Trip Type : River Cruise
Rhine Holiday Markets (2021) tour
Basel Cologne Rhine Holiday Markets (2021) Trip

Rhine Holiday Markets (2021)

Uniworld
4.9 . Excellent
96%
Travel Style: A lot of free time, with very few inclusions. Ideal for independent and/or low-key travelers and cruisers. Relaxed
Physical Level: Some walking over short or flat distances. Some trips may include cycling options. Some are wheelchair friendly (check for individual trips). Some cruises. Easy
Lodging Level: 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards. Comfort (4*)
8 days
From: $ 3,099 $ 387 / day
Checking price

Overview

Short Description

Share in the joy of the season while cruising along the legendary Rhine through three wonderful countries—Switzerland, France, and Germany.

These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Trip Type River Cruise
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Lodging Level Comfort (4*)
Flight & Transport Inclusions N/A
Start City Basel
End City Cologne

Destinations

Germany Switzerland

Attractions & Cities Visited

Basel Cologne Koblenz Strasbourg

Activities & Interests

Culture Historic sightseeing River cruise

N/A
See more

Itinerary

2019 version

Basel to Cologne


Day 1 - Basel (Embark)

Port - Basel

Arrive at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer, or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.

Important Note: Uniworld's airport services and transfers to the ship will take place on the Switzerland side of the Basel-Mulhouse Airport. Be sure to enter Customs on the Switzerland side, as guests cannot return to the Switzerland side after they have exited the airport from the France side.


Day 2 - Basel

Port - Basel

Basel is a cultural and artistic powerhouse, with all sorts of galleries, theaters and museums. And at this time of year, the city’s Christmas Market draws visitors from all over Europe, as does its Christmas Street, lined with more than 100 beautifully decorated and illuminated Christmas trees. Do you have a special wish for Christmas? Write it in the Wish Book, which lies open in Basel’s 17th-century Town Hall during Advent, waiting for residents and visitors to express their hopes and dreams for the holiday—or for the world.

A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Excursion(s) - Basel walking tour with Christmas market
Excursion Price - $70

Do you have a special wish for Christmas? Write it in the Wish Book, which lies open in Basel’s 17th-century Town Hall during Advent, waiting for residents and visitors to express their hopes and dreams for the holiday—or for the world. Your local expert will take you past the Town Hall, whose red-brick walls feature paintings by Hans Bock, so you’ll know right where to go after your tour. The 800-year-old Münster, with its red sandstone walls, multicolored roof tiles and twin towers, is equally spectacular; spread out before it you’ll find the wondrous Christmas Market. With more than 150 stands, it offers many locally made craft items, unique ornaments and delicious seasonal baked goods. Warm your hands on a mug of hot mulled wine as you browse. 

After exploring this Swiss treat, you’ll want to visit the town’s illuminated Christmas Street, which is beautifully decorated with more than 100 Christmas trees. If you’re looking for truly unique gifts, stop by Johann Wanner’s shop, with its array of elegant angel ornaments, blown-glass figurines and pewter Victorian miniatures. You’ll also find museums and art galleries, specialty shops and cozy wainscoted restaurants near Market Square.


Day 3 - Kehl (Strasbourg)

Port - Kehl

Strasbourg is invariably described as quaint, a rather overused word that in this case is perfectly apropos. It’s also been known as the “Crossroads of Europe” for its strategic location halfway between Paris and Prague. With a friendly local expert, see this historic town with its cobbled lanes, half-timbered homes, giant stork nests and impossible-to-resist pastry shops that will win your heart. You won’t want to miss the holiday treats like bûche de Noël, the delicious Christmas cake made to look like a yule log.

Excursion(s) - Strasbourg walking tour with Christmas market
Excursion Price - $70

Catch the highlights of multinational Strasbourg from the warmth of a comfortable motorcoach: it’s a city with deep connections to both France and Germany. The European Quarter—Strasbourg is home to many EU institutions—is stunningly modern, but you’ll find a beautifully preserved old town to explore on foot. Enchanting half-timbered houses line the canals of Petite France, one of the oldest districts, and the medieval cathedral—a religious institution has stood in its spot for 3,000 years—is extraordinary. Step inside with your guide to see the 15th-century astronomical clock and the gorgeous rose window (the craftsmen who built Chartres Cathedral created it). Since Strasbourg calls itself the Capital of Christmas, you won’t be surprised to find that this town really goes all out for the holidays. The Christmas tree on Place Kléber towers over hundreds of stalls—but it’s only one part of the market, which spreads through 10 neighboring locations, all of them both historic and wonderfully decorated. Browse on your own among chalets stocked with finely crafted toys, ceramics, jewelry and handmade Nativity figurines, not to mention the giant toy storks in Santa hats that are a playful tribute to Strasbourg’s beloved storks, and keep warm with mulled wine and holiday treats like buche de Noël.

