Rhine River Cruise Q & A

Q. What class of hotels are we staying in during the Crossroads Initiative Pilgrimage to Switzerland and the Rhine?

A.  For most nights on the main tour, we’ll be staying aboard the Amadeus Queen, an elegant river cruise vessel where all food and drink, including alcoholic beverages, are included in the tour price.  For the optional Swiss pre-tour and for the first night of the main tour, we stay in deluxe, superior, first-class hotels in Zurich and Lucerne.

For names of the actual hotels we will be staying in on nights when we are not aboard the ship,  call Jane at Select International Tours 800-842-4842 or email her your query Jane@select-intl.com

Q. What flights will we be taking?

A.  Our tour company, Select International, has arranged group rates from New York and Dallas along with several different US gateway airports to Zurich with a return from Amsterdam.  The basic tour prices are figured on coach airfare from New York.  For flights from Dallas, add $200.  For pricing from other US gateway airports as well as for airlines and flight numbers, call Jane Allison at 800-842-4842 or email her jane@select-intl.com.  Select International is very accommodating in helping you upgrade, if you wish, to premium economy or business class based on availability.   If you don’t live near one of the gateway cities for which a group rate has been negotiated, Select International will be happy to help you arrange flights that will be convenient and economical for you.

Q. What will our guides be like on this Tour of Switzerland and the Rhineland?

A.  A tour of holy and historical places is only as good as your guide.   Many local guides leave much to be desired in terms of their knowledge, their ability to comment on the spiritual significance of a particular site for Christians, and their command of English.  Marcellino D’Ambrosio (aka “Dr. Italy”) has twin academic specialties that make him an extraordinary guide to Catholic Europe—he is an expert in secular European history and culture on the one hand, and in theology and Church history, including the writings of Hildegard of Bingen and Edith Stein, on the other.  Furthermore, his commentary, however informative, is always understandable and spiritually uplifting.  He will be assisted by local German, French and Dutch-speaking guides as well.  We carefully look for local guides who are knowledgeable but also spiritual.  Their English is very good and clear.  It has taken us years to identify Catholic guides of this caliber — of the thousands of local guides available for tours, we select the cream of the crop.

Q. Will this Rhine River Cruise be a tour or a spiritual pilgrimage?

A.  Both.  Though we will learn about the culture and cuisine of the places we are visiting, our focus will be on the saints and the Catholic history of the region, including how the Catholic Church built Western civilization with a special focus on the contribution of famous monasteries and convents.  We will have wonderful times of prayer, liturgy & music daily, with Mass in one of the chapels or cathedrals that we visit each day!   Each person who wishes will have the opportunity to serve as a lector in one of our special Masses.  If you are a properly authorized Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, there may be an opportunity to serve in that capacity as well.  But the information and insight you will get into the places we visit and the saints associated with them will be extraordinary.

Q. Who is arranging all the practicalities of the tour?

A.  Select International Tours is our US Tour company and they are available Monday – Friday to assist you.  They are a Catholic company that tithes with a special concern to support the Christian community in the Holy Land.  We have a dedicated tour manager for our pilgrimages – Jane Allison jane@select-intl.com 800-842-4842.   On the ground in Europe, Select International will be assisted by a European  company that knows the ins and outs of countries we are visiting.  Should any problem arise, we don’t need to call the States for help.  The local tour office will be in constant touch with us.

Q. Can I take your Rhine River Cruise to Switzerland, France, Germany and Holland but arrange for my own air transportation? I’d like to use Frequent flyer miles.

A.  Absolutely.  The price for the land only package is listed on the itinerary pages for the Pilgrimage. But remember, you’ll have to arrange for your own transfers from airport (Warsaw) to hotel (Zurich) and from disembarkation to the airport (Amsterdam).  Our tour company can help you with this.  Email Jane@select-intl.com

Q. What is the weather like in Switzerland and on the Rhine in late May and early June?

A. Generally, temperatures on our trip will fluctuate with altitude.  Be prepared to dress warmly in Switzerland, particularly for those who are on the pre-tour since we will ascend the heights of the Alps.  On board the boat, you can dress for spring, but an early June heat wave can happen.  It would be best to be prepared for both early and late spring weather with something that would be comfortable in mid-day June heat while we tour the Rhineland.  Don’t worry about formal attire, even aboard the boat.  We will not have any formal dinners.  Nice casual attire is all you need.  If you register for the tour, our tour company will provide you with tips for what clothing to bring a month or so before departure.

Q. Is much walking required?

A. Generally much less than on other tours that we’ve organized, such as to the Vatican or Holy Land, for example.  Most of the time, our bus or ship gets quite close to the sites we are visiting.   People with canes and needing some assistance will do fine on this tour but we regret that those requiring wheelchairs cannot be accommodated.  If you are in doubt whether your state of health will allow you to enjoy this tour, call Jane at Select International 1-800-842-4842 and talk it over with her.  Personnel from Select International have sailed on this ship and visited all the sites.  They have intimate knowledge of the itinerary, and will give you candid advice.

Q. Tell me more about the ship that will be our home for seven nights.

A.  The Amadeus Queen sails the Danube, Rhine and Main rivers.  This beautiful vessel follows the award-winning model of the Amadeus Silver ships but offers even further innovative developments.  It is known for its generous public areas and spacious cabins: 12 large suites impress with an outdoor balcony and a cozy reading corner while the 69 standard cabins feature panoramic window fronts which can be automatically lowered and luxurious bathrooms.  A new on-board highlight is the indoor pool, the roof of which can be opened in fine weather.  In the evening, this area may be used for informative talks and functions.  The ship’s exclusive “River Terrace” open-air lounge is in the bow, and its specially designed glazing provides an incomparable view of the passing riverside scenery while simultaneously providing protections against wind and rain.

Q. What sort of reading should we do to prepare for this trip?

A.  There are many great resources that would help you prepare yourself to get the most out of the trip.  One of the many lives of Edith Stein, Hildegard of Bingen or St. Albert the Great would be an excellent choice.  Thomas Wood’s book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization or Thomas Cahill’s book How the Irish Saved Civilization would be great reads as well.  If you register for this tour, we will send you more specific ideas for background reading or watching several months before departure.

Q. Will daily Mass and Confessions be available on this pilgrimage?

A. Yes! Our group will have Mass daily in some of the most special and moving places in Europe.  Since we will have several priests traveling with us, confession and the Sacrament of the Sick will also be available for our pilgrims.

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