Budapest Hungary

Ultimate European Journey

25 Days from Amsterdam to Bucharest

Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

Day 1: Amsterdam (Embark)

Arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.

Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit Uniworld.com/transfers. For Port Location details, please visit Uniworld.com/ports.

Day 2: Amsterdam

Enjoy the luxury of a full day in the “Venice of the North.” Explore the city with a canal ride or on foot with a local expert.

Amsterdam Canal cruise

It’s called the “Venice of the North” for a reason: Canals crisscross the heart of the old city, and bridges link some 90 islands. As the principal city in a newly independent Holland, Amsterdam was a boom town in the early 17th century, rapidly outgrowing its medieval walls. The city’s fathers responded by demolishing most of the old city and building an entirely new one, creating Europe’s first planned city. That “new” district is now 400 years old, and as you glide along the main canals, you’ll pass stately merchants’ houses built centuries ago (some of them are now house museums you can visit on your own). But the canals are not merely scenic; they are essential thoroughfares—people take water buses to work and live in houseboats along the banks—so a canal cruise also gives you a look at the busy modern city. 

Day 3: Cologne

Enjoy a delightful tour of Cologne’s Old Town, where three medieval gates remain standing, as does the old city hall with its stunning Renaissance façade. Wander through the historical center and take in its charming atmosphere and narrow alleyways flanked by old houses. No matter how you choose to explore Old Town, you’ll also have ample free time to explore the city on your own.

Cologne walking tour

Follow your guide around some of the most popular sites of Cologne, the largest city on the Rhine. You’ll pass the old fish market, City Hall with its Renaissance façade and the old Jewish mikvah (a bath used for ritual cleansing).

Meander through the narrow, cobbled lanes of Old Town, lined with traditional houses in every color and a plethora of restaurants and pubs. One of the city’s 12 Romanesque churches provides a castle-like backdrop to this quaint, riverside quarter of Cologne.

Your local expert will take you all the way to the Domplatte, the square where you’ll find the Cologne Cathedral. Should you wish, you can head inside this Gothic building on your own to see the Shrine of the Magi and the beautiful stained-glass windows. Otherwise, try asking your guide for tips on what to explore. Whatever your interests, our local expert knows all the best spots in town!

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 4: Rüdesheim

Experience the most spectacular scenery on the Rhine this morning as you cruise past the famous Middle Rhine Valley. Later, experience Germany’s fabled Rheingau in one of two ways today. Take in spectacular views of the region’s famous vineyards from the perspective of an aerial cable car, or venture within an atmospheric medieval monastery and taste the Rieslings made on site. Like many cities along the Rhine, Rüdesheim has a lengthy history that stretches back to Roman times. These days, the town is best known for its narrow avenue of shops and wine bars called the Drosselgasse and its impressive Niederwald Monument.

Rüdesheim wine village and panoramas of Niederwald Monument

The huge statue of Germania atop the hill above Rüdesheim is visible for miles. Erected by Wilhelm I to commemorate the unification of Germany following the Franco-Prussian War in 1877, the monument may perfectly embody 19th-century imperial grandiosity—but the ride to and from it is the real point of your expedition. Hop aboard an aerial cable car and begin your ascent to Niederwald Heights. You'll get a great view of the town and the entire Rheingau wine-growing region as you climb high into the air, with the precipitous vineyards falling away below you and spectacular views of the Rhine valley spreading into the distance. Don't worry if you find there are far too many glorious things to see as you ascend; anything you miss while going up, you'll have a chance to catch coming back down. Explore the historic Niederwald Monument, then head back down into Rüdesheim, where you can enjoy some free time.

Abbey Eberbach medieval monastery tour with Riesling tasting

Kloster Eberbach is a former Cistercian monastery built in the Romanesque and early Gothic style, and is considered one of the most significant architectural sites in the region. In fact, some of the interior scenes of the 1986 movie The Name of the Rose—based on the best-selling novel by Umberto Eco—were filmed here. You’ll have a guided tour of the monastery followed by a tasting of locally grown Rieslings.

Day 5: Frankfurt (Heidelberg)

Vibrant Frankfurt, often referred to as the “Mainhattan” of Europe, boasts world-class museums, soaring skyscrapers, cozy wine taverns and lovely parks. Choose a brief tour that gives you an overview of this major European financial and trade center. Alternatively, visit romantic Heidelberg and its Renaissance castle.

