in difficult situations (like my wife’s breathing problems in Lhasa).
• We were also quite appreciative of Tiger’s brief stint with us.
• With a few exceptions, our baggage was always handled by others. And the exceptions weren’t overwhelming. Apparently for a group, the weight of any individual bag just gets averaged in with all the other group bags being checked. (Some travelers handled their own carry-ons.)

Most of the other people on the tour were quite amiable and unassuming—not always the case when you travel with people whose financial position has to be pretty good to afford this kind of trip (that financial position too often drives unwarranted expectations of privilege and reverence [if that’s not redundant…]).

The accommodations and included breakfasts (and many other meals) were luxurious, though we ourselves didn’t need them to be THAT nice (in this we’re probably exceptions from other travelers—and in this case, a number of our co-tourists had taken multiple Uniworld tours, so they knew and liked what they'd be getting); indeed, we had to learn to stop tanking up at breakfast just because so many goodies were offered, buffet-style. Had we realized those luxuries were part of what we were paying for (and in retrospect we SHOULD have realized), we might have taken a different, cheaper tour. Ironically, what most drew us to the Uniworld trip were the chance to visit Tibet and the expectation that at such a high cost we’d always be getting outstanding, highly informed guides (which wasn’t always the case; as retired academics, we’re unusually demanding in the critical analysis of what we want to hear).

GENERAL NOTES:

We spent several days on our own before the tour (in Beijing) and at its end (in Shanghai). These were quite valuable to us. Perhaps because of time, the Uniworld tour took us to few museums. We are museum junkies, and visited several during our non-tour times. Among other things, Beijing has a terrific national museum, an interesting (partly because of its political subtext) museum about women and children, and an extensive arts district. Shanghai has its own major museum and a tour of the city’s past relationship with Judaism that gives you a more general sense of the troubling antithesis of glitzy life highlighted elsewhere.

I’ve traveled to many parts of the world, and I’ve always been able to learn at least local alphabets and some minimal language skills. China is the first place I’ve gone where I could do none of the first and only a few words (probably wrongly intoned) of the latter. This was extremely frustrating, especially when we toured on our own. Few people outside the major international emporia (I never quite got used to how many upscale stores were in all places we visited) speak English (why should they?). The one ameliorating factor was that many people (especially store employees) had phone apps that did good to excellent translations between spoken English and spoken Chinese. You should have one for your own use.

In major cities, signs quite often include English, so that you can at least know where to shop and what you're looking at. Prices (which you can often negotiate) are typically typed into a calculator.

Perhaps even more than in the West, people are glued to smart phones. Pretty much everyone, it seems, uses an app that includes texts, phone use, and a payment facility, so that people seem to may carry little or no cash or credit cards. No one seems to care—or maybe everyone is just resigned to—that the government can monitor this app and know a ton of stuff about you. As a foreigner, however, you are unlikely to be able to use this app because you need to have a compatible bank account (probably meaning from a Chinese bank).

No matter how you travel in China, you'll see the amazing efforts to accommodate the expansion cities, so that a “town” of which you've never heard might have a million or more people. On the tour, you'll see almost only architectural and shop glitz that the government and cities bask in. You might get very brief glimpses of poverty.

While on the one hand the Chinese government talks a good game and takes some important steps vis-à-vis the climate crisis, on the other hand they still use an enormous amount of fossil fuel for electricity generation. I was also struck—dismayed—by the fact that from all appearances, people only drink bottled water (Westerners are warned against tap water, but I don’t know if local people build up an immuinity to its problems). Especially in warm weather, I can only guess at the billions of single-use plastic bottles that are used every day by the population of 1.4 billion (plus large numbers of visitors). On rare occasions, like at an airport, you might see a place to refill a water bottle (I assume that water is safe).

Please note that in criticisms like the previous paragraph, I do not intend a holier-than-thou American attitude. I am even more critical of what our government does—or more importantly, doesn’t—do vis-à-vis the climate crisis.

THE PEOPLE

Almost everyone was pleasant and upbeat. We mostly moved among middle- (and presumably upper-)class people; we encountered many others, but they were kind of in the background (just as in capitalist countries), and while we made it a point to notice their existence, we had no meaningful interactions with them.

The westernization of outward behavior was almost palpable. My wife had visited 10 years ago and regularly commented on the difference. My impression is that the young (teen-agers, young adults) are especially into western fashion and culture—and to what to me was a surprising extent, seemed to be able to afford indulging that taste.

For what it’s worth, my observation was that people are quite materialistic, focus their lives on that, and increasingly able to afford to indulge themselves. Outwardly, at least, they have little concern with the strictures of their government. Tiananmen Square seems to be in the distant past. Treatment of Moslems and Uighurs (not unlike our current treatment of immigrants and Moslems or our like history of racial and ethnic conflicts) was far away. So far as I could tell, people like Americans (though we’re also bizarre outsiders—there are occasional instances of Chinese people, especially ones who live far from the cities we visited, walking up to a foreigner and asking to take a photo together (this happened to me on the Great Wall, with some pretty young guys).

