DAY 1 ARRIVAL IN COLOGNE
You fly to Düsseldorf or Cologne from where a coach will take you to the ship. Or you can take a late morning Eurostar from London St. Pancras International (exact times are indicated on the enclosed Departure Details sheet) arriving in Brussels approximately two hours later, where a coach will take you over the German border to your ship.
Moored in Cologne’s picturesque historic centre, the dedicated crew will welcome you aboard your first-class floating hotel, ensuring you settle into your comfortable and extremely well equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship.
DAY 2 COCHEM
The first morning on board a river cruise is always a thrill, awakening to the gentle lapping of the water outside as the scenic valley sides slip silently past your cabin window – there is no other holiday experience quite like it. Take a leisurely breakfast in the ship’s restaurant this morning – the pace on board is unhurried so you can linger over that extra cup of tea and completely unwind whilst the ever-changing scenes of life on the riverbank outside drift by.
You are cruising one of the most famous and dramatic waterways in Europe. Take to the sun deck for an invigorating stroll and watch the banks, studded with yet more picture postcard villages with tottering timber framed houses pass peacefully by. After a delicious lunch on board we arrive at delightful Cochem, in times gone by the centre of the Moselle wine trade, with unrivalled views of the castle crowning a mound covered in vineyards. You will have time to wander in this most charming town before stepping back on board for dinner.
DAY 3 TRIER
Leaving Cochem, during breakfast this morning, you cruise further upstream, passing through four locks, which never cease to fascinate! You will be astonished by the dramatic valley sides, covered with reputedly the steepest cultivated vineyards in the world. The valley’s gradient here means your progress is respectably sedate but never dull as you meander upstream through the heart of the Moselle’s stunningly beautiful winelands. Enjoy the unfolding scene as the vineyards slip by en route to Zell.
After lunch you drive to Trier, the oldest and one of the most fascinating cities in Germany. Founded by the Romans, it was the capital of a huge portion of their empire, encompassing present-day Spain, France, Britain and parts of Germany. It had a population of a staggering 80,000, little different from today, the Emperor Constantine lived here and it boasted a range of buildings to match. It has one of the most impressive amphitheatres in existence, baths, a Roman bridge but best of all, the Porta Nigra, an immense fortified gate which formed the eastern border of the Roman Empire and towers above the surrounding medieval buildings. This is the largest and best-preserved
Roman building north of the Alps and is an awesome testimony to their architectural genius. You enjoy a guided tour during which you learn all about the historical significance of the city.
We re-join our ship in charming Bernkastel where the welcoming ambience of the ship’s restaurant awaits for another meticulously prepared dinner, accompanied perhaps by one of the fine Riesling wines from the vineyards before you.
DAY 4 BERNKASTEL
This morning the ship remains moored so after a leisurely breakfast you are free to explore Bernkastel. Wander the ancient streets to the delightful cobbled market square surrounded by some of the finest, most ornate half-timbered houses you will ever see - many dating from the 15th century. Most famously, is the Pointed House, a jewel of the rustic middle class building tradition from the Middle Ages and a classic example of the Moselle vintner’s dwelling.
As you slip your mooring during lunch and cruise back downstream, sit back and soak up the peaceful atmosphere of this magical river. What a wonderful time this afternoon to relax in one of the comfortable deck chairs on the Sun Deck and really absorb the spectacular scenery in all its glory. Why not catch up on some reading in the ship’s library or a game of chess perhaps? This evening, over dinner reflect on all that you have seen and what is still to come in the company of newly-made friends.
DAY 5 KOBLENZ & BOPPARD
Early this morning the ship glides into port in the ancient city of Koblenz. Dramatically situated at the confluence of these two great rivers, this thriving, 2000-year-old city, with its mighty fortress is a delight to explore. You take a guided walk around the principal monuments and historic centre, discovering ancient squares, admiring beautifully restored historic house frontages and quaint hidden passageways. Koblenz will enchant you and it is an absolute joy to wander through its tiny streets, pausing to window shop whilst trying to resist the aroma of fresh coffee and cake drifting from the numerous traditional cafés, and all in such historic surroundings.
Back on board in time for lunch you cruise to Boppard, also known as the ‘Pearl of the Rhine’, a classically picturesque village, located on a long, sweeping, looping bend of the river: a bustling stone quayside crowded with people going about their daily business, the cobbled streets, lined by typical half-timbered houses and cafés, leading to the town and its main square beyond. Founded by the Romans, as much of the area was, Boppard boasts the best-preserved Roman town walls in Germany. There will be time before dinner to explore this Rhineland gem.
DAY 6 RHINE GORGE & RÜDESHEIM
Leaving Boppard, as the sun crests the surrounding hilltops, expectation rises at what lies in store today - this morning’s cruise is a real highlight as you journey through the outstanding natural beauty of the world famous Rhine Gorge. Here, at every turn of the tortuous river, towering valley sides are crowned by the precarious ruins of castles, which once held sway over the fortunes of passing travellers. This is home to numerous medieval legends, tales of mysterious happenings and dark deeds that have been passed down by generations of sailors. The swirling waters of the bend are a reminder of the most famous legend of all: a beautiful maiden is said to have lured sailors on to the rocks with her feminine charms and alluring song.
The villages drifting by, St Goar, Bacharach and Kaub are synonymous with wine production and one of the most enjoyable things on this cruise is sampling the best of local wines with local produce.
During lunch we arrive in Rüdesheim, perhaps the most famous of all the Rhine wine towns with crooked houses sloping down from the wooded hillsides and terraced vineyards. A visit to the Asbach brandy distillery is rewarding (tasting assured of course) or you could perhaps take a trip on the unusual gondola lift with its spectacular views across the river.
Especially worth a visit is the excellent mechanical music museum: a superb collection of 350 intricate antique musical instruments and musical boxes from all over the world, many in working order, still playing the delicate sounds of yesteryear.
DAY 7 COLOGNE
We have slipped our mooring early this morning and there is so much to see as the ship effortlessly glides downstream past pretty riverside towns backed by the rolling volcanic hills for which the area is renowned. You also see the railway bridge at Remagen, captured intact towards the end of The Second World War, thus arguably shortening the war in Germany. Passing the last riverside vineyards and half-timbered houses around Linz, you leave the last great historic strong point, before mooring in the heart of Cologne, in the shadow of the magnificent Gothic cathedral for which the city is so famous. It is a truly staggering building, taking 600 years to build and has the most intricate stained glass in Europe. This afternoon, you have a guided tour of the city with time to explore its delightful tree-lined squares and perhaps visit one of its famous bars, many of which still traditionally brew their own beer. This evening, the ‘Captain’s Dinner’ will take place on board, during which delicious specialities of the regions you have visited during your cruise will be served, hosted, of course, by the Captain himself. After dinner perhaps enjoy a final digestif in the bar whilst reflecting on all the memories made on this wonderful cruise.
DAY 8 RETURN HOME
This morning, at the appropriate time, you drive to Brussels connecting with the Eurostar service to London St. Pancras International. Should you be returning by air, you will be taken to the airport for your homeward flight.