Christmas Markets Along the Rhine

Highlights & InclusionsItineraryPricing Information Terms & Conditions
Departure Date: November 25, 2017
Duration: 11 Days / 10 Nights
Price from: Sold Out
Single Room Supplement: Sold Out
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In order to bring you the greatest selection of destinations and itineraries, Gutsy Women Travel has worked with our partner GCCL to reserve space on this 2017 guided vacation. This trip is open to men and women, and will operate with a larger group size than our traditional Gutsy Women departures.

Highlights & Inclusions

  • Be sure to mention booking code G7-25972 to receive all the Gutsy benefits!
  • Airport transfers are included when you purchase our operator's International air to coincide with trip's day by day agenda.
  • Available Pre-trip: Basel, Switzerland
  • Available Post-trip: Brussels & Bruges, Belgium
  • International airfare, airport transfers, government taxes, fees, and airline fuel surcharges, unless you choose to make your own air arrangements
  • Accommodations for 10 nights aboard a private river ship with wireless Internet access now in all common areas and cabins
  • ALL meals: Daily breakfasts, 10 lunches, and 10 dinners—plus all onboard house beer & wine, as well as soft drinks
  • 6 included tours with personal headsets and 6 exclusive Discovery Series events—Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch • German Christmas Traditions discussion • Stollen baking demonstration • German church tax discussion • Operation Market Garden discussion • Europeans Today discussion
  • Local Program Directors, a Grand Circle Cruise Line exclusive: These dedicated experts are with you (and no more than 47 travelers) every step of the way to provide insider's knowledge and the perspective that will enrich your experience
  • Gratuities for local guides and motorcoach drivers
  • Baggage handling for 1 piece of luggage per person, including tips
  • All port charges—a value of $145 per person
  • 5% Frequent Traveler Credit toward your next Grand Circle vacation—an average of $170


Maybe it's the sight of medieval landscapes glittering with colorful lights, or the familiar, heartwarming melodies of "Silent Night" and "O Christmas Tree" sung in their original German. Or maybe it's the excitement of the traditional Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market), brimming with handmade toys and ornaments, and filled with the delicious aromas of freshly baked cookies and warm mulled wine. For many, visiting the Christmas markets along the Rhine River is simply the most satisfying way to experience the holidays. This festive and enhanced Grand Circle River Cruise is a wonderful gift to yourself that will remain a treasured holiday memory for years to come.

Plus, enjoy NEW onboard enhancements such as complimentary house beer, wine, and soft drinks, as well as improved wireless Internet in all cabins and common areas—all at no additional cost.

DAY 1 Depart U.S. Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Basel, Switzerland.

DAY 2 Arrive in Basel, Switzerland • Embark ship

OVERNIGHT: Private Grand Circle River Ship

This morning, you arrive at the Basel airport, where you are met and transferred to the pier to embark your river ship. From Basel, located where Switzerland, Germany, and France all meet, ships can navigate the Rhine all the way to the North Sea.

A light lunch will be served onboard this afternoon. Otherwise, the balance of the day is at leisure.

Gather this evening to meet your Program Director and traveling companions over dinner, and for a ship briefing on your upcoming cruise.

DAY 3 Breisach, Germany • Kaysersberg & Riquewihr, France

OVERNIGHT: Private Grand Circle River Ship

This morning, you'll sail toward Breisach, Germany, set just on the edge of the Black Forest.

Upon arrival this afternoon, you'll head into Alsace, on the French side of the Rhine, to visit Kaysersberg. This was the birthplace of Albert Schweitzer, the great humanitarian and recipient of the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize, who is famous for his philosophy of "reverence for life" and his work in Africa. Your tour includes a visit to Dr. Schweitzer's former home, now a museum, where his study is preserved exactly as he last used it in 1959. You'll also see the city center, and have time to discover more of Kaysersberg on your own.

You'll also visit the nearby commune of Riquewihr, a renowned "wine village" known for its Rieslings. After an informative stroll, you'll have free time to explore on your own.

