Day 1 - Saturday, November 24:
Welcome to Amsterdam, Holland's sophisticated, modern capital. This delightful 700-year-old city with its elegant and classic architecture, cafés, and restaurants has a distinct ambiance. The streets, squares, canals, and bike paths throughout the city make for a vibrant atmosphere, and with over 60 museums, Amsterdam has the highest museum density in the world. Perhaps you would like to take an optional excursion to Zaanse Schans with its traditional houses and Dutch craft workshops. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at an evening welcome reception.
Please note: Guests must be on board ship by 5pm.
Day 2 - Sunday, November 25:
There is no better way to see Amsterdam than by CANAL BOAT, cruising through the elegant grachten lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam's "Golden Age." There's free time in the city this afternoon to explore on your own. Later, bid tot ziens (farewell) to Holland and set sail for Germany.
Day 3 - Monday, November 26:
Today, enjoy a peaceful morning of cruising before reaching Cologne in the afternoon. One of Germany's largest cities and capital of the Rhineland, Cologne straddles both sides of the Rhine, and is known for its soaring, twin-steepled gothic cathedral. Choose between an included GUIDED CITY WALK or JEWISH HERITAGE WALK. The Old Town abounds with cafés, shops, and taverns. Be sure to try a Kölsch pale lager, locally brewed in Cologne for over a hundred years!
Day 4 - Tuesday, November 27:
The dramatic RHINE GORGE is the most beautiful stretch of river. Here, ancient castles stand sentry on lofty cliffs rising 400 feet above the water. Cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where echoes of enchanted siren song lured unwitting sailors to their doom. In Rüdesheim, the quintessential Rhine Valley wine town, visit SIEGFRIED'S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM to see and hear a large collection of self-playing calliopes and music boxes from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. The entire town transforms itself into one large Christmas market, offering products and specialties from a number of nations, all presented in a distinctive manner. You'll be spoiled by the selection of shops offering a vast variety of Christmas presents and decorations. In the Market Square, you'll find Europe's largest nativity scene with life-size figures. Enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT before returning to your ship for dinner.
Day 5 - Wednesday, November 28:
Strategically located at the confluence of the Rhine and Main Rivers is Mainz, with "civilized" origins dating back to around 38 BC. Today, this is Germany's largest and most important wine market. Join your Local Guide for a GUIDED WALK through the Altstadt (Old Town) with its many intriguing shops and the whimsical Fastnachtsbrunnen (Carnival Fountain) on the Schillerplatz, a tribute to the jesters at the city's annual Carnival celebration. Gutenberg, father of modern printing, was born here-and you'll visit the captivating GUTENBERG MUSEUM. After lunch, travel to Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in Germany. With a LOCAL GUIDE, visit the imposing ruins of HEIDELBERG CASTLE, towering magnificently over the city and among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. You'll also see the famed GREAT VAT, the "World's Largest Wine Barrel." At nearly 23 feet high and 28 feet wide, the cask holds over 58,000 gallons of wine and has a dance floor built on top of it!
Day 6 - Thursday, November 29:
Situated on the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg blends the cultures of both countries in a delightful way. As capital of the Alsace region and seat of the Council of Europe and European Parliament, it is without a doubt an important city that manages to retain its historic charm. On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the monumental red-sandstone GOTHIC CATHEDRAL with its ancient murals, stained-glass windows, and fascinating astronomical clock, as well as the magical LA PETITE FRANCE district, home to half-timbered houses, quaint shops, inviting bistros, and a waterfront promenade. Also spend time exploring Place Kléber, a large historic square in the heart of the city, and Place Gutenberg in the heart of medieval Strasbourg, which features a statue of the inventor of the printing press. An optional excursion into Alsace wine country is available today. After dinner, enjoy an onboard WOODCARVING demonstration.
Day 7 - Friday, November 30:
Located at the foot of Kaiserstuhl Mountain on the French-German border, Breisach is the gateway to Germany's BLACK FOREST region, an area of unrivaled natural beauty with its forests of thick pine trees. The area got its name because the forests are so dense that local residents described them as black. Surely the most well-known products from this region are Black Forest ham, Black Forest cherry cake, and cuckoo clocks. You may opt for a visit to the workshop of a local woodcarver who produces clocks and other carvings, or to the open-air Museum of Vogtsbauernhof to see how life was lived in this area centuries ago.
Day 8 - Saturday, December 01:
Disembark your Avalon ship and join the Monograms portion of your vacation, where you will travel to Lucerne for a special highlight excursion to MOUNT PILATUS. Journey almost 7,000 ft. (2,132 m) up for spectacular views over central Switzerland (in the event of adverse weather conditions, visit the Swiss Transport Museum instead). There's free time to explore beautiful Lucerne, then transfer to your Zürich hotel. Your Monograms Local Host can help you with suggestions for the evening.
Day 9 - Sunday, December 02:
Travel by HIGH-SPEED TRAIN (first class) to Como, the city on the lake that bears its name. Your Local Host will be waiting to greet you and offer recommendations so you can make the most of your time in this well-known city. Enjoy a guided walking tour that includes the charming historic centre; the Broletto (Town Hall) with its fascinating gothic façade; and the imposing, marble-clad DUOMO, built between the 14th and 18th centuries, and crowned by a high octagonal dome.
Day 10 - Monday, December 03:
Experience a relaxing BOAT RIDE ON LAKE COMO for panoramas of stunning mountain scenery and luxury lakeside villas. You may wish to disembark at picturesque Bellagio with its century-old buildings, stone lanes, and quaint cobblestone stairways lined with shops, where you will have free time for exploration on your own before catching the boat for the return trip to Como. Your Local Host will give you all the details, as well as suggestions for your evening in this delightful town.
Day 11 - Tuesday, December 04:
Today, you might choose to travel to fashionable Milan; take the funicular to the residential village of Brunate, situated at 2,362 ft. (720 m); shop for silk products; or visit the Volta Temple, dedicated to Como's native son, Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electrical battery. Your Local Host can help you plan your day.
Day 12 - Wednesday, December 05:
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning!