The Elbe River
Cruise from Prague to Berlin aboard the M.S. Swiss Ruby and explore the timeless treasures and traditions of the Elbe River Valley.
- Insights from the West of Ireland
- Fabulous shots from Smithsonian Journeys Expert Kirt Kempter
- Visiting Mount Fuji, by way of rural Japan
- Saturday in Pamplona
The Elbe River Valley is known for its incomparable treasures and timeless traditions that reflect the character of Saxony, a rich crossroads of culture. Explore the gems of Prague’s historic Old Town, then board your riverboat for a scenic voyage to the medieval towns and stunning mountainous countryside of the Czech Republic’s Bohemia and Germany’s “Saxon Switzerland.” Stop for a walking tour of Dresden with its Baroque palaces, and enjoy special tours of the exquisite Semper Opera House and the Historic Green Vault, showcasing nearly 3,000 precious objects displayed in ornate rooms. An expert-led excursion of Wittenberg features World Heritage sites associated with Martin Luther as well as the 16th-century altar by Lucas Cranach in St. Mary’s Church. Other highlights include Magdeburg, with the oldest Gothic church in Germany, and Potsdam, where you’ll visit Sanssouci Palace and Cecilienhof Palace, site of the 1945 meeting of Truman, Churchill, and Stalin. Your cruise concludes with a special tour of vibrant Berlin. Optional extensions to Prague and Berlin are also offered.
Itinerary is preliminary and may change. Final itinerary available soon.
May 28-29 — U.S., Prague, Czech Republic
Depart from the U.S. On arrival in Prague, enjoy a panoramic tour of this “City of a Thousand Spires” on your way to a hospitality room in the Hotel Intercontinental Praha. After lunch on your own, transfer to the superior first-class M.S. Swiss Ruby. This evening, join your travel companions for a Welcome Reception and Dinner on board. The ship overnights in Prague. (R,D)
May 30 — Prague
Prague, with its splendid combination of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, is a UNESCO World Heritage site showcasing 600 years of virtually untouched architecture. Following the Czech Republic’s Velvet Revolution of 1989, which heralded the end of the Soviet era, the city of Prague has undergone a grand resurgence, and its streets once again are teeming with life. Enjoy a walking tour this morning past the bustling shops, lively cafés, and authentic beer halls that line the narrow lanes of the city’s Staré Město (Old Town). In its heart stands the magnificent Old Town Hall, originally established in the 1300s, home to the oldest working astronomical clock in the world, the 15th‑century Pražský Orloj. Following a private backstage tour of the Estates Theater, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni was first performed, listen to a brief recital of the composer’s music. Continue to one of the city’s most fascinating areas—Josefov, the Old Jewish Quarter, a major center of Jewish culture for 1,000 years. Visit the impressive Old-New Synagogue, the oldest extant synagogue in Europe. In the Jewish Cemetery, thousands of headstones reflect over 300 years of Jewish history.
Enjoy lunch on your own before returning to the ship for an afternoon of cruising the picturesque Elbe River. Dinner is on board this evening. (B,L,D)
May 31 — Cruising Saxon Switzerland, Dresden, Germany
In the 13th century, to secure his hold of the Elbe River Valley, King Wenceslaus I of Bohemia had this Königstein castle complex constructed atop a 1,000‑foot‑high mountain overlooking what became known as “Saxon Switzerland.” Today, this national park flanks the German/Czech border and features breathtaking vistas of mountains, dense forests, and imposing sandstone cliffs. This splendid fortress, considered one of Europe’s most impregnable, comprises more than 40 buildings and structures—from barracks and bakeries to churches, stables, and dungeons. Here, visitors discover more than 700 years of architectural history and gain fascinating insight into life during the Middle Ages. Learn some basic phrases in the German language on your way to and from the castle complex.
After lunch on board the ship, enjoy an afternoon of cruising on the intimate M.S. Swiss Ruby through the German countryside on the way to Dresden. Arrive in time to possibly enjoy an evening of cultural entertainment in one of the many venues in this picturesque town.
Dinner is on board the ship this evening. Overnight in Dresden. (B,L,D)
June 1 — Dresden
Today, after 20 years of German reunification and meticulous restoration, Dresden’s palaces and cathedrals stand resplendent, and the city has reclaimed its mantle as one of Europe’s foremost centers of music, culture, and art. Visit the opulent Zwinger Palace, which holds a spectacular collection of works by Old Masters, including Raphael’s famous Sistine Madonna. Tour the Royal Palace’s Green Vault, which contains the largest collection of treasures in Europe, including Saxony’s crown jewels.