Gather this evening with your fellow travelers and Program Director for a Captain's Welcome Drink and Dinner.

DAY 4 Strasbourg

OVERNIGHT: Private Grand Circle River Ship

After breakfast, discover Strasbourg, a unique confluence of French and German culture and traditions. Strategically important since ancient times, Strasbourg became a free imperial city in 1262, and then was occupied by France in 1681 and Germany in 1871. France recovered the city in 1919 after World War I. From the comfort of your glass-covered tour boat, you'll see the major sights (including the Palais de L'Europe, where the European Parliament meets) and admire the city's remarkable Renaissance architecture. In mid-morning, your guided tour concludes at the Palais Rohan in the town center. If you like, you may walk on your own from the Palais to visit the city's magnificent cathedral, one of the finest of Europe's great Gothic cathedrals. Its lofty single spire dominates the city.

After lunch aboard ship, you have the afternoon free to visit Strasbourg's Christmas market or explore more of the city on your own. There is an excellent collection of Renaissance art in the Museum of Fine Arts, while the Alsatian Museum offers folk art, including reconstructed interiors of Rhine farm and vineyard houses. You may want to visit the picturesque Petite-France area (the former Tanners' District) and see the old Customs House, as well as charming covered bridges and their defensive towers. Return to the ship for an onboard dinner.

Please note: The Strasbourg tour may be slightly altered on the 12/20/17 departure, as it falls on Christmas Eve and shops and restaurants will be closed.

DAY 5 Plittersdorf, Germany • Baden-Baden • Speyer • Home-Hosted Kaffeeklatsch

OVERNIGHT: Private Grand Circle River Ship

This morning, your ship docks at the German town of Plittersdorf and you depart for a scenic motorcoach journey into the Black Forest region. You'll stop for a visit in the spa town of Baden-Baden, nestled in thick, peaceful forests. Since Roman times, Baden-Baden has been renowned for its thermal baths, with mineral waters thought to have restorative powers.

Afterwards, the motorcoach takes you to Speyer, a city whose charms—including portions of its medieval wall and gates—date back more than 2,000 years. Upon arrival you'll re-board the ship in time for lunch.

This afternoon, you'll join a local family for a traditional Kaffeeklatsch. You'll share coffee, cake, and conversation during this exclusive Discover Series Home-Hosted Visit. Later, consider strolling through the Christmas market and browsing its festive stalls. We return to the ship for dinner.

DAY 6 Speyer • Optional Heidelberg tour • Church taxes discussion OPTIONAL TOUR

OVERNIGHT: Private Grand Circle River Ship

Enjoy a free day to explore Speyer. On your own, you might take in the Historical Museum of the Palatinate, which has large collections of pre-Roman and Roman materials and includes a wine museum. Or, consider visiting Speyer's four-towered Imperial Cathedral. Dating to the eleventh century, it's one of the greatest Romanesque buildings in Germany and contains the tombs of eight emperors. This was also an early center of printing as the home of the 15th-century printers John of Speyer and his brother Wendelin. The ship begins cruising towards Mainz in the late afternoon.

Or, perhaps you'll take our all-day optional tour to discover romantic Heidelberg, a historic university town nestled between wooded hills at the edge of the Odenwald Forest and crowned with the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. Begun in the Gothic style of the 14th century and built up gradually over the next 400 years, the castle demonstrates the evolution of architectural style, finally completed in the Baroque period. After an included lunch at a local restaurant, tour Heidelberg's turreted 600-year-old university, Germany's oldest. In keeping with the spirit of the holidays, you'll also stop at Heidelberg's lively Christmas market.

After the tour, you'll ride to Mainz to re-board the ship for dinner. After dinner, take part in an exclusive Discover Series discussion about Germany's controversial church tax and the effect it has on members of the Christian faith.

