The Rhine and Mosel River Cruise   19 comments

The Rhine & Mosel River Cruise

March 14 – 28, 2011


The “Romance of the Rhine & Mosel River Cruise” began in Antwerp Belgium, meandering through Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, France and ending in Switzerland.  We also did a five-day extension in Switzerland, which I will feature in a separate travel post.  This was our 27th trip with Grand Circle Travel, and was led by our excellent program director Rita.  It was a splendid itinerary, with fascinating and beautiful things to see around every bend in the river. 

Map picture



Save Money: If you decide you’d like to go on this or any Grand Circle Travel or Overseas Adventure Travel trip, and you are a first time traveler with them, they will give you $100 off any trip if you mention the name of my travel blog and my customer #561413. New travelers instantly receive $100 off the cost of the trip, and I will receive $100 when you depart on your trip.


Antwerp, Belgium is located on the Schelde river and it has a well-preserved Old Town, built around the Grote markt and graced by the lovely old town hall and beautiful guild houses.  The spires of the Cathedral of Our Lady, can be seen from afar.   Antwerp was once a fortified town, but nothing remains except the Steen, which is a huge fort located between the river and the old city center.  FYI:  the cherry beer in Belgium sure is good. 


Willemstad, Netherlands:  Loved this cute little picturesque town located along the North Sea.  We saw our first windmill of the trip in Willemstad, and enjoyed walking all around the town and even up to the bunkers that were part of the German defenses to protect Europe during WWII.  There was a path along the fortification at the top of the town and were able to almost circle the whole cute little town and enjoy all the views.


Kinderdijk, Netherlands:  It was a bright and sunny day and what a joy to behold the 19 windmills of Kinderdijk which were built around 1740 to save the area from flooding.  These windmills have been well preserved, and have been made a UNESCO world heritage site.  Some of the windmills are still used, and they are all lived in.  The main waterworks are now mostly provided by two diesel pumping stations that are near the entrance of the windmill site. 


Nijmegen, Netherlands:   Located near the German border on the Waal River near the confluence with the Rhine.  It’s 2,000 years old and the oldest town in the Netherlands.  Nijmegen is the site of an important battle during WWII, in which the city was heavily damaged with the exception of the town center which was remarkably unscathed.  Jim & I also walked up to the highest point in the city, to see the ruins of Charlemagne Palace from the 700’s AD and the Chapel of St. Nicolas, which overlooks the river and was built in 1030. 


Sailing on down the river, we arrived at Bonn, Germany.  Bonn was the provisional capital of West Germany from the years following WWII, until Germany’s reunification in 1990.  Bonn is a very big city, but our boat was docked near the University of Bonn’s campus and after walking through that area we were in the old city center of Bonn.  Among the things we saw was the historic center of Bonn, lots of places to buy really great looking food,  and the cathedral area. 


Reichsburg Castle, Cochem Germany:  It is generally assumed that the castle was built around the year 1000.  The castle has been pilfered, pillaged and partially destroyed over the years.  In 1868, a rich Berlin businessman brought the castle grounds and the ruins and the entire structure was rebuilt in the then popular Neo-Gothic architecture style.  He also equipped the castle with elegantly appointed Renaissance and Baroque furniture.  The Castle is a place to behold…loved it.  It is now owned by the city of Cochem. 


Cochem, Germany is a little town of under 5,000 population and lies on the left bank of the Mosel River.  The town has lots of half-timbered buildings and it’s a delightful place for a stroll.  Our river ship was docked in front of the historic mustard mill (Senfmuhle), built around 1810 and is the last of its kind in Europe.  Of course Jim & I bought some mustard and it’s very good. 


From Cochem we sailed away in the sunshine along the Mosel River towards Bernkastel, Germany.  We sat outside on the top deck of the boat and watched the lovely scenes go by as we  cruised down the river. 


Bernkastel, Germany is billed as being one of the prettiest towns in Mosel Valley, and indeed it was beautiful.  With its gabled timber-framed houses from the 17th century, to the medieval marketplace, to the Renaissance Town Hall built in 1608, what’s not to love about Bernkastel.  


Trier, Germany is Germanys oldest town.  The massive church of Our Lady basilica was built by Constantine in 310 A.D.  The pedestrian-only Market Square contains the central fountain which was built in 1595.  At the far end of the Market Square is the imposing Porta Nigra (Black Gate), a towering roman gateway built around 200 A.D., which is the largest surviving city gate from ancient Roman times. 


We docked in Traben-Trarbach, Germany and from there went on an excursion to Luxembourg.  Luxembourg is a tiny nation whose territory comprises less than 1,000 square miles.  The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a constitutional monarchy located between Belgium, France and Germany.  In Luxembourg City we saw the Notre Dame Cathedral, the governmental building, the Palace of the Grand Duke, and the old fortification wall. 


The Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial is located near Luxembourg.  The Battle of the Bulge began with Hitler’s desperate attack through the Ardennes to attempt to drive out the Allied forces.  The resulting battle, called “the greatest American battle of WWII” by Winston Churchill, raged near Luxembourg from Dec. 16, 1944 through Jan. 28, 1945.  There are 5,076 of our American military buried at this cemetery.  We paid our respects to them and also to Gen. George S. Patton Jr., who is buried in this cemetery right beside his soldiers. 


Germans fallen from the same battle are buried nearby in the Sandweiler German War Cemetery.  The design of the tombstones are dark stone crosses compared to the white tombstones of the American cemetery.  It contains the graves of 10,913 German servicemen from the Battle of the Bulge. 


Boppard, Germany has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site because of its importance as a cultural and historic center to the middle Rhine region.  This is the area along the Rhine that is the beginning of all the castles that overlook the Rhine.  While at Boppard we enjoyed beer & pretzels at a German beer hall. 


Marksburg Castle is located near Boppard, Germany.  It is the only medieval castle of the Middle Rhine that has never been destroyed.  The Marksburg Castle was built about 1117, and was used as protection rather than a residence for royal families.  Walking through the three towers and the connecting rooms, up tiny stairways and passages and through the various areas gave us a glimpse into the daily life of the medieval times. 


On a glorious sunny day we sailed along the most beautiful part of the Rhine.  What a joy it was to sit outside on the top deck of our river ship and see one quaint German village after another go by and then the castles…..oh my, I’ve never seen so many castles!


Speyer, Germany was founded by the Romans about 50 AD and boasts the Romanesque Cathedral which was built between 1030 and 1125.  I liked the little pretzel stands around town. 


Strasbourg, France is the official seat of the European Parliament.  We did a sightseeing tour by boat along Strasbourg’s canals, where we admired the city’s Renaissance architecture, and then the picturesque Petite-France area with all the half-timbered houses.  We walked to the town center where one of Europe’s great Gothic cathedrals is located which was constructed from 1176-1439.


Baden-Baden Germany is a town at the edge of the Black Forest and is renowned for its thermal baths.  It is a town for the rich and famous.  From there we drove by coach up into the beautiful Black Forest of Germany.  During the pretty drive we stopped and enjoyed a demonstration on making the famous Black Forest Cake and of course we got to enjoy a delicious sampling of same.


Alsatian Drive:  We drove by coach along the famous Alsatian Wine Road in France.  Stopped at a park and enjoyed seeing the storks and the swan of the region. 


Riquewihr, France is a medieval town and they say it looks just like it did in the 16th century.  It is one of the few towns in the area to not be damaged badly during WWII.  It has a population of 1,300 and almost all the buildings are half-timbered and painted in bright pretty colors.  Loved, loved this town.


Our last port of call on the Rhine & Mosel River Cruise was in Basel, Switzerland.  We were provided a full day trolley pass so  along with seeing the old town center, Jim & I rode the entire “around the city” circuit on the trolley and saw the residential area also.  The last picture includes our favorite friends from the trip.  We enjoyed dinner with them every evening on the ship. 


And thus ends our Rhine & Mosel River Cruise.  It was a great trip with so many fantastic places to see and things to do.  We did an extension of several days to Switzerland and I will post that travel blog very soon.  I thought this was more than enough to see on one blog. 


Posted April 26, 2011 by marilynfarmer in Travel

19 responses to “The Rhine and Mosel River Cruise

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  1. Great pictures! Beautiful scenery and lots to see!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Thank you so much for this fantastic blog. We will be taking the trip in September beginning in Basel. We will visit this blog often, I am sure. Thanks again!

  3. We leave on June 24 for this adventure and we’re so happy to view your beautiful pictures before we get there. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • We leave on June 24 for this adventure and we’re so happy to view your beautiful pictures before we get there. Thanks so much for sharing.

  4. I am interested in taking this cruise summer 2012. Found your blog in the reviews and enjoyed looking at your pictures. Really gave me an idea of all I will see on this tour.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

  5. Dear Marlyn and Jim:
    My wife and I are taking this trip, leaving on Friday, Sept. 2nd, providing JFK will be reopened by then, which we think it will.
    Thanks for the terrific insight into the trip. Your photos are fantastic and you have given us good insight with your review on GCT’s site. You have taken many wonderful trips. This will be our third with GCT, and our first River Cruise. We also went to Sicily and The Amalifi Coast. We booked just last week, so we were lucky to take the Post Trip to Bruges. We wanted to take the Pre Trip to Lucerne, but it was full. Luckily, we have been to Lucerne before, as well as Lugano. We especially liked taking the tram up to Pilatus, which was magnificent, as we have great pictures, especially of that little church on the side of the mountain.
    We are very much looking forward to the optional Trip to Luxembourg, and attending the cemetery to pay our respects to our troops. So, thanks so much, your blog is amazing and very helpful. All the best to you both and we hope you have many more wonderful journeys.
    Sincerely yours,

    Marc and Anita Walther
    Pompano Beach, FL

  6. We are taking this trip next week. We lived in Traben-Trarbach in 1985 are really looking forward to this trip. You pictures brought back lots of great memories. Thanks so much.

