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A magnificent cruise indeed as you follow the route of emperors and kings on your exciting European journey along three great rivers through five fascinating countries! Begin in Amsterdam and travel on the Rhine to Cologne, with its breathtaking Cathedral. Visit the historic wine town of Koblenz, cruise through the beautiful Rhine Gorge and then on to the Main River. Marvel at the engineering wonders of the Main-Danube Canal as you traverse Europe's Continental Divide by ship. Discover the culture and traditions of grand old capitals such as Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. Along the way, discover perfectly preserved medieval towns and Europe’s loveliest countryside, filled with quaint villages and fairy-tale castles.
Day 1. DEPART USA/CANADA.
Board your overnight flight to Budapest, Hungary.
Day 2. ARRIVE IN BUDAPEST, HUNGARY.
Arrive in Budapest and transfer to your luxurious river cruise ship. This evening meet your fellow travelers at the Welcome Cocktail Reception and Dinner. (D)
Day 3. BUDAPEST.
This morning, your sightseeing tour takes you to historic Buda Castle from where you can enjoy a splendid view of the twin cities of Buda and Pest spread over both banks of the River. Your tour also features the distinctive Fisherman's Bastion, the Royal Palace and St. Stephen's Basilica. This afternoon, an optional excursion is available, which will take you back to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Tonight, enjoy dinner before the ship sails a special “Illuminations Cruise” past the illuminated river front of Budapest. (B,L,D)
From top, left to right:
View of the city with the Danube River,
Lion guarding the Chain Bridge,
the Parliament Building,
St. Stephen's Basilica, and
a panorama from Gellért Hill with Buda Castle on the left.
Click on the picture to enlarge
Well-known for the wonderful panoramic views it provides of the city of Budapest, the castle-like Fisherman’s Bastion was built in 1905, mainly for decorative purposes. It’s located near Matthias Church in the Castle District of this interesting city.
Designed by architect Frigyes Schulek and built in 1905, the white-stoned Fisherman’s Bastion is described as a combination of neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque - full of turrets, projections, parapets, and climbing stairways. More
The construction of the Royal Palace was begun in the middle of the thirteenth century, and was continued in the fourteenth century by King Louis the Great who had a keep built here. The building of the outer walls and of the western fortifications was not finished until the end of the century. In the fifteenth century Sigismund of Luxembourg continued the construction and added a chapel and a palace. Construction - work reached its peak with King Matthias, who had the - southeastern fortifications built, as well as a Renaissance royal palace. In the late fifteenth century the King of Hungary's palace was one of the most splendid royal seats in Europe. His famous library, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, according to his contemporaries, equaled the Medici Library in Florence.
Basilica of St Stephen
Fifty years in the making, the Basilica of St Stephen is Hungary's largest church and the second highest in ecclesiastical ranking. Technically, it isn't really a basilica but the sheer size of the structure has led it to be referred to in this manor. More
Enjoy a morning of scenic cruising to Bratislava followed by your choice of a “Communist Tour” in which you will discover architectural landmarks and experience the history of the city. In the alternative, enjoy a walking tour of Bratislava, which reveals the city's major sights, including the Old Town Hall, Mirbach Palace and Gothic St. Martin's Cathedral. The rest of the afternoon is free to shop or explore on your own. After dinner you can enjoy an enchanting music performance on board. (B,L,D)
Bratislava Montage, Clockwise from top of left:View of Novy Bridge, Danube River and Old Bratislava from Castle of Bratislava, St.Michael Gate, View of sunset in Danube River, Slovak Parliament and Bratislava Castle, Statue of Tof Slavin, Peace Earth sculpture fountain in Hodzovo Square, Bratislava Castle and fortification
St. Martin's Cathedral, Bratislava
Day 5. VIENNA, AUSTRIA.
