December 1, 2017: Depart from your home city to Amsterdam. Our FREE to FLY® program allows you to depart from the city of your choice, negotiate your best price or use mileage plans or points if you prefer, and not have the hassle of having to meet up with a group at an appointed airport. You leave when you want and from where you want Dinner should be served on your flight with a light breakfast before arrival in the morning. OR, you may purchase airfare directly from Viking at a substantial savings, just let us know. (D, B)
December 2, 2017: Arrive in Amsterdam, then transfer to our ship.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to explore the city on your own. If your arrival schedule permits and you are interested, you may wish to visit the Anne Frank House. The ship will depart around 4PM. (D)
December 3, 2017: Kinderdijk, Netherlands - Today we arrive in Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a tour of this ingenious network of charming windmills You learn why the windmills were built and see how they work, plus you enter an actual working windmill for a tour of its mechanisms and living quarters. We will enjoy the area Christmas markets before returning to the ship. Later in the afternoon we will have several Dutch diversions: sample handcrafted Dutch cheeses and jenever, a distilled juniper liquor, and you may try your hand at sjoelen (Dutch table shuffleboard). Cruise through the night. (B, L, D)
December 4, 2017: Cologne, Germany - Continuing along the Rhine this morning we will arrive in Cologne and disembark for a walking tour together. Stroll through Old Town past St. Martin’s Church, and spend some time inside Cologne’s Dom, a remarkable Gothic cathedral whose construction was begun in 1248 and which was only completed in 1880. We will explore the Christmas Markets, cafés and shops on our own—our guide and program directory will also be available as needed to help you with planning your afternoon. Dinner is served aboard and we remain docked until late evening. (B, L, D)
December 5, 2017: Koblenz & Rüdesheim, Germany -As we proceed along the Rhine, once we arrive at todays port, we will tour 700-year-old Marksburg Castle and its museum. Lunch aboard as you enjoy this scenic passage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where castles overlook the river from their hilltop locations. Christmas Markets will be included Later in the afternoon we arrive in Rüdesheim. Here we will spend free time in the pedestrian-only Drosselgasse enjoying the markets and take the opportunity to sample a glass of locally produced wine at one of the restaurants or wine bars—dine aboard or in town if you prefer. Ship departs after midnight. (B, L, D)
December 6, 2017:
Heidelberg & Speyer
- Cruise through the morning enjoying brunch and the passing
scenery. Arrive in Mannheim and disembark for a journey to
Heidelberg to see Germany’s oldest university, founded in 1386. Then
visit the beautiful sandstone ruins of imposing Heidelberg Castle,
and take in the scenery of the Neckar River Valley and the city’s
many red rooftops from its hilltop location. Continue with a walking
tour through the Old Town to Heidelberg’s renowned gates.
Rejoin our ship in Speyer this afternoon and take some time
experience the spirit and sound of the season. Our dock is in full
view of the imposing Romanesque cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage
Site. Built in the 11th century on the site of a former basilica,
the building’s design was highly influential upon Romanesque
architecture for centuries to come, and is the final resting place
of eight German monarchs. Its soaring interior features graceful
rows of sandstone columns and a large stained-glass window installed
in the western façade during a later Gothic period. (B, L, D)
December 7, 2017: Strasbourg - This morning we will dock in Kehl and disembark for a guided tour of Strasbourg where we will see the European Parliament and tour the interior of the city’s famed cathedral. The afternoon is free to further explore their incredible Christmas Markets at the foot of the historic Strasbourg Cathedral. You enjoy this Alsatian city’s blend of French and German cultures—fabulous churches, medieval covered bridges, beautiful parks and some lovely Art Nouveau and modernist architecture. Dine aboard and enjoy free time this evening in the quaint little city of Kehl. (B, L, D)
December 8, 2017: Breisach -After cruising through the night we will arrive in Breisach, which is the gateway to the Black Forest. We will enjoy a scenic excursion through the area’s renowned mountain landscape, rolling meadows and dense forests. A visit to a local cuckoo-clock workshop to learn how the clocks are made will be a highlight of the day. We will return to Breisach for some free time before an early evening departure. Or, you may choose an optional excursion to the quaint Alsatian town of Colmar. Dine aboard while we cruise on to Basel, arriving around midnight. (B, L, D)
December 9, 2017: Basel
After breakfast, we will disembark. Those who are not joining our optional tour to Mulhouse and Zurich will proceed to the airport for your return flight unless you have made other arrangements.
Optional Tour: Following breakfast and good-bye's, we will be met in Basel by a deluxe coach and be dropped for our first stop at the central Basel Christmas Market area. Enjoy mulled cider or fresh coffee as you wander around the beautiful Basel square, taking in the sights while picking up some wonderful Swiss handcrafts as gifts. Then, it is on to Mulhouse, France, which is the European home to modern printed fabric history. Mulhouse is known throughout the area, in fact the world as the home to fabric printing mills in the 18th and 19th centuries and the city was built around the bustling business of these mills. Even though the mills are long gone, Mulhouse has not forgotten its textile heritage. During the Christmas Market season, the town celebrates with decorations made from the a specially selected fabric of the year. While here, we will enjoy the spirit of textiles only found in Mulhouse where we will have a special private tour of the Museum of Printed Textiles. After our time in Mulhouse, we will go to Zurich where we will also be able to enjoy Swiss holiday sights and sounds and see the world's largest Christmas tree that is decorated with over 1,000,000 Swarovski Crystals ornaments.
Itinerary, Optional Tour
December 9, Mulhouse: Upon arrival into Mulhouse, we will check into our historic art deco 4 star hotel where the remainder of the afternoon is yours to enjoy on our own. Be sure to head toward the town square to see the Mulhouse City Hall decorated from top to bottom with red and green holiday fabric, reproduced from one of thousands of early printed samples just for the 2014 Christmas Season. The best example of the city's fabric traditions is the draped City Hall which stands proudly in front of the Christmas Market stalls filled with local favorites. B.
December 10, Mulhouse; Today, we will visit the Museum of Printed Textiles for a tour and time to enjoy their spectacular Christmas Market Boutique. The museum goes all out to create special fabric and textile related items which they sell only during the holiday season. After our museum visit, the remainder of the day is free for you to enjoy the area. You may choose to return to the Mulhouse Market or take the train to the charming town of Colmar for another view of Christmas, Alsatian style. You are also not too far from Germany's Black Forest and it is just a short train ride away to another wonderful Holiday market.
December 11, Zurich. We will travel this morning to Zurich. Our hotel will be located within walking distance of the city center and the spectacular Christmas market at the Zurich train station. You will feel as if you have been transported back in time in the old station where you will find market stalls surrounding the centerpiece, and incredible 50' tall tree decorated from top to bottom with 1,000,000 Swarovski crystal ornaments.
December 12, Zurich: Today, we depart Europe for home. Departure is independent as everyone has individual flights. Our guide will be able to help you make any airport arrangements.
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