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Elbe River Cruise
Berlin to Prague
8 Nights Aboard the Deluxe Elbe Princesse
May 2–12, 2025

Overview

We are delighted to partner with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to bring this opportunity to our Jewish Heritage travelers.

Cruise down the idyllic Elbe River in luxury aboard the Elbe Princesse. We begin with two days in Berlin, a city with deep Jewish history, with periods of turbulence and devastation, but also enlightenment, prosperity, and cultural achievement. Currently undergoing a once unimaginable Jewish revival, Berlin boasts the largest Jewish museum in Europe and is home to numerous synagogues and memorial sites.

We then set off along the enchanting Elbe River for six days, traversing a landscape of idyllic green countryside and spectacular gorges and stopping at towns and cities along the way to uniquely experience the region’s history, culture, and natural beauty. Over the course of this memorable trip, you will walk on medieval cobblestone streets, see the Wittenberg church, where Martin Luther famously posted his “95 Theses,” launching the Protestant Reformation, and visit Jewish synagogues, museums, and cemeteries.

Jewish Heritage Travel scholar Dr. Antony Polonsky, Emeritus Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University, travels with us on this trip and will share expert knowledge and perspectives on Jewish history and heritage in the region through presentations and discussions.

Our river journey will conclude in the intriguing city of Prague in the Czech Republic, rich with Jewish culture, history, and life.

Highlights

  • One night deluxe accommodations in Berlin followed by 8 nights on the Elbe Princesse 
  • Two days in the vibrant city of Berlin, with guided tours
  • Time spent cruising and relaxing amidst the beauty of the river and surrounds
  • Stops to spend time at historic palaces, synagogues, museums, cathedrals, and a national park
  • An afternoon in Magdeburg, one of the oldest cities in Germany, where Jewish life dates back centuries.
  • A guided visit to the Jewish Quarter in Prague, a centuries-old home for Jewish life, rich with heritage, synagogues and cultural sites.

Itinerary

Friday-Saturday May 2–3 | Berlin 
Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight to Berlin; transfer to hotel for some free time to rest after traveling.

In the late afternoon, we take a walking tour to Brandenburg Gate and nearby Holocaust Memorial. 

Enjoy a private welcome reception in the evening.

Meals included: evening reception

Accommodations: Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin

Sunday May 4 | Berlin 
We begin our day in the historic heart of Berlin with a visit to Peter Eisenman’s monumental and controversial memorial to the Six Million and continue with a tour of the museum beneath it. We also visit the National Gallery on Museum Island and take a specially arranged visit to the Pestalozzi Street Synagogue.

In the afternoon, we visit the New Synagogue and Centrum Judaicum on Oranienburger Strasse. We continue to the Topography of Terror, a museum located on the site of the Gestapo and the SS headquarters, which tells the story of the Nazi regime and its crimes. We end our tour with a visit to the nearby “Checkpoint Charlie.”

Embark the Elbe Princesse in the late afternoon and have dinner aboard. 

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodations: Elbe Princesse

Monday May 5 | Berlin/Potsdam (Wannsee)
Today includes time for meeting local constituents at Pestalozzi Street Synagogue in Berlin. We then continue to the Holocaust study center at Wansee House, where we will see the room in which the Final Solution was plotted by Nazi leaders. 

After, we visit the Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam and re-embark the Elbe Princesse in Potsdam in the late evening.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodations: Elbe Princesse

Tuesday May 6 | Cruising/Magdeburg
During our morning of relaxed cruising, we are treated to a lecture by Jewish Heritage Scholar Dr. Antony Polonsky.

In the afternoon, we call at Magdeburg, founded by Charlemagne in 805 AD and one of the oldest cities in Germany. Jewish life in Magdeburg dates back centuries. Time and again, Jews were driven out and persecuted. The first synagogue was opened in 1851. This house of worship, which was later expanded and beautifully decorated, was destroyed in 1938. 