Excursion(s) - “Taste of Christmas” Strasbourg walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Alsace is famous for its excellent cuisine, which combines French and German elements in delectable and unique ways. Roam through Petite France with your local expert, where the little shops are all charmingly decked out for Christmas, and explore the Christmas Market set up in Broglie Square. Stroll from chalet to chalet, as the stalls are known here, which brim with ornaments, pretzels, steaming vats of mulled wine and Alsace’s best-known Christmas cookies, called bredele. There are many kinds—hirschhörnle, anise, makrenle, rochers, speculatius—each with a distinctive shape, history and flavoring, all of which your guide can tell you about as you sample them.

During the afternoon, you will have some free time to wander through the beautiful Old Town. You might want to spend more time at the Christmas Market, which takes on an especially festive look as darkness falls and the lights illuminate the entire area; visit the magnificent cathedral; or simply stroll along the lanes of Petite France. You could learn about Alsatian wines in the medieval wine cellars of the old city hospital, spend some time among the treasures of the Rohan Palace’s museums or shop along the Grand Arcades. Stop for a warm drink at a café on Place Gutenberg, named for the man who invented moveable type here in Strasbourg some 560 years ago.

Shuttles will be available to take you to and from the ship, in case you want to drop off your finds and return for more.


Day 4 - Mannheim (Heidelberg)

Port - Mannheim

Your ship left France behind and sailed into Germany during the wee hours of the morning. If you speak no German, here’s one phrase you might want to learn now: “Fröhliche Weihnachten,” or “Merry Christmas!” Today you’ll have two choices: Venture into the storied city of Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in the country, or visit the Doktorenhof vinegar estate for a special vinegar tasting. The atmospheric cellar is like no other you’ll ever experience, and the candlelit tasting room is decked for the holidays.

Excursion(s) - Heidelberg tour with Christmas market
Excursion Price - $70

Heidelberg’s castle, high above the town, may have been destroyed by lightning in the 1700s, but it remains a beautiful and intriguing destination. Your walk up to the castle ruins will end in the vast courtyard, partially enclosed by the wings of the once-great palace. The castle was the official residence of the prince electors, one of whom built the world’s largest wine barrel in 1751—the Heidelberg Tun, able to hold 58,100 gallons (220,000 liters) of wine—to contain the wine he collected as taxes from local vintners. It still stands as a monumental memento of the economic importance of wine in the region, and though it has been empty for centuries, you could, if you like, climb up to the top and take a spin on the dance floor that has been built on it.

Your second destination is downtown Heidelberg’s splendid Christmas Market, one of the largest in the country. It fills square after square, offering an inviting array of unusual arts and crafts, as well as exquisite hand-blown glass ornaments. Marvel at the Christmas pyramid, with its figures from the city’s history rotating inside the tower at Market Square; take a ride on the carousel at University Square; or try out your ice skating skills on the rink in Charles Square.

Your local expert can recommend places for you to enjoy a hearty lunch on your own; be sure to try some typical German fare like sauerbraten. Afterwards, you can continue to wander around Old Town, where you’ll encounter the 15th-century Holy Spirit Church and the Student Prison. Heidelberg has one of the longest pedestrian streets in Germany—perfect for strolling and window shopping. Or simply spend a little more time at the Christmas Market before returning to the ship.

Note: Lunch is not included with the full-day Heidelberg tour.

Excursion(s) - Private Doktorenhof vinegar estate visit and tasting
Excursion Price - $70

For a different spin on the Palatinate wine region, visit the Weinessiggut Doktorenhof estate for a special vinegar tasting. Yes, you read that right—a vinegar tasting. Founded by Georg Wiedemann some 30 years ago, Doktorenhof produces vinegars from premium wines, rather than inexpensive ones. Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Riesling and Pinot Noir are aged with a century-old vinegar “mother,” as the bacteria that makes vinegar is known, and flavored with a variety of herbs and fruits. The results make complex and elegant aperitifs, intended to be sipped from a specially designed long-stemmed glass between courses or after a meal. The atmospheric cellar (think candles, cloaks and choir music) is like no other you’ll ever experience, and the candlelit tasting room is decked for the holidays. You’ll have plenty of time to explore their enticing gift shop, too.


