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21 days + Optional extension | Departs 19 Aug 2019 –
Relax aboard a luxurious river cruise as you sail from Amsterdam to Basel, then explore the spectacular Swiss alpine scenery aboard 3 famous train journeys. A Greek Islands Cruise extension is also available.
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Depart Australia on your flight to Europe tonight.
Welcome to Amsterdam. Your Suite Ship is Ready for Boarding. Your day in Amsterdam is free explore at your leisure. During tulip season, you may take a Guided Optional Excursion to Keukenhof gardens-with more than seven million tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, as well as other bulbs, planted each year. Outside of tulip season, join a Guided Optional Excursion to Zaanse Schans to see historic windmills and charming Dutch houses.
❱ River cruise: Avalon Suite Ship (7 nights)
Colourful Amsterdam-with Canals, Crooked Houses, and Cuisine of a Golden Age. Explore the iconic waterways of Amsterdam with a Guided Canal Cruise past stately homes of Amsterdam’s “Golden Age.” Join a Guided Optional Culinary Walk through Amsterdam to sample savory and sweet Dutch specialties, OR a Guided Optional Excursion to Muiderslot Castle-Holland’s most beautiful, best-kept medieval castle. You may choose to spend some free time this afternoon visiting one of Amsterdam’s many fascinating museums or galleries.
Prost! Celebrate in the Rhineland’s Capital City. Take a Guided City Walk of Cologne-with its soaring twin-steepled gothic cathedral, OR Choose a Guided Walking Tour of Cologne’s important Jewish heritage sites. Don’t miss the chance to enjoy free time over a glass of Kolsch pale lager-locally brewed for over 100 years! Later local musicians will join us on board for live entertainment.
Travel through 2000 Years of Monumental History. Take a Guided City Walk amid ancient fortress walls, towers, squares and monuments. Relax on the Sky Deck for an afternoon cruise through the Rhine Gorge to Rudesheim. Sail past the legendary rock of the Lorelei-where the siren of mythology sang songs to lure ill-fated sailors.Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Wine Country. Take a Guided Tour of the incredible Mechanical Music Museum for a one-of-a-kind instrumental experience. Enjoy either a Coffee Tasting or a Wine Tasting. Then, enjoy live entertainment on board your ship this evening.
Printing Halls, Castle Walls, and the World’s Biggest Barrel of Wine. Enjoy a Guided City Walk, including a visit to the Gutenberg Museum to see the captivating history of printing. OR Enjoy a Guided Tour to Heidelberg Castle to see the ruins of the magnificent renaissance treasure towering above the city, and its famed Great Vat, the “World’s Largest Wine Barrel,” OR Join your Avalon Adventure Host for an afternoon Hike up Philosophers’ Way for an inspiring view of the city below.
Gothic Giants, Military Marvels & Varietal Vintages. CLASSIC – Join a City Sightseeing Tour, including Strasbourg’s gothic, stained-glass cathedral with its celebrated ancient murals and astronomical clock, as well as the magical La Petite France District. You may also choose to join a Guided Optional Excursion to the historic Maginot Line-an impressive installation of pre-WWII defensive fortifications designed to protect the eastern border of France or visit Alsace’s wine country today.
History, Artistry, and the Beautiful Black Forest. Visit the charming village of Colmar on a Guided Tour of its half-timbered medieval and early renaissance buildings, OR Join a full-day Guided Tour to the magical Black Forest to experience the Vogtsbauernohf open-air-museum, visit an authentic water mill, and see a traditional Bavarian butter-making demonstration. Follow your visit to Colmar with a free afternoon in Breisach. Take a bike from the ship, or walk among the pastel-painted houses above the Rhine. This evening, continue on the journey to Basel.
Your cruise ends with breakfast this morning. Upon disembarkation, transfer to you hotel in the centre of Basel, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure.
❱ Hotel stay: Basel (1 night)
After breakfast, travel by train through the beautiful county side of Switzerland. Check into your hotel on arrival in Zurich and enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore the city.
