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Castles on the Rhine excursions on Uniworld

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We are leaving on a Uniworld Rhine cruise Amsterdam to Basel in June, and I am interested in hearing what are some favorite excursions people have experienced on this journey! Specific questions on the following days, as well as any input on the other days. 

 

Rudesheim: Castle Vollrads wine tasting OR hike from Rudesheim to Assmanshausen

 

Strasbourg: Strasbourg panoramic tour with cathedral and Old Town walk OR Do as the locals do Strasbourg walking tour

 

Breisach: Alsatian Village Day OR Colmar City tour

 

I have bookmarked the Marksburg Castle in Koblenz, the vinegar tasting in Speyer, biking in Boppard, and possibly the Romantic Heidelberg excursion at an extra expense (is it worth it?). 

 

Thanks for your help and guidance! I’ve learned so much from these boards! 

 

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These tours are a little different from the ones we had on our 2014 tour (full review here):

 

 

We did the Vollrads wine tasting. Nice enough. They weren't offering the hike.

 

We did a walking tour in Strasbourg, they went back on our own for the afternoon. Make sure you have a tarte flambée while you are in town. So tasty!

 

Breisach, we did the Alsatian wine villages tour. Very enjoyable. Grab a bottle to bring home. Collmar is supposed to be beautiful too, so it may be hard to choose here.

 

We did Marksburg Castle. Nice place to visit. We had some OBC through AMEX to cover the cost. Koblenz is pretty to wander around for a few hours on your own.

 

The vinegar tour was not an upcharge (extra) tour on our voyage; it was included. Is it an extra now? We didn't do it but everyone who has reported on it here seems to have really liked it. I am not familiar with the other two options that you have listed here so maybe they weren't offered on our cruise.

 

Have a great time!

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Hi travel nut.

Which cruise are you on?  We are boarding in Amsterdam on June 2nd.

We are thinking Heidelberg, the bike ride.  Colmar, Strausberg and the hike.

That's all so far.

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A great place to gather info would be acwmom and jpalbny reviews of this cruise.  This was our first river cruise and we just loved it.

 

Thanks to acwmom we went on the Vinegar excursion and I'm kicking myself that I didn't get more of the amazing vinegars produced there - it was lots of fun

 

As far as Alsatian Village or Colmar - either one would be fabulous - it's a case of I want to be in two places at one time!  We did the Alsatian villages - and we were lucky to see some nesting storks in their 600 pound nests!

 

During the entire cruise everyone seems to enjoy whatever excursion that was chosen.

 

Don't miss out on the German themed lunch on the upper deck during the Rhine river gorge sail - the hot pretzels - yum!!  Go early, there was limited seating.

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19 hours ago, jpalbny said:

These tours are a little different from the ones we had on our 2014 tour (full review here):

 

 

We did the Vollrads wine tasting. Nice enough. They weren't offering the hike.

 

We did a walking tour in Strasbourg, they went back on our own for the afternoon. Make sure you have a tarte flambée while you are in town. So tasty!

 

Breisach, we did the Alsatian wine villages tour. Very enjoyable. Grab a bottle to bring home. Collmar is supposed to be beautiful too, so it may be hard to choose here.

 

We did Marksburg Castle. Nice place to visit. We had some OBC through AMEX to cover the cost. Koblenz is pretty to wander around for a few hours on your own.

 

The vinegar tour was not an upcharge (extra) tour on our voyage; it was included. Is it an extra now? We didn't do it but everyone who has reported on it here seems to have really liked it. I am not familiar with the other two options that you have listed here so maybe they weren't offered on our cruise.

 

Have a great time!

Thanks everybody! I think the extra expense excursion is the Romantic Heidelberg. The others appear to be included.  Everywhere I read says to do the vinegar tasting! So excited for our first river cruise, and only second time to Europe! I appreciate your link to your review. It is soo helpful!

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7 hours ago, sawtooth said:

Hi travel nut.

Which cruise are you on?  We are boarding in Amsterdam on June 2nd.

We are thinking Heidelberg, the bike ride.  Colmar, Strausberg and the hike.

That's all so far.

We are boarding in Amsterdam on June 30. Thanks for your input on what you are going to do!

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, helpmesailaway said:

A great place to gather info would be acwmom and jpalbny reviews of this cruise.  This was our first river cruise and we just loved it.

 

Thanks to acwmom we went on the Vinegar excursion and I'm kicking myself that I didn't get more of the amazing vinegars produced there - it was lots of fun

 

As far as Alsatian Village or Colmar - either one would be fabulous - it's a case of I want to be in two places at one time!  We did the Alsatian villages - and we were lucky to see some nesting storks in their 600 pound nests!

 

During the entire cruise everyone seems to enjoy whatever excursion that was chosen.

 

Don't miss out on the German themed lunch on the upper deck during the Rhine river gorge sail - the hot pretzels - yum!!  Go early, there was limited seating.

Oh my...that would be awesome to see the storks! And thanks for the tip on the German lunch!