Day 5 - Mainz, Rüdesheim

Port - Mainz

Mainz’s Old Town brims with specialty shops tucked into lovingly restored buildings. You’ll find jewelry, leather goods, books, toys—something special for every special person on your list. Or opt to explore neighboring Wiesbaden’s Christmas Market. However you choose to spend your time in Mainz, you’ll head back to the ship for a short cruise to Rüdesheim, which, like many cities along the Rhine, dates back to Roman times, when the Rhine was the northern border of the empire. Today, Rüdesheim is famous for its beauty and its entertaining alley of shops and wine bars called the Drosselgasse.

Excursion(s) - Mainz Christmas Market stroll
Excursion Price - $70
Excursion(s) - Rüdesheim walk with local treats and Christmas Market
Excursion Price - $70

Follow your guide through the cobbled lanes of Rüdesheim while you hear about the vibrant life of this old and fascinating town. Walk down the famously quaint Drosselgasse alley and taste Rüdesheim’s hallmark treat—coffee splashed with brandy and topped with whipped cream.


Day 6 - Cruising the romantic Rhine River, Koblenz

Port - Koblenz

Spend a spectacular morning onboard your luxurious boutique ship as you sail the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stretch of the Rhine is extraordinarily picturesque: Castles perch atop steep cliffs above the water and each quaint village is marked by the spire of its historic church. After sailing past 40 miles (65 kilometers) of gorgeous scenery, you’ll reach the famous intersection of the Rhine and the Moselle. Here, where the two rivers meet, you’ll find the enchanting town of Koblenz. Watch the waters of the Moselle gush into the Rhine as you stand on the spit of land called German Corner before embarking on a walking tour of Koblenz’s historical treasures.

Excursion(s) - Koblenz walking tour with Christmas market
Excursion Price - $70

Watch the waters of the Moselle gush into the Rhine as you stand on the spit of land called German Corner. It’s an appropriate spot for a symbol of German unity: an equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I, erected in honor of German unification in 1871. Behind it is Koblenz’s oldest church, St. Castor’s Basilica, originally built in the ninth century and the first of the charming churches and squares you’ll encounter as you wander through Old Town. Like many Rhineland towns, Koblenz suffered at the hands of French forces under Louis XIV—that’s why you’ll see so many baroque features in the buildings you pass, since so many needed to be rebuilt after the French left. That’s also why the Church of Our Lady has twin onion domes. Originally built in the Middle Ages on the highest point in Koblenz, the lovely church that stands in this spot now mostly dates to the early 1700s. Following your tour, delve into the Koblenz Christmas Market, which spills from square to square, with stalls full of unique Rhine Valley handicrafts, baked goods and wines. Be sure to check out the Advent calendar in the baroque town hall’s windows.


Day 7 - Cologne

Port - Cologne

Your local expert will show you favorite haunts around the Old Town and share some of the cathedral’s most intriguing and magical secrets with you.

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Excursion(s) - Cologne walking tour with Old Town visit and Christmas Markets
Excursion Price - $70

Day 8 - Cologne (Disembark)

Port - Cologne

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer, or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Cologne Bonn Airport for your flight home.

Cologne to Basel


Day 1 - Cologne (Embark)

Port - Cologne

Arrive at Cologne Bonn Airport. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer, or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.


Day 2 - Cologne

Port - Cologne

Your local expert will show you favorite haunts around the Old Town and share some of the cathedral’s most intriguing and magical secrets with you.

A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Excursion(s) - Cologne walking tour with Old Town visit and Christmas Markets
Excursion Price - $70

Day 3 - Koblenz, Cruising the romantic Rhine River

Port - Koblenz

This morning, you’ll reach the famous intersection of the Rhine and the Moselle. Here, where the two rivers meet, you’ll find the enchanting town of Koblenz. Watch the waters of the Moselle gush into the Rhine as you stand on the spit of land called German Corner before embarking on a walking tour of Koblenz’s historical treasures. Later, spend a spectacular afternoon onboard your luxurious boutique ship as you sail the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stretch of the Rhine is extraordinarily picturesque: Castles perch atop steep cliffs above the water and each quaint village is marked by the spire of its historic church.