❱ Hotel stay: Zurich (3 nights)
Enjoy a full day at leisure to explore Zurich, one of the world’s most liveable cities. Explore the city’s winding lanes and tall churches and discover the city’s contemporary heart. Visit the iconic twin-towered Romaneque Grossmunster Cathedral, the 11th century Fraumunster Church and go for a stroll down Bahnhofstrasse, one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive shopping avenues.
Enjoy another free day to explore the vibrant city of Zurich. Alternatively, you may wish to join an optional tour to Liechtenstein (extra cost). Tonight, meet your fellow travellers for a highlight dinner.
Today, journey by train from Zurich to Lucerne. Lucerne is one of Switzerland’s most idyllic medieval cities, surrounded by a beautiful lake and nestled amidst snowcapped Alps. The rest of the day is at leisure to discover the delights of this charming city or to join one of the optional excursions.
❱ Hotel stay: Lucerne (1 night)
Leave Lucerne on the Lucerne-Interlaken Express. Cross Brunig Pass en route to Interlaken, where you spend some time strolling through the quaint streets. From Interlaken, take the BLS RegioExpress train to Zweisimmen. Continue on the Montreux-Oberland Bernois Panoramic train for your unforgettable journey to Montreux, then continue to Lausanne.
❱ Hotel stay: Lausanne (1 night)
Depart for the delightful Swiss mountain resort of Zermatt. En route, stop to visit the town of Montreux, situated on the shores of Lake Geneva and known as the “Swiss Riviera.” Time for leisure or maybe join the optional guided excursion to Chillon Castle before continuing by train to Zermatt.
❱ Hotel stay: Zermatt (2 nights)
Enjoy the included excursion to the famous Gornergrat, travelling on board Europe’s highest rack railway. The views from its summit are spectacular. The rest of the day is at leisure in Zermatt-with a variety of interesting shops, cafes, bars, and narrow streets to explore.
The train journey today aboard the spectacular Glacier Express train is without a doubt one of the main highlights of the tour. Enjoy an unforgettable journey as you make your way through the unspoiled natural beauty of the Alps on the direct route from Zermatt to the world-famous mountain resort of St. Moritz.
❱ Hotel stay: St Moritz (2 nights)
Take the Bernina Express train (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to Tirano and back for one of Europe’s most spectacular and breathtaking train rides. Travel across lofty Bernina Pass via the Swiss Poschiavo area to Tirano in the Italian Valtellina, witnessing an array of beautiful mountain streams, glaciers, and alpine scenery along the way.
Leave St. Moritz for the journey back to Zurich (Standard class between Samaden and Sagliains). Enjoy some time at leisure in Zurich.
❱ Hotel stay: Zurich (1 night)
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. You will be transferred to the airport for your flight home.
Sadly, today marks the end of your Europe adventure. Arrive back in Australia this evening on your flight.
Depart Zurich this morning on your flight to Venice. On arrival, you will be transferred to the Venice Cruise Terminal to board the MSC Sinfonia.
❱ Hotel stay: MSC Sinfonia (7 nights)
With its seafront cafés and ancient alleyways, shouting stallholders and travellers on the move, bustling, exuberant Split is one of Croatia’s and the Mediterranean’s most compelling cities, it’s easy to see this feeling when you step aground from your MSC cruise.
It has a unique historical heritage too, having grown out of the palace built here by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 295AD. The palace remains Split’s central ingredient, having been gradually transformed into a warren of houses, tenements, churches and chapels by the various peoples who came to live here after Diocletian’s successors had departed.
Adapted long ago to serve as Split’s town centre, Diocletian’s Palace is certainly not an archaeological “site”. Although set-piece buildings such as Diocletian’s mausoleum (now the cathedral) and the Temple of Jupiter (now a baptistery) still remain, other aspects of the palace have been tinkered with so much by successive generations that it is no longer recognizable as an ancient Roman structure. Best place to start exploring with an MSC excursion the seaward side of the palace is Split’s broad and lively Riva.
