Rhine Cruise


Join our Magical Gilbert & Sullivan Cruise
up the River Rhine

7 nights - Saturday October 31st to Saturday November 7th, 2015



Join our privately chartered boat "The Elegant Lady" for a fun-filled G&S themed cruise along the River Rhine with outstanding entertainment from five Festival Favourites.  The Director of the National Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company and founder of Charles Court Opera, John Savournin, takes a welcome break from our 2015 UK tour to join Nick Sales and Sarah Helsby-Hughes from Heritage Opera. Conductor and all things musical, Andrew Nicklin will accompany on the piano, and we are pretty sure he will have a song to sing too!  And in addition a folklore show will be presented one evening by members of the crew featuring a Bulgarian wedding in authentic costumes. We also have an equally interesting and enthralling series of presentations from one of the world’s leading authorities on G&S – Ian Bradley, academic, author, journalist and broadcaster. 


The Programme

Excursions.  Three main excursions are included in the tour – to Heidelberg, Strasbourg and the Black Forest.  We have added two optional walking tours, with guides, around Koblenz and Mainz and an evening visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instruments Museum.   Tour descriptions are included in the programme below. Anyone with walking or mobility problems should select these tours with care.


Saturday 31 October

19.30 hrs




Dinner on board The Elegant Lady.  After dinner visit some of the fascinating dockside taverns or start your G&S "fix" with a viewing of The Gilbert & Sullivan Story film starring Robert Morley, Wilfred Hyde White - and of course, our good friend Tom Round.

Sunday 1 November

Following a full buffet breakfast, there is time to explore downtown Cologne or join Ian Bradley who will present his first of four 45-minute presentations entitled: Sullivan in Germany.  Drawing on his extensive research of Arthur Sullivan's letters and diaries, Ian recounts our favourite composer's extensive travels in Germany, including some of the places on our itinerary.

13.00 hrs

Lunch.  We leave Cologne en route to Koblenz arriving at 21.30 hrs.

17.00 hrs Meet your cruise hosts, Ian and Neil Smith
19.00 hrs Dinner

21.30 hrs




We meet three more celebrity guests - Nick Sales and Sarah Helsby-Hughes from Heritage Opera who will entertain us with a special programme of opera, operetta and G&S accompanied by Andrew Nicklin our maestro conductor, accompanist and entertainer.

Monday 2 November

(Koblenz Optional Walking Tour – Cost €8)  A tour guide will pick you up directly from the ship and show you the main places of interest in the 2000-year-old city including the famous "German Corner“ where the Moselle flows into the Rhine.  At this point, the equestrian statue of Kaiser Wilhelm was rebuilt.

NOTE: This walking tour is NOT suitable for any disabled guests or those with mobility problems.

Be sure to be back on the boat for when we sail at 12 noon – you certainly will not want to miss our four-hour cruise through the spectacular Rhine Gorge and the Rocks of Loreley with stunning vistas of castles perched above steep vine-covered slopes.

17.00 hrs



We plan four one-hour rehearsals of Pirates of Penzance which we will present as a farewell performance on the last night.  Everyone is welcome to come along and learn the choruses.
18.00 hrs We arrive in Rudesheim.

18.15 hrs



Meet another celebrity that we have on board.  Ken Robertson Scott, former D'Oyly Carte Stage Manager and 20 years Producer/Director for the BBC will present "The Story of the BBC - the history of Aunty!"
19.30 hrs Dinner

21.00 hrs









Optional visit to “Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Instruments Museum.”   The cost is €12 per person including a return miniature train journey to the museum, entry fee and entertainment. The “Winzerexpress” was established in 1978 and it takes us from the boat on a 15 minute journey. Then we visit the Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet. This is located in the Brömserhof, a knight's seat from the 15th century, directly above the Drosselgasse. There you can look forward to about 350 self-playing musical instruments from three centuries presenting a 40-minutes tour with music.

Tuesday 3 November

05.30 hrs




The Elegant Lady sails from Koblenz for the short cruise to Mainz, a city with many faces – historic, medieval, Christian “Golden” Mainz and the modern secular city.   We arrive at 08.00h and do not set sail again until 23.00h with breakfast, lunch and dinner on board.

10.30 hrs





Ian Bradley presents his second talk with its own self-explanatory title “Drink, drink, drink to old Heidelberg town.” Ian  sets the scene for our visit to Heidelberg with a light-hearted but informative look at its history, close associations with Britain and the United States and romantic story of the real Student Prince

(Mainz Optional Walking Tour €8) After lunch you can experience Mainz from an entirely new perspective. Immerse yourself in the art, culture and history of the city and let yourself be enchanted by the charm of former eras. Our guide will lead you in the footsteps of Gutenberg, the famous inventor of printing with movable type. For 1,000 years the St. Martin's Cathedral with its "Domgebirge“ – has dominated the cityscape of Mainz . One of the main attractions is the Lady altar with the "Fine woman from Mainz" in the Ketteler Chapel.

17.00 hrs


Our second Pirates rehearsal.  We will have cast the principal parts who will be joining in the fun.
19.30 hrs Dinner

21.30 hrs






We are joined by our final celebrity – John Savournin. John directs our own National Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company; has his own Charles Court Opera and sings with Scottish Opera and Opera North with whom he is currently starring in their Kiss Me Kate extravaganza.  He and Andrew Nicklin  invite us for an evening with “Flanders and Swann.”  
23.00 hrs We set sail to Mannheim.