  7. Absolutely fabulous pictures! I am in the early stages of planning our first small river cruise for early November 2012 (to celebrate a milestone b-day). Although we have travelled extensively this will be our first small river cruise. We’re considering the Rhine or the Danube thru GCT. Any tips you can pass along would be appreciated.

  8. Add me to the list of travelers soon to take this trip. I leave on June 27th and am very excited. Your pictures and information are wonderful, thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

  9. This was my first river boat trip -June 2011- and your pictures brought back many wonderful memories. The Great rivers trip this Sept will be my 10 GCT trip and will be taking more boat trips. Thank you for providing such warm memories. Jean

  10. We took this trip in 2008 in August. We started with the pre trip in Lucerne and ended with Bruges… and a break away to Copenhagen. It’s neat to relive it through your pictures. I especially loved the trip down the Mozel. It was a trip of a life time. I’ll be in Ireland with GCT in June. Vannette

    Vannette Kanna
  11. We are taking this cruise on GCT from March 15-30, 2013 which is about the same time you went on your cruise.
    From your photos the weather seemed not too stormy or windy & the sky was partly cloudy. How cold was it?
    Can you recommend the category of cabin on the ship you feel were the most comfortable? We will be on M/S
    Harmony sailing from Antwerp to Basil with a pre-cruise extension to Bruges, Belgium. I really enjoyed all your
    photos & will print your blog to use as a guide when we travel to all these beautiful towns & castles.
    Thank You for Your Reply, Henry

    Henry Puccinelli
    • Hi Henry,
      Glad you enjoyed my blog. Yes, you are going at the same time period as we did as also from Anterp to Basil. We were very pleased with the weather. We like to travel off season for two main reasons, and that being the lack of crowds and also because the price is cheaper. I really don’t know what the temps were but our winter coats felt good, especially during the first part of the trip. Be sure to bring along a lighter jacket or a wind breaker for warmer days. The category of cabin really doesn’t matter to us, we have been in most areas and they are all comfortable and almost exactly the same. If you don’t mind spending more money the balcony is nice, however we prefer to use the difference of money towards another trip. You will love Bruges it is a remarkably beautiful medieval town. I see the post trip to Lucerne Switzerland is also available on that date. Have you considered adding this? You really do get to see a lot of Switzerland in a short period of time. The extension is very well planned by GCT. Take advantage of strolling through the beautiful towns on your own every chance you get. We love to go back into the towns of an evening after dinner and getting a coffee or hot chocolate. The boats are usually docked in a great location so you can take these opportunities. Have the time of your life, and love every minute of your travels. Best wishes!

  12. We are leaving Friday 4/12/13. My husbands hate to read guide books but your blog will help him mentally prepare. Thanks for you effort

    Elaine Freedman
  13. Enjoyed your blog. We are taking this trip July 17 – Aug. 1, 2013. Looks like you took all of the optional tours. We were wondering which ones you would recommend, or which ones were better than others. Have read conflicting reviews on the Alsatian Highlights. Apparently the Liberation Museum is now an optional, which I am sure we will want to do. Doubtful about the Delta Works and Marksburg Castle. We have been to Germany several times and been to many of these medieval castles. Also don’t know about Augustusburg Palace. Any other tips you may have re this trip we would love to hear. Thanks.

    • Hi SS. Sorry it has taken me so long to respond, but just today returned from the Elbe River trip with GCT. It was great. Will try to get it posted in a couple weeks. I guess you are almost ready to leave on your July 17 trip. In regard to optionals: We enjoyed the Alsatian Highlights tour. Loved the beautiful town of Riquewihr, France which was included. I completely enjoyed the Marksburg Castle, but I could go in a castle everyday and love it. It is medieval and completely different than the other castle that we went to on while on the same tour. We have done the Liberation Museum while on another trip and it’s good if you like WWII history. We didn’t mean to go to the Augustusburg Palace but are glad we did. It is beautiful inside, but pictures weren’t allowed. The Reichburg Castle is splendid, but it’s included in the tour. Jim was very pleased to get to Luxenbourg to see some more WWII history. I can tell you one thing…this is one of the best river cruises we have ever done and I think you will absolutely love it. There are beautiful sights and beautiful towns all along the way. Enjoy!!

      • Thanks for the reply. We are really looking forward to this trip. Will be our first river cruise. We have done bus tours and my husband also taught a course in Austria for many years so we have done quite a bit of independent travel. My husband also loves all of the WWII history, so know Luxenbourg is a must. Looked up the Liberation Museum and still not sure about that. Now trying to sort out the packing and what to take and not take?? Any special hints on that? Thanks again.

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