A deluxe Danube River cruise from Vienna to the Danube Delta is the highlight on this fascinating getaway through Eastern Europe. Sail through the dramatic Iron Gates gorge and see the sights with a Local Guide in each city, including Vienna, the “City of Music.” Along the way visit Slovakia’s Bratislava, Croatia’s Vukovar and Osijek, and Romania's Constanta. Explore the Danube Delta with its unique birdlife, and celebrate the end of the Danube’s journey as it flows into the Black Sea. End your Danube River cruise in Oltenita, then travel to Romania’s lively capital of Bucharest for guided sightseeing and an overnight.
Day #1 Arrive in Vienna, Austria. Welcome to Vienna, Austria’s capital, known as the “City of Music” and which inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. The remainder of the day is yours to start exploring this elegant city.
Day #2 Vienna. Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Vienna 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 you will enjoy during your included tour. You do not rush through Vienna—you waltz, taking your time to savor each classic sight and sound. An optional concert is available during your stay. (B)
Day #3 Vienna–Bratislava, Slovakia (Embarkation). A free morning to relax or explore on your own. Then, a motorcoach transfer after lunch takes you to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, situated at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. A Certified Local Guide will show you the charming Old Town with its Town Hall and views of Mirbach Palace, as well as gothic ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL. Your river cruise vessel is docked here on the Danube and after the tour of Bratislava, meet the crew at a welcome reception. (B,D)
Day #4 Budapest, Hungary. Spanning the banks of the Danube, Budapest is Eastern Europe’s liveliest and most cosmopolitan metropolis. Eight bridges, including the famous Chain and Elisabeth Bridges, connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. The massive hilltop castle complex with Fishermen’s Bastion and the Matthias Church is among the many sights your Certified Local Guide will show you. (B,L,D)
Day #5 Mohács. Excursion to Pecs and the Villány Wine District. This morning, enjoy some leisurely cruising while taking in the peaceful riverscape of southern Hungary. After lunch, a guided excursion takes you to Pecs, Hungary’s fifth-largest city and the richest in terms of Turkish architecture. Then into Villány district, where some of Hungary’s best red wines are produced. Learn more about which varietals are grown, and why the climate and soil conditions here are ideal for the production of excellent wines. (B,L,D)
Day #6 Osijek & Vukovar, Croatia. Today, learn more about the complex history of Croatia and the events that led to the Croatian War of Independence. Accompanied by local experts, explore both Osijek, an important economic and cultural center, as well as Vukovar, Croatia’s largest river port located at the confluence of the Danube and Vuka Rivers. Vukovar was scene to an 87-day siege in 1991, known as The Battle of Vukovar. This and other dramatic events in the recent past have shaped both the present and the future of this region. (B,L,D)
Day #7 Belgrade, Serbia. The capital of Serbia is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. A local expert will be proud to show you its main sights, which include the city’s principal landmark, KALEMEGDAN FORTRESS; St. Sava, the world’s largest Orthodox church; and Marshal Tito’s tomb and monument. The city center has a lively pedestrian area and charming outdoor cafés. (B,L,D)
Day #8 Excursion to Lepinski Vir–Iron Gates. After breakfast dock at. Donji Milanovac from where a short drive takes you to the impressive EXHIBITION CENTER housing archaeological artifacts found in this area and from where you have unique views of the Danube Gorge. Return to your ship before lunch and then cruise what surely must be The most spectacular scenery of the dramatic gorge of the IRON GATES, a narrow and formerly very dangerous passage dividing Europe’s Alps in the northwest from the Carpathians in the southeast and forming a natural border between Serbia and Romania. (B,L,D)
Day #9 Svistov, Bulgaria–Excursion to Veliko Târnovo & Arbanassi, Bulgaria–Rousse. A comfortable ride from the Danube is the ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Târnovo. Situated on three hills surrounding the Yantra River, the city was a natural fortress with ancient stone houses clinging to the steep slopes. The oldest part is Tsarevets Hill, home of the Royal Fortress, palaces, and the PATRIARCH’S CHURCH. The historic village of Arbanassi is best known for its ETHNOGRAPHICAL MUSEUM and the outstanding collection of frescoes in the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY. Rejoin your ship in Rousse. Those who do not wish to participate in the full day excursion, may remain on board, and join an included sightseeing of Rousse in the afternoon. (B,L,D)
Day #10 Tulcea, Romania. Today relax on board and enjoy a peaceful morning of cruising. Before lunch learn about the fascinating Danube Delta at an onboard lecture. This afternoon dock in Tulcea, the “gateway” to the Delta. Explore the town with a Certified Local Guide and visit the DELTA MUSEUM. There’s time to stroll around on your own before dinner. During the night your ships sails for St. Gheorghe at the mouth of the Danube. (B,L,D)
Day #11 St. Gheorghe, Danube Delta. Arrive in St. Gheorghe early this morning. After breakfast an excursion in small boats takes you into the DELTA, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the best preserved of Europe’s deltas, hosting over 300 species of birds as well as 45 species of freshwater fish. From its source in the Black Forest, to its delta at the Black Sea, the Danube measures 2,845 kilometers in length. The Km markings can be clearly seen on the river banks the length of the river. Enjoy a small celebration to mark Km “0” - the end of the Danube’s journey. (B,L,D)
Day #12 Cernavoda. Excursion to Constanta. This morning dock in Cernavoda, a city lying at the western end of the 40-mile-long Black Sea Canal, the pride and joy of communist achievement . From here you may choose to take either a full-day or a half-day excursion to Constanta, the most important commercial center in Romania, situated on the Black Sea. A Certified Local Guide shows you the highlights of this city and a visit of the NATURAL HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM is included. Then there is free time to enjoy this resort town on your own, returning to Cernavoda in the late afternoon in time to depart for Oltenita. Alternatively you may want to relax on board in the morning and visit Constanta in the afternoon only. (B,L,D)
Day #13 Oltenita (Disembarkation)–Bucharest. Bucharest, Romania’s lively capital, is only a short drive from Oltenita. Its wide boulevards and Arc de Triomphe have gained it the name “Paris of the East.” Much recent history has taken place here. During your included tour, see the impressive Parliament Building, the second-largest building in the world after the Pentagon, and Royal Palace Square, scene of riots in 1989 that led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. The former Royal Palace now houses the NATIONAL ART MUSEUM. (B)
Day #14 Bucharest. Your vacation ends this morning. (B)