Excursion(s) - Koblenz walking tour with Christmas market
Excursion Price - $70

Watch the waters of the Moselle gush into the Rhine as you stand on the spit of land called German Corner. It’s an appropriate spot for a symbol of German unity: an equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm I, erected in honor of German unification in 1871. Behind it is Koblenz’s oldest church, St. Castor’s Basilica, originally built in the ninth century and the first of the charming churches and squares you’ll encounter as you wander through Old Town. Like many Rhineland towns, Koblenz suffered at the hands of French forces under Louis XIV—that’s why you’ll see so many baroque features in the buildings you pass, since so many needed to be rebuilt after the French left. That’s also why the Church of Our Lady has twin onion domes. Originally built in the Middle Ages on the highest point in Koblenz, the lovely church that stands in this spot now mostly dates to the early 1700s. Following your tour, delve into the Koblenz Christmas Market, which spills from square to square, with stalls full of unique Rhine Valley handicrafts, baked goods and wines. Be sure to check out the Advent calendar in the baroque town hall’s windows.


Day 4 - Rüdesheim, Mainz

Port - Mainz

Your day begins in Rüdesheim, which, like many cities along the Rhine, dates back to Roman times, when the Rhine was the northern border of the empire. Today, Rüdesheim is famous for its beauty and its entertaining alley of shops and wine bars called the Drosselgasse. Then you’ll head back to the ship for a short cruise to Mainz. Mainz’s Old Town brims with specialty shops tucked into lovingly restored buildings. You’ll find jewelry, leather goods, books, toys—something special for every special person on your list. Or opt to explore neighboring Wiesbaden’s Christmas Market.

Excursion(s) - Rüdesheim walk with local treats and Christmas Market
Excursion Price - $70

Follow your guide through the cobbled lanes of Rüdesheim while you hear about the vibrant life of this old and fascinating town. Walk down the famously quaint Drosselgasse alley and taste Rüdesheim’s hallmark treat—coffee splashed with brandy and topped with whipped cream.

Excursion(s) - Mainz Christmas Market stroll
Excursion Price - $70

Day 5 - Germersheim (Heidelberg)

Port - Mannheim

Wake up and choose your adventure for the day. Today you’ll have two choices: Venture into the storied city of Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in the country, or visit the Doktorenhof vinegar estate for a special vinegar tasting. The atmospheric cellar is like no other you’ll ever experience, and the candlelit tasting room is decked for the holidays. If you speak no German, here’s one phrase you might want to learn now: “Fröhliche Weihnachten,” or “Merry Christmas!”

Excursion(s) - Heidelberg tour with Christmas market
Excursion Price - $70

Heidelberg’s castle, high above the town, may have been destroyed by lightning in the 1700s, but it remains a beautiful and intriguing destination. Your walk up to the castle ruins will end in the vast courtyard, partially enclosed by the wings of the once-great palace. The castle was the official residence of the prince electors, one of whom built the world’s largest wine barrel in 1751—the Heidelberg Tun, able to hold 58,100 gallons (220,000 liters) of wine—to contain the wine he collected as taxes from local vintners. It still stands as a monumental memento of the economic importance of wine in the region, and though it has been empty for centuries, you could, if you like, climb up to the top and take a spin on the dance floor that has been built on it.

Your second destination is downtown Heidelberg’s splendid Christmas Market, one of the largest in the country. It fills square after square, offering an inviting array of unusual arts and crafts, as well as exquisite hand-blown glass ornaments. Marvel at the Christmas pyramid, with its figures from the city’s history rotating inside the tower at Market Square; take a ride on the carousel at University Square; or try out your ice skating skills on the rink in Charles Square.

Your local expert can recommend places for you to enjoy a hearty lunch on your own; be sure to try some typical German fare like sauerbraten. Afterwards, you can continue to wander around Old Town, where you’ll encounter the 15th-century Holy Spirit Church and the Student Prison. Heidelberg has one of the longest pedestrian streets in Germany—perfect for strolling and window shopping. Or simply spend a little more time at the Christmas Market before returning to the ship.

Note: Lunch is not included with the full-day Heidelberg tour.

Excursion(s) - Private Doktorenhof vinegar estate visit and tasting
Excursion Price - $70

For a different spin on the Palatinate wine region, visit the Weinessiggut Doktorenhof estate for a special vinegar tasting. Yes, you read that right—a vinegar tasting. Founded by Georg Wiedemann some 30 years ago, Doktorenhof produces vinegars from premium wines, rather than inexpensive ones. Gewürztraminer, Sylvaner, Riesling and Pinot Noir are aged with a century-old vinegar “mother,” as the bacteria that makes vinegar is known, and flavored with a variety of herbs and fruits. The results make complex and elegant aperitifs, intended to be sipped from a specially designed long-stemmed glass between courses or after a meal. The atmospheric cellar (think candles, cloaks and choir music) is like no other you’ll ever experience, and the candlelit tasting room is decked for the holidays. You’ll have plenty of time to explore their enticing gift shop, too.


Day 6 - Kehl (Strasbourg)

Port - Kehl

Strasbourg is invariably described as quaint, a rather overused word that in this case is perfectly apropos. It’s also been known as the “Crossroads of Europe” for its strategic location halfway between Paris and Prague. With a friendly local expert, see this historic town with its cobbled lanes, half-timbered homes, giant stork nests and impossible-to-resist pastry shops that will win your heart. You won’t want to miss the holiday treats like bûche de Noël, the delicious Christmas cake made to look like a yule log.

Excursion(s) - Strasbourg walking tour with Christmas market
Excursion Price - $70

Catch the highlights of multinational Strasbourg from the warmth of a comfortable motorcoach: it’s a city with deep connections to both France and Germany. The European Quarter—Strasbourg is home to many EU institutions—is stunningly modern, but you’ll find a beautifully preserved old town to explore on foot. Enchanting half-timbered houses line the canals of Petite France, one of the oldest districts, and the medieval cathedral—a religious institution has stood in its spot for 3,000 years—is extraordinary. Step inside with your guide to see the 15th-century astronomical clock and the gorgeous rose window (the craftsmen who built Chartres Cathedral created it). Since Strasbourg calls itself the Capital of Christmas, you won’t be surprised to find that this town really goes all out for the holidays. The Christmas tree on Place Kléber towers over hundreds of stalls—but it’s only one part of the market, which spreads through 10 neighboring locations, all of them both historic and wonderfully decorated. Browse on your own among chalets stocked with finely crafted toys, ceramics, jewelry and handmade Nativity figurines, not to mention the giant toy storks in Santa hats that are a playful tribute to Strasbourg’s beloved storks, and keep warm with mulled wine and holiday treats like buche de Noël.

Excursion(s) - “Taste of Christmas” Strasbourg walking tour
Excursion Price - $70

Alsace is famous for its excellent cuisine, which combines French and German elements in delectable and unique ways. Roam through Petite France with your local expert, where the little shops are all charmingly decked out for Christmas, and explore the Christmas Market set up in Broglie Square. Stroll from chalet to chalet, as the stalls are known here, which brim with ornaments, pretzels, steaming vats of mulled wine and Alsace’s best-known Christmas cookies, called bredele. There are many kinds—hirschhörnle, anise, makrenle, rochers, speculatius—each with a distinctive shape, history and flavoring, all of which your guide can tell you about as you sample them.

During the afternoon, you will have some free time to wander through the beautiful Old Town. You might want to spend more time at the Christmas Market, which takes on an especially festive look as darkness falls and the lights illuminate the entire area; visit the magnificent cathedral; or simply stroll along the lanes of Petite France. You could learn about Alsatian wines in the medieval wine cellars of the old city hospital, spend some time among the treasures of the Rohan Palace’s museums or shop along the Grand Arcades. Stop for a warm drink at a café on Place Gutenberg, named for the man who invented moveable type here in Strasbourg some 560 years ago.

Shuttles will be available to take you to and from the ship, in case you want to drop off your finds and return for more.


Day 7 - Basel

Port - Basel

Basel is a cultural and artistic powerhouse, with all sorts of galleries, theaters and museums. And at this time of year, the city’s Christmas Market draws visitors from all over Europe, as does its Christmas Street, lined with more than 100 beautifully decorated and illuminated Christmas trees. Do you have a special wish for Christmas? Write it in the Wish Book, which lies open in Basel’s 17th-century Town Hall during Advent, waiting for residents and visitors to express their hopes and dreams for the holiday—or for the world.

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Excursion(s) - Basel walking tour with Christmas market
Excursion Price - $70

Do you have a special wish for Christmas? Write it in the Wish Book, which lies open in Basel’s 17th-century Town Hall during Advent, waiting for residents and visitors to express their hopes and dreams for the holiday—or for the world. Your local expert will take you past the Town Hall, whose red-brick walls feature paintings by Hans Bock, so you’ll know right where to go after your tour. The 800-year-old Münster, with its red sandstone walls, multicolored roof tiles and twin towers, is equally spectacular; spread out before it you’ll find the wondrous Christmas Market. With more than 150 stands, it offers many locally made craft items, unique ornaments and delicious seasonal baked goods. Warm your hands on a mug of hot mulled wine as you browse. 

After exploring this Swiss treat, you’ll want to visit the town’s illuminated Christmas Street, which is beautifully decorated with more than 100 Christmas trees. If you’re looking for truly unique gifts, stop by Johann Wanner’s shop, with its array of elegant angel ornaments, blown-glass figurines and pewter Victorian miniatures. You’ll also find museums and art galleries, specialty shops and cozy wainscoted restaurants near Market Square.


Day 8 - Basel (Disembark)

Port - Basel

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer, or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg for your flight home.

Availability

Checking price
Price From $ 3,099
Price Per Day: $ 387 per day
Checking price
Start DateFinish DateCategory 5Category 4SuiteCruise DirectionAvailability 
Nov-28-2021Dec-06-2021$ 3,899NA$ 7,399Cologne to BaselAvailable Reserve
Dec-05-2021Dec-13-2021$ 3,899NA$ 7,399Basel to CologneAvailable Reserve
Dec-12-2021Dec-20-2021$ 3,599NA$ 7,099Cologne to BaselAvailable Reserve
Dec-19-2021Dec-27-2021$ 3,599NA$ 7,099Basel to CologneAvailable Reserve
Nov-28-2022Dec-06-2022$ 3,399NA$ 6,899Cologne to BaselAvailable Reserve
Dec-05-2022Dec-13-2022$ 3,399NA$ 6,899Basel to CologneAvailable Reserve
Dec-12-2022Dec-20-2022$ 3,099NA$ 6,599Cologne to BaselAvailable Reserve
Dec-19-2022Dec-27-2022$ 3,099NA$ 6,599Basel to CologneAvailable Reserve

Check Current Availability, prices, specials with Uniworld.

Prices may vary due to local taxes and trip seasonality. Click "Request Info" to inquire directly with the tour operator for the final trip price.

26 Uniworld Travel Reviews & Ratings

96%
4.9 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 24
Great 2
Average 0
Disappointing 0
Terrible 0
Value
4.8
Guide
4.8
Activities
4.8
Lodging
4.9
Transportation
4.8
Meals
4.9

Rhine Holiday Markets (2021)

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Company Reviews

better the second time around?

5.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
This was our 6th Uniworld and 2nd time down part of the Danube.

local guides very good; better than last time. food remains excellent; lunch food choices in particular are better than before. service, in particular Dining room, remains excellent. servers really attempt to learn food and drink preferences. front desk service is excellent. small improvements in room (chocolate jar; audio box chargers in closet; closet hanger rods more like home than ship) appreciated.

the ship is starting to need updating; our shower stall needed to be re-grouted; deck might need to be refinished in areas. elevator never worked during cruise; 24 hr. coffee machine malfunctioned for 3 days. the itinerary itself isn't full of "must-sees" but has has sights and experiences that might be hard for you to do on your own with just a guidebook.

While cruise wasn't perfect, we would travel with Uniworld again; possibly even down the Danube a 3rd time, but on a newer ship.
Read more

Pros, cons and tips

4.0
Details
Value4.0
Guide3.0
Activities3.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation3.0
Meals4.0
This is a review of the Uniworld China + Tibet + Yangtze tour in June, 2019, taken by my wife (80) and me (77). Since knowledge of a reviewer helps readers to judge the applicability to themselves: we are both former academics, normally spry and immersed in cultural, political, and healthful life activities, but we sometimes found the trip daunting, as discussed below. We resist aging, but not always with full success.

The tour had pluses and minuses.

The biggest minuses:
• My wife’s breathing difficulty in our 3-night stay in Lhasa, Tibet (she spent the whole time breathing oxygen and couldn't go on any outings)
• The (inevitable) problem of touring a totalitarian country where citizens are intimidated from talking honestly about the full scope of their lives

The biggest pluses:
• Our guide, Kevin, who was outstandingly attentive, helpful, supportive and patient. He went out of his way to help in difficult situations (like my wife’s breathing problems in Lhasa).
• We were also quite appreciative of Tiger’s brief stint with us.
• With a few exceptions, our baggage was always handled by others. And the exceptions weren’t overwhelming. Apparently for a group, the weight of any individual bag just gets averaged in with all the other group bags being checked. (Some travelers handled their own carry-ons.)

Most of the other people on the tour were quite amiable and unassuming—not always the case when you travel with people whose financial position has to be pretty good to afford this kind of trip (that financial position too often drives unwarranted expectations of privilege and reverence [if that’s not redundant…]).

