FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Romancing the Rhine

by Margaret Backenheimer and J.D. Brown

Jan 6, 2020

The great bow of the Rhine River near Boppard, Germany
PHOTO: © EUGENZ – DREAMSTIME.COM

January 2020

EUROPE’S BUSIEST AND MOST picturesque waterway, the Rhine River winds for more than 700 miles from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea. It is a traveler’s feast for the eye, mind and palate, a complete banquet of castles, museums, medieval towns, vineyards, restaurants and shops. Sightseers have focused on its wonders for centuries. With the popularity of river cruises spreading, the Rhine River remains at the top of the charts, drawing more than 300 cruise ships to its waters each year, including many of the world’s most luxurious river vessels.

For river cruising, the Rhine is divided into three sectors. The Lower Rhine, with stops at such historic German cities as Bonn and Cologne, empties into the sea near Amsterdam, while the Upper Rhine has notable ports of call, too, including Basel and Strasbourg. But the centerpiece of a Rhine cruise is the Middle Rhine, the so-called Romantic Rhine, where the 40-mile Rhine Gorge between Bingen and Koblenz is festooned with more medieval castles than any other river valley in the world.

The Romantic Rhine and its Gorge, with its medieval villages and 1,000-year-old terraced vineyards, was the inspired setting for Richard Wagner’s epic opera, Götterdämmerung. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, its scenic centerpiece is a natural monument, the sheer cliffside known as Lorelei, the emblem of a mythic femme fatale who lured many a ship and crew to disaster. Lorelei, in turn, is the inspiration of a romantic poem by Heinrich Heine, a waltz by Johann Straus, an opera by Felix Mendelssohn, a verse by Sylvia Plath and, most recently, a character from Marvel Comics.

Most Rhine cruises of a week or longer sweep through all three stretches of the Rhine, including Lorelei cliff and the Rhine Gorge, with Amsterdam serving as either the starting or ending point. The cruising season runs April through October, although most major river lines offer an array of Christmas market cruises in the winter. In recent years the number of luxury river cruise ships offering extended trips on the Rhine proliferated, affording travelers a raft of high-end choices for cruising.

Stolzenfels Castle in the Rhine Gorge near Koblenz, Germany
PHOTO: © HAVESEEN – DREAMSTIME .COM

Viking River Cruises is the baseline for modern luxury cruising on the Rhine, with its array of sleek 190-passenger Longships offering a host of complimentary amenities, from a shore excursion at every port to spacious river-view cabins. A typical eight-day Rhine Getaway begins on the Upper Rhine in Basel and visits the Black Forest, the medieval village of Colmar and the Alsatian wine country near Strasbourg, France, before sailing into the Rhine Gorge with a chance to tour the 700-year- old Marksburg Castle and the Fortress of Ehrenbreitstein. On the Lower Rhine, Viking calls on Cologne’s Old Town before winding through Kinderdijk, a network of UNESCO World Heritage site windmills (19 of them) which guests can view close up on bicycle or aboard a vintage barge.

For those demanding even more luxurious cruising, Crystal River Cruises sails the Rhine between Amsterdam and Basel in all-inclusive style with the all-suite, 106-passenger Crystal Debussy and Crystal Bach — part of a fleet that constitutes the first and only all-balcony, all-suite, all-butler vessels serving Europe’s waterways.

Scenic River Cruises offers comparable deluxe river cruising. Eight of its 167- to 169-passenger river boats, including its newest Space-Ships, will work the Rhine River in 2020, each vessel with butler service and nearly every other amenity you might dream of. Two other top-end choices are AmaWaterways and Avalon Waterways. AmaWaterways, with eight ships on the Rhine, provides passengers with a swimming pool, fitness center, spa, bicycles for shore excursions and gourmet dining. Many of its Rhine trips are designated as special wine cruises. Avalon Waterways, with the newest river fleet in Europe, claims the continent’s largest staterooms. Bicycles, Nordic walking sticks and wine and beer with lunch and dinner are complimentary, as are breakfasts delivered to your stateroom.

FIRE SAIL
On five special festive nights each year, massive fireworks displays and convoys of lighted ships cast a special light on the Rhine’s castles and crags.

In 2020 these annual Rhine in Flames festivals will launch May 2 in Bonn, July 4 in Bingen and Rüdesheim, and Aug. 8 in the Spay-Koblenz region.

Rhine in Flames concludes with two brilliant flare-ups, the first Sept. 12 in Oberwesel, where the fireworks are synchronized to music, and the last, Sept. 19, in the sister towns of Sankt Goar and Sankt Goarshausen, where pyrotechnics illuminate the castles Katz (cat) and Maus (mouse) during the annual wine festivals.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Feature
Feb 25, 2020

Asheville Most Pet-Friendly U.S. City, According to Upgraded Points

According to a recent study from Upgraded Points, pet friendliness is not created equally throughout 50 of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States.

Athens: A city that charms its guests and stirs their emotions

The city took its name from Athena, goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and protector of the city. The financial, political and administrative center of the country and an all-powerful city-state in antiquity, Athens is a major center of culture. A visit to the first-ever museum dedicated to Byzantium, a stroll around the National Garden and a trip to the Olympeion archaeological site will take you back through time.

Feature
Feb 25, 2020

California’s Mineta San Jose International Airport Expansion Must Pass Environmental Review

Expansion plans involving a new 14-gate concourse at Mineta San Jose International Airport in California must clear environmental review before moving forward.

News
Feb 25, 2020

Hyatt Regency Property Opens in Barcelona, Spain

Hyatt Regency Barcelona Tower opened following full renovations to its 280 guestrooms and public spaces. The property is the second Hyatt Regency in Spain. The hotel sits in a Barcelona skyline landmark, a 29-story tower topped with a glass dome that provides travelers with 360-degree views and an unparalleled dining experience.

Earn and Redeem with oneworld

oneworld is an alliance of 13 world-leading airlines committed to providing the highest level of service and connecting you to more than 1,100 destinations around the world.

eFlyer Reviews
Feb 25, 2020

The Osaka Excel Tokyu Hotel Review

Opened this past November, Osaka Excel Tokyu Hotel rethinks the classic Japanese business hotel format in a delightful way. While the basic design concept is rooted in generations-old Japanese aesthetics, its wow factor comes from the interior designers’ approach of filtering them through a kaleidoscope. This effect is accomplished with ornate hexagonal lamps, carpeting with geometric shape motifs and pops of happy gold and blue hues. The lobby adds to that with a whimsical, but sophisticated mix of artwork and decorative ornaments, with a color palette and ornamentation that extends to 364 private rooms and suites throughout 17 floors.

eFlyer Lead
Feb 25, 2020

Global Airline Traffic Projected to Decline for First Time Since 2003 Due to Coronavirus

The coronavirus continues to reign terror on the travel industry as a whole, especially with a focus on China and Asia-Pacific traffic. A new forecast from the International Air Transport Association predicts the first drop in global air traffic since 2003.

Goway Offers Travelers Journey of a Lifetime

Since 1970, Goway Travel has been committed to providing customized travel experiences for world travelers. Few things are better evidence of this commitment than being awarded the 2019 Trazees award for Favorite Tour Operator. Goway Travel heartily thanks the readers of Trazee Travel for this honor and for their confidence in Goway’s work in creating travel memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Daily
Feb 25, 2020

Reconnect with Nature at New Riviera Maya Resort Palmaïa, The House of AïA

Reconnect with nature and step outside your comfort zone at Palmaïa, The House of AïA. The new Riviera Maya resort focuses on inner exploration and a respect for nature, offering visitors an array of experiences promoting self-discovery and spiritual wellness.