Heidelberg Castle visit

Walk up a cobblestone incline to Heidelberg Castle, where you’ll have a guided tour of the courtyard and the Heidelberg Tun—the world’s largest wine barrel. The views from the hilltop castle ruins, which greatly inspired writers and artists of the Romantic era, are simply spectacular. Later, enjoy a leisurely lunch and explore the culinary treasures and charming shops in town before boarding the coach back to your ship.

Note: lunch is not included with this excursion.

Day 6: Wertheim

After today, you may never eat a pretzel again without thinking of the town of Wertheim. You’ll meet one of Germany’s best pretzel makers, as well as the owner of a historic wine estate. If you’re more in the mood for a scenic bike ride, you are welcome to do that instead.

Wertheim walk with local treats

This region of Bavaria is known for its amber-colored beer, spicy bratwurst, traditional soft pretzels and unique wine bottles with short necks and round bodies—and you’ll encounter several of these local specialties today. First, though, you get to see a little of Wertheim itself. Despite centuries of flooding, a great deal of the Old Town remains. The Pointed Tower, used as a jail for drunkards and shrews in the 13th century, leans toward its neighbors, not from age but because flood waters have undermined it. It’s not the only architectural wonder you’ll see on your tour. You may choose to spend some leisure time in the village or head straight to nearby Kreuzwertheim, a wine-growing area, for a hike through the vineyards—your efforts will be rewarded with a glass of sparkling wine and a wonderful view of the Main River valley. Whichever option you select, your next stop is a historic winery that produces Franconian wines. Its charming sandstone architecture, vaulted cellars and covered courtyard make for a delightful afternoon. You’ve probably tasted some yummy soft pretzels on your trip already, but these are special: Watch a fifth-generation baker make some for you and discover for yourself why he supplies some of Berlin’s top hotels. Then meet the winery’s winemaker, who will present a special wine tasting.

“Let's Go” Wertheim bicycle tour

Get out and about on one of the finest and most popular cycling routes in Germany, the bike path along the Main. Starting in Wertheim, a fairytale town with half-timbered homes and quirky cobblestone lanes, nestled amidst beautiful mountain scenery. You can pedal your way along flat stretches of the riverside path, passing red sandstone quarries, farms, verdant fields and meadows, and charming villages. Then you'll bike back to Wertheim, where you can explore this enchanting medieval town with its historic castle and town center, or you can visit a nearby wine estate for some well-deserved wine tasting.

Day 7: Würzburg

Your ship will dock in the charming Franconian town of Würzburg, where you can visit the extraordinary Würzburg Residence, one of the most opulent baroque palaces in Europe.

Würzburg Residence visit with Court Gardens

This incredibly lavish 18th-century palace was created under the auspices of two Schönborn prince-bishops, Lothar Franz and Friedrich Carl, who brought enormous knowledge and passion, as well as a budget for the best, to the project. Over the course of 60 years, they fostered the creation of a 300-room palace that contains jaw-dropping baroque art. The magnificent grand staircase boasts the world’s largest ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Portions of the building were damaged by Allied bombing in 1945, but, fortunately, most of the historic furnishings had been stored off-site and key rooms were unharmed, so you can see the original—and matchless—artwork, gilding and statuary. Check out both the spectacular Hall of Mirrors and the imposing Imperial Hall, which boasts a large oval dome and 20 half-columns. Even the gardens have been restored, right down to the topiary fruit trees in the kitchen garden, which are re-creations of the trees grown there in the 18th century.

Note: Visitors may not take photos or videos or carry backpacks inside the Würzburg Residence.

Day 8: Cruising the Main River, Kitzingen (Rothenburg)

Step into a fairytale version of the Middle Ages in Rothenburg and visit a medieval castle that’s been described as a miniature Versailles. Spend a relaxing day onboard as your ship wends its way along the Main River between Würzburg and Bamberg. It’s something of a truism to say that this route takes you from wine to beer, and you’ll see the transition as you sail past the vineyard-covered slopes around Würzburg toward Bavaria’s famous beer-brewing center, Bamberg. Along the way, you’ll pass delightful little villages and romantic castle ruins, drift under lovely old bridges, and have plenty of time to observe the fascinating variety of vessels plying the river, from heavily loaded barges to jaunty little pleasure craft.

