Give and get matched this Giving Tuesday.

Cruise the Heart of Europe

Trip Highlights

Celebrated in art and song, Europe’s great rivers carved borders, created trade routes, and cultivated traditions and cultures that live on today. Enjoy an intimate look at five distinct countries and appreciate Europe from a wider lens on this expertly crafted journey. Cruise the charming canals of Amsterdam and navigate the mighty Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. Explore great cities, including Amsterdam, Budapest, Cologne, Passau and Vienna and the charming towns of Koblenz, Melk and Miltenberg. Marvel at the beauty of the Middle Rhine and Wachau Valley. Personalize your experience in eight ports with a choice of included shore excursions that range from cycling adventures to museum and culinary tours, and learn from local experts who shed light on destinations they know and love. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure includes 14 nights aboard an exclusively chartered first-class river cruiser, all meals and wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner. No single supplement!

Exclusive departure: This departure is considered exclusive. The participants are U-M travelers, consisting of alumni, family, and friends.


Day 1 – Depart Gateway City

We depart for Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Day 2 – Arrive in Amsterdam | Embark Ship

Arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Transfer to the pier and embark onto the MS Amadeus Star.

Learn about the history of the Canals of Amsterdam during a guided cruise with a local expert.

Day 3 – Amsterdam | Waterland

Choose one of the follow excursions:

1) Rijksmuseum 

Join an audio tour of Rijksmuseum, home to masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer and other renowned artists. After the tour, enjoy free time to explore the museum on your own, linger i front of your favorite paintings or maybe stop for refreshments in the museum’s café.

2) Bicycle Ride – Waterland

Enjoy a guided bike tour of scenic Waterland, an iconic wetland north of Amsterdam that is isomposed of nine villages and boasts stunning views as well as hundreds of official monuments. Also pass through the towns of Zunderdorp, Ransdorp, and Durgerdam. Enjoy a stop for a pastry and coffee along the way.

3) Canal District Walking Tour – Herengracht

Take a closer look at Amsterdam’s canals during a walking tour of the Herengracht. The city’s canals have a history that spans more than 400 years and form an integral part of Amsterdam’s heritage. Finish at the Museum of the Canals.

Return to the ship for lunch..

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure aboard the ship and begin your journey to Cologne, Germany.

Join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Reception and Dinner.

Day 4 – Cologne, Germany

An age-old German tradition awaits you on the sun deck this morning. Sip a beer and enjoy a snack of pretzels and sausages, which you can try with a variety of mustards.

Cologne Walking Tour and Cathedral 

Tour the medieval quarter, and visit Kölner Dom, the famous 12th-century cathedral. The church was badly damaged by bomb blasts during World War II, but it was one of the few structures in Cologne that survived.

Day 5 – Koblenz, Germany

Enjoy a walk through Koblenz this morning. More than 2,000 years ago, the Romans established a settlement at the confluence of the Mosel and Rhine rivers. Today, the beautiful town of Koblenz occupies that same strategic location. See the Town Hall; the medieval Liebfrauenkirche, the Church of Our Lady; the Alte Burg, the Old Castle; the Altes Kaufhaus, the Old Merchants’ Hall; and the Deutsches Eck, the German Corner, where the Rhine and Mosel Rivers meet.

Spend the rest of the day cruising through one of the most gorgeous areas of Germany. Make your way through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a particularly scenic stretch of the river. See the famous Loreley Rock and other inspiring views of castles and vineyards along the steep hills.

Day 6 – Miltenberg, Germany

Enjoy a walking tour of this medieval city, which is home to a 13th-century castle that presides over the town. See local shops and half-timbered houses along its main street, as well as a 16th-century fountain. See the Town Hall and the oldest inn in Germany. Visit St. Kilian Kellerei, a wine shop that sits over a 15th-century vaulted ice cellar. Today, ice is no longer stored there, but it is a charming spot to enjoy a tasting of Franconian brandies.

Day 7 – Würzburg, Germany

Choose on of the following excursions:

1) Würzberg Residence & City Walk

See one of Europe’s finest baroque palaces, followed by a walk to see highlights of the historic city center.

2) The Romantic Road

Witness whimsical villages steeped in medieval charm while traveling along Germany’s Romantic Road.

Enjoy some free time at leisure in Würzburg.

