Lucerne & Zurich, On A River Cruise? 

Our hotel in Lucerne. Photo courtesy of Hotel Schweizerhof

In October, I’ll be touring Zurich and Lucerne—on a river cruise. But if you know your rivers, you’ll know that Zurich’s Limmat river is not navigable for river boats, in part because of the low bridges in Zurich’s city center. You won’t find river cruises on the Reuss river either, although the river courses through Lucerne. Yet, my Dream Cruise takes me to these Swiss cities. How? On extensions offered by AmaWaterways. 

These tour extensions are designed to be seamless continuations of river cruises along the Rhine river. Here’s how it works. When our river cruise ends in Basel, we’ll travel with our AmaWaterways cruise manager for four nights/five days to Lucerne and Zurich. We’ll step off of AmaPrima and onto a motor coach for an extension of our river cruise.

Our package includes world-class hotels, daily breakfast and guided excursions, and it’s quite a good value when you consider only the costs of the hotels alone. 

Here’s how the program plays out. We’ll spend 11 days cruising the Rhine and Moselle rivers from Amsterdam to Basel. On our last day, after breakfast on board AmaPrima in Basel, we’ll disembark the ship for a guided tour of Basel, Switzerland’s third largest city. On previous Rhine river cruises, I never saw much of Basel, having to disembark and head right to the airport or train station, so the tour introduces me to a city that I have never gotten to know.

After our tour, we’ll depart for Lucerne, a little more than an hour away. A few treats are in store for us here, including our historic hotel. AmaWaterways uses a variety of world-class hotels. We’ll be checking in to the Schweizerhof Lucerne, a five-star hotel that opened in 1845. The hotel exudes 19th-century glamor. Among those who have spent the night here are Mark Twain, Leo Tolstoy, Roger Moore and Richard Wagner. I checked the hotel’s website to learn more about our swanky digs and for pricing during our stay, which, again, is included in our AmaWaterways package: $1,149 for two nights with breakfast in a City View room. If you want a refundable rate for a Lake View room, expect to pay $1,337 for two nights with breakfast.  

My Dream Cruise group is paying $1,680 per person, or $3,360 per couple, double occupancy, so doing the math, you can see that AmaWaterways’ package provides quite a value, and the two nights in Lucerne is only a start.

In Lucerne, we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the city, where we’ll see sights such as the Fritschi Fountain. The next day, after a sumptuous breakfast at our hotel, we’ll head out to visit the iconic Lion Monument, sculpted in memory of the Swiss Guards massacred during the French Revolution. We’ll also visit the city’s medieval walls and towers, dating back to the 13th century. 

On day three, we’ll enjoy a scenic lake cruise before transferring to Zurich, about an hour away. On our included excursion to Zurich, we’ll take in the blend of the city’s historic past with its progressive future. One of the top experiences in Zurich is a visit to Old Town where we will find ourselves among the city’s medieval houses, churches and the modern Bahnhofstrasse. 

Our hotel for the next two nights will be the Schweizerhof Zurich, located opposite Zurich’s main train station. We’ll be steps away from the famed pedestrian shopping street Bahnhofstrasse and near the banks of the Limmat river. The five-star hotel has been operating since 1876, and like its sister property in Lucerne, it’s pretty swanky.. The lowest refundable rate for a standard room during the nights of our stay is $1,053 with breakfast. 

Even taking the lowest rates, a couple would pay more than $2,000 for four nights in these fine hotels. Ama’s package includes not only the hotels but also the following.

  • All hotel taxes 
  • Baggage handling at the hotel(s) 
  • Daily breakfast at hotel(s) 
  • Highlights Tour of Basel 
  • Walking tour in Lucerne 
  • Lion Monument and medieval city walls 
  • Scenic Lake Lucerne cruise (2-night package in Lucerne only) 
  • “Little Big City Tour” of Zurich 
  • English-speaking AmaWaterways host or hostess at the hotel(s) 

Ama’s four-night Swiss extension provides good value along with a seamless continuation of a river cruise that you will not want to end.