DAY 1 & 2 | July 5 & 6. U.S./Geneva, Switzerland/Zermatt
Depart the U.S. for Geneva.
On arrival, enjoy a scenic transfer to the Alpine resort of Zermatt, located beneath the dramatic pinnacle of the iconic Matterhorn. Check into the chalet-style Hotel Alex. This evening, dine in the hotel’s handsome, traditional Swiss restaurant.
DAY 3 | July 7. Zermatt
Today, travel aboard the famous Gornergrat Bahn, the highest cog railway in Europe. Ascend through pine and larch forests and cross meadows ablaze with wildflowers to the 10,000-foot-high Gornergrat. From the observatory atop Gornergrat, delight in the sweeping vistas of Europe’s most breathtaking Alpine scenery—the serrated profiles of the Matterhorn, the Liskamm and Dufourspitze mountains and vast Gorner Glacier. Return to Zermatt at your leisure, with the option to stop en route at Riffelberg for the panoramic view of impressive Monte Rosa and the majestic Matterhorn. This evening, join your travel companions for the Welcome Reception and dinner in the hotel.
DAY 4 | July 8. Zermatt/Andermatt/Lucerne
Relax during a scenic morning transfer from Zermatt to Andermatt aboard the fabled Glacier Express, “the world’s slowest fast train.” Travel through the heart of the Alps, where the natural beauty of the mountains rivals the skill and ingenuity of the engineers who created this impressive rail route—requiring the construction of more than 290 bridges and 90 tunnels. Arrive in Lucerne and check into the lakeside, Five-Star Hotel Schweizerhof Luzern. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure.
DAY 5 | July 9. Lucerne
A long-favored destination of travelers, Lucerne is set against the backdrop of its deep blue lake and the rugged grandeur of Mounts Pilatus and Rigi. Begin your morning walking tour in the Weinmarkt (wine market), surrounded by historic burghers’ houses. See the Hofkirche (Court Church), one of the finest examples of German Renaissance architecture, and the Lion Monument, dedicated to the Swiss Guards who gave their lives defending Louis XVI during the French Revolution. Walk across Lucerne’s most famous landmark, the delightful, 14th-century wooden Chapel Bridge, which spans the Reuss River and is adorned with 17th-century paintings. Ascend Mount Pilatus by panoramic gondola to its 7000-foot summit for a magnificent 360-degree view of central Switzerland’s mountains, forests and lakes. Enjoy lunch in a summit restaurant followed by free time. Board the Pilatus Railway, the world’s steepest cogwheel railway, and descend more than 5300 feet in less than three miles on return to the shores of picturesque Lake Lucerne, where you will embark upon a scenic cruise.
DAY 6 | July 10. Lucerne/Interlaken/Berne/Basel
Early this morning, continue your journey through one of the most stunning areas of Switzerland, the spectacular Bernese Oberland, traveling from the snow-crowned heights of the Alps to subtropical lowlands. Admire the impressive natural treasures of soaring, snowcapped mountain peaks, green, rolling hills, crystal-clear glacial lakes and densely wooded forests. Stop in the charming resort town of Interlaken, located between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz. Here, you will find the perfect vantage point for viewing the towering Jungfrau, the imposing summit in the Bernese Alps known as the “Top of Europe.” Transfer across the rolling Swiss countryside to Berne, Switzerland’s historic capital, and enjoy lunch in a traditional Bernese restaurant located in a historic, 18th-century High Baroque-style converted granary. Then, visit the city’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site and beautifully preserved medieval gem noted for its arcaded sidewalks. In Basel, embark the ship and attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception and dinner this evening.
DAY 7 | July 11. Strasbourg, France
The lively Alsatian city of Strasbourg fuses Old and New Europe. The Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a treasure trove of medieval houses, and the charming Ponts-Couverts—covered bridges flanked by watchtowers at each end—span its picturesque canals. It was in Strasbourg that John Calvin first established a reformed parish. See remnants of the Reformation in the beautiful Protestant and Catholic Church of St-Pierre-le-Vieux; and see the graceful sandstone Catholic Cathedral of Notre Dame, a Romanesque-Gothic masterpiece that, according to the poet Goethe, rises “like a most sublime, wide-arching tree of God.” In the Petite-France district, the historic miller, tanner and fishermen’s quarter along the Ill River, the fairy-tale look of a past era lives on, while nearby, 28 nations engage in the daily discourse of the European Union Parliament. Lunch is served aboard ship. The afternoon is free to enjoy independent pursuits in Strasbourg.
DAY 8 | July 12. Mannheim, Germany for Heidelberg
This morning, from Mannheim, transfer to Heidelberg, where luminaries such as Goethe and Schumann once came to experience the intellectual atmosphere of Heidelberg University, Germany’s oldest, founded in 1386. To many on the “Grand Tour” of Europe, fashionable in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, Heidelberg epitomized Germany, nestled in the densely wooded valley of the Neckar River and alive with the spirit of German Romanticism. On the walking tour, see how Heidelberg has preserved its authentic Renaissance-Baroque character, including the eight remaining arches of the famous Alte Brücke (Old Bridge) that span the Neckar River. Visit imposing Heidelberg Castle, a magnificent, 13th-century edifice perched above the river. The stately ruins preserve Heidelberg’s links to its medieval past. Reboard the ship and cruise through the pastoral Rheingau, Germany’s most famous wine-growing region, known particularly for its Riesling.
DAY 9 | July 13. Rüdesheim/Koblenz
Dock in the medieval town of Rüdesheim, the heart of Germany’s wine country. Enjoy a tour aboard the unique Winzerexpress mini-train, traveling through bucolic countryside vineyards en route to a private tasting of German wines. Cruise through the spectacular Rhine River Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, legendary for its scenery and riverside architectural treasures. Be on deck for a front-row view of the steep terraced vineyards rising on the slopes of the riverbanks. With each bend in the river, a medieval castle crowns the crags and a tranquil village nestles along its banks. See the famous Lorelei Rock—legend holds that a beautiful siren once lured sailors here with her enchanting song. The picturesque city of Koblenz is strategically positioned at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers and where Germany’s Roman past dates to nine B.C., during the reign of Augustus Caesar. From the famous Deutsches Eck (German Corner), view the impressive 19th-century fortress of Ehrenbreitstein—once the residence of the powerful Archbishop-Electors of Trier—across the Rhine River, and explore this historic city during a walking tour. The twin-towered Basilica of St. Castor, built between the ninth and 13th centuries, features the Rhineland’s distinctive Romanesque architecture.
DAY 10 | July 14. Cologne
One of Germany’s most ancient cities, Cologne was founded as a Roman military outpost in 38 B.C. From the time of Charlemagne to present day, it has flourished as the Rhineland’s foremost mercantile and religious center, and is the birthplace of the original world-famous Eau De Cologne perfume. Explore the Altstadt (Old Town) and visit the historic Kölner Dom (cathedral), a UNESCO World Heritage site and the finest example of High Gothic architecture in Germany; its construction began in 1248 and lasted for six centuries. Among its artistic treasures are the Milan Madonna and the Shrine of the Three Holy Kings. Enjoy a leisurely afternoon cruising along the picturesque Rhine River. This evening, attend the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner.
DAY 11 | July 15. Amsterdam, The Netherlands/U.S.
Following breakfast, disembark the ship and continue on the Amsterdam Post-Program or depart for the U.S.