The accommodations and included breakfasts (and many other meals) were luxurious, though we ourselves didn’t need them to be THAT nice (in this we’re probably exceptions from other travelers—and in this case, a number of our co-tourists had taken multiple Uniworld tours, so they knew and liked what they'd be getting); indeed, we had to learn to stop tanking up at breakfast just because so many goodies were offered, buffet-style. Had we realized those luxuries were part of what we were paying for (and in retrospect we SHOULD have realized), we might have taken a different, cheaper tour. Ironically, what most drew us to the Uniworld trip were the chance to visit Tibet and the expectation that at such a high cost we’d always be getting outstanding, highly informed guides (which wasn’t always the case; as retired academics, we’re unusually demanding in the critical analysis of what we want to hear).

GENERAL NOTES:

We spent several days on our own before the tour (in Beijing) and at its end (in Shanghai). These were quite valuable to us. Perhaps because of time, the Uniworld tour took us to few museums. We are museum junkies, and visited several during our non-tour times. Among other things, Beijing has a terrific national museum, an interesting (partly because of its political subtext) museum about women and children, and an extensive arts district. Shanghai has its own major museum and a tour of the city’s past relationship with Judaism that gives you a more general sense of the troubling antithesis of glitzy life highlighted elsewhere.

I’ve traveled to many parts of the world, and I’ve always been able to learn at least local alphabets and some minimal language skills. China is the first place I’ve gone where I could do none of the first and only a few words (probably wrongly intoned) of the latter. This was extremely frustrating, especially when we toured on our own. Few people outside the major international emporia (I never quite got used to how many upscale stores were in all places we visited) speak English (why should they?). The one ameliorating factor was that many people (especially store employees) had phone apps that did good to excellent translations between spoken English and spoken Chinese. You should have one for your own use.

In major cities, signs quite often include English, so that you can at least know where to shop and what you're looking at. Prices (which you can often negotiate) are typically typed into a calculator.

Perhaps even more than in the West, people are glued to smart phones. Pretty much everyone, it seems, uses an app that includes texts, phone use, and a payment facility, so that people seem to may carry little or no cash or credit cards. No one seems to care—or maybe everyone is just resigned to—that the government can monitor this app and know a ton of stuff about you. As a foreigner, however, you are unlikely to be able to use this app because you need to have a compatible bank account (probably meaning from a Chinese bank).

No matter how you travel in China, you'll see the amazing efforts to accommodate the expansion cities, so that a “town” of which you've never heard might have a million or more people. On the tour, you'll see almost only architectural and shop glitz that the government and cities bask in. You might get very brief glimpses of poverty.

While on the one hand the Chinese government talks a good game and takes some important steps vis-à-vis the climate crisis, on the other hand they still use an enormous amount of fossil fuel for electricity generation. I was also struck—dismayed—by the fact that from all appearances, people only drink bottled water (Westerners are warned against tap water, but I don’t know if local people build up an immuinity to its problems). Especially in warm weather, I can only guess at the billions of single-use plastic bottles that are used every day by the population of 1.4 billion (plus large numbers of visitors). On rare occasions, like at an airport, you might see a place to refill a water bottle (I assume that water is safe).

Please note that in criticisms like the previous paragraph, I do not intend a holier-than-thou American attitude. I am even more critical of what our government does—or more importantly, doesn’t—do vis-à-vis the climate crisis.

THE PEOPLE

Almost everyone was pleasant and upbeat. We mostly moved among middle- (and presumably upper-)class people; we encountered many others, but they were kind of in the background (just as in capitalist countries), and while we made it a point to notice their existence, we had no meaningful interactions with them.

The westernization of outward behavior was almost palpable. My wife had visited 10 years ago and regularly commented on the difference. My impression is that the young (teen-agers, young adults) are especially into western fashion and culture—and to what to me was a surprising extent, seemed to be able to afford indulging that taste.

For what it’s worth, my observation was that people are quite materialistic, focus their lives on that, and increasingly able to afford to indulge themselves. Outwardly, at least, they have little concern with the strictures of their government. Tiananmen Square seems to be in the distant past. Treatment of Moslems and Uighurs (not unlike our current treatment of immigrants and Moslems or our like history of racial and ethnic conflicts) was far away. So far as I could tell, people like Americans (though we’re also bizarre outsiders—there are occasional instances of Chinese people, especially ones who live far from the cities we visited, walking up to a foreigner and asking to take a photo together (this happened to me on the Great Wall, with some pretty young guys).

SECURITY

This abounds. You need to carry your passport everywhere. You'll encounter frequent security checks where you have to put whatever you're carrying through a scanner and show official IDs. In Lhasa, these checks were even present as you wove your way through street markets.