Day 8 – Bamberg, Germany

Choose one of the following excursions:

1) Walking Tour

During a guided walking tour of Bamberg, wander under the grand rococo archway of the Obere Brücke and enjoy the view of the red-roofed fishermen’s houses and baroque mansions that highlight this fairy-tale town.

2) Culinary Delights

Enjoy a culinary tour of Bamberg, where Franconian and Bavarian influences are evident. Visit a local bakery, a butcher shop, a deli and a candy store. Along the way, learn about and sample specialties such as the flaky Bamberger Hörnla, the savory Bamberger Weck and the region’s famous licorice.

Day 9 – Nuremberg, Germany

Choose from one of the following excursions:

1) Nuremberg Sightseeing

See the courthouse where the World War II trials were held. Visit the city’s renowned hilltop castle courtyard, and stroll to the Hauptmarkt, an open square dominated by the Schoener Brunnen, a 14th-century Gothic fountain that is the city’s most famous attraction.

2) Documentation Center Museum

During the years leading up to World War II and through the war, Nuremberg was connected to the Nazi party. The city often played host to Nazi demonstrations, organized as a display of power, at the massive Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds. Explore the center, home to the Fascination and Terror exhibit that examines the National Socialist Party’s reign, and see the courthouse where the World War II trials were held.

3) Rural Life

Visit a family-run Franconian farm, enjoying stops in idyllic villages along the way. Upon arrival, discuss the local lifestyle and traditions with the family.

Return to the ship for lunch.

Free Time: A shuttle is available for those who wish to go back into Nuremberg to explore on their own.

Day 10 – Regensburg, Germany

Regensburg is one of the most charming towns in Germany. See the old Roman tower and gateway, 12th-century Stone Bridge, old town hall and the stunning stained-glass windows of St. Peter’s Cathedral. Visit the Palace of St. Emmeram, formerly a Benedictine monastery and royal residence of the Thurn and Taxis dynasty.

Day 11 – Passau, Germany

Nestled at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz and Inn rivers, Passau has been called “one of the most beautifully situated towns in the world.” See the many highlights of this delightful village, including the medieval Veste Oberhaus, Rathaus, Niedernburg Abbey and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Later, see Holy Cross Church. Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica, which is the home of the world’s largest cathedral organ.

Day 12 – Melk, Austria | Dürnstein

Visit Melk’s Benedictine abbey, an architectural jewel with impressive interiors. The baroque building dates from 1736, and an amazing view of the mighty Danube awaits at the abbey’s terrace. After the tour, walk through the town back to the ship or take the motor coach.

This afternoon, enjoy daytime sailing through the picturesque Wachau Valley, singled out for the structured development of architecture, city planning and agriculture here since prehistoric times. Admire the historic towns, villages, monasteries and castles along the way.

Choose one of the following excursions:

1) Dürnstein Walking Tour

Take a stroll through Dürnstein, where King Richard the Lionheart of England was held captive during the Crusades. It is considered one of the most beautiful towns in the Wachau Valley. Tour baroque architecture, pass by gorgeous scenery, see vineyards that produce award-winning wine and visit the magnificent Stiftskirche, known for its blue tower.

2) Wachau Cycling

Considered one of the most beautiful towns in the Wachau Valley, Dürnstein offers an ideal setting for a bike ride. During this two-hour adventure, explore parts of the 745-mile (1,200-kilometer) Danube Bicycle Trail, which runs from Germany to Hungary. Along the way, see quaint villages set against the Danube and lush vineyards of the Wachau Valley with an expert guide. Enjoy a snack stop along the way.

3) Wachau Winery

Stop in at a winery for a tour and tasting of flavorful Wachau Valley wines.

Day 13 – Vienna, Austria

Choose one of the following excursions:

1) Imperial Vienna

Explore the Imperial Apartments of Hofburg Palace and admire their sumptuous appointments, then drive along the Ringstrasse, one of the most magnificent boulevards in the world. See the University, the oldest in the German-speaking countries, the Houses of Parliament, the Opera House and monuments to Johann Strauss and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

2) Art & Wine

Journey north of Vienna to nearby Klosterneuburg. Overlooking the Danube is its 12th-century monastery, home to the gilded copper Verdun Altar and a wine estate, the oldest in Austria. Explore Klosterneuburg Monastery’s impressive art collection, then visit its winding wine cellar as you learn about the craft of winemaking, then enjoy a tasting.