Fairytale Rothenburg

Step into a fairytale version of the Middle Ages in Rothenburg with its great stone walls surrounding the medieval core, linking towers, bastions, and parapets. Narrow cobblestone lanes will lead you past the charming old monastery, Germany’s oldest half-timbered houses, and splendid fountains before winding your way to the town’s perfectly Medieval Market Square, a hotspot for locals and guests alike. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see magnificent Town Hall (which seamlessly blends together Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture), spirited dance performances and on special occasions—knights pulling horses through the city in a wonderful spectacle. Savor a taste of the beloved Bratwurst, a type of German sausage made from veal, beef, or pork. Take some time to explore the town and have lunch on your own after your tour. This afternoon, you’ll have a chance to explore or shop on your own.

Day 9: Bamberg

Your floating boutique hotel takes you to Bamberg today, a well-preserved town that offers a fascinating glimpse of medieval times. Explore the city on foot or opt to head deeper into the Franconian countryside to experience an authentic slice of rural life—including a tractor ride. Like Rome, the city is built on seven hills—but in Bamberg, a church tops each one.

Bamberg walking tour

Now a pleasant city with a lively student population and a world-famous symphony orchestra, Bamberg was the center of economic and political life for a huge swath of Central Europe in the Middle Ages. Spared WWII bombing, the entire heart of historic Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval layout of the city remains intact, along with 2,000 historic buildings; it is yours to explore today. In the splendid late- Romanesque Imperial Cathedral you will find the only papal tomb in Germany, that of Pope Clement II (who was the bishop of Bamberg before he became pope), as well as the tomb of Emperor Henry II (who established the bishopric). Near it is the magnificent Old Palace, the late-Gothic imperial residence (if you saw the 2011 3-D version of The Three Musketeers, you’ll recognize it immediately), which sits across from the New Residence, where the 17th-century prince-bishops lived, separated by a lovely rose garden. Cross the cobblestone footbridge to the Old Town Hall, which is adorned with colorful frescoes, and ramble along the narrow lanes lined with picturesque half-timbered houses.

Franconian “Village Day”

If you’re interested in getting to know more about the landscape and local farming techniques in the beautiful Steigerwald region, this visit to a Franconian village is perfect for you. Meet a local farmer who is determined to make sure that his way of life continues for future generations; he’s dedicated to restoring the natural environment around him and making sure that school kids know more about where their food comes from. Join him as he introduces his village to you: the typical farmhouses and the crops, the hardships of the life as well as the pleasures of living among the vineyards and forests. Take a tractor ride over the rolling hills to a small-scale vintner’s where you can sample the wine they make strictly for home consumption.

You’ll spend the rest of the day on the peaceful Main River, cruising past quiet Franconian hamlets and picturesque countryside. It’s the perfect time to indulge in the many comforts of your luxury ship while watching some of Europe’s loveliest scenery glide by.

Day 10: Nuremberg, Cruising the Main-Danube Canal

Head up to the top deck or find a seat with a good view—you won’t want to miss seeing the ship navigate its way through a marvel of modern engineering, the Main-Danube Canal. A formidable set of locks, 16 in all, lifts your ship to the crest of the European “continental divide.” Arrive in the archetypal medieval German city of Nuremberg. Nuremberg is justifiably famous for its gingerbread and pocket watches, and it was also the site of some key moments in 20th-century history. You’ll choose between two memorable ways of exploring this exceptional city. You can join a panoramic tour of the city, or you can accompany a local expert to the city’s most important WWII sites, including the enormous Nazi Party Rally Grounds—the actual site of the Nazi Party rallies.

Nuremberg panoramic city tour

Nuremberg was never officially the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, but German rulers made this city their base for 500 years. They surrounded the medieval city with stout walls and built a great castle on a hilltop, which they expanded again and again over the centuries. Prosperous, secure and vibrant, Nuremberg lured artists and thinkers, merchants and scientists, for centuries.

Discover this archetypal medieval German city today as you trace the great ramparts and gate towers around the Old Town. Stroll through the castle gardens and enjoy breathtaking views of the city, then walk through a maze of cobblestone lanes down to the central Market Square, gathering around the well-named Beautiful Fountain, first erected in 1396. The red sandstone Church of Our Lady stands on the east side of the square—the 14th-century façade survived WWII bombing and, like much of Old Town, was meticulously reconstructed after the war, with the original stones plucked from the rubble.