At every airport check-in, you not only go through a security scanner, but you then step up on s short stool so that someone with a hand scanner can go over every inch of your body. (I have sometimes wondered whether proliferation of security folk, including regular police, in nations like this is a clever device for combining meaningful security with full employment.)

The government must have an incredible volume of disk space and incredibly fast computer programs to be able quickly to access information about any given citizen or visitor. Check-in at airports always includes a live photo of you. I’m sure if anyone in the security services had wanted to track me down at any time, it wouldn't have taken more than a few seconds. (For each accommodation where you stay, you have to register with the police. Hotels typically do that for you.)

IN-COUNTRY TRAVEL

We had 4 in-country flights (part of the reason for what Uniworld charges), and much as we wanted to visit the places to which we flew, the time and effort involved in getting from to shuttle bus (then sometimes a long walk) to hotel to airport to check-in to security to boarding to flying to disembarking to shuttle bus to the next hotel became overwhelming.

The tour included 3 nights in a luxury boat on the Yangtze River. This was quite pleasant and included a night’s visit to a show (I don’t remember exactly which one, but when on our own my wife and I went to a couple of shows in Beijing—well worth it even if they're not something to your normal taste). Here, we had some down time. At our ages, we needed more of that. I got sick while on the boat and got what seemed like pretty good medical care.

(By American standards, medicals for my wife in Lhasa and for me on the Yangtze boat were low but not miniscule.)

By American standards, taxis are cheap. They were pretty easy to find in Beijing. (The “universal” app includes signups with services like Uber.) But in Shanghai, they were extremely rare, and we had to get help from strangers to order one. As you would expect, this is especially hard when it’s raining and you're a very long walk from your hotel. Among maybe a dozen or two cab rides during our entire stay, we had two bad experiences with cabbies; I advise photographing the driver’s information and the meter area. I found that this significantly mitigated the problems.

We took the metro in Beijing. After brief adjustment, it was very easy to use. The main difficulty is that stations are far apart, so on (say) a rainy night, you will still need an umbrella and endurance. Shanghai seems to have an equivalent subway system, but we never used it there.

LHASA

Part of the altitude problem my wife (and a few of our fellow travellers) had appears to be the flight’s forcing a lack of transition from sea level to an altitude over 2 miles. (On the other hand, a slower, staged transfer probably would have added cost to an already expensive trip—and maybe loss of a day’s touring.) Especially for older folk, however, I think this is a relevant concern.

I don’t know why, but although I could feel very mild pressure in my breathing, I was fine for the entire Lhasa visit. I had a different disappointment (perhaps idiosyncratic to myself, an academic and non-religious person): if I remember correctly, our entire stay involved visiting Tibetan religious locations. I quite support SOME such visits—religious history is central to human existence—but I would have liked to see aspects of other Tibetan cultural history.

Because of Beijing political issues with Tibet, filing out your Chinese visa involves the charade of not mentioning you're going there (if you do mention it, your visa apparently will be denied).

And a warning re Lhasa (and at least the Great Wall): there can invite lots of climbing, and a number of us, especially some of the older people (even when altitude wasn’t an issue), chose to climb minimally (just enough to get a sense of where steps were going and what the resulting view would be). Kevin and other guides were totally understanding—indeed, we were offered climbing options.
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Highly recommend

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
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Meals5.0
Me and Nena are in cruise business more than 38 years and booked so many river cruises in Europe and charter ships in Russia, India, Egypt and Ukraine. Uniworld offer excellent cruise and we highly recommend this great company.
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Fantastic

4.0
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Guide4.0
Activities4.0
Lodging4.0
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Meals4.0
Fantastic cruising the Nile on MS River Tosca, spacious rooms, super crew, delicious meals, fantastic service, awesome waiters, knowledgeable tour guide Marwa! Would love to go back!
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Professioal, friendly and unforgetable experience for the cruise

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The facility on ship was good. Staff servicing us were very professionally good. For the meals it was indeed very nice especially the kitchen was able to provide some Asian dishes that is fantastically great.
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Amazing time, Amazing ship

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I had never been on a river cruise before and did not know what to expect. After this cruise, I was ready to sail right back with Uniworld. Everything on the ship, from the food and amenities, to the excursions and especially the crew, made the week one of the best I've had.
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Ship Name

S.S. Antoinette

Deck & Cabin Plans

S.S. Antoinette


Trip ID#:

Uniworld-204

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