DAY 7 Mainz • Optional Frankfurt tour OPTIONAL TOUR

OVERNIGHT: Private Grand Circle River Ship

This morning you'll enjoy a walking tour of Mainz. The city is best known for its most famous son, Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of movable type, who was born here in 1397. Gutenberg began his career by creating and selling indulgences—papers that could be purchased and used as "coupons" by the faithful to absolve them of some of the time they had earned in Purgatory. Gutenberg realized he could absolve himself of some of his own monetary debts if he could mass-produce the indulgences. To do this, he created uniformly sized metal molds for letters that allowed him to create error-free, repeatable text. This was the beginning of the movable type that transformed the world.

You'll see the Gutenberg Bible and the printing press, which are housed in the town's Gutenberg Museum. The museum exhibits one of the 47 extant copies of the Latin Gutenberg Bible—a 42-page volume with elaborate Gothic lettering, dating from the 1450s.

After lunch aboard ship, you have free time in the afternoon to visit the Christkindlmarkt in Mainz. You'll have ample opportunity to explore the myriad craft stalls, and to explore the rest of the city as you please. Dinner is onboard this evening.

Or, join us for an optional tour to one of Germany's most modern cities—Frankfurt. You'll get to know this this high-powered hub’s impressive skyline and traditional heart during a walking tour. Afterwards, enjoy free time at the Christmas market, followed by an included dinner at a local apple wine restaurant.

DAY 8 Rhine River Valley • German Christmas traditions discussion • Koblenz

OVERNIGHT: Private Grand Circle River Ship

Today, the ship cruises along some of the most beautiful and inspiring parts of the Rhine as you sail for Koblenz. En route, you'll learn about local holiday lore during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about German Christmas traditions, focusing on the origins of the Tannenbaum (Christmas tree), the Advent calendar, and more.

You'll hear more enlightening commentary as you pass the Lorelei, a large rock rising 440 feet above the river. Since ancient Greek mythology, there have been legends of sirens, women-creatures who lure sailors to their death with sweet songs. Ancient Germanic legend places one such siren (Lorelei) here, and it is said she enticed sailors to destruction on the reef below the rock.

This afternoon, embark on a walking tour of Koblenz, the 2,000-year-old city that stands at the confluence of the Rhine and Mosel rivers. Sitting amidst hills populated with castles and fortresses, this strategic location has made the city vital to European trade—and explains why it was heavily bombed during World War II. Many of its historic buildings have since been restored and the Altstadt (Old Town) features distinct architecture like the Liebfrauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), a 13th-century Gothic basilica with twin towers capped by onion-shaped spires, and the Basilica St. Kastor or Kastorkirche, dedicated to Castor of Karden, featuring four towers. Across the Rhine you'll find the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, central to a ring of fortifications built to protect the town and the region.

The afternoon is free to explore on your own. Return to the ship for dinner this evening.

DAY 9 Koblenz • Stollen baking demonstration

OVERNIGHT: Private Grand Circle River Ship

The morning is at leisure to explore Koblenz and stroll among the stalls of its wonderful Christmas market. Savor the smell of chestnuts roasting over open fires, and perhaps savor an authentic Bratwurst as you shop for handmade gifts and enjoy watching artisans at work. Perhaps you'll visit the Deutsches Eck, or "Corner of Germany," where both the Altstadt and the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, across the Rhine, are visible.

Enjoy an afternoon of sailing as you cruise to Cologne. En route, perhaps you'll participate in an exclusive Discovery Series baking demonstration where you'll learn how to make Stollen, a traditional German bread made with fruit and nuts and topped with powdered sugar.

DAY 10 Cologne

OVERNIGHT: Private Grand Circle River Ship

After breakfast, disembark for a guided walking tour of Cologne's Old City. A Roman settlement called Colonia Agrippina after AD 50, Cologne came under Frankish control in the fifth century. You can still see the ruins of Roman temples scattered through the city, and the Roman Tower near the cathedral was once part of the medieval town walls. During the 15th century, the city flourished as a member of the Hanseatic League.

