The Essential Europe begins with an overnight flight to “Merry Old England.”
Enjoy a free afternoon to relax and unwind. In the evening we’ll have our welcome orientation followed by a fun London Pub Crawl.
Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Piccadilly Circus: these familiar names become familiar places on our morning tour. Afternoon at leisure, take in the city’s monuments or embark on a Harrods’ shopping spree, or explore the British Museum, the National Gallery and the London Dungeons. After dusk, you may want to take in some Shakespeare at the Globe theater by the Thames River or attend a West End theater show.
Travel to southeast England today and board our ship to the continent. Motor through northern France and arrive in Paris, “City of Lights.” We’ll dine together at our French bistro dinner, and then enjoy a romantic Seine River cruise.
Meals: Breakfast, French bistro dinner
Morning tour of Paris, see the hunchback “Quasimodo’s” Notre Dame Cathedral, Place de la Concorde, where the guillotine once stood, and the Eiffel Tower’s steel lacework. Free time in the afternoon – visit Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum, or shop the chic boutiques of Paris. Consider joining our optional can-can Cabaret Show tonight.
Optional Excursion: French Cabaret show
Free day in Paris: included Paris 2-day Museum Pass allows access to over 70 museums and monuments in and around Paris including the world famous Louvre, housing the Mona Lisa, Musée d’Orsay, Musée National Picasso, and the Château de Versailles. Browse at Left Bank bookstalls, have your portrait done by Place du Tertre artists or sample sinful French pastries. Your free evening may find you watching the world go by from a sidewalk café on the Champs Elysées.
Motor to Belgium and Brussels, and see the Grand’ Place, a perfect medieval square, and the statue of naughty Mennekin-Pis. Continue to Amsterdam and enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure.
Go biking through 13th-century Dutch fishing villages along the Ijssel Lake beaches today, watch wooden shoes being carved and sample Edam cheese at a cheese farm. Free time this afternoon in Amsterdam to tour the Van Gogh or Rijksmuseum, or visit Anne Frank’s house. This evening we invite you on a boat cruise on the canals of Amsterdam followed by our Dutch-Indonesian “Rice Table” dinner.
Meals: Breakfast, Dutch-Indonesian rice table dinner
Cross the German border into Cologne, famous for the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. Embark on a cruise along the fabled Rhine River, passing steeply sloped vineyards, ancient castles, and the legendary Lorelei Rock. Continue to Heidelberg, the “City of the Student Prince” and climb to the ruins of the Castle of the Palatine Elector for a bird’s-eye view of the city and the Neckar River.
Germany’s Romantic Road takes us to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. This medieval city is celebrated not only for its well-preserved Gothic and Baroque buildings and walls, but also for its unspoiled picturesque setting. Enjoy lunch at a local Gasthaus before continuing our journey to the fun-filled Oktoberfest city of Munich. Free evening to check out the oompah-pah bands at the famous Hofbräuhaus.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch
Enjoy a full day at your leisure. Consider visiting the BMW museum, seeing the Glockenspiel Chimes at the market square, the 1972 Olympic Village or shopping for Bavarian beer steins and lederhosen on Maximilianstrasse. Consider an optional excursion to the Dachau concentration camp this afternoon. We’ll dine on authentic Bavarian fare tonight.
Meals: Breakfast, Bavarian dinner
Optional Excursion: Dachau Concentration Camp
This morning, we continue to Berchtesgaden. Dressed in miner’s clothing, enjoy a ride on a funicular and down slides through the salt mine. Our next stop is Salzburg, Mozart’s birthplace and site where the classic movie, “Sound of Music” was filmed. Explore the narrow streets lined with colorful wrought iron signs and shops before we continue our journey to Europe’s largest alpine sports region. Be our pampered guest for two nights of fitness and fun while nestled in the snow-capped Austrian mountains at our Alpine Center.
Meals: Breakfast, Typical Austrian dinner
All day today is at our leisure; go for a hike in the Alps and join the fun and excitement of whitewater rafting. A hearty Austrian dinner awaits after all that activity.
Meals: Breakfast, Typical Austrian dinner
Optional Excursions: Whitewater rafting
The picturesque landscape of the Austrian Lake District brings us to sunny Italy’s Venice—“Sinking City in the Sea.” Walk to St. Mark’s Square, stop at a Murano glass-blowing workshop and watch famous Venetian glass being made. Consider a romantic gondola ride this evening gliding through the intricate maze of canals beneath arched bridges passing 12th and 18th-century marble palaces.
Through the fertile Po Valley we approach Florence, Golden City of the Renaissance and birthplace of Michelangelo. Our Florence art tour includes the Gates of Paradise, the marble Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral and Giotto’s bell tower, then there’s free time for shopping and museums. Get ready for an optional dinner of pure Italian delights at “Il Latini” tonight.
Optional Excursions: Optional Tuscan Feast
A free day to explore the Uffizi Gallery and see the collections of Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael and da Vinci. The Galleria dell’Accademia houses several sculptures by Michelangelo including his famous David. Enjoy our dinner of traditional Florentine fare.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Optional Excursions: Optional Chianti excursion
Travel past Chianti vineyards along the Highway of the Sun to the Eternal City of Rome. After check in we have time to relax or explore baroque Rome: Stop to toss three coins in Trevi Fountain, see the Pantheon and sample the most famous “gelati” ice cream at Piazza Navona.
This morning we explore Capitol Hill with the most spectacular view of Caesar’s Roman Forum, center of political and social activity, with ancient ruins dating from the 8th century BC. Also see Nero’s Circus Maximus where chariot races were held. A trip across the Tiber River takes us to Vatican City – the world’s smallest state. Visit St. Peter’s Basilica housing Michelangelo’s magnificent “Pieta.” During afternoon free time you may want to use your Roma Pass to visit the Colosseum, where gladiators fought to the death. Our dinner tonight is a mouth-watering Roman banquet complete with Italian specialties.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
For some of us the celebratory tour of Europe ends in Rome this morning. Bid farewell to friends and “arrivederci” to Italy before jetting back home with memories to last a lifetime.
For the rest of us: motor through sunny olive groves lining the way south to Pompeii, the city buried in 79 A.D. by 20 feet of ash and lava after Mt. Vesuvius’ volcanic eruption. Afterwards we cross the Italian “boot” and board our overnight ship to Greece.
After cruising through aquamarine waters, our ship docks at Patras. Motor along the Corinthian Sea coastline, across the Peloponnese peninsula to Galatas and the island of Poros. Relax with three days of living like a Greek god – swim, sunbathe, or take part in optional activities such as waterskiing, wakeboarding, parasailing, banana-boating or tubing. We invite everyone to our Toga Party on the last night.
Meals: Breakfast daily, Welcome barbeque dinner, Greek dinner, Toga party & dinner
In the morning we board our ferry to Athens. See the 2,400-year-old Parthenon, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and Constitution Square. A free afternoon may find us wondering the paths of Plato, Socrates and Sophocles or trying our bargaining skills at the markets of Monastiraki. This evening follow the sounds of traditional bouzouki music and join our farewell taverna dinner in the Plaka District – Athens’ oldest neighborhood at the foot of the Acropolis.
Meals: Breakfast daily, Farewell taverna dinner
Reluctantly we say farewell to Europe and new-found friends. Jet back home with thoughts of planning the next European Adventure!
Meals: Breakfast, In-flight