Rhine Cruise to Switzerland- Five-star MS Jane Austen

8 Days - River Cruise

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Welcome aboard the first class river cruise ship, your luxury, floating hotel for the next seven nights. From the exceptional full-board cuisine to the luxurious cabins and suites you will very soon relax as we journey south to magnificent Switzerland. On our journey through the Rhine valley, we visit historic Koblenz where we have time to explore the old town at the confluence of both the Rhine and Moselle rivers. Next, we continue our navigation through the dramatic Rhine Gorge where the sheer valley walls tower over 400m above our heads and onto Rudesheim, where we enjoy another evening complemented with an excellent dinner on board. As the Rhine widens and the landscape becomes less rugged, our cruise continues south, stopping in fascinating Rudesheim onto medieval Speyer with its stunning Romanesque Basilica that dominates this pretty town. Next day we arrive in France at the city of Strasbourg where you enjoy a walking tour of the old town. Continuing, we drive through the typical rolling tree-clad massif of the Black Forest onto the charming town of Titisee, nestling on the shores of its namesake lake. Our final destination is Switzerland where we moor in Basel. We have included an amazing tour to magnificent Lucerne, Switzerland’s most attractive city and then into the dramatic Bernese Oberland and some of the world’s finest alpine scenery. See the magnificent Eiger and enjoy a stroll round Interlaken, nestled between two crystal clear lakes and situated in the shadow of the Jungfrau. A just and fitting finale, to a most relaxing and enjoyable river cruise experience.

Highlights

  • Flight from Dublin
  • Explore medieval Koblenz
  • Visit to the pretty, romantic town of Rudesheim - centre of the Rhineland wine trade
  • Cruise through the spectacular Rhine Gorge
  • An evening in Speyer - dominated by the imposing basilica
  • Guided tour of Strasbourg - amazingly rich in a wealth of sights
  • Visit to the old walled town of Breisach
  • Tour of the beautiful Black Forest and lakeside town of Titisee
  • Tour of some of the finest Swiss Alpine scenery, seeing the Jungfrau and the Eiger, plus visit Interlaken and the stunning lakeside town of Lucerne
  • The services of our experienced tour manager

Inclusions

  • Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of single cabins available on the all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day; if you choose to travel with us on any of the full day excursions by coach, a packed lunch will be provided. Anyone choosing to stay on the ship may of course have lunch in the restaurant; morning/afternoon tea and coffee; all visits and excursions as mentioned in the brochure, airport transfers, coach travel as mentioned, travel to and from port of embarkation and the services of a Riviera Travel Tour Manager.

Itinerary

Day 1

You fly to Dusseldorf from where a coach will take you to your ship, moored in Cologne’s picturesque historic centre. The dedicated crew will welcome you aboard ensuring you settle into your comfortable and extremely well-appointed cabin, and familiarise yourself with the ship: your first class floating hotel.

Day 2

As you wake and enjoy a sumptuous breakfast, the real delights of this river cruise begin to unveil as the first rolling hills of the Rhine Valley drift silently past. Firstly we see the forested Siebengebirge (seven mountains), the inspiration for the Grimm’s many legends, including ‘Snow White’, just the overture for even more dramatic scenery as we head upstream. We pass the famous ruined bridge at Remagen, captured intact by the allies in a bold action towards the end of WWII, before finally crumbling into the waters below. The pretty waterfronts of riverside towns come into view and the first of the Rhine’s vineyards shimmer in the morning sun as we glide gently into our mooring at picturesque Koblenz. Founded by the Romans, the city is beautifully located at the confluence of the Rhine and its sister, the Moselle. Your afternoon is free to wander ashore and explore the many medieval buildings, housing a fine array of traditional shops and classic Rhineland cafés. There is much for the student of historic buildings to admire: the former mint, the Four Towers with their ornamental 17th century turrets and several fascinating squares and churches, including the 9th century Basilica of St Kastor. The waterfront along the Moselle is stunning too, with the medieval Balduin bridge, staggeringly still in use. If you managed to resist the luscious cakes on offer from the beckoning pavement cafés then you’ll be ready for your meticulously prepared dinner on board your choice of ship, and afterwards perhaps a quiet stroll along the riverside promenade to the Deutches Eck, ‘German Corner’, where the great rivers Rhine and Moselle meet.

Day 3

Amongst the many twists and turns along its course, one of the most impressive and memorable on the Rhine is surely the huge looping ‘S’ bend at Boppard. This morning’s cruise weaves around this long meander, guarded by the mighty Marksburg Castle. Journeying further, we explore the most famous of all the river’s reaches and a real highlight of the cruise, the dramatic Rhine Gorge: steep vineyards give way to almost vertical rocky outcrops, towering over 1,000 feet above the sweeping valley sides. Sailing past St Goar and the many ruined castles, you get a real sense of the myths of this historic river coming alive around you. No legend is more famous than that surrounding the Loreley rock, where beautiful nymphs distracted hapless sailors luring them to their deaths in the treacherous waters. After lunch we berth at Rudesheim and the afternoon is free to relax in its bustling cafés, take a quiet stroll through the vineyards or maybe a cable car ride to the great statue of Germania, strikingly overlooking the river’s exit from the gorge. There are some delightful corners in what is a classic Rhine wine village and the connoisseur of the grape will find some genuinely top class produce in the area. After dinner this evening, why not end the day with a small Asbach - the brandy locally distilled here in Rudesheim - as you watch the last of the ferries crossing the river in the moonlight glow.

