River Cruising is my favorite type of cruising. Rivers can take you to the heart of a country where you can see how they have created the world’s greatest cities. Rivers also help you gain understanding of cultures and countries. I recently had an opportunity to cruise the Rhine and the Main Rivers onboard the AMAPrima from Basel, Switzerland to Nuremberg, Germany, on AmaWaterway’s Medieval Treasures cruise. Mention the opportunity to see great architecture and medieval culture, and I am in.
I was drawn to this itinerary because of the castles, cathedrals, and history. There is no better way to see the country than from your floating hotel either on your balcony, in the pool, or on the sun deck.
I started in Basel, Switzerland a day early and had an opportunity to tour Basel’s Old Town with a guide, and see the Munster Cathedral. The view of the Rhine is incredible, many locals float and swim down the river to cool off on a hot day. Transportation on the local tram is free with a hotel stay, and it is easy and fun.
After boarding the ship, the first stop was Strasbourg, France. I chose to bike this excursion and weave among the visitors and around the city to see the sights. The guide led us past parks where migrating storks nested, past the European Council Building, and along the river to the Strasbourg Cathedral, one of the tallest Gothic cathedrals in the world. It was built in the Middle Ages and boasts an astronomical clock that rises to the ceiling and is considered one of the Seven Wonders of Germany. Strasbourg is a leading European political center and historical site with a seesaw history between France and Germany for many generations.
The tour through Speyer’s Romanesque Cathedral with our guide enlightened me more into the history of the area, its culture, and politics. Touring Speyer was fun with tasting spaghetti ice, apfeltashes and numerous baked goods and treats. There was a 300-year-old Protestant church building constructed of wood and stenciling that was absolutely beautiful. I also toured the ruins of the Jewish Community. The other tour option was the Technical Museum. Many passengers thoroughly enjoyed this experience of trains, planes, and automobiles and commented there was not enough time leaving everyone wanting more.
The next day was a visit to Rudesheim. Gentle walkers can take the Gondola ride over the vineyards and active walkers can hike through the fragrant vineyards. The Quiet Vox headsets make traveling easy and allows you to wander off a bit and still hear your guide’s narrative. This is where we say good-by to the Rhine and hello to the gently flowing Main with its numerous locks, beautiful countryside and small towns with churches and cathedrals.
Castles were on the agenda the next day with a visit to Miltenberg and Wertheim. I chose the hike to Miltenberg Castle. It was fairly moderate hike and provided the most beautiful view of the entire cruise. I walked past half-timbered houses with the flower boxes, a truly German sight; past the breweries and the storefronts and ended my visit to a famous gummy bear store. The guides are so knowledge and personable. After a short motor coach ride to Wertheim, I again took the castle hike. This one was more challenging but the view from the top was breathtaking but there are a lot of stairs! Gentle walkers could stay in the city and enjoy the beer, pretzels, and music.
There are so many options that it is a difficult choice and they are all included with the cruise. The options today were taking a Wurzburg Walking Tour to see the Residenz Palace, the bike tour from Kitzingen to Volkach or a full day Rothenburg Tour. I have wanted to re-visit Rothenburg, one of the stops on the famed Romantic Road in Bavaria. It was a full day touring the city. Rothenburg is the iconic walled medieval town complete with cobblestone street, the iconic clock tower, half-timber houses, dirndl shops, street cafes, and Christmas shops. This is an absolute jewel in the itinerary and a place to re-visit and spend more time.
The day ended with a wine festival in Volkach where our ship passengers were honored with complimentary wine and bratwurst and entertained with traditional Bavarian song and dance.
The final day of the cruise was spent in Bamburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are known for their specialty, smoked beer. The area of Little Vienna is very charming with the colors, flowers and architecture. I chose to take the walking tour, but the bike tour is available from the town of Eltmann to Bamberg as well. Bamberg is a great place for souvenirs, food, and drinks. It is also has a 13th century Romanesque Cathedral.
AMAWaterways truly caters to their passengers. The AMAPrima is a beautiful ship with a pool on the top deck, complimentary bicycles, an oversized chess board, a spa, and a fitness center. The food and drinks are plentiful and delicious. Caring chefs cater to any food allergies or needs. Evening entertainment was a lot of fun.
Unpack only once on your floating luxury hotel. Daily shore excursions are included with multiple options for gentle, moderate or active walkers or you can bike between ports instead of walking. Then you can unwind each evening with exquisite dining and onboard activities and entertainment with your fellow passengers.
I truly enjoyed my time aboard the AMAPrima and would heartily recommend this river cruise vacation to anyone looking for their next European adventure.
If I can help plan your next cruise or river cruise, please contact me:
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