Your tour ends in front of the city's magnificent Gothic cathedral (Dom), which you may visit on your own. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the cathedral largely escaped the World War II damage that ravaged the city and the rest of Germany. (There's evidence that Allied forces worked deliberately to avoid damaging this beautiful structure.) It's the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, boasting beautiful stained-glass windows, an ornate gold shrine on its elaborate altar, and the intricate detail common to 14th-century Gothic churches.

After your tour, enjoy some time on your own in Cologne. Perhaps you'll spend time at the Romano-Germanic Museum, with its beautifully restored Roman mosaics and reconstructed tomb. The museum is the home of the largest collection of Roman glass vessels in the world and also holds a significant collection of Roman and early medieval jewelry. You could also visit Cologne's Christmas market, and browse its wide assortment of Christmas creations.

Tonight, join your travel companions for dinner onboard.

DAY 11 Nijmegen, the Netherlands • Operation Market Garden discussion • Europeans Today discussion • Captain's Farewell Dinner • Amsterdam

OVERNIGHT: Private Grand Circle River Ship

This morning, arrive in Nijmegen, a Dutch city built on seven hills overlooking the Waal River just west of its confluence with the Rhine. You'll see the arching bridge that spans the Waal, which was the site of an important battle during World War II that caused devastating damage to the city. As a result, Nijmegen, one of the oldest towns in Holland, was almost completely rebuilt. The town center, however, was remarkably unscathed by shelling, and provides a striking contrast to the newer architecture that surrounds it. Enjoy a guided walk throughout the city.

After lunch onboard, enjoy an afternoon of sailing and take in the passing landscapes as you cruise to Amsterdam. You can also take part in an exclusive Discovery Series discussion of the daring yet ultimately unsuccessful Operation Market Garden military maneuver attempted by the Allies in the Netherlands during World War II.

Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers for a frank exclusive Discovery Series discussion concerning Europeans today, followed by a Captain's Farewell Reception and Dinner. Arrive tonight in Amsterdam, where you will dock for the night.

DAY 12 Return to U.S.

MEALS: B After breakfast, disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight home.

Pre-trip: Basel, Switzerland

Join us on this extension to discover Basel, Switzerland’s third-largest city and a center of history and culture. With a heritage than spans more than 2,000 years and a fortunate geographic location, Basel offers a cosmopolitan blend of Swiss, German, and French influences.

It's Included:

  • Accommodations for 3 nights
  • Daily breakfasts
  • Included tour: Basel
  • Basel tram day pass
  • Dedicated services of a Grand Circle Program Director
  • Gratuities for local guides and motorcoach drivers
  • All transfers

DAY 1 Depart U.S. Depart the U.S. today on your flight to Basel, Switzerland.

DAY 2 Arrive in Basel, Switzerland

OVERNIGHT: Ramada Plaza Basel or similar

When you arrive in Switzerland, you are met at the airport and transferred to your hotel in Basel. In the late afternoon, you'll be escorted on a walk in the vicinity around your hotel, followed by time to explore on your own.

This evening join your Program Director for a Welcome Drink and a briefing on what to expect during your time in Basel. Then enjoy dinner on your own. Your Program Director will have suggestions for dining among the many fine restaurants in the city.

DAY 3 Basel

OVERNIGHT: Ramada Plaza Basel or similar

You have the day to relax or explore Basel on your own. With more than 30 museums, the city is a well-known center of art and culture. Dating to 1662, the Museum of Fine Arts is considered the oldest public art museum in Europe. Inside, you can view Old Masters such as Hans Holbein, along with modern masters, such as Jasper Johns. The Historical Museum, which is housed in 14th-century church, contains a collection relating to the history of culture in Central Europe. Its most notable piece is the Lallenkonig (Babbling King), a crowned head with moveable tongue and eyes.

This evening, your Program Director can help with suggestions for dining on your own.

DAY 4 Basel • Optional Bern excursion

OVERNIGHT: Ramada Plaza Basel or similar

Explore Basel on your own today. Stroll across a bridge or ride a ferry across the Rhine, and explore the city's two sides: historic Grossbasel, where many cultural attractions are clustered, and more modern Kleinbasel.

