Are you ready to embark on a river cruising voyage filled with new adventures and exploration? With Avalon Waterways’ Active & Discovery cruise along the Moselle you have plenty of options for discovering hidden gems and taking in the breathtaking views (hint: there’s lots of castles!) while indulging in fun activities for whatever activity fitness level you are feeling that day.
From strolling through vineyards to visiting historical landmarks to bicycling alongside the boat to the next port, every moment is a chance to explore a new destination and all the opportunities that river cruising offers.
I took the Active & Discovery on the Moselle river cruise, starting in Remich, Luxembourg and ending in Frankfurt, Germany. Here’s a rundown of my experience and what you can expect:
What to Expect on Avalon Waterways Active & Discovery on the Moselle Cruise
Day 1 & 2: Remich, Luxembourg
We started our Moselle River Cruise in the town of Remich, known as the Pearl of the Moselle. Its picturesque location on the Moselle River captivates visitors (and me!) with its vineyard-dotted charm and colorful houses.
Visiting these vineyards is a popular day trip from Luxembourg City, which is under an hour by public transport, but also a fun thing to do prior to embarkation. Two popular ones are Caves St Martin SA and Benoit & Claude Viticulteurs, both will give you a taste of the town’s wine-making history and culture.
For history enthusiasts, the Parish Church, dating back to the early 19th century, is a must-see, boasting a remarkable 12th-century tower. And to capture mesmerizing views of the meandering Moselle River, pass through the historical Porte Saint-Nicolas gate and discover Esplanade Remich Park, home to a fountain dedicated to Bacchus, the Roman god of wine.
- Schengen: History-Making in Luxembourg
Our first excursion of the river cruise was to Schengen, which was a unique opportunity to delve into the historical significance of the Schengen agreement and learn the impact it has had on European integration and borderless travel of 37 countries involved.
- Highlights of Ancient Trier
We got to squeeze in one more included excursion on this day, and it was a good one— a night tour of the ancient city of Trier. Located in southwestern Germany near the borders of Luxembourg and France, Trier has a rich history that spans over two millennia (16 BC), making it one of the country’s oldest cities.
The group of us began at the impressive Porta Nigra, an enduring Roman city gate. Next was a chance to admire the architectural blend of Trier Cathedral and its revered Holy Robe. There were a handful of stops in between, but the finale was marveling at the grandeur of the Konstantin-Basilika (Roman Imperial Throne Room) with its intricate mosaics.
Day 3: Bernkastel, Germany
Bernkastel, Germany, is a charming town in the Moselle Valley that transports visitors to a bygone era. Its medieval marketplace buzzes with activity, featuring cute shops, traditional half-timbered houses, and local culinary treats.
The St. Nikolaus-Hospital (Cusanusstift), a 15th-century Gothic masterpiece, houses an impressive library (which contains the only known copy of Proverbia Grecorum, a collection of ancient Latin proverbs) and a wine museum. As a testament to its fortified past, the Graach Gate stands tall, exuding medieval grandeur and serving as a reminder of Bernkastel’s rich historical heritage.
- Walking and Wines in Bernkastel
This fun excursion combined a leisurely walk through the historic town of Bernkastel and tasting some delicious wines from the region. We strolled through the medieval streets adorned with half-timbered houses, and took in the picturesque beauty of the Moselle River.
A highlight of this tour was a visit to the renowned Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler winery, where we sampled some fine wines (mostly Rieslings!) while learning about the region’s winemaking heritage in one of their ‘tasting rooms’ such as their underground cellar, chapel, and baroque saloon.
For a more active excursion, you can opt for a moderate hike to the Landshut Castle (it’s an included one too!). This castle ruins is one of the oldest structures in the Moselle, perched upon the remnants of a fort that dates back to the 4th or 5th century. We opted for the Walking and Wines in Bernkastel tour, but had plenty of time after to navigate our way to Landshut Castle on our own.
Day 4: Cochem, Germany
The small port town of Cochem is situated in the western region of Germany and is home to just under 5,000 people. Though it is small in size, it is large in history, old world charm and things to do, like visiting it’s gorgeous hilltop castle—Reichsburg.