3) Schönbrunn Palace

Visit the beautiful Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens. This opulent royal residence was the summer home of the Habsburgs from the 18th century through the early 20th century. See the lavish State Apartments, Hall of Mirrors and manicured gardens. Marvel at the baroque architecture of the residence as well as the statues in the gardens. This magnificent estate, built at the height of the Habsburg dynasty, sits on a site of a modest hunting lodge and summer home that was destroyed by Ottoman forces in 1683. Starting from scratch, architects were able to embrace the newest trend, baroque art and architecture.

Return to the ship for lunch.

Free Time: The rest of the afternoon is at leisure. Take advantage of shuttle buses that will run between the ship and the city center throughout the afternoon and evening.

Day 14 – Bratislava, Slovakia

Choose one of the following excursions:

1) Old Town & Café

Enjoy enchanting Bratislava, a medieval town with a rich past. Marvel at St. Martin’s Cathedral, once the site of Hungarian coronations. See the Slovak National Theatre and St. Michael’s Gate, the only remaining gate of the city’s medieval fortifications. Continue to Primate’s Palace, where Hungarian archbishops spend their winters. Then, visit an impressive café filled with art for a pastry and coffee.

2) Old Town & Music

Once the stage for Mozart, Beethoven, Hummel and more, Bratislava has a storied musical history. Explore Old Town, focusing on the venues associated with these renowned composers, then enjoy a performance by a talented young musician.

3) Castle & Beer Tasting

Discover Pressburg, as Bratislava once was called. See the imposing Bratislava Castle, from which you can view Austria and Hungary on a clear day. Once the royal residence, the castle now serves as the venue for the Slovak Parliament. Afterward, tour Old Town, filled with charm and impressive architecture, then experience the region’s rich brewing tradition with a visit to a local pub for a tasting of Slovak beers.

Return to the ship for lunch, followed by free time to enjoy Bratislava at your leisure.

Tonight, celebrate your exciting journey with a special Farewell Reception and Dinner on board.

Day 15 – Budapest, Hungary

Choose one of the following excursions:

1) Budapest

This capital was once two cities — Buda and Pest — on opposite sides of the Danube, which flows through the center of the visually spectacular and united city. See Heroes’ Square, the Opera House and the Gothic-style Parliament Building. Enjoy stunning panoramic views from Fisherman’s Bastion.

2) Living Local

Take a guided tour of Budapest’s bustling Great Market Hall, built in the 19th century. Rain or shine, peruse the food and craft stalls that span three floors of this historic structure. Continue to a local coffee house to learn how pastry chefs craft the flakiest, tastiest strudels. Enjoy a piece of strudel with coffee or tea and a sampling of palinka, an Eastern European schnapps.

3) Budapest’s Jewish Quarter

Enjoy exploring Budapest’s Jewish Quarter today. Begin with a visit to the 19th-century Great Synagogue, the largest in Europe and home to the Emanuel Tree Holocaust memorial. Continue to the Holocaust Memorial Center, which occupies the renovated Pava Street Synagogue. Take a tour of this poignant memorial before witnessing Shoes on the Danube, a moving tribute to the Jews who were shot on the banks of the Danube by the local militia in the mid-1940s.


Tonight, the ship sails through Budapest, and you’ll be treated to the amazing sight of the city at night. See the Parliament building and the Buda Castle, which are even more spectacular when they are illuminated. Cruise under the Chain Bridge and see the reflections of the lights, which sparkle like jewels.

Day 16 – Depart for Gateway City

After breakfast, disembark the ship. Depart for Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Ship: MS Amadeus Star



Show Full Itinerary

Your Journey

Cruise the Heart of Europe

By participating in an Alumni Association of the University of Michigan travel trip, you have stated that the Alumni Association has the exclusive right to use video and other visual/audio portrayals of You or Your likeness taken during Your trip in any medium of any nature whatsoever for any purpose, including advertising or promoting the services of the trip without any compensation being paid to You. Any such portrayal or likeness shall be the exclusive property of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.

(16 days)
Starting price: $5,990
No Single Supplement
Deposit per person: $600
Type: Cruise, River Cruise, Exclusive U-M Departure, No Single Supplement

You must be an Alumni Association member to travel with us. Questions? Call Michigan Alumni Travel at 855.764.0064.

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using this site, you accept our use of cookies.