Or join our optional tour to Bern, Switzerland's capital. We'll travel about an hour and a quarter by bus, then take a guided walking tour, beginning at the city's bear pit. The bear is the symbol of Bern, and the live animals housed here are as well-treated as some of the city's most valued residents. Stroll through the historic center of this city on the Aare River, which was founded in 1191 by Duke Berchtold of Zahringen. The tour brings you to Bern's 16th-century clock tower, after which you'll have free time to get lunch on your own. Then continue on to Emmental to see how Swiss cheese is made before returning to Basel.

Your evening is free and you can seek out another of Basel's many excellent restaurants for dinner on your own.

DAY 5 Basel • Embark ship

MEALS: B After breakfast this morning, transfer to the pier to embark your river ship. Travelers arriving for the main trip will join you and you will continue from Day 2 of the main itinerary.

Post-trip: Brussels & Bruges, Belgium

Join us on this extension to experience the many delights of Brussels, Belgium. Once a sleepy village that grew up around a chapel on an island in the Senne River, Brussels is now a thriving city and the headquarters of NATO and the European Union. An included city tour, visits to porcelain and chocolate workshops, and free time to explore will give you a unique chance to experience this timeless capital city. And a day trip to neighboring Bruges allows you to explore that wonderfully preserved medieval seaport city.

It's Included:

  • Accommodations for 3 nights in Brussels
  • Daily breakfasts
  • Included tours: Delft • Antwerp • Brussels • Bruges
  • Dedicated services of a Grand Circle Program Director
  • Gratuities for local guides and motorcoach drivers
  • All transfers

DAY 1 Amsterdam, The Netherlands • Antwerp, Belgium • Brussels

OVERNIGHT: Hilton Brussels City Hotel or similar

Disembark after breakfast and begin your motorcoach transfer to Brussels, Belgium's capital. En route, visit a porcelain factory in Delft, the Netherlands, known for its blue pottery, called Delftware. After the Delft factory visit, you'll depart by motorcoach to Antwerp. Located on the banks of the Schelde River, Antwerp is Belgium's major port and has been commercially important in European trade since the eleventh century. Like Amsterdam, it is one of the world centers for diamond trading. In spite of damage suffered during both World Wars, Antwerp remains a city of beautiful historic architecture dating to the 16th century.

You'll explore Antwerp's well-preserved Old Town, built around the Grote Markt (Town Square), and graced by the lovely old Town Hall and beautiful guild houses. Marvel at the elegant spires of the Cathedral of Our Lady, graced with masterpieces by the great painter Peter Paul Rubens, who lived here in the 17th century. Stroll along the Meir (Antwerp's main shopping street), lined with wonderfully elaborate historic buildings.

Then you'll transfer by bus to Brussels and check into your hotel. Dinner is on your own, and your Program Director will be happy to offer dining suggestions.

DAY 2 Brussels

OVERNIGHT: Hilton Brussels City Hotel or similar

Brussels is known for the production of delicious chocolate. Set off this morning on an excursion to delve into this Belgian delight and to discover Brussels on an included city tour.

First, you'll visit a family-run chocolate factory to see fine Belgian chocolate being created. Chocolate arrived here in the 1870s, following Belgium's colonization of the Congo and its cocoa plantations. Traditional Belgian chocolates are filled with creams, liqueurs, nuts, or a special dark chocolate called ganache. Today the finest chocolates, characterized by a smooth, velvet quality and a rich flavor, are produced in Brussels. At the factory, you'll see a chocolate-making demonstration and learn about the painstaking process from cocoa bean to delicious chocolate confection.

Then set off on a tour of this lovely old city. See the buildings of the European Union and the Atomium, an enormous steel construction representing an iron atom with nine spheres connected by corridors. Pass by the impressive Cinquantenaire Arch, the Chinese Pavilion and Japanese Pagoda, and the Royal Park. Everywhere, you'll see the beautiful architecture of the city and the art nouveau style represented by the famous architect Victor Horta. Your tour ends in Brussels' Grand Place, the famed market square and heart of medieval Brussels. The square is dominated by the magnificent 15th-century Town Hall, with its hundreds of little statues, and ringed with 17th-century buildings and guild houses with their golden inlays.