We will visit the  “New Synagogue” building in Magdeburg, located at the city center, a small square surrounded by GDR-style high-rise buildings, and features two stone slabs that commemorate the 1,521 Magdeburg Jews who were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. Magdeburg is the last German state capital to have a synagogue once again. The city’s growing Jewish congregation counts around 400 members, according to its own estimates.

We also visit the Magdeburg Cathedral, the country’s oldest Gothic construction and the Green Citadel, named for the abundance of vegetation in line with the architect’s environmental ethics. An optional e-bike excursion is also offered (at an additional cost).

We return to the Elbe Princesse for dinner and cruise into the evening.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodations: Elbe Princesse

Wednesday May 7 | Wittenberg/Cruising
Spend an engaging morning in historic Wittenberg and visit the Castle Church, where in 1517 Martin Luther famously nailed his “95 Theses” to the door, protesting the Catholic pope’s authority and beginning the Protestant Reformation. Nearby, Wittenberg’s Market Square (Marketplatz), spared by the Allies during bombing raids, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and popular scenic walking area.

Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon of relaxed cruising. 

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodations: Elbe Princesse

Thursday May 8 | Meissen/Dresden
We will spend the morning in the city of Meissen, where you can choose to tour Europe’s oldest porcelain factory, take a guided bike ride along the Elbe River, or take time to independently explore Meissen’s historic center. 

We then travel to Dresden by coach for a private lunch of regional specialities, followed by a guided tour of Dresden including Opera Square, Church of Our Lady, and Green Vault to view artistic treasures.

Dresden is one of Europe’s most beautiful and culturally rich cities. The Wettin dynasty, and especially King August the Strong in the 18th century, brought unparalleled riches to this city, the capital of Saxony. Dresden saw its darkest hour in February 1945 when the historic center was virtually destroyed in a massive bombing raid. The Nazis had already burned down the old Semper Synagogue during the Kristallnacht in November 1938. The small but flourishing Jewish community of Dresden was also decimated. The few survivors, like Victor Klemperer, told a complex story of living in pre- and post-WWII Dresden. Like a phoenix, Dresden has risen out of the ashes and visitors enjoy its baroque beauty once again. The Dresden Jewish community has recently experienced a renaissance attested to by the unique New Synagogue with its golden tent-like inner structure, suggesting flexibility within stability. 

Enjoy the remainder of the day and evening on your own to explore Dresden independently, returning to the Elbe Princesse for dinner.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodations: Elbe Princesse

Friday May 9 | Cruising/Bad Schandau
Enjoy a morning of cruising and a talk by Dr. Antony Polonsky. 

In the afternoon, we take an excursion to Saxon Switzerland National Park in the German part of the Sandstone Mountains. You have free time to walk around the magnificent rock formation of Bastei and take in its panoramic views over the Elbe River.

We then reboard the Elbe Princesse to resume cruising, crossing the border into the Czech Republic. 

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodations: Elbe Princesse

Saturday May 10 | Litomerice, Czech Republic/Cruising
Spend the morning discovering Litomerice, a royal town established in the 13th century, making it one of the oldest Bohemian cities and whose old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town of Úštěk in the Litoměřice District has a long history of Jewish settlement reaching back to 1327. The Jewish community expanded during the 16th century and a wooden synagogue was built to serve its needs.

The town and the synagogue were destroyed in the 18th century by an extensive fire; in 1774 the town council issued a permit to build a new, stone synagogue. It was erected on a rocky promontory and the setting gave its architecture an additional impact. The building was given Neo-Renaissance features during the extensive rebuilding carried out in the mid-1850s according to a design by the architect Wenzel Jahn. At the same time the house of the rabbi was built in the immediate vicinity of the synagogue. The house has a trapezoidal ground plan and its foundations date back to medieval times. The building remained disused after World War II and fell into disrepair. It was returned to the ownership of the Jewish Community Council in the 1990s and between 2001 and 2003 extensive restoration and building work both on the exterior and interior was undertaken. The synagogue was opened to the public in June 2014.

