Explore World Heritage sights and landscapes while savoring local wine and food as you cruise down the Rhine like royalty.
You know Adventures by Disney by their seamless and professional trip planning, extremely well-organized itineraries, and selection of well-chosen and often exclusive activities that have earned them an enthusiastic cult following. What you may not know is that they now organize an adults-only wine and food cruise on the Rhine River. Here you can expect all of the above, and in addition to visiting some of the most beautiful and historic towns in Europe, you get to experience a daily jam-packed array of activities with a focus on wine and food-related events. Here are 12 not-to-be-missed experiences on your Adventures by Disney Rhine River Cruise.
Cruise Like Royalty Onboard AmaKristina
Adventures by Disney has partnered with river cruises specialist AmaWaterways for their new Rhine River cruise. They sail in the AmaKristina, a modern, state-of-the-art ship built in 2017. The well-designed comfortable rooms come with queen beds, desks, refrigerators, marble bathrooms, and balconies in most rooms. Each room has an iMac with free internet access and entertainment options. The long, lovely sundeck running the full length of the ship sports different lounging areas to relax and enjoy the gorgeous view, an outdoor heated pool, a giant chess board, and a track. The ship also has massage services, a hair salon, a fitness room, and a small gift shop. AmaKristina has two restaurants, the Main Restaurant and The Chef’s Table, where creative dishes are prepared daily with fresh, local ingredients. Service is attentive and the staff is always eager to make travelers feel at home.
INSIDER TIPThe cruise starts in Basel and this charming Swiss city, also home to the world-famous Art Basel fair, deserves an extra day or two. Walk its lovely streets, or hop on and off the free modern trams at leisure. You can get your free tram pass in the hotel and carry it with you just in case, but most likely nobody will ask you for it.
Onboard Wine and Food Events Galore
Honoring its wine and food focus, the Adventures by Disney Rhine River cruise includes many daily entertaining and educative onboard tastings such as “Tin of Crab with Caviar” and “Smoked Salmon Pizza and Blind Tasting of Wine.” On day one of the cruise, a seminar invites passengers to taste like a master sommelier. There are also special cooking demonstrations, like how to make Spaghetti Ice Cream by its original makers, the Fontanella family, who created this famous ice cream in Mannheim in 1969. In addition, the intimate Chef’s Table dinners featuring special dishes and wines is a not-to-be-missed daily event.
Visit Picture-Perfect Riquewihr
Located in the heart of the Alsace wine region, the picture-perfect town of Riquewihr, surrounded by manicured vineyards that produce delicious Alsatian wines, is one of the most beautiful French villages. It’s no wonder it is a founding member of the association of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Despite its small size, Riquewihr offers many attractions: an enchanting display of colorful half-timbered architecture from the 16th century, local gastronomy, and historic world-class wineries, the venerable Hugel among them. A guided tour includes a visit to the Dopff au Moulin winery and lunch at a typical Alsatian restaurant. Don’t leave without enjoying Riquewihr’s famous macaroons and tarte flambée!
INSIDER TIPAlsatian wines are mostly labeled after the grape varieties they are made with. Four of them are considered the noblest ones: Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Muscat. There are also Sylvaner, Chasselas, Pinot Blanc, and Auxerrois, as well as Pinot Noir for reds and rosés. Sometimes the wines are also made blending different varieties, and they are called Edelzwicker or Gentil. Marcel Deiss wines made from single crus, especially their Altenberg de Bergheim Grand Cru, are the top examples of the blended wines. Hugel’s Gentil is a great value. Other great Alsatian producers are Trimbach, Zind-Humbrecht, Weinbach, and Boxler.
Private Tour and Wine Tasting at the Cave Historique des Hospices in Strasbourg
Starting in the 14th century, Strasbourg’s hospital accepted wine and vineyard land as payment for services. This resulted in the inception of the Cave Historique des Hospices, a winery and a wine cellar that is home to the oldest barrel-stored wine in the world. On this private tour, you will hear about the amazing story of the hospital, walk among its centuries-old barrels, and taste the dry, floral, food-friendly Alsatian white wines made under the label Cave Historique Hospices Strasbourg.
Canoeing Through Strasbourg’s Distinctive Half-Timbered Architecture
Half-timbered architecture—its unique look of exposed square wooden beams and the walls filled with plaster, brick or other materials, was a typical form of construction in Northern Europe until the 17th century. Strasbourg’s city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, showcases some of the best examples of this style. An exciting way to enjoy this characteristic architecture is by canoe through the canals that cross Strasbourg’s city center. The Adventures by Disney staff will give you a quick lesson to set you off. For the less adventurous, take the comfortable Batorama tours.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss Strasbourg’s modern architecture as well. As one of the capital cities of the European Union and the site of many of its institutions, including the European Parliament, Strasbourg is also a vibrant modern city with remarkable contemporary design.
