Day 1: Australia – – Amsterdam
Make your way to the airport and catch a flight to Amsterdam.
Day 2: Amsterdam
Arrive in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands! Find your way to the port, ready to embark on the first leg of your European holiday: a river cruise along the Rhine. Step aboard the luxurious Monarch Countess and drop your luggage off in your cabin. You have the rest of the day as free time – whether you want to start exploring the city’s network of canals, bike paths and landmarks, or opt to stay on-board and relax – but be sure to return to the boat for this evening’s Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Dinner event.
For those purchasing the Tour Only option, your tour starts today. Please make your own way to the hotel.
Day 3: Amsterdam – Cologne (B, L, D)
This is your first morning waking up on the Monarch Countess! On the itinerary today is a guided sightseeing tour of Amsterdam. While on this outing you will learn about the city’s incredible heritage and its contemporary charms. Some of the sights you will see include Royal Palace on Dam Square, the Dutch Monument dedicated to WWII victims, and the Skinny Bridge. Give your feet a rest as you then hop into a glass-top boat for a scenic joy ride through Amsterdam’s famed canal system. This is a great way to get up close to some of the city’s spectacular 16th-century homes and architecture. It is also a fantastic opportunity to meet and mingle with fellow passengers before returning to the Monarch Countess and beginning the south-bound voyage to Cologne.
Day 4: Cologne (B, L, D)
The Monarch Countess follows the Rhine river to Cologne. This German city is the capital of the Rhineland and doubles as the region’s cultural, creative and artistic epicentre. The boat docks and you enjoy lunch on-board before joining a walking tour to see some of Cologne’s most significant sites, such as its Gothic cathedral. Return to the boat for dinner and then have the evening as free time.
Day 5: Koblenz – Rüdesheim (B, L, D)
Arrive in Koblenz, Germany, this morning. This city was originally established as a military outpost of the Roman Empire and was important thanks to its position on the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. A walking tour takes you into the heart of Koblenz and past some of its myriad things to see, and later on there is opportunity to join an optional excursion to Marksburg Castle. The boat sets out for Rüdesheim at noon and the afternoon is spent leisurely sailing. Head up to the deck to have a front row seat as you cruise past the sights lining both sides of the Rhine – castles, vineyards and quaint villages. One monument in particular to look out for is Lorelei Rock, a slate pile so named for the mythical sailor-seducing siren. Make port in Rüdesheim in the afternoon and explore this town, known for its riesling production, on your own accord.
Optional: Marksburg Castle. Marksburg Castle is the only castle located along the Rhine that has never been destroyed. This 700-year-old monument boasts an incredibly rich history and is also home to a collection of artefacts that provide visitors with excellent insight into what life was like in the area in the Middle Ages and onwards. Please note this tour covers uneven surfaces, stairs, steps and slopes. Tour duration is approximately 2 hours. Additional cost applies.
Day 6: Mannheim – Speyer – Strasbourg (B, L, D)
The tour arrives in Mannheim today, a city that was once a favourite among classical music composers. Mannheim is also where you’ll find the largest Baroque palace in Germany. Join an optional outing to Heidelberg, or meander the streets of Mannheim on your own. Speyer is the second destination of the day and is the location of a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site-listed sandstone cathedral. Following time in Speyer, the Monarch Countess departs for Strasbourg.
Optional: Heidelberg City Tour. Head to Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in Germany. Aside from its academic credentials, Heidelberg has also been a fountain of inspiration for creatives, including Goethe, Brentano and Hölderlin. This tour takes you through the Old Town and to see the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. Be sure to appreciate the exceptionally preserved Middle Ages architecture; the city was spared from destruction during World War II so there are many historical buildings to admire. Tour duration is approximately 4 hours. Additional cost applies.
Day 7: Strasbourg – Breisach (B, L, D)
Cross into French territory as the cruise makes port in Strasbourg in the Grand Est (formerly known as Alsace) region. Soak in the blend of French and German cultures, and stroll around the city on a guided walking tour. The city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in itself and is particularly noted for its Gothic Cathedral and astronomical clock. Some of the other things to see in Strasbourg include Place Gutenberg, La Petite France district and Place Kleber. Be back on the boat in the evening as the cruise departs for Breisach.
Day 8: Breisach (B, L, D)
Breisach is a small city in Germany’s Rhine Valley that happens to have a history that stretches back more than 4000 years. Learn about this heritage on a guided walking tour and have your camera at the ready to capture the pretty streetscapes and pastel-hued houses. Hear about how the city was almost completely destroyed during World War II and the restoration efforts that followed. You will have free time in Breisach once the tour ends and this is a great opportunity to continue exploring, or you may take up the optional excursion to Colmar in France. This evening is your final night aboard the Monarch Countess and a Farewell Dinner is served on-board to cap off your European river cruise in style.
Optional: Colmar City Tour. Border jump from Germany back into France with your sights on the city of Colmar. This idyllic city is known for its half-timber houses and winding canals, a feature which has seen Colmar been dubbed ‘Little Venice’. This excursion includes a walking tour to take you around the city’s highlights, plus it also passes on insight into how Colmar was spared from destruction during the French Revolution and 19th- and 20th-century conflicts. The tour concludes with a visit to a local winemaker! Please note that this outing is limited to a maximum of 90 people, so booking in advance is highly recommended. Tour duration is approximately 4 hours. Additional cost applies.