Browse on your own following your tour; there is much to see and enjoy. The Germanisches National Museum is one of the largest museums in the world; in it, you'll find the first pocket watch ever made, the first globe produced in Europe, works by German artists and more. The half-timbered shops in Crafts Court, next to the King's Gate in the old wall, give you a sense of what it was like to buy goods in Renaissance Nuremberg—wooden toys, pewter cups and leather goods are for sale here, as are commemorative coins hand-stamped on a 15th-century press. Visit Dürer House, where Nuremberg's most famous native son, Albrecht Dürer, lived, or simply relax in a beer garden and enjoy the city's specialty sausages and dark beer.

Nuremberg city tour with WWII Rally Grounds and Documentation Center visits

Hitler considered Nuremberg the perfect expression of German culture (partly because of its significance in the Holy Roman Empire, which he called the First Reich), and so beginning in 1927, he chose to hold his massive rallies in the city. By 1933, his favorite architect, Albert Speer, had designed the vast Nazi Party Rally Grounds, where thousands upon thousands of Nazi troops saluted Hitler. (Leni Riefenstahl captured these events in her famous propaganda film Triumph of the Will.) Not all of Speer’s plans were executed, and some of his grandiose structures were bombed out of existence, but the remainder stand as vivid testimony to Hitler’s megalomania. A four-square-mile (10-square-kilometer) complex known as Zeppelin Fields contains parade grounds and a huge grandstand, the excavation site where a stadium for 400,000 people was begun—the hole is now filled with water.

NOTE: The permanent exhibition at the Documentation Center will be closed until the fall of 2023. In its place, a special temporary exhibition may be available.

Day 11: Regensburg

Today in Regensburg, you can travel through time or get a crash course in making craft beer, then watch high-tech robots assemble the Ultimate Driving Machine. Regensburg is a friendly town with quaint cobblestone streets, historic Roman ruins and a medieval city center. The remnants of Regensburg’s golden age are still on display, but don’t let its illustrious history fool you into thinking the town’s best days are all in the past.

Regensburg walking tour

People have been describing Regensburg as “old and new” for a thousand years. A single structure perfectly illustrates this: Porta Praetoria, the gate built by the Romans during Marcus Aurelius’ reign. The gate and adjacent watchtower have been incorporated into a much newer building, but the plaster has been removed to reveal the ancient stones laid so long ago.

As you walk through the cobbled lanes of the UNESCO-designated Old Town, the city’s 2,000-year history is similarly revealed: the Stone Bridge that made Regensburg a 12th-century trading powerhouse, the Gothic town hall where the Imperial Diet met for three centuries, the 13th-century fortified patrician houses and the spectacular Cathedral of St. Peter, whose magnificent 14th-century stained-glass windows alone are worth your walk.

You’ll have free time to explore on your own. It’s very hard to get lost in Regensburg because the spires of the cathedral are visible all over town, so don’t hesitate to roam. The historic quarter not only boasts almost a thousand beautiful old buildings, but also many cozy pubs and some great shopping. The ship is docked conveniently close, so it’s easy to drop your treasures off and go back for more.

BMW factory visit

Here is your opportunity to see German engineering, famous the world over, in operation as you tour the state-of-the-art BMW factory on the outskirts of Regensburg. About a thousand cars a day roll off the assembly line here, many of them in the BMW 3 series. You’ll see various stages of the process, from rolls of sheet metal being stamped out into body parts to watching elements of the car being robotically assembled. Follow an already assembled car into the finishing department to see it painted, polished and have the final touch applied—the BMW roundel.

Note: For safety reasons, BMW does not allow those with pacemakers or insulin pumps to participate in factory tours. The plant is closed on Sundays and holidays, so no visit is possible if the tour lands on those days.

NOTE: If the tour lands on a day when the BMW factory is closed, we will visit the Museum of Historical Maybach Vehicles instead.