Today also includes the option to visit Terezin, better known by its German name Theresienstadt, which served as a ghetto and concentration camp during World War II.

Enjoy an afternoon of cruising.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodations: Elbe Princesse

Sunday May 11 | Prague
This morning, we enjoy a guided tour of Jewish Prague. We visit some of Prague’s fabled Alt-Neu Synagogue (the oldest functioning Jewish house of worship in Europe), as well as the Spanish, Maisel, Pinkas, and Klausen Synagogues that today serve as exhibition halls for the Jewish Museum, with many documents and artifacts pertaining to Prague’s 1,000 years of Jewish history. We also visit the haunting Old Jewish Cemetery, one of the largest and oldest Jewish burial grounds in the world.

We then visit Lobkowicz Palace in Prague Castle, for lunch and a musical performance. Built in the mid-16th century, the Palace and one of the most significant cultural sites in the Czech Republic. 

Our afternoon features a sightseeing tour that focuses on Prague’s Jewish history and leaders, from Rabbi Loew’s Golem to Franz Kafka.

We return to the Elbe Princesse for a farewell reception and dinner and our last night on board. 

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodations: Elbe Princesse

Monday May 12 Prague/Home
Disembark the Elbe Princesse and transfer to the airport for your return flight — or take advantage of an optional 2-night extension in Prague that will offer opportunities to explore Prague Castle, Old Town, and modernist Prague (at an additional cost); details will be sent to registered participants.

Meals included: breakfast

Traveling with you…

Each of our scholars are outstanding experts in their fields and play an active role in helping us design our journeys as well as accompanying us as we travel. 

Dr. Antony Polonsky is Emeritus Professor of Holocaust Studies at Brandeis University and Chief Historian of the Global Education Outreach Project at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw. Originally from South Africa, he has authored many historical works on the Holocaust, most recently the three-volume The Jews in Poland and Russia and an abridged edition, The Jews in Poland and Russia. A Short History. 

Dr. Polonsky holds honorary doctorates from the University of Warsaw, the Jagiellonian University, and the Polish University Abroad (Polski Uniwersytet na Obczyźnie) and was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Independent Lithuania.

Ariel Goldstein, born in Uruguay, studied Latin American history in Montevideo and at the Israel School of Tourism in Jerusalem. After six years working as a tour guide in Israel, Ariel moved to the U.S., where he developed and led trips to South America for adult students at the Spanish in Marin language school in Marin County, California. In 2006 and 2009, he led trips to Tunisia and the Persian Gulf for educational tour operators High Country Passage and World Leaders Travel. In 2007, Ariel founded the Travel Program at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, where he directed the program until 2017, leading tours throughout Israel, Europe, Latin America, China, India, Africa, and the U.S. Ariel speaks English, Spanish, Hebrew and Portuguese and has visited more than 40 countries around the world.

Accommodations

Hotel Adlon Kempinski | Berlin
The epitome of luxury, Berlin’s Hotel Adlon Kempinski is uniquely located at the city’s renowned Brandenburg Gate. The historic hotel features deluxe, superbly furnished rooms, outstanding personal service, and modern comforts, including an elegant pool, saunas, and a fitness room, as well as a spacious, upscale spa, offering exclusive beauty treatments and nourishing massages.

Elbe Princesse
Built in 2016, the Elbe Princesse features a contemporary Nordic interior style accented by light-hued woods that create a warm light and sleek graphics that reflect the architecture of the capitals of northern Europe. Its main deck cabins have large windows and the upper deck cabins have French balconies. Each room includes a television, bathroom with shower and toilet, towels, safe, independent air-conditioning, 220V electrical outlets, and Wi-Fi.