Day 9: Basel (B)
The boat arrives in Basel and you disembark, ready to begin the land-based leg of the tour. Make your own way to the hotel and check in. You have the rest of the day as leisure. Choose to relax in the hotel, or hit the pavements to see some of this Swiss city’s sights such as Basel Minster, the Old Town, Gate of Spalen and Market Square.
Day 10: Basel – Lucerne (B)
Take a rail transfer to Lucerne. This city sits on the shores of Lake Lucerne and is one of the key gateways for travellers seeking to explore central Switzerland. Some of the best things to see in Lucerne include the city’s emblematic Chapel Bridge, as well as the Old Town, Swiss Museum of Transport and Lion Monument. Explore these landmarks and to-dos however you like with free time upon arrival and checking into the hotel.
Day 11: Lucerne – – Lugano (B)
It is time to venture out on your first rail journey of the tour. You begin your journey aboard the Gotthard Panorama Express today, moving from the heart of Switzerland to the Italian-speaking region of Ticino. This route actually includes both boat and rail travel, as there is a lake cruise from Lucerne to Flüelen at the beginning on the trip. You have free time in Lugano upon arrival; use this opportunity to begin discovering the Italian influences, from architecture to culture and cuisine, of the city.
Day 12: Lugano – – St. Moritz (B)
Take breakfast at the hotel and then find your way to the main Lugano train station. Here, you catch a bus that drives you along a scenic lake route towards Tirano. This town, located on Italy’s border with Switzerland, is where you depart on the Bernina Express train to St. Moritz. Parts of this route boast UNESCO World Heritage Site status, and the voyage as a whole sees travellers pass through the Engadin Alps, remote glaciers and quintessential Swiss countryside. You arrive in St. Moritz in the afternoon.
Day 13: St. Moritz (B)
Welcome to St. Moritz, arguably one of Switzerland’s most recognisable resort towns. Avid snow sports fans will likely already be familiar with St. Moritz’s reputation as a pioneer of modern-day winter pursuits – a legacy that stems from St. Moritz having twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games! A part of your tour inclusions is a local transport card for use in St. Moritz and this extra provides unlimited travel on the town’s public transport network, as well as on most of the mountain railways and cable cars in the area. Use the card to reach Corviglia, Corvatsch or Diavolezza, or walkers may want to wander the path at the top of Muottas Muragl. You can also look to redeem the discounts available in your digital voucher pass.
Day 14: St Moritz – – Zermatt (B)
Have breakfast in St. Moritz and then board the legendary Glacier Express to be whisked to Zermatt, a town that sits at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn. Your time aboard the Glacier Express is in a panoramic carriage, enabling you unfettered views of the brilliant countryside and scenery as you travel. This route moves you through the Oberalp Pass along the Rhine Gorge and finally into the Rhone Valley. You arrive in Zermatt in the afternoon and have the rest of the day at your leisure.
Day 15: Zermatt (B)
Your itinerary today is entirely at your discretion. You have the full day to delve into Zermatt’s sights and experiences however you like. There are a variety of options for travellers wanting to explore the neighbouring mountains, including an outing on the Gornergrat Railway. This route ascends to 3089 metres above sea level, taking passengers past some of the region’s tallest peaks – including the Matterhorn. Keen walkers can make the return trip back down to Zermatt by foot, hiking along one of the trails that hugs the railway line.
Day 16: Zermatt – – Montreux (B)
Say goodbye to Zermatt and hello to Montreux, a resort town often called the ‘Pearl of the Swiss Riviera’. You reach Montreux by train and travel through scenery that includes Rhone Valley landscape and the vineyards of the Valais region. Have the afternoon at your leisure once you arrive. Visit Chillon Castle, a 13th-century fortress perched on a manmade island located in Lake Geneva; stroll the pretty promenade; or explore the streets of the Old Town.
Day 17: Montreux – – Interlaken (B)
Enjoy a leisurely morning to explore Montreux some more. This afternoon you continue your travels along the Golden Pass Line in the direction of Interlaken. This railway is considered one of Switzerland’s most scenic and travellers will want to make sure their camera battery is fully charged for this journey. Some of the scenery to expect encompasses verdant valleys, small picturesque villages, thick forests, and snow-capped mountains. You arrive in the district and overnight in Wilderswil, a hamlet on the outskirts of Interlaken.
Day 18: Interlaken – – Jungfraujoch – – Interlaken (B)
Today’s included outing is sure to deliver an experience – and views – not soon forgotten. Today, you are headed to Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe. This point is often referred to as ‘the Top of Europe’ because of the sweeping views it offers of mountains and the surrounding countryside. You may even catch a glimpse of the Aletsch Glacier! Any remaining free time is your own – and don’t forget about taking advantage of the offers inside your digital coupon pass!
Day 19: Interlaken – – Zurich (B)
The tour travels aboard the Luzern-Interlaken Express today on the way to Lucerne. This the final scenic train route of the trip and takes is views of mountain lakes, the Brunig Pass and cascading waterfalls along the way. You will also see the peaks of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau. Upon arrival in Lucerne you connect with another train for transfer to Zurich. This is your final night in Switzerland and the evening is at your leisure.
Day 20: Zurich – Australia (B)
Have breakfast at the hotel and then, at the appropriate time, make your way to the airport to catch your return flight to Australia.
For those purchasing the Tour Only option, at the appropriate time please make your own way from the hotel to your next travel arrangements.
Day 21: Australia
Arrive back in Australia.