Savor the Baroque elegance of romantic Vienna during your guided sightseeing tour, including the impressive Vienna Opera House, the majestic Ringstrasse, and the awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The afternoon is free to sightsee on your own. In the alternative, join an optional tour to the Imperial Schönbrunn Palace. Tonight, explore the vibrant Austrian capital on your own, or join an optional Mozart and Strauss concert. The ship moors overnight. (B,L,D)
Ticket for Opera House
Left–right, top–bottom: Rathaus, Schloss Schönbrunn, Riesenrad, Staatsoper, Stephansdom, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Stephansplatz, Sachertorte, Johann-Strauß-Denkmal, Sezession, Donau City, Hundertwasserhaus
|Vienna State Opera
||The Ringstraße at night|
St. Stephen's Cathedral,
|Palace and Gardens of Schönbrunn *|
Early this morning, reach the Wachau Valley. Stop in Dürnstein and marvel at the magnificent blue façade of the baroque Stiftskirche. Your walking tour through medieval cobblestone streets reveals 16th-century town houses and wine taverns. You will also enjoy a wine tasting, where you will sample several different wines, presented along with bread, knowledgeable hosts, and plenty of laughter. After lunch, the ship will cruise to Melk, where you will have a guided tour of the Benedictine Abbey, one of Europe's largest baroque monasteries. A guided bicycle tour from Durnstein to Melk is also available (capacity controlled). (B,L,D)
View of the town from the Danube, with the castle seen on top of the hill
Dürnstein panorama from the castle
This morning the ship arrives in Linz, where you will have the choice of two different excursions. The first choice is an optional excursion to Salzburg, where you will take a walking tour of the historic center, famous as the setting for the “Sound of Music” and as the birthplace of Mozart. The tour includes a visit to the Mirabell Gardens, Salzburg Cathedral, Mozart’s Square, and much more. In the alternative, remain on the ship and cruise through scenic Upper Austria to Passau. Located where the rivers Inn and Ilz join the Danube, this 2,000-year-old city is noted for its Gothic and Italian Baroque architecture. A walking tour of Passau will take you along the cobblestone streets of Old Town where you will see the city fortifications and St. Stephan’s Cathedral, home to the largest cathedral organ in the world. (B,L,D)
After lunch, arrive in Regensburg, one of Germany's best-preserved medieval cities. A guided tour will show you the city's architectural highlights, including the Old Town Hall and the Porta Praetoria - gates to a Roman fort built in 179 AD. In the alternative, visit the Audi Factory in Ingolstadt, where a member of the Audi team will take you on a guided tour of the Audi Car Museum or Factory Floor (subject to availability). The museum not only takes visitors on a tour of the entire history of the car, but also provides a fascinating look back at the 20th century with its radical changes. In the evening, enjoy a music performance on board. (B,L,D)
Old Town of Regensburg with Stadtamhof
This morning, enter the Main-Danube Canal and relax during a leisurely cruise through the beautiful Altmühl Valley. The Main-Danube Canal traverses the Franconian Alps via 16 locks, truly a fascinating feat of modern engineering. In the afternoon, decide to either tour the medieval history of Nuremberg to see the storybook 900-year-old ramparts that surround this historic city and the Imperial Castle, or join the “modern tour” of the city’s role in the 20th-century, which includes the Zeppelin field and the Justice Palace where the War Crimes Tribunal sat in 1946. (B,L,D)
This morning, enjoy a walking tour of the enchanting town of Bamberg, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. See the Cathedral, the Old Town Hall that straddles the river, explore serpentine streets lined with charming houses and sample some of Bamberg’s famous smoked beer. Join your fellow travelers on board for a special Thanksgiving Lunch as you cruise to Schweinfurt. Later you can enjoy a free evening in Schweinfurt. (B,L,D)
This morning you will arrive in Kitzingen. On your walking tour, you’ll see the famous Leaning Tower, built during the 13th century, the Old Main Bridge, Kitzingen Church and the Renaissance Town Hall. Later, the Aulic Council and Wine Queen will welcome you to Germany’s oldest wine cellar. You will taste several different wines, learning first-hand about wine history and production in the region. In the afternoon, you will have a choice of three different tours. You can choose the Würzburg Tour and Residenz visit, during which you will see the major sights, including the Residenz Palace and gardens, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of Europe’s foremost examples of Baroque architecture and design. In the alternative, take a guided bike tour from Kitzengen to Würzburg (capacity controlled) or enjoy an optional tour to medieval Rothenburg, a beautiful walled city situated on the Romantic Road. Your walking tour includes entrance to the Käthe Wohlfahrt Christmas Museum. (B,L,D)
This morning, you will tour Wertheim, located at the confluence of the Main and Tauber Rivers. The town has retained much of its medieval Franconian character, which you will discover on your walking tour of the historic city center. In the alternative, a guided bike tour from Wertheim (capacity controlled) will take you along the Main River Valley. Cruise during lunch time to Miltenberg, arriving in the afternoon for a guided walking tour along cobble-stone streets lined with gabled, half-timbered houses. Tonight, the ship sails leaving Bavaria, Franconia and the Main River behind. (B,L,D)
360° panoramic view of the castle and the city
|View from the Main of Miltenberg
||Historic Old Town and Mildenburg|
This afternoon, arrive in Rüdesheim and take a mini train to visit Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum. Explore the Drosselgasse, a narrow alley lined with wine taverns and restaurants during your free time. This afternoon, your ship departs for Koblenz. You will cruise through the Rhine Gorge, the most beautiful stretch of the river, passing castle after castle. Arrive in Koblenz late this afternoon. Your Cruise Manager will lead a walking tour through this charming town. (B,L,D)
Rüdesheim, seen from the Rhine
Day 14. KOBLENZ – COLOGNE.
This afternoon, the ship cruises to Cologne for a walking tour through the old part of the city and visit to the fabled 13th-century gothic cathedral. During your free time, return to the cathedral square or explore the city on your own. The ship departs tonight for Amsterdam. (B,L,D)
Panoramic view of the city centre at night as seen from Deutz; from left to right: Deutz Bridge, Great St. Martin Church, Cologne Cathedral, Hohenzollern Bridge
After breakfast, your tour of Amsterdam begins with a scenic canal cruise through the city known as the “Venice of the North.” See the beautiful homes that line the water, the fabled Skinny Bridge, and the famous Anne Frank House. Then, enjoy a panoramic city tour, where you will see the great landmarks of Amsterdam including a photo stop at a windmill. Afterwards, enjoy some free time to explore Amsterdam before returning to the ship. (B,L,D)
From left to right and top to bottom: Rijksmuseum, Statue in the Vondelpark, Keizersgracht, Zuiderkerk, Royal Palace (Amsterdam), ING House
Day 16. AMSTERDAM – USA.
Bid Farewell to Amsterdam and transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)
Van Gogh Museum