Footprints of War along the Elbe to Poland
Enjoy cruising past fantastic scenery and wildlife havens as you sail nearly the full length of the unspoilt Elbe, stopping in historic and culture-rich cities. Your cruise concludes with four nights in hotels in Poland, book-ending what is sure to be a poignant and emotional included visit to the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
Your holiday begins with 24 hours in the dynamic city of Hamburg, where you can look forward to an included city tour. Cruise the Elbes UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and stop in the historic towns of Wittenberge and Tangermnde before mooring for the night in Magdeburg then cruising to Dresden where another city tour and an included military museum visit await you. Youll also uncover the history of iconic Colditz Castle on an exclusive private tour before you disembarkJohannes Brahms at Bad Schandau and transfer to Wroclaw for a two-night hotel stay, via a visit to historic Ksiaz Castle. After checking out you will be transferred to Auschwitz where you will have ample time for exploration and reflection before you continue to your hotel in Krakow for the final two nights of your holiday, with a visit to Oskar Schindlers Factory included
Day 1 UK to Hamburg
Fly to Hamburg and transfer to the port where you will embark MS Johannes Brahms.
Enjoy a welcome drinks reception and dinner on board as your ship remains moored here overnight.
Day 2 Hamburg
Hamburg is a modern and dynamic city with a rich maritime heritage stemming from its bustling sea port.
Germanys second-largest city with a history dating back to Charlemagne is a vibrant home to art and culture, extensive shopping facilities, baroque buildings and waterfront vistas. This is a city with something for everyone and you can see the highlights on an included tour this morning. Your tour also includes a visit to the Dammtordamm war memorial. Originally commissioned in the 1930s by the Nazis as a tribute to soldiers who fought in World War I, it was later rededicated in memory of the soldiers who lost their lives in both World Wars. Enjoy some time at leisure after your tour. The city also has a vast network of canals crossed by more bridges than any other city in the world.
After an evening at leisure in the city, cruise towards Scharnebeck late tonight.
Day 3 Scharnebeck to Wittenberge
Arrive after breakfast and perhaps join an optional trip to the romantic city of Lneburg, a picturesque Hanseatic town, once a trade hub thanks to its lucrative salt mines. Enjoy some free time afterwards.
After lunch, enjoy an afternoon of scenic cruising through the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that encompasses the stretch of the Elbe between Lauenburg and Wittenberge.
Day 4 Wittenberge to Tangermnde
This morning is at leisure in Wittenberge, a settlement on the right bank of the river established more than 700 years ago. The town castle, built in 1669, is now the town museum, and the famous Singer Sewing Machine Company set up here in 1903.
Set sail again at lunchtime bound for Tangermnde, where youll arrive after dinner and moor for the night.
Day 5 Tangermnde to Magdeburg
Spend a morning in Tangermnde, which can lay claim to 1,000 years of history.
Join an included walking tour guided by your expert host to see the red-brick Town Hall constructed in the 1430s with a mixture of Romanesque and Gothic features and a distinctive colourful facade. St Stephens Church, completely restored after a devastating fire in 1617, is renowned for its Scherer organ built in 1624 considered one of the 10 most prominent in Europe. The town played an important role in the culmination of World War II due to its location and strategic importance of its rail and road bridge across the Elbe. The bridge was a subject of a short but fierce battle and was blown up by retreating German forces though tens of thousands of German soldiers and civilians crossed its rickety ruins before the advancing Russian forces reached the Elbes east banks.
Resume your cruise after lunch and reach Magdeburg at dinner time. Perhaps venture out for a drink or stroll this evening as you remain moored here overnight.
Day 6 Magdeburg to Wittenberg
Spend the morning in Magdeburg, one of the most historically important cities in Europe, and home to the first Holy Roman Emperor, Otto I.
He and his wife are buried in the impressive Cathedral of Saints Catherine and Maurice which dominates the skyline. Enjoy an included walking tour this morning, on which your expert host will also reveal the citys wartime importance.
Depart at lunchtime and cruise towards Wittenberg, arriving late and mooring overnight.
Day 7 Wittenberg to Torgau to Meissen
This morning go exploring in the historic home town of the preacher Martin Luther where he nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church, setting in motion the Protestant Reformation.
Perhaps learn more on an optional guided walk which visits the vast UNESCO-listed Market Square, which has a bronze statue of Luther. MS Johannes Brahms departs Wittenberg at lunchtime and cruises through the afternoon to Torgau, where you can look forward to another included walking tour, guided by your war host. It was in Torgau on April 25, 1945, that US and Soviet forces first met, essentially bisecting Germany and hastening the end of the war.
Spend the evening cruising to Meissen.
Day 8 Meissen to Dresden
Your ship arrives in Meissen overnight and this morning you can look forward to what is sure to be a highlight of your holiday, an included excursion to infamous Colditz Castle.