SECURITY

This abounds. You need to carry your passport everywhere. You'll encounter frequent security checks where you have to put whatever you're carrying through a scanner and show official IDs. In Lhasa, these checks were even present as you wove your way through street markets.

At every airport check-in, you not only go through a security scanner, but you then step up on s short stool so that someone with a hand scanner can go over every inch of your body. (I have sometimes wondered whether proliferation of security folk, including regular police, in nations like this is a clever device for combining meaningful security with full employment.)

The government must have an incredible volume of disk space and incredibly fast computer programs to be able quickly to access information about any given citizen or visitor. Check-in at airports always includes a live photo of you. I’m sure if anyone in the security services had wanted to track me down at any time, it wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds. (For each accommodation where you stay, you have to register with the police. Hotels typically do that for you.)

IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL

We had 4 in-country flights (part of the reason for what Uniworld charges), and much as we wanted to visit the places to which we flew, the time and effort involved in getting from to shuttle bus (then sometimes a long walk) to hotel to airport to check-in to security to boarding to flying to disembarking to shuttle bus to the next hotel became overwhelming.

The tour included 3 nights in a luxury boat on the Yangtze River. This was quite pleasant and included a night’s visit to a show (I don’t remember exactly which one, but when on our own my wife and I went to a couple of shows in Beijing—well worth it even if they're not something to your normal taste). Here, we had some down time. At our ages, we needed more of that. I got sick while on the boat and got what seemed like pretty good medical care.

(By American standards, medicals for my wife in Lhasa and for me on the Yangtze boat were low but not miniscule.)

By American standards, taxis are cheap. They were pretty easy to find in Beijing. (The “universal” app includes signups with services like Uber.) But in Shanghai, they were extremely rare, and we had to get help from strangers to order one. As you would expect, this is especially hard when it’s raining and you're a very long walk from your hotel. Among maybe a dozen or two cab rides during our entire stay, we had two bad experiences with cabbies; I advise photographing the driver’s information and the meter area. I found that this significantly mitigated the problems.

We took the metro in Beijing. After brief adjustment, it was very easy to use. The main difficulty is that stations are far apart, so on (say) a rainy night, you will still need an umbrella and endurance. Shanghai seems to have an equivalent subway system, but we never used it there.

LHASA

Part of the altitude problem my wife (and a few of our fellow travellers) had appears to be the flight’s forcing a lack of transition from sea level to an altitude over 2 miles. (On the other hand, a slower, staged transfer probably would have added cost to an already expensive trip—and maybe loss of a day’s touring.) Especially for older folk, however, I think this is a relevant concern.

I don’t know why, but although I could feel very mild pressure in my breathing, I was fine for the entire Lhasa visit. I had a different disappointment (perhaps idiosyncratic to myself, an academic and non-religious person): if I remember correctly, our entire stay involved visiting Tibetan religious locations. I quite support SOME such visits—religious history is central to human existence—but I would have liked to see aspects of other Tibetan cultural history.

Because of Beijing political issues with Tibet, filing out your Chinese visa involves the charade of not mentioning you're going there (if you do mention it, your visa apparently will be denied).

And a warning re Lhasa (and at least the Great Wall): there can invite lots of climbing, and a number of us, especially some of the older people (even when altitude wasn’t an issue), chose to climb minimally (just enough to get a sense of where steps were going and what the resulting view would be). Kevin and other guides were totally understanding—indeed, we were offered climbing options.
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Highly recommend

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
Me and Nena are in cruise business more than 38 years and booked so many river cruises in Europe and charter ships in Russia, India, Egypt and Ukraine. Uniworld offer excellent cruise and we highly recommend this great company.
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Fantastic

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Fantastic cruising the Nile on MS River Tosca, spacious rooms, super crew, delicious meals, fantastic service, awesome waiters, knowledgeable tour guide Marwa! Would love to go back!
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Professioal, friendly and unforgetable experience for the cruise

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The facility on ship was good. Staff servicing us were very professionally good. For the meals it was indeed very nice especially the kitchen was able to provide some Asian dishes that is fantastically great.
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Amazing time, Amazing ship

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I had never been on a river cruise before and did not know what to expect. After this cruise, I was ready to sail right back with Uniworld. Everything on the ship, from the food and amenities, to the excursions and especially the crew, made the week one of the best I've had.
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I've enjoyed 6 UW cruises

5.0
Details
Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I've enjoyed 6 UW cruises (2 of them being repeats from prior years) and feel the UW product is superior to competitors at relatively the same price point for the same itinerary and trip length. On this cruise, the ship personnel were superb in all services I experienced. The front desk, dining room and lounge personnel were always most gracious and accommodating, ditto for the cabin attendants.
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Details

Ship Name

River Empress

Deck & Cabin Plans

River Empress


Trip ID#:

Uniworld-235

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