After lunch on board the ship, continue your exploration of Dresden. Hailed as the “Florence of the North” for its exquisite Baroque architecture, Dresden has been Saxony’s preeminent center of wealth and power since the House of Wettin divided lands in 1485. Enjoy the specially arranged backstage tour of the Semper Opera House where Richard Wagner premiered many of his famous works. Continue your tour in the Old Town to see the 18th-century Dresden Cathedral featuring a carefully restored organ, the last work of the renowned organ builder Gottfried Silbermann, and the famous Fürstenzug, a large mural of the rulers of Saxony originally painted in the late 19th century to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Wettin Dynasty.
On board the ship this evening, take part in the special RIVER LIFE FORUM® where local residents will discuss daily life in this beautiful and historic region. Dinner is on board.(B,L,D)
June 2 — Meissen
Cruise to Meissen. Legend says that in 1710, the fabled August the Strong—Elector of Saxony and King of Poland—commanded his alchemists to discover the secret of making gold. They inadvertently created the formula for porcelain, which catapulted Meissen into being one of the richest towns in Saxony. For nearly 200 years, porcelain was produced in Europe’s first porcelain factory located in the Elector’s castle, the Albrechtsburg, a magnificent Gothic cathedral and a classic medieval castle. On the city tour, visit this hilltop complex that now holds an impressive collection of artwork and murals, many depicting well‑known moments in Saxon history. Also see the world’s first porcelain carillon in the tower of the early 19th-century Frauenkirche and tour the porcelain factory and museum to learn more about the centuries-old techniques used to produce Meissen porcelain—always marked with its trademark crossed blue swords—which are still employed today.
Enjoy lunch on board and then experience an afternoon of cruising on the intimate SWISS RUBY through the German countryside on the way to Torgau. Dinner in on board this evening (B, L, D)
June 3 — Torgau, Leipzig, Wittenberg
Torgau is a town on the banks of the Elbe in northwestern Saxony, Germany and is the capital of the district Nordsachsen. Outside Germany, the town is best known as the place which commemorates the meeting of U.S. and Soviet forces during the Second World War. This occurred on April 25, 1945, later known as Elbe Day. Units of the American First Army and the Soviet First Ukrainian Front met on the bridge at Torgau. The unit commanders met the following day at Torgau for an official handshake. This marked the beginning of the line of contact.
Continue to Leipzig and visit St. Thomas Church, a Lutheran church most famous for employing composer Johann Sebastian Bach as choir director from 1723 until his death in 1750. A statue of Bach by the Leipzig sculptor Carl Seffner stands next to the church and was dedicated in 1908. St. Thomas Church is the current location of the composer's remains. The four towers of the Market Church of St Mary’s (Marktkirche), built in 1529-1554, and the city’s nearby Roter Turm (Red Tower) are landmark symbols of the city.
Continue to Wittenberg to join the ship and have lunch on board.
Enjoy a walking tour of Wittenberg, a UNESCO World Heritage site and picturesque town, best known for Martin Luther, who profoundly altered the landscape of the Christian world and changed the course of Western history when he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Schlosskirche (“Castle Church”) in 1517. Visit this historic site where, although the original door is gone, the church still stands and contains the tombs of several historic figures, including Luther himself and the Great Elector, Frederick the Wise, who presided over the town’s cultural and intellectual zenith during the Reformation. Discover the town’s historic charm on your visit to Luther’s house, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where the Baroque fountain and the delightful market square have been carefully restored. Dinner is on board this evening (B,L,D)
June 4 — Potsdam, Berlin
In July of 1945, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, and Joseph Stalin met for the Potsdam Conference to discuss post-World War II boundaries at Cecilienhof Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit this former castle, the last built in Germany, erected for Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany in 1917 and created in the style of an English country house. Prussian kings and German Kaisers developed the city’s magnificent UNESCO-designated parks and gardens filled with the grand oaks for which the city is famous.
After lunch on board, continue to Sanssouci, the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. The palace was designed and built by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff between 1745 and 1747 to fulfill King Frederick's need for a private residence where he could relax away from the pomp and ceremony of the Berlin court. The palace's name emphasizes this; it is a French phrase (sans souci), which translates as "without concerns", meaning "without worries" or "carefree", symbolising that the palace was a place for relaxation rather than a seat of power.
Continue to Berlin via motorcoach, and en route, see Potsdam’s Dutch-style Quarter, the Nikolai Church and the Russian colony of Alexandrovka. The metropolis of Berlin has seen Napoleon, Bismarck, the German Kaisers, and Allied Forces vie for European and world power. Today, see the reunified city’s magnificent landmarks on a city tour including the iconic Brandenburg Gate, State Opera House, Humboldt University, and Gendarmenmarkt Square. Once home to Mendelssohn and Einstein, the genius of the city’s residents, past and present, is evident in the art, architecture, and flourishing culture on every corner.
Return to the ship in Berlin this evening for the Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner. (B,L,R,D)
June 5 — Berlin, U.S.
After breakfast, disembark the ship and continue on the Post‑Cruise Option or transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)
Pre- and Post-Cruise Options are available at additional cost. Details will be included with your reservation confirmation.
All program features are contingent upon final brochure pricing.