Besides the castle, a visit to the Pinnerkreuz lookout point is a must-do. Reachable by chairlift, it offers panoramic views of Cochem and its surroundings. You can delve into Cochem’s intriguing history by exploring the Bundesbank Bunker, an underground facility once used by the German Federal Bank. And don’t miss the Senfmuehle, the historic Mustard Mill, where you can indulge in the flavors of traditional mustard and learn about its production.
- Cochem with Reichsburg Castle Visit
The banks of the Moselle River are lined with picturesque castles (cruising along it with Avalon Waterways confirmed this!), but possibly none more impressive than Reichburg Castle which is perched on a hilltop in Cochem.
With Avalon Waterways Active & Discovery river cruises there are excursions for all levels of adventurers at every port. And though I could have biked or hiked in Cochem, there was no way I was gonna miss their classic tour of the castle (which is an included option when you book this cruise).
It started with a quick tour of the city winding through the cobbled streets and seeing the cool half-timbered houses. Then we took shuttles to this fairytale-like fortress that offers breathtaking panoramas of the Moselle Valley.
Though the valley views are amazing, the interior of Reichsburg isn’t too shabby either! The hour or so long tour took us inside the grand halls and well-preserved chambers.
There was plenty of port time after the excursion to enjoy the city. I recommend going to this wine bar and German restaurant:
- Alte Gutsschänke Wine Bar: It’s a tiny underground wine bar with great German wine. Plus, we only paid 7 euros for two glasses of red (that’s hard to do in California!).
- Zom Stüffje: A super busy and traditional German restaurant. Order the Flammkuchen (it’s like a thin-crust pizza) and some of their famous Wiener Schnitzel. Both were delicious.
Day 5: Koblenz, Germany
Koblenz is a charming city nestled where the Rhine and Moselle Rivers meet in Germany, and holds a significant place in the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. With its picturesque landscapes and fascinating history, it offers a great mix of activities for every traveler—even without an excursion, there’s plenty to do in the city!
You can explore the historic heart at the Deutsches Eck, and take in the breathtaking views from the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, accessible by a scenic cable car ride. Or wander through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, adorned with charming squares and colorful buildings, and immerse yourself in the rich heritage of the city.
History buffs will be thrilled to visit the impressive Stolzenfels Castle, a stunning example of Romantic Rhine architecture. The Electoral Palace, another architectural gem, showcases the city’s royal past and is a treat for the eyes.
- Highlights of Koblenz
I love overview tours of a city, especially if I am only there for a short time—it’s a great way to see a lot and determine if you want to go back in the future. That’s why I signed up for the Highlights of Koblenz tour when Avalon Waterways ported for a few hours in the German city on the Rhine river. It was short, but sweet and covered A LOT of ground.
Here are a few of my favorite stops:
- The Cable Car: This aerial tramway seamlessly connects the banks of the Rhine River to the elevated hill plateau where the historic Ehrenbreitstein Fortress stands. To begin your cable car adventure, you can purchase tickets at the valley station located near the riverside, easily accessible from the heart of Koblenz. We recommend the combination ticket as it will also give you access to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress once you get to the top.
- Kaiser Wilhelm Monument: Sitting along the German Corner (Deutsches Eck), this commanding equestrian statue (it is over 46 feet tall!) commemorates Kaiser Wilhelm I, the inaugural German Emperor who played a pivotal role in the unification of Germany.
- Berlin Wall: After the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, different institutions around the world (one of which is Koblenz) received sections of the wall. You can see three pieces of it on permanent display next to the Kaiser Wilhelm Monument as a memorial to Germany’s division.
- Thumb Sculpture: The 6-foot Thumb at the Ludwig Museum is a selfie must. Seemingly poised in an ‘okay’ position towards the sky, this artfully enlarged mold from its late creator’s thumb (Cesar Baldaccini) embodies human determination, innovation, and a visual ode to limitless possibilities.
- Basilica of St. Castor: The Basilica of St. Castor, with its origins dating back to the 9th century, proudly holds the distinction of being the oldest church in Koblenz. Its venerable history is interwoven with the annals of the city, as it stands on the site of an earlier Roman fort.
- Schangel Fountain: The fountain statue is a prankster who spits at tourists every couple minutes.