Running along the palace’s southern facade, into which shops, cafés and a warren of tiny flats have been built, the Riva is where a large part of the city’s population congregates day and night to meet friends, catch up on gossip or idle away an hour or two in a café. Nearly everything worth seeing in Split is concentrated in the compact Old Town behind the waterfront Riva, made up in part of the various remains and conversions of Diocletian’s Palace itself, and the medieval additions to the west of it. You can walk across this area in about ten minutes, although it would take a lifetime to explore all its nooks and crannies.
Enjoy a day at sea to enjoy the many onboard activities as you sail along the Dalmatia coast.
You can’t say you have been to Greece on holiday without seeing the natural wonder of Santoríni. As our MSC cruise ship manoeuvres into the great caldera of Santoríni (Thíra), the land seems to rise up and clamp around it.
Gaunt, sheer cliffs loom hundreds of metres above the deep blue sea, nothing grows or grazes to soften the awesome view. The only colours are the reddish-brown, black and grey pumice layers on the cliff face of this, the largest island in the mini-archipelago.
Later today, set sail for Mykonos where your cruise will be docked from 8pm to 3am. Experience all that the island has to offer by night during your stop.
When sailing on an MSC cruise to the Mediterranean Sea, Mýkonos is the quintessential image of the Cyclades. In summer most people head out to the beaches during the day, so early morning or late afternoon are the best times to wander the maze of narrow streets.
The labyrinthine design was supposed to confuse the pirates who plagued Mýkonos in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and it has the same effect on today’s visitors. When you alight from your MSC cruise, getting lost in its convoluted streets and alleys is half the fun of the place.
After an early morning departure from Mykonos, enjoy another day at sea as you sail back towards Croatia.
A walled, sea-battered city lying at the foot of a grizzled mountain, Dubrovnik is Croatia’s most popular cruise destination, and it’s not difficult to see why. Waiting to be valued on an MSC Mediterranean cruise excursion its essentially medieval town was reshaped by Baroque planners after a disastrous earthquake of 1667; Dubrovnik’s historic core seems to have been suspended in time ever since.
Walk through the city and admire the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary, inside there are a couple of Italian paintings, including Titian’s polyptych The Assumption behind the main altar. Immediately south of Luža – the square centre of the medieval town – is the Rector’s Palace, former seat of the Ragusan government.
The current palace is a masterpiece of serene proportion, fringed by an ornate arcaded loggia held up by columns with delicately carved capitals. Entered via a narrow passageway is the fourteenth century Franciscan monastery, whose late Romanesque cloister is decorated with rows of double arches topped by a confusion of human heads and fantastic animals.
Ancona hits you with a tangle of commercial buildings only two steps away from the Mediterranean Sea. Nonetheless, a city centre excursion reserves some historical appeal, and the authorities are making a concerted effort to improve the cruiser and tourist experience. A stiff climb from the port area, where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return, passing Ancona’s well-signposted Roman remains along the way, will take you to the pink-and-white Duomo. Mostly built in a restrained Romanesque style, this is contrasted by an outburst of Gothic exuberance in the doorway’s cluster of slender columns, some plain, others twisted and carved.
The most memorable feature is a screen along the edge of the raised right transept. However, it may be the views from here, the cruise ships and the ferries lined up in the port and the coast fading into the haze, that remain longest in the memory.
Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney
19 Aug 2019
21 Day Guided Tour Only, Tour + Greek Islands Extension (Fantastica Interior Cabin – Category I2), Tour + Greek Islands Extension (Bella Obstructed View Cabin – Category O1), Tour + Greek Islands Extension (Fantastica Ocean View Cabin – Category O2), Tour + Greek Islands Extension (Fantastica Suite – Category S2), Tour + Greek Islands Extension (Aurea Suite – Category S3)
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