After the start of World War II, the castle was converted into a high security prisoner-of-war camp for Allied officers who had become escape risks and repeatedly broken out of other camps. The castles position on a rocky outcrop, above the River Mulde, made it the ideal escape proof location. Despite this, there were many escape attempts. Of these, 120 men were recaptured but, by the end of the war, 31 had succeeded in getting home. On this exclusive, private guided tour, in English, learn about the castles near-1,000-year history, visit the chapel where French captives dug a tunnel, and its entrance in a wine cellar, and visit the state-of-the-art Escape Museum.
After your visit, you will be transferred for another included excursion at Dresdens Bundeswehr Military History Museum, dedicated to the German Armed Forces and one of the countrys foremost military history museums, located in a former military arsenal. The museum focuses on the human aspects of war while also showcasing German military technology.
Return to your ship afterwards and moor here overnight.
Day 9 Dresden to Bad Schandau
This morning you can discover the restored city of Dresden on an included city tour, guided by the war expert.
Dresden has a long history as the residence of the electors and kings of Saxony. The city was known as the jewel box because of the rich blend of baroque and rococo buildings in the centre. Sadly many of them were destroyed during the heavy bombing raids of World War II. Since the reunification of Germany in the early 1990s, the city has seen a great amount of restoration, regaining much of its former glory. Highlights include Zwinger Palace, Semper Opera House, the Royal Palace and the rebuilt Frauenkirche on Neumarkt Square.
Your ship continues to Bad Schandau this afternoon, arriving before dinner.
Day 10 Bad Schandau to Wroclaw
Disembark your ship after breakfast and begin your transfer to Wroclaw.
On the way you will stop for an included visit and guided tour of Ksiaz Castle. The Castle was seized by the Nazis during World War II and work began to turn it into a headquarters for Adolf Hitler, with tunnels and chambers drilled into the rock under the castle. Legend has it a train full of gold remains hidden in one of the tunnels. Enjoy touring the castle and its museum. The grounds are designated a nature park.
Later continue to Wroclaw where you will check in for a two-night stay at the locally rated 4-starNovotel Wroclaw Centrum Hotel, with all breakfasts and dinner included on your first night. Due to the citys central location in the Silesian lowlands it has been claimed by many different nations, resulting in it becoming a rich multi-cultural area with varied architectural styles.
Day 11 Wroclaw
This morning you can look forward to an included tour of the city, with the rest of the day spent at leisure.
The oldest part of the city is Ostrow Tumski which was once an island in the Oder River before being linked to Wroclaw by bridges. Across Tumski bridge youll see the Gothic cathedral and baroque architecture of the ancient university. Perhaps take a stroll to the market square to do a bit of souvenir shopping or to enjoy the beautiful Gothic architecture of Ratusz, the town hall. Maybe go in search of one of the citys fabled beer cellars or, if you like, take to the water for a cruise. You could also visit the Raclawice Panorama a huge painting displayed in the round and depicting the famous Battle of Raclawice, a heroic attempt to defend Polish independence in 1794.
Day 12 Wroclaw to Krakow
Check out after breakfast before departing Wroclaw for Krakow, with an included visit to Auschwitz on the way.
Over one-million victims were killed here during World War II. Many of the camps buildings have remained unchanged, and serve as a poignant reminder of one of the darkest periods of 20th-century history. Your visit is sure to be sobering, but one you will not soon forget.
Afterwards continue your journey to Krakow where you will spend the next two nights staying at the locally rated 4-starGalaxy Hotelwith breakfasts and dinner on your first night included.
Day 13 Krakow
Today enjoy an included city tour of Kazimierz the citys Jewish quarter.
The area lies south of the Old Town and was the centre of Jewish life in the city for some 500 years before it was destroyed by the Nazis in World War II. Enjoy a tour of the district, visit the Ghetto established by the Germans in 1941 and learn how Kazimierz was revived in the 1990s to become a bustling and bohemian area full of bars, cafes and art galleries, as well as historic sites and synagogues. Much of its rebirth is attributed to Steven Spielberg, whose iconic film Schindlers List brought the area worldwide exposure. Your tour will include a visit to the Oskar Schindler factory to learn more about the Nazi war profiteer who risked his life to save over a thousand Jews during the war the events were depicted in Spielbergs multi award-winning film.
This afternoon is at leisure to explore Krakow, the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland, with heritage dating back to the 7th century. It was Royal Capital of Poland until 1596 and is considered one of Europes most beautiful cities, with an old town which has been deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Look forward to discovering a chronology of historic European architectural styles including Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau. A particular highlight is the Gothic altarpiece at St Marys Basilica which is said to be the largest on Earth. Also in the stately Main Market Square is the 16th-century Renaissance Cloth Hall, which harks back to the citys illustrious past while the Renaissance-Gothic Wawel Castle is UNESCO-listed and well worth a visit.
Day 14 Krakow-UK
Check out after breakfast and transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.