Bavarian Sausage Making Workshop

  • Duration:
    3.25 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $85 pre-purchase / €76 EUR onboard

Germany’s oldest restaurant, Alte Wurstkuche, has been serving sausages to Regensburg’s residents for almost 900 years—which tells you just how much Regensburg loves sausages. Delve into the craft and art of this delicious regional specialty after a tour of the town’s medieval core (presided over by the splendid cathedral) that ends at the Regensburg Ratskeller. It’s housed in part of the Old Town Hall, so it’s a historic site in its own right, but it’s also home to a family-owned shop where Bavaria’s beloved Weisswürste are made—weiss, meaning white (for veal), and würst, meaning sausage. Roll up your sleeves and help create some white sausage under the supervision of the shop’s master butcher, who shares the traditional recipe with you. Once you’ve weighed and mixed the ingredients and stuffed the casings, you’ll watch them cook to delicious perfection. Then comes the best part: eating your own hand-made sausages with local Händlmaier mustard and a fresh pretzel—and, if you want a truly traditional Regensburg experience in the heart of Old Town, you’ll sip a local beer with it.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 12: Passau

Located at the confluence of three rivers—the Danube, Inn and Ilz— Passau is well known for its ornate baroque cathedral. Today, the city is unusually well preserved, having been spared the brunt of Allied bombing during WWII, as you’ll see on your walking tour.

Passau walking tour

The skyline of Passau is dominated by two buildings that owe their existence to the prince-bishops who ruled the city until 1803: the great fortress looming on a hill above the three rivers, home to the bishops until the 17th century, and the green onion domes of St. Stephan’s Cathedral. As you walk through the cobblestone streets toward those green onion domes, you’ll realize that Passau retains the layout of the medieval town. However, many of the wooden medieval buildings burned to the ground in the 17th century, and the prince-bishops imported Italian artists to build a new cathedral and a grand new residence for the bishops themselves. As a result, these splendid structures flaunt Italian baroque and rococo style and ornamentation, complete with opulent gilding and wonderful frescoes. Your guide will introduce you to some of the architectural highlights—the rococo stairways of the New Residence; the cathedral; and the Town Hall, which boasts a magnificent atrium adorned by large paintings by Ferdinand Wagner—and make sure you get a close-up view of the point where the three rivers meet: The waters of each one are a different color. Because it’s built on a peninsula between the Danube and the Inn, the city has flooded often over the centuries; you can see high-water marks on many buildings (2013 saw the worst flooding in 500 years).

“Let's Go” bicycle ride along the Inn River

The Inn River rises in the Alps, near Innsbruck (hence the name of the famous Swiss ski resort) and flows through three nations (Switzerland, Austria and Germany) on its way to Passau, where it joins the Danube. While the Danube bike path may be Europe’s best-known route for bicyclists, the Inn River bike path, which follows the river from Innsbruck to Passau, has plenty of fans. The route through the Inn River valley outside Passau is an especially attractive stretch, with great views of the lovely countryside, picturesque villages and the sparkling clear river itself. Your guide will make sure you know the local traffic and safety rules before you and your group set out along the partly flat and paved path. You’ll be traveling on both sides of the river, crossing between Germany and Austria as you cross the Inn, and your journey will include a comfort stop before returning to the ship. All in all, it’s an idyllic way to enjoy the scenery and get some exercise at the same time.

Day 13: Weissenkirchen (Melk)

Named for its white church, Weissenkirchen may very well be the prettiest village in the Wachau Valley. A local expert will show you around and introduce you to some regional delicacies, including a wine tasting. Prefer to go for baroque? Visit the 900-year-old Melk Abbey and its extraordinarily opulent library. Later, you can stretch your legs with a vineyard hike.

Weissenkirchen village walk with wine tasting

You’ve seen the apricot orchards along the river banks; now taste the fruit. Begin with an easy walk to Weissenkirchen, which may be the prettiest village in the Wachau—and that’s saying quite a bit. Named for its famous white church, Weissenkirchen is simply picture-perfect. Its centuries-old wine estates, houses with colorful flower boxes, lovely gardens and apricot orchards make for a wonderfully idyllic setting between the river and the mountains. Later, sample some Wachau wines at a local winery where your guide will share various details about why these extraordinary wines are so unique.

Melk Abbey with library visit

The Babenbergs, a great medieval ducal family that controlled a wide swath of Austria before yielding to the Habsburgs, were the first to erect a castle on the hill above