The afternoon is free to explore on your own. You may want to visit the Royal Museum of Ancient and Modern Art, which houses a special section on the well-known Belgian surrealist, Magritte. Or perhaps you'll visit the Bruparck, an amusement park featuring (among other things) "Mini-Europe," a permanent outdoor exhibit of small-scale, precision-made replicas of Europe's most famous architectural achievements.

Dinner is on your own this evening.

DAY 3 Bruges

OVERNIGHT: Hilton Brussels City Hotel or similar

This morning, we'll set off in a private motorcoach for Bruges, one of Western Europe's great medieval cities. Originally a ninth-century fortress built to protect the Flemish coast from marauding Vikings, Bruges today retains its reputation as one of the best-preserved Old World cities on the continent. Its museums hold some of the oldest and finest collections you will find anywhere, and its narrow, winding streets meander through the city beside a centuries-old canal system. You'll discover the intricacy and beauty of this system on a guided walking tour, led by your Program Director.

Then enjoy another classic Belgian discovery—lace—as you visit a local lace shop. Lace-making has a long history but came into its own in the 15th century. Lace was intended to replace embroidery. Unlike embroidered clothing, lace pieces could be changed as fashion changed and attached decoratively to different articles of clothing. Belgium soon gained a peerless reputation for fine lacework. In the 17th century, Belgian lace was prized throughout Europe. As you'll find on today's included tour, lace-making endures as a "cottage industry," employing about 1,000 workers, most between the ages of 50 and 90, and there are numerous family-run businesses throughout the city. You'll visit a lace store that showcases beautiful antique lacework as well as intricate tapestries.

Then enjoy lunch on your own and free time to make your own discoveries.

Upon our return to Brussels, enjoy a Farewell Drink with your fellow travelers.

DAY 4 Return to U.S.

MEALS: B After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.


Pricing Information

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Arrival DateSingleSharedDouble
Nov 25, 2017 $2,040 n/a $1,545
Air from JFK $1,000
Post-trip: Brussels $645
Pre-trip: Basel $595
For further information call (866) IM GUTSY (464 8879) or
24/7 booking capability is available via this via the "Request to Book" button listed above.

Be sure to mention booking code G7-25972 to receive all the Gutsy benefits!

Savings have been reflected in pricing noted online & subject to availabilty, so book soon!

Pricing is based on lowest priced cabin category, is subject to change as this price is a lead in price that is subject to availability. Upgrade opportunities are available and will be added to inquiry cabin selection request shortly. Please call (866) 464 8879 to discuss single supplement discounts available to GWT customers.

For pricing on cabin upgrades please speak to our river cruise specialist at time of booking.

In order to qualify for the GWT Past Traveler Discount of 5% on the land portion of the trip, you must advise the reservation specialist at time of depositing on your 2017 trip which GWT trip you traveled on (date/name of departure and year) over the past 5 years.

Please note this departure is not exclusive to women but will be comprised of Gutsy Women Travel participants co-sharing the overall trip capacity with members of GCCL resulting in a larger group size compared to the traditional Gutsy Women Travel trips designed exclusively for women.

Single Room - one person, traveling solo in single accommodation
Double Room - two people, traveling together in same accommodation

Air travel arrangements for Gutsy Women's trip participants are made independently as most women are traveling from various gateway cities within or outside North America. Our river cruise specialist can assist you in securing the best airfare routing available as well as travel protection.

For further information and reservations call (866) IM GUTSY (464 8879) or
For online 24/7 booking capability is available via this website.

Please note: Every effort has been made to produce this information accurately. We reserve the right to correct errors. All prices are subject to change. Departure dates and prices shown may be updated several times daily, and apply to new bookings only.