Day 6: Rüdesheim–Eltville, Germany
Rüdesheim am Rhein is a charming town renowned for its winemaking heritage, particularly its delicious Riesling wines. The heart of the town, Drosselgasse, is the cutest lane adorned with an array of shops, taverns, and restaurants. Just a stone’s throw away, the Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet houses a fascinating collection of automated musical instruments, while the medieval Brömserburg Castle proudly hosts the Rheingau Wine Museum, showcasing a diverse array of wine-related artifacts spanning from ancient times to the present.
While there you can also do things like dive into the dark and intriguing past at Rudesheim’s Mittelalterliches Foltermuseum, the “Medieval Torture Museum,” where visitors can explore the unsettling practices of the past through a collection of over 120 historical torture artifacts. On a much lighter note, a stroll through Eltville’s Burgstrasse is a delightful experience, with its enchanting timber-frame houses that line the narrow streets.
- Holy Wines in Rüdesheim: Visit to Hildegard Abbey
This Rüdesheim excursion offered a perfect blend of spirituality and wine culture, leaving you with an appreciation for Rüdesheim’s holy wines and the traditions they embody. During this tour we were immersed in the serene atmosphere of this historic Hildegard Abbey, named after the renowned mystic Hildegard of Bingen.
This is the second abbey founded by St. Hildegard during the early 12th century, and throughout its existence, it has endured periods of adversity, including the Thirty Years War and World War II. Today, it is part of the Rhine Gorge World Heritage Site.
We learned about the fascinating tradition of winemaking and the spiritual significance of the vineyards surrounding the abbey. Year-round, guided by the master winemaker, the nuns and volunteers at the Abbey of St. Hildegard nurture grapevines with devotion. From planting to delicate pruning, they tend to each vine, harvest at peak ripeness, and create exquisite wines using both tradition and modern expertise in the ancient cellars, reflecting the abbey’s deep connection to nature and craftsmanship.
We were lucky enough to be able to taste some of this wine at the small wine section in the back of the abbey’s retail shop—and it was actually poured by a resident nun!
Afterwards, we walked back into town through the vineyards and tasted three different Adolf Storzel wines along the way.
Day 7: Frankfurt, Germany
Last but not least on this Avalon River Cruise was Frankfurt, a bustling metropolis in the heart of Europe that seamlessly blends rich history with modernity.
Of course, you can spend days exploring the city, but don’t miss the iconic Romer, a collection of nine houses forming the Frankfurt city hall (Rathaus). It stands as a symbol of the city’s medieval heritage. The Old Opera House (Alte Oper) is a Frankfurt highlight with its grand architecture and world-class performances, such as a captivating orchestral rendition of classic pieces by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. For a glimpse into the city’s recent past, the New Frankfurt Old Town presents a meticulously reconstructed quarter, capturing the essence of pre-war Frankfurt.
- Elvis Tour in Bad Nauheim
The most unexpected excursion on our trip was the Elvis Tour in Bad Nauheim, a city about 45-minutes from Frankfurt. While the town’s renowned therapeutic salt springs remain its highlight, it gained additional fame as the location where Elvis Presley resided throughout his two-year military service (although he was stationed at Ray Barracks near the neighboring town of Friedberg.)
We explored a multitude of iconic locations associated with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, like Villa Grunewald, where Elvis rented the entire second floor during a family visit, including the renowned Elvis Room No. 10.
Right next to the villa, you’ll discover the striking Elvis Stele, a monument paying tribute to the music legend. Stroll along the charming streets to the Castle Gate, a much sought-after photo spot that served as the backdrop for the record cover of “A Big Hunk O’ Love.” As you continue your tour, you’ll encounter many more significant sites, such as Goethestrasse 14, where Elvis resided until the end of his service.
One of my favorite things was the Elvis stoplight, where the red light had him in a dance move and the green one was holding a guitar.
About Avalon Waterways
Avalon Waterways is a leading river cruise company that offers unparalleled travel experiences along the world’s most scenic waterways. Some of these include the Danube River, which winds through the heart of Europe, and the massive Mekong Delta in Vietnam. The newest addition to their river portfolio, the Douro in Portugal, offers a fresh opportunity to explore this destination in Avalon style.
With a focus on luxury, comfort, and immersive exploration, Avalon’s cruises provide travelers with unforgettable journeys filled with cultural discoveries and breathtaking landscapes.
