On this magnificent cruise vacation, enjoy seeing some of Central Europe’s splendid capitals—Budapest, Bratislava, and Vienna—as well as many small towns that dot the landscape along the way. Shop for paprika in Budapest, visit St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava, and savor a Sachertorte in Vienna. In addition to these vibrant cities, there’s even more…enjoy wine tasting in Austria’s Wachau Valley, visit Austria’s oldest theater still holding regular performances in the resort town of Grein, and visit one of Europe’s largest and most spectacular monasteries at Melk. Explore Germany’s Passau, located at the confluence of three rivers, and Linz, Austria’s third-largest city. Guided sightseeing with Certified Local Guides in each city is sure to heighten your experience.
Day #1 Budapest, Hungary (Embarkation). Welcome to Budapest! This afternoon, board your cruise vessel and enjoy iconic sights along the river as your ship glides tranquilly out of the city. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception. (D).
Day #2 Bratislava, Slovakia. Situated at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, Bratislava is the dynamic capital of Slovakia. The charming Old Town with its Town Hall and Mirbach Palace, as well as gothic ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL, should not be missed. (B,L,D)
Day #3 Vienna, Austria. Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s capital has much to offer: lavish Hofburg Palace, the impressive Vienna Opera House, the majestic Ringstrasse, and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral, to name just a few of the sights on your included tour. Shop in the Kärntnerstrasse and enjoy Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in a neighborhood café. An optional concert is available tonight. (B,L,D)
Day #4 Vienna. This morning, the choice is yours: we offer you “Vienna à la carte.” Choose to visit one of a number of museums, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, a major museum of Vienna and a building of magnificent architecture, or for some lighter exploration, check out the Naschmarkt, a market selling fresh produce as well as other items, a Viennese institution since the 16th century. Your Cruise Director will give you the details of what’s on offer. The afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D)
Day #5 Krems–Melk. Early this morning, arrive in Krems, which offers a great variety in culture, history, and cuisine. Join a Local Guide to learn more about this town situated on the eastern end of the Wachau Valley. Or you may prefer to indulge in a wine experience to learn first-hand how wine is so much more than just a drink. Wine is life, culture, inspiration, and the result of a lot of hard work. Back on board your vessel, sail through the Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, passing the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade, the landmark of Dürnstein. Above the town you may see the ruins of the castle, where once England’s King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned. After lunch, arrive in Melk. The magnificent BENEDICTINE ABBEY dominates the town from its commanding hill site and is one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The view from the terrace over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! You’ll be able to sample some of the FAMOUS WINES. This evening, depart for Grein. (B,L,D)
Day #6 Grein–Linz. This morning, wake up in the attractive country resort of Grein, nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its castle. After breakfast, take a guided walk through the town and visit its unique historical THEATER, the oldest in Austria and still holding regular performances. A behind-the-scenes peek to learn of some of the curiosities of this rococo-style, 167-seat theater will certainly tell you much about life as it was, and as it now is, in this small town. Then, spend a lazy afternoon on board the ship, watching the peaceful views of the passing riverscape from the comfort of the Sky Deck on your way to Linz. Alternatively, you might choose to join an optional excursion. Linz is Austria’s third-largest city, an important river port where culture plays a significant role in everyday life. Composer Anton Bruckner lived here and Mozart’s Linzer Symphony was composed in the city. There is free time to explore Linz on your own. (B,L,D)
Day #7 Linz–Passau, Germany. This afternoon you arrive in Passau, located at the confluence of the Rivers Inn, Ilz, and Danube. This is a city of graceful arcades and cobblestone streets. St. Stephen’s Cathedral houses one of the world’s largest church organs with more than 17,000 pipes. Join a Local Guide for a walking tour through this charming town, and find out much more about this “City of Three Rivers.” (B,L,D)
Day #8 Passau (Disembarkation). Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)