Day 4

Still sailing upstream, the Rhine is much wider and flatter now, with gently rolling hills and vineyards that are home to the infamous Liebfraumilch wines! The river is much more gentle here and Oxbow lakes, long deserted by the river flow, are a haven for over one hundred species of bird life in one of Germany’s largest nature reserves. Today the ship berths in delightfully medieval Speyer, which you are just sure to love! During the 16th century in nearby Worms, Martin Luther was excommunicated for his religious beliefs and banished from the Holy Roman Empire. His followers in Speyer protested at this and for the first time were called 'Protestants'. We visit the neo-gothic Gedaechtniskirche, built to commemorate this event and the huge, richly decorated Basilica, one of the finest Romanesque buildings in existence which when it was built was widely acclaimed as one of the finest in Christendom. Its crypt alone is the largest in Germany, with its pastel coloured sandstone pillars and striking marble floors is probably the most beautiful in the world and is the final resting place of several emperors and kings from Speyer's illustrious past. We also have free time to explore as you wish before rejoining the ship.

Day 5

This morning we gently cruise upstream, passing through two spectacular locks, which never cease to fascinate. Why not catch up on some reading in the ship’s library, play chess or even try your hand at ‘putting’ on the Sun Deck: relax and enjoy your well-earned break. We soon arrive in France and Strasbourg, capital of the Alsace region, now one of the centres of the European Union. This afternoon, we will have a walking tour of its unique and picturesque 16th century old town, bisected by canals and a maze of narrow streets lined with timber-framed houses and sculptured portals plus the superb cathedral. Don’t be surprised if, as the shadows lengthen, you’re tempted to linger a while in a typical Alsatian café to sample some of the world famous wine for which the region is rightly renowned - maybe a Riesling or that particular speciality of Alsace, the spicy Gewurtztraminer. This evening the ‘Captain’s Dinner’ will take place on board, serving delicious specialities of the countries and regions we visit during our cruise, hosted of course by the Captain himself.

Day 6

Your final day’s cruising is spent gliding majestically between the ancient forested outcrops of the Vosges and the Black Forest, through the great rift valley, formed many millennia ago by massive geological forces. We firstly visit the ancient town of Breisach whose historic heart is surrounded by immense stone ramparts. This afternoon we drive amidst some of central Europe’s most stunning scenery. Rugged valleys full of white-water rivers and cascading waterfalls, rolling hillsides covered with huge, densely packed pine trees: this is the Black Forest at its best and exactly as you expect it to be. We visit the archetypical town of Titisee, nestling on the shores of its crystal clear lake. Having rejoined the ship, the crew slip moorings, the sun sets over the imposing massif of the Vosges mountains and the riverside lights begin to twinkle as we restart our stately passage up river. We enjoy this evening’s dinner cruise en-route to Switzerland and our next mooring at Basel.

Day 7

For many, today will be the highlight of the cruise. We firstly take the short drive to Lucerne. Spectacularly nestled among stunning mountain views, it is by far Switzerland’s most beautiful city and has been attracting well-heeled visitors for two centuries, one of the most famous of which being our own Queen Victoria. You must take an invigorating stroll along the Chapel bridge - symbol of the city, a unique covered wooden walkway crossing the lake supported by stilts, lined with colourful, flower-filled window boxes and a superb way to absorb Lucerne’s rather regal atmosphere. The scenery becomes ever more dramatic, then as we enter the Bernese Oberland in central Switzerland, it becomes quite literally breathtaking! This is the grand Alpine heart of Europe and amongst the finest mountain scenery on earth, described by the composer Mendelssohn as ‘the most wonderful of all in this unbelievably beautiful country’. We have a short stop in Interlaken wonderfully situated between two shimmering lakes. Crystal clear waters reflect the surrounding alpine meadows, forests and peaks above, whilst on the opposite bank, craggy mountains including the snow-capped Jungfrau, one of the greatest in Switzerland, puncture the sky.  This is quintessential Switzerland at its very best. We then return to the ship for our final sumptuous dinner.

Day 8

This morning you will be taken to the airport for your homeward flight.

Life on board

How can one adequately sum up the brand new, wonderfully elegant five-star MS Jane Austen? How can we describe this extraordinary vessel that’s truly one of the finest ships of its type afloat anywhere in the world? Quite simply, every single aspect and element is designed to the highest possible specification and our own exacting standards to bring you the very best and most enjoyable river cruising experience, in the most luxurious comfort. We have worked tirelessly with our Swiss partner Scylla AG, one of the world’s most experienced luxury rivership builders with a pedigree stretching back over nearly 40 years, to design the perfect vessel, with virtually no expense spared. You’ll feel the unmistakable understated opulence of this extraordinary vessel as you board through the spacious, marble-floored lobby. Stylish furnishings using environmentally friendly materials are beautifully combined with the most advanced safety systems … and the work of a wonderful designer’s eye conjuring up the classic lines and sophistication of a luxurious ocean liner. As always, the finesse is in the detail - beautifully crafted tropical hardwoods, wrought iron, highly polished copper and brass, all beautifully illuminated then added to soft leather furnishings and imaginative colour schemes, promotes a subtle, chic ambience of exceptional taste. Intuitive, unobtrusive service is graceful, efficient yet friendly as you might expect from a Swissoperated ship with 35 staff serving just 140 guests. This outstanding ratio of 4:1 allows a personal touch which makes such a difference to your cruise. Plus unlike other vessels typically carrying up to 200 passengers, you’ll enjoy simply far more space – as well as a smaller, more intimate dining experience.

Accommodation

  Cost per person: €1,819pp
  Number of nights: 7
  Dates available from: Oct 2017

Tour supplied in Partnership with:

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  Call:  01 905 6300