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Main River Cruises

From its origin in the Upper Franconia region of Germany where the White Main and Red Main rivers meet, the Main River (pronounced “mine”) flows in a westerly direction for 330 miles, meandering through the German states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, and Hesse; and through the major cities of Frankfurt, Offenbach, Wertheim, and Würzburg. On a Scenic Main river cruise, guests will pass by and through modern German cities such as Mainz—a city that began as a Roman stronghold and later achieved notoriety as the birthplace of the movable-type printing press that was invented by Johannes Gutenberg—and quaint villages in the Bavarian countryside where leather goods and wine are the primary industries.

Main River Cruising Through Nuremburg

On a Scenic Main River cruise, guests are luxuriously transported to Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second largest city, which dates to at least the middle of the 11th century. The city is famous for being the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire and has a rich history in astronomical discovery. Johannes Mueller constructed an observatory in the city in 1471 and later published astronomical charts documenting what he saw; in 1515 Albrecht Dürer expertly crafted the first star charts of the northern and southern hemispheres; and in 1543 a printing press in Nuremberg published the majority of Nicolaus Copernicus’s model of the universe, which controversially declared the sun, not the earth, to be the center of the universe. 

Historical sites in Nuremberg include the National Germanic Museum, which houses more than 1 million artifacts that tell the story of the region’s cultural and artistic evolution; Nuremberg Castle, a medieval fortress that was home to all German kings and emperors from 1050 to 1571; and Albrecht Dürer’s house, which is now a museum of the artist’s work. The city is also full of quaint squares and neighborhoods, such as the Frauentorturm and Handwerkerhof Alt Nürnberg districts, which are adorned with half-timbered houses and cobblestoned streets. Scenic river cruise guests who prefer to see and explore Nuremberg at their leisure will want to tour the city’s circuit of old walls. Some of these fortified structures include gates and towers that were built as far back as the 14th century, and many are open for curious travelers to explore.

Cruising Through Würzburg


Travelers on a Scenic Main River cruise can visit the Würzburg Residence, a palace that was home to the prince-bishops during the 18th century. The palatial World Heritage Site was built, during a single generation and today is open to the public. Tours include access to the Court Chapel and 40 period rooms, which are adorned with 18th century furniture, tapestries, paintings, and other pieces of art. Alternatively, Scenic Cruise guests can follow the famous “Romantic Road” to the walled town of Rothenburg.

Crusing Through Bamberg

In Bamberg, a city that was founded in 902, travelers can tour the old town area (a World Heritage Site) with a local guide, walking along cobblestone streets that welcomed medieval traders centuries ago. Once there, they can visit the Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. George, a structure that many believe to be one of the most important examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. It is also the resting place of Pope Clement II, who was a local bishop before he was appointed pope. This is noteworthy, for it marks Bamberg Cathedral as the only papal burial site not located in either Italy or France. Other top sightseeing destinations include the New Residence, a Bavarian State gallery that displays a collection of ancient German and baroque-style paintings. It also is home to a garden that features numerous historic statues and more than 4,500 planted rose bushes.

Cruising through the Locks

For many Scenic River Cruise guests traveling down the Main River, fascination and intrigue can be found without leaving the ship. Through an intricate canal system that was built during the mid-19th century and finalized in 1992, large cruise ships can now access much of the river and can also sail from the Danube to the Rhine River via the Main—a 2,200-mile-long stretch of interconnected waterways that links the North Sea to the Black Sea.

Charles the Great (better known as King Charlemagne), the first Holy Roman Emperor, was the first to attempt to connect the three rivers, and he successful built a connecting trench, although obstacles arose that ultimately derailed the project. The canal that exists today is largely the work of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who oversaw the initial construction efforts in 1836. Today, the Main River features almost three dozen dams and locks that allow commercial and cruise ships to sail through 15 countries. Ships passing through these locks fascinate some of the local townspeople, and guests on board those ships can marvel at the engineering accomplishments that allow them access to waterways that were unreachable only a few decades ago.

Scenic Jasper


Every Scenic European river cruise begins aboard one of the company’s boutique vessels or custom-built Space-Ships , so named for their spacious guest cabins, dining, and entertaining areas. Each of these four-deck Scenic Space-Ships includes numerous dining and sightseeing areas, as well as a lounge and bar area that offers panoramic views.

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