Feel Like Baroque Nobility at a Private Organ Recital
Adventures by Disney organizes a wonderful private evening recital in the beautiful St. Thomas Church located in the center of Strasbourg. St. Thomas is the most important Lutheran church in the city. Named after one of the 12 apostles, it was finished in 1521 and it is the only example of the five-nave hall church structure in the whole of Alsace. It houses two organs, one installed in 1906 and another in 1741, the latter famously played by Mozart in 1778. The beautiful organ music fills the almost empty church creating a truly magical experience that will transport you to a different era.
Visit the Heidelberg Castle and University With Expert Local Guides
Built and rebuilt from the 13th to the 18th centuries, the Heidelberg Castle perched high on a mountaintop, offers expansive views of the city and Rhine River. Local guides deliver plenty of entertaining stories about upper-class European life from the Middle Ages to the Baroque. The castle also houses the world’s largest wine cask. The beautiful town of Heidelberg is also home to the namesake prestigious University, the oldest in Germany founded in the 14th century. Walk down its main street full of stores where you can shop for original German products.
INSIDER TIPWhen visiting Heidelberg, the ship docks in Speyer. This lovely German town is definitely worth a stroll and visit to its Romanesque cathedral. Started in 1080 and finished in the second half of the 12th century, it was at the time one of the grandest European churches built, only surpassed by the Abbey of Cluny. Its nave rises to over 100 feet high, and its crypt, where its construction started and where kings and emperors were buried, is the largest in Germany.
Gondola Rides in Rüdesheim am Rhein and Much More
In the heart of the famed Rheingau wine region lies Rüdesheim am Rhein, a lovely town where you can enjoy German taverns and traditional local drinks. But beyond that, Adventures by Disney organizes a visit to the Adolf Storzel winery and a walk in its gorgeous vineyards. A not-to-be-missed experience is the Gondola Ride (cable car) that takes you up the hill to the Monument of German Unification. The highlight of the ride, however, is the breathtaking view of the manicured and carpeted vineyards that lie below. These are some of the most prestigious vineyards in the Rheingau wine region where some of the best Riesling wines of the world are produced.
A Private Guided Visit to the Amazing Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum
A special stop on your visit to Rüdesheim is the Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum. The museum was created by Siegfried Wendel, who in the 1960s started rescuing and repairing the so-called “automatic musical instruments” that were being discarded at that time. It was the first museum of its kind to open in Germany. Located in a 15th-century manor called Brömserhof, which houses more than 350 machines from over three centuries, the museum offers room after room filled with musical contraptions that were destined to music halls and private houses a century ago. Among them, the century-old orchestrions—large cabinets that house artifacts that can play all the instruments in an orchestra—are the highlight. These machines, made in an optimistic era considered at the time to be modern and very developed, were seen a hundred years ago as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Sail Through the Spectacular UNESCO Rhine Gorge With a Glass of Riesling in Hand
The Rhine Gorge, a 40-mile section of the Rhine River between the German towns of Koblenz and Bingen, displays a staggering collection of castles and quaint villages, as well as some of the vineyards of the Mittelrhein, Rheingau and Nahe wine regions. Many of the castles are damaged and in ruins, as this was one of the most important battlefields in the Thirty Years War. Looking at them today from the sundeck of the AmaKristina as the ship sails through the serene waters of the Rhine River, you can feel the contrast between its convulsive past and the idyllic present. You can also ride on a bicycle for a portion of this fabled stretch of villages and castles.
A Private Guided Visit to the Original 4711 Fragrance House in Cologne
Eau de Cologne was born here at the Original 4711 Fragrance House in the 18th century. The 4711 name originates from the French soldiers who occupied Cologne and numbered every house of the city in October 1794. You can visit the store and the small museum housing many mementos including a selection of old iconic 4711 bottles. You will also have the wonderful opportunity to experience a variety of ingredients that make up their original fragrances.
Design Your Own Chocolate Bar at the Lindt Museum in Cologne
Adventures by Disney organizes a visit to the Lindt Chocolate Museum. Housed in an enormous impressive modern glass building on the banks of the river in Cologne, you can learn about the history of chocolate and the origins of Lindt. As an added bonus, you get to design your own chocolate bar from a numerous list of delicious ingredients. Also, don’t forget to get a taste at the chocolate fountain!