All meals during the cruise are served in the restaurant on the main deck, surrounded by large panoramic windows that provide excellent scenic views. A lounge and bar with outdoor access are located on the stern of the upper deck. The sun deck, with chairs and sun loungers, provides the best place on the ship for unobstructed views. The Elbe Princesse offers superior comfort for like-minded travelers to enjoy in-depth discussions and a robust lecture program as they cruise the historic Elbe River between Berlin and Prague.

Details

Program cost from $7,790* includes:  

  • 8 nights aboard the Elbe Princesse, 1 night at deluxe hotel
  • All meals
  • House wine, beer and soft drinks with group lunches and dinners
  • All group transportation via deluxe air-conditioned coach
  • All lectures, guided tours, museums and site entrance fees
  • All gratuities

*Per person, double occupancy. View cabin details.

Travel note: Plan to arrive in Berlin on Saturday, May 3 and depart from Prague on Monday, May 12.

Secure your place

Book Now: use the link below to reach our easy online booking form.

By phone: 845-256-0197 Monday–Friday, 10am–4pm EST.

Payment Reserve your space with a nonrefundable deposit of $1,000 per person. Final balance is due 120 days prior to departure.

Membership Participation on these tours is a benefit for active members of our museum partners. During the registration process, you will be asked about your membership status with your affiliated museum. If you are not a current member, you will have a chance to activate your membership.

Participation Tour sizes are limited to 28 participants unless otherwise noted. Trips entail considerable walking including over uneven terrain. Participants need to be in good health, be able to keep up with the group, be able to experience group and cultural differences with grace. Please let us know if you have any physical conditions that may require special attention while on tour.

Cancellations All cancellations must be received by Jewish Heritage Travel in writing. Cancellations received 120 days or more prior to departure: full refund less nonrefundable deposits, per person; 119–90 days prior to departure: 50% refund per person after nonrefundable deposits. 89–0 days before departure: no refund.

Trip Cancellation Insurance Jewish Heritage Travel strongly urges all participants to purchase travel insurance for coverage of losses necessitated by having to cancel due to illness or accident. For your convenience, we are providing a link to Allianz Global Assistance, which many past participants have used. Please use code ACCAM/Agency ID# F026815 or feel free to use your own insurance agent. When purchasing insurance, please consider the plans carefully to familiarize yourself with what is covered. In this context, do take note that most insurance companies generally will waive exclusion for preexisting conditions only if your application is received by them within 14 days from the date of your program registration. If you have a preexisting medical condition and are interested in taking trip insurance, you should do so either with Allianz or through your own insurance agent within 14 days of registration.

Changes All rights are reserved by Jewish Heritage Travel to make scholar substitutions and/or to modify the itinerary (including hotels) as needed. Every reasonable effort will be made to operate the program as planned; however, should unforeseen world events and conditions require the itinerary to be altered, Jewish Heritage Travel reserves the right to do so for the safety and best interest of the group. Any extra expenses incurred in this situation are the responsibility of the participant.

Disclaimer of Responsibility By registering for this program, participant specifically waives any and all claims of action against the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Jewish Heritage Travel office and their respective staffs for damages, loss, injury, accident, or death incurred by any person in connection with this tour. The Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Jewish Heritage Travel office and their respective staffs assume no responsibility or liability in connection with the service of any train, vessel, carriage, aircraft, or other conveyance that may be used wholly or in part in the performance of their duty to the passengers. Neither will the Museum of Jewish Heritage or the Jewish Heritage Travel office or their staffs be responsible for any injury, death, loss, accident, delay, or irregularity through neglect or default of any company or person engaged in carrying out the purposes for which tickets, vouchers, or coupons are issued. No responsibility is accepted for losses or expenses due to sickness, viruses, weather, strikes, wars, and other causes. In the event it becomes necessary or advisable for any reason whatsoever to alter the itinerary or arrangements, including hotels or scholars, such alterations may be made without penalty. All rights reserved to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at his/her own expense when such an action is determined by the tour staff to be in the best interest of the participant’s health and safety and that of the group in general. Prices subject to change. Cost in effect at time of registration will be honored.

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