Edited by travelnut4
Misspelling

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My husband and I are not big wine drinkers, so we did the hike in Rudesheim and had a great time. For the rest, we did the Alsatian Villages, Vinegar tasting, and Heidelberg. All were worth it, as is Marksburg. Sign up for the Boppard bike ride early, as in, when you board, because there are only 20 bikes on board.

 

Here is a link to my review:

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2393825-just-back-from-the-rhine-on-uniworld-ss-antoinette/

 

Robin

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7 hours ago, acwmom said:

My husband and I are not big wine drinkers, so we did the hike in Rudesheim and had a great time. For the rest, we did the Alsatian Villages, Vinegar tasting, and Heidelberg. All were worth it, as is Marksburg. Sign up for the Boppard bike ride early, as in, when you board, because there are only 20 bikes on board.

 

Here is a link to my review:

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2393825-just-back-from-the-rhine-on-uniworld-ss-antoinette/

 

Robin

 

Love the trip reports! Enormously helpful! Thank you!

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travelnut4,

 I find this a great itinerary. As regards the excursions, here are some thoughts from me. Alsace wine villages or Colmar is a difficult choice, but as you showed delight at the thought of seeing storks, I suggest the villages tour. Even if you do not see any storks I am sure you will enjoy the road through the hills and the villages. Mind you, perhaps a stork might enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city of Colmar, you would need to enquire if there happens to be a nest somewhere there. But back to the villages. In the description of the tour it says Kaysersberg and Riquewihr. Both are lovely but touristy villages (for me Riquewihr is just "two levels under Disney" now - seeing that it has a "Stetson" shop and a Käthe Wohlfahrt shop, but that is beside the point). If you are prepared to share the places with many others then they are great. I was on a land trip and visited Riquewihr only the weekend before last, but preferred the slightly less picturesque and therefore slightly less touristy Ribeauvillé just "next door". Overlooking Ribeauvillé are the three castle ruins. Amazing setting.

 

This is Riquewihr: https://www.tourisme-alsace.com/en/229001752-Riquewihr.html

The mini-train looked nice. I did not take it due to lack of time, needed to get to another village. Make sure you sample some wine - if you drink white wine - that Alsace is known for. Gewürztraminer is cultivated in other parts of the world, I know, but the greatest area for production is Alsace: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gewürztraminer

There are local vintners both in Riquewihr and nearby that have it. Edelzwicker wine is a blend that is typical in Alsace. I have also been able to sample a great one in a restaurant - rang the vintner's bell and bought a couple of bottles...

 

If you do go to Colmar make sure you visit the museum: https://www.tourisme-alsace.com/en/269000011-Unterlinden-Museum.html

 

Have fun planning.

 

notamermaid

 

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Posted (edited)

Our first river cruise and we loved it.  We took the Rudesheim hike last June on this cruise.  It's downhill, but you still need to be in fairly good shape as it is 5 miles and is on gravel paths.  Tour guide was okay, but we had some nice views.  When you finish you will have time for a few beers and a late lunch in Rudesheim.  

 

We also took the Black Forest optional tour which we liked very much.  Includes lunch and visit to the Vogtsbauernhof (farmer village), and the cukoo clock museum/store.  Very nice scenery and some quaint towns along the way.  About 6 hours.  Tour guide was good but talked all the way back when everyone wanted to nap.

 

 

 

Edited by JerryInIL

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Posted (edited)

In 2016, I took the Uniworld Magnificent Moselle and Rhine cruise from Basel to Amsterdam, and although the itinerary was different from Castles Along the Rhine, many of the stops and excursions were the same. I also lived for several years across the river from Strasbourg and got to know it very well, along with Alsace and the upper Rhineland in Germany.  Perhaps I can offer some observations on your choice of tours.

 

Rüdesheim: If you are a wine connoisseur you will know that Schloss Vollrads is, along with Schloss Johannesburg, the Holy Grail of German wine and you will not want to miss it.  Otherwise, take the hike to Assmannshausen. You get a nice gondola ride to the huge Niederwald monument, pictures views and it’s all literally downhill from there.

 

Strasbourg:  The panoramic tour appears to be a bus tour ending at the justly famous Cathedral. I took the “Do as the Locals Do” and despite the countless times I have visited Strasbourg over the years (it’s my favourite French city) I found it very interested and managed to learn some things I hadn’t known about the city before.  This tour also ends at the Cathedral. 

 

Colmar or Alsatian Villages: I’ve been to all of these many times. As  Notamermaid mentions above, this is a difficult choice. Riquewihr and Kaysersberg are pretty little villages but over the years I have found that Riquewihr in particular has become very kitschy indeed (not yet as much as Rüdesheim) and in June it will be absolutely jammed with tourists. Colmar is a very attractive town with its canals and half-timbered houses. It is home to one of the great works of mediaeval art, the Issenheim Altarpiece which can be seen at the Unterlinden Museum. You should also be able to see storks in Colmar. I don’t think you will go wrong with either choice. On my cruise in 2016 I chose the villages, largely because I had revisited Colmar on my previous trip to Alsace. 