Wednesday 4 November


After breakfast we leave the boat and join coaches that will transfer us for a tour of  Heidelberg, the old University town on the river Neckar, considered to be one of Germany's most beautiful cities. It is one of the few cities that was not destroyed during the Second World War. Landmark of Heidelberg is the romantic castle of Königstuhl (king’s chair) which is located above the town and combines numerous architectural styles. Its origins date to the early 13th century. After visiting the castle ruins you head towards the picturesque Baroque old town on the Neckar, which has a 1.6-kilometer long street, one of the longest pedestrian areas in Europe. We make a short visit to the  Old Town and attractions, and enjoy one hour free time before returning by bus to Speyer. The tour lasts around 4 hours.

While we are out on tour our boat has sailed to Speyer and our coaches  transfer us there to rejoin The Elegant Lady.

17.00 hrs Our third Pirates rehearsal.

18.15 hrs






Water music.  Ian Bradley describes the intimate relationship between music making and taking the waters in Europe's spas over the last three hundred years.  Among the composers who visited spas either for a cure or to sample the rich social life and tempting distractions of what have been described as 'the last enchanted places on earth' were Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Johann Strauss, Offenbach and our own Sullivan.


19.30 hrs Dinner
20.00 hrs We set sail for Strasbourg

21.30 hrs




All our musical entertainers join forces with a concert that is sure to be remembered long after  our cruise is over.  “John, Nick, Sarah and Andrew – 'Especially For You!” (I bet there is some Student Prince in there somewhere!!!).

Thursday 5 November

  We dock at 08.00 h and after breakfast disembark, joining coaches for a half-day coach tour of Strasbourg which enables us to see the highlights of the city's unique blend of French and German cultures.During the city tour you will see the main places of interest in the old imperial city. Also interesting is the trip through the European Quarter on the banks of the Ill with the Euro Council, the European Parliament and the Palais of Human Rights.  Duration is about 3 hours, of which about one and half hours is walking - mostly on cobblestones.

17.00 hrs



I guess you would call this our “dress rehearsal” for the Pirates Performance. Will it be without books! Will we put some movement in it????

18.15 hrs



Ken Robertson Scott returns with a second presentation entitled “Great Dramas of the BBC” including The Forsyte Saga, Onedin Line and I Claudius.  Hear some of the behind-the-scene stories!
19.30 hrs Dinner

21.30 hrs



Tonight we are entertained by members of the crew of the Elegant Lady.  Sounds great fun and we finish with a quiz, games and a community sing.  We sail at 23.30h

Friday 6 November


Our last full day and we plan to make it a memorable one.  Breisach is the gateway to the Black Forest and in the morning you are free to enjoy the local sights.


10.30 hrs








Alternatively - “Re-annotating Gilbert and Sullivan” -Ian Bradley describes the pleasures and pitfalls involved in producing a completely new up-to-date and expanded edition of his Annotated Gilbert and Sullivan. How do you annotate Thespis? What intriguing and bizarre misprints have lain hidden and unidentified for more than 30 years? What is new in G & S scholarship, performance and appreciation that needs to be included
  After lunch we join our coaches and drive to Freiburg, the so-called "capital of the Black Forest".Here we have some free time before departing for Lake Titisee, taking the shortest route via "Hell Valley"  There is more free time and an opportunity to visit the cuckoo-clock place with a demonstration on how these world-famous cuckoo-clocks are made. We arrive back in Breisach around 18.15h.
19.30 hrs Dinner

21.30 hrs




A spectacular performance of “Pirates of Penzance” is in store for passengers and crew. Enjoy a farewell cocktail and party till late!!!  Meantime we set sail from Breisach for the final leg of our journey arriving in Basel in the early hours.

Saturday 7 November


The boat docks in Basel at 02.30am meaning that anyone with early morning flights will be able to leave the boat for the airport. After breakfast we will have an optional coach trip to Basel, a quick look round the city en route to the airport.


 “The Elegant Lady” has 64 external cabins, each with two beds equipped with individually adjustable air conditioning, telephone, shower, toilet, TV safe box and the possibility for internet connection.  

The restaurant seats 128 with tables of four or six; there is a panoramic bar on the bow of the ship, a library, shop and fitness equipment.  The sun deck can be reached by an external elevator.  Cabin sizes are around 14 sq metres.


There will be a crew of 30 at our disposal.  There is a full breakfast buffet to cater for the most demanding of our group; and we will have waiter service four-course lunch; afternoon tea and coffee with pastries; five-course waiter-served dinner (with a choice of three main dishes including vegetarian); midnight snacks and 24 hour tea and coffee machines.  Ian sampled the dinner on one of the vessels and it was excellent.  Now you can see why the fitness centre is a must!




Travel to from the boat is very inexpensive at the time of writing (8 October)


From London there are direct flights into Cologne from Stanstead (£28) and Heathrow (£50) and return flights from Basel  into Gatwick (£20). Stanstead (£21) and Heathrow (£32)


From Manchester (or other regional airports) there are cheap flights into Amsterdam  from £45 where we are connecting with the train down in Cologne and return fares back  from  Basel into Manchester (£29)


And we can help you make your reservations throughout ensuring you get the best prices and most convenient timings


If anyone is concerned about the travel or needs any help simply contact Neil on 01422 323252 (neil@gsfestivals.org) and we will make the arrangements on your behalf.


8 days on board in a river view stateroom

All meals on board including:

            Full buffet breakfast

            4-course lunches

            Afternoon coffee/tea with pastries

            5 course dinner

            Midnight snack

            24-hour tea and coffee machine

All passenger fees and port charges

Guided tours as indicated above.

Daily entertainment from our celebrated singers, musicians and lecturer.


Cost per person sharing a twin bedded cabin is £850.


The single cabin supplement is £200.


To secure your booking PLEASE CALL NEIL SMITH - 01422 323252 or email neil@gsfestivals.org