Active & Discovery River Cruises
Setting themselves apart from traditional cruises, Avalon’s Active & Discovery river cruises offer a more engaging and personalized European adventure. Whether you’re looking for something adventurous like visiting the Lava Domes of Mendig to a quiet cruise along the picturesque Moselle River, these cruises go beyond the typical tourist destinations, allowing guests to actively participate in various activities and excursions that showcase the authentic essence of each location.
The Food/Dining Options
Avalon takes pride in offering exceptional dining experiences onboard, with a focus on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and regional dishes that reflect the destinations visited along the river route.
Breakfast was buffet-style with a variety of options, including hot and cold dishes, fresh fruits, pastries, and beverages. Plus, a handful of menu items you could order from the kitchen. My go-to was Greek yogurt with granola, marinated apricots, granola and chia. Though for a couple of days I splurged on a strawberry waffle and yummy charcuterie.
Lunch often features a mix of buffet and à la carte selections, with light and satisfying options available. A favorite of mine was the day they featured the foods of Germany. With things like Kartoffelstampf (German crushed potatoes) and Apfelstrudel (German apple strudel) it was hard to control myself, and I put one of everything on my plate!
Dinnertime is a highlight of the day, and Avalon Waterways aims to provide a fine dining experience. It started with a happy hour (where there’s a menu of included wines, beer and cocktails), followed by the port talk. Afterwards, guests can enjoy multi-course meals prepared by skilled chefs, offering a blend of international and regional cuisine. The menus may be influenced by the local specialties of the areas the cruise passes through, or just specialities of the chef.
One of my favorite dinner dishes was the Pan-fried filet of trout with cherry tomato salsa, sauteed cucumbers and steamed parsley-potatoes. But, there were so many other yummy things.
It’s worth mentioning that a 24-hour coffee machine caters to caffeine enthusiasts, and my husband took full advantage of the cappuccinos it made. I was more impressed with the BeWell water machine that made me flavored sparkling water at the drop of a hat.
The Onboard Activities
Even when you’re not on an excursion, there’s never a dull moment aboard Avalon Waterways as they offer a diverse range of activities to keep everyone engaged and entertained. Whether you’re up for friendly giant chess matches on the skydeck, rejuvenating morning yoga sessions, fun-filled corn hole games, or exciting board and card games, there’s something for every interest.
If you prefer a quieter experience, you can opt for activities like getting lost in a book at their Club Lounge Library or indulging in a cozy movie night with your significant other. The ship caters to different preferences, providing the perfect balance between exciting social interactions and peaceful moments of relaxation.
Avalon Waterways offers a range of luxurious accommodations to suit various preferences. The Avalon Deluxe Stateroom provides a comfortable and elegant retreat with modern amenities, ensuring a relaxing stay onboard.
The Panorama Suites are a highlight of Avalon’s offerings, featuring beds facing floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views. The open-air balcony adds an extra touch of luxury and allows guests to immerse themselves in the natural beauty outside.
For those seeking the ultimate indulgence, the Royal Suites provide an expansive and opulent living space with a separate seating area and enhanced amenities, promising an unforgettable journey in utmost comfort.
Panorama Suite (My Cabin)
My cabin, the Panorama Suite, was a luxurious retreat with a dreamy bed perfectly positioned to enjoy the ever-changing landscapes outside the wall-to-wall window. The open-air balcony was a personal haven for quiet reflection, and the adjustable table was versatile, serving as a breakfast nook and a comfortable workspace during the trip. Plus, it could be lowered for those times where I just wanted to take in the view!
The suite itself is quite spacious, with plenty of storage cabinets for my things, and equipped with modern conveniences like a flat-screen TV and WiFi. There’s also a mini bar stocked with a selection of refreshing beverages, allowing you to quench your thirst at any time of the day or night. And did I mention the private ensuite bathroom with a spacious shower, premium bath products, and all the necessary amenities for a refreshing and rejuvenating experience?
Embarking on the Avalon Waterways Active & Discovery River Cruise on the Moselle River is an adventure-packed voyage that will leave you with unforgettable memories. From fun excursions that take you cycling through charming towns to savoring the finest local wines during a vineyard tour, there’s never a dull moment.
Life onboard is an absolute blast, with luxurious accommodations, tasty cuisine, and engaging activities that cater to all interests. Get ready to explore hidden gems, meet new friends and see some killer landscapes! So, grab your hat, your sense of wanderlust, and your dancing shoes – it’s time to set sail and create the bucket list journey of a lifetime!