 

Speyer:  I chose the walking tour over the vinegar tasting and did not regret it. Speyer is a very historic city (a one time seat of the Emperor) with a magnificent cathedral. I hadn’t known Speyer very well before and enjoyed learning about it. I spent the free afternoon visiting the Technical Museum which has a marvellous collection including a Boeing 747 mounted on a tower which you can climb and even walk out on the aircraft’s wing. You are wondering about the Heidelberg tour. If you have not been to Heidelberg, I would definitely recommend that you take the tour, even at extra cost.

 

I have not been to Marksburg castle, but it is certainly worth visiting as the only castle on the Rhine that has not been destroyed at some point. I understand that parts of the paths to the summit are a bit rough but that should not deter you.

 

I hope that this is helpful in making your choice. Enjoy the cruise!

 

 

Edited by laverendrye

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Fantastic info, laverendrye! Your guidance is spot on, from everything I've experienced in this area. Admittedly much less than you...

 

I so want to go back to Alsace some day, and spend a week or more on the wine trail. I have, from my very brief time there, found it to be a great combination of France and Germany. 

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Laverendrye,

Fully agree about Riquewihr. It is still early in the year, but I already felt uncomfortable with the number of tourists and the shops catering to them. Went to Hunawihr from there. No shops and the view is unbelievable. I think river cruise companies should look into offering Selestat.

 

More on the other excursions later.

 

notamermaid

 

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Of our three Uniworld River Cruises this is still our favorite.  Here are my thoughts to add to the wonderful advice you've already received:

 

We chose the Castle Volrads and really enjoyed the history and the tastings.  It's always a tough decision when there is a hike due to the fact we love to hike but it wasn't offered on our cruise and I think I would have still chosen Volrads

 

We chose the "Do as the locals tour" in Strasbourg and again a really enjoyable tour.  We had a wonderful guide.  In the afternoon we chose to enjoy the top deck of the ship instead of shuttling back into town.  We also use the pool on this afternoon which was quite fun with the jets on to jump in front of them and let them push you to the end of the pool.  We had a warm and beautiful afternoon that day.

 

The Alsatian village day was one of our favorite days.  We did see a great many storks which really was a highlight.  They are touristy but we found them fun and probably did the most shopping for souvenirs on this excursion.

 

The Vinegar tasting was probably our single favorite event and I almost talked us out of it but due to rave reviews on CC I stuck with it.  So glad we did.

 

We used our Amex OBC for both Marksburg and Heidelberg and thouroughly enjoyed both.  Marksburg was our first castle to tour since we started traveling extensively about 6 years ago.  We have been to quite a few since and it is still our favorite.

 

In my opinion the great thing about this cruise is there really isn't a bad choice.  So you aren't going to go wrong no matter what you do and it gives you a good excuse to go back and do the things you miss(that's what I keep telling my wife).

 

We sailed in June as well and it was wonderful weather the whole trip.  Hope the same for you.  Have a great time.

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Thank you all for your great advice.  When we sail in June we will do bike riding, hike, Heidelberg, Colmar, Strasbourg and Speyer.  Will heed advice and book bike and other alternate tours upon boarding.

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I am planning my days in Amsterdam prior to the cruise. So much to do! I can’t seem to find out what time we need to be on the boat for embarkation. I’d like to go to the Van Gogh museum that morning if possible before needing to head to the boat for check in, and need to book these museum tickets in advance. What time is Uniworld check in, and what time does the boat leave that day? I know I could call Uniworld but thought I’d check with you experts first! Thanks!

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Travelnut4,

Check your itinerary , you may not be leaving until the next day.  If that is the case, you can embark any time you want.  You can  also check in as early as you want, but know you won't be able to get into your cabin until about 3 in the afternoon.  What we have done is check in at breakfast time, the crew secures our luguage and we take off for the day.  

Have a great time,

RB

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On 4/23/2019 at 8:09 PM, travelnut4 said:

I am planning my days in Amsterdam prior to the cruise. So much to do! I can’t seem to find out what time we need to be on the boat for embarkation. I’d like to go to the Van Gogh museum that morning if possible before needing to head to the boat for check in, and need to book these museum tickets in advance. What time is Uniworld check in, and what time does the boat leave that day? I know I could call Uniworld but thought I’d check with you experts first! Thanks!

 

The day-to-day itinerary indicates that the ship departs Amsterdam on the afternoon of Day One. I would plan to head for the ship first thing in the morning to check in and leave luggage there.  Get your tickets for the VanGogh for the morning as you intend, and when you check in for the ship you will be able to find out the exact departure time to know how long you have.  I wouldn't expect the ship to depart until late afternoon, but it will depend upon the timing given by the harbourmaster. The Van Gogh is not a large gallery like the Rijksmuseum, so two hours should be enough to enjoy it.

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