Great European Journey

A River Cruise and Train Trip from Holland to Switzerland

In Amsterdam, board your deluxe riverboat for a five-night cruise through Holland, Germany, and France. Travel to the Swiss Alps and enjoy its panoramic vistas from the windows of historic trains.

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 Germany's scenic Rhine River Valley  Typical canal in Amsterdam  Bikes along the canal, Amsterdam  City of Cologne, showcasing the High Gothic cathedral   The medieval town of Rüdesheim, located along the Rhine River Valley and in the heart of Germany's wine country  The German university town of Heidelberg, along the Neckar River  The picturesque town of Strasbourg, which reflects both French and German cultures  Strasbourg, along the Rhine River  The delightful Alsatian city of Strasbourg, France  A view of historic Berne, Switzerland   The town of Interlaken, situated between lakes and the Jungfrau  Matterhorn peak in the Swiss Alps  The famous <i>Gornergrat Bahn</i>, the highest cog railway in Europe, with the profile of the Matterhorn  The <i>Glacier Express</i> traveling through a tunnel in the Alps  The charming Swiss town of Lucerne with its famous bridge  View of Lake Lucerne, the town of Lucerne, and Mt. Pilatus in the distance  View of Mt. Pilatus and the <i>Pilatus Railway</i>, the world's steepest cogwheel railway (lower left)  Street scene in Zurich in the evening

Reminiscent of the 19th-century “Grand Tour,” this unique and popular journey features the heart of Western Europe—with both river cruising and train travel. In Amsterdam, board your deluxe riverboat for a five-night cruise through Holland, Germany, and France, and then enjoy panoramic vistas of the Swiss Alps from the windows of historic trains.

Highlights Include:

  • Holland: Take a private cruise along Amsterdam’s legendary canals, a World Heritage site. 
  • Germany and the Rhine River: Visit the World Heritage site of Cologne’s Old Town, cruise through the scenic Rhine River Valley, enjoy a private wine tasting, and explore Heidelberg. 
  • France: Arrive in Alsace, a region whose ownership has moved between Germany and France for generations, and discover Strasbourg's Old City, a World Heritage site. 
  • The Swiss Alps and Legendary Railways: Explore the World Heritage site of Berne, travel through the Bernese Oberland to the snowcapped mountain peaks of the Alps, and stop in Interlaken to admire the Jungfrau. Dramatically set beneath the iconic Matterhorn, enjoy Lucerne and Zermatt aboard three legendary railways.
Please Note: Guests will visit all sites listed below. However, the order in which these stops happen will vary as half of the group will end in Zermatt and the other half in Lucerne. Space is now available for the itinerary concluding in Lucerne.

Lucerne Itinerary

Days 1 & 2 — Depart U.S., Arrive in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Depart the U.S. Upon arrival in Amsterdam, enjoy a private cruise along Amsterdam’s World Heritage site canals, lined with 16th- and 17th-century gabled row houses. Then, embark the Amadeus Silver III. Join fellow participants this evening for the Captain’s welcome reception and dinner. (R,D)

Day 3 — Cologne, Germany

Enjoy the morning while cruising along the picturesque Rhine River. 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 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. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Koblenz, Rüdesheim

Go ashore this morning in Koblenz, strategically positioned at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers and where Germany’s Roman past dates to 9 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 enjoy a walking tour of this historic city. The twin-towered Basilica of St. Castor, built between the 9th and 13th centuries, features the Rhineland’s distinctive Romanesque architecture.

Cruise through the spectacular Rhine River Valley, a 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 lured sailors here with her enchanting song.

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.

Reboard the ship and cruise through the Rheingau, Germany’s most famous wine-growing region, known particularly for its Riesling. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Mannheim for Heidelberg

This morning, from Mannheim, transfer to Heidelberg, where luminaries such as Goethe and Schumann 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. 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. Spend the remainder of the day on board the Amadeus Silver III. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Strasbourg, France

The lively Alsatian city of Strasbourg fuses the Old and New Europe. The Old City, a World Heritage site, is a treasure trove of medieval houses, and the charming Ponts-Couverts, covered bridges flanked by watchtowers at each end, span the 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; 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 millers’, tanners’ 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.

Enjoy lunch aboard ship. The afternoon is free for independent pursuits. This evening, attend the Captain’s farewell reception. (B,L,R,D)

Day 7 — Basel, Switzerland, Berne, Interlaken, Zermatt

Disembark in Basel and transfer across the rolling Swiss countryside to Berne, Switzerland’s historic capital. Visit the Old Town, a World Heritage site noted for its arcaded sidewalks. Have lunch in a traditional Bernese restaurant.

Continue through one of the most stunning areas of Switzerland, the spectacular Bernese Oberland, traveling from subtropical lowlands to the snow-crowned heights of the Alps. Admire the impressive natural treasures of soaring, jagged, 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 admiring the towering Jungfrau, an imposing summit in the Bernese Alps known as the “Top of Europe.”

Then, enjoy a scenic motorcoach transfer to the Alpine resort of Zermatt, dramatically located beneath the pinnacle of the iconic Matterhorn. Check into the chalet-style Hotel Alex and enjoy dinner in the hotel. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Zermatt for Matterhorn

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 the Gornergrat, look out over 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 Monte Rosa and the majestic Matterhorn. Enjoy dinner in the hotel this evening. (B,D)

Day 9 — Zermatt for Glacier Express to Andermatt, Lucerne

Relax during a scenic 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 rail route across Europe’s most challenging terrain—requiring the construction of more than 290 bridges and 90 tunnels. Lunch is included in Andermatt before transferring to Lucerne.

Arrive in Lucerne and check into the lakeside, five-star Hotel Schweizerhof Lucerne. The remainder of the afternoon and evening is at leisure. (B,L)

Day 10 — Lucerne for Mt. Pilatus

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 panoramic 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, then descend more than 5,300 feet in less than three miles on return to the shores of Lake Lucerne, where you will enjoy a scenic lake cruise. The farewell reception is in the hotel this evening. (B,L,R)

Day 11 — Lucerne, Zurich, Return to the U.S.

Following breakfast, transfer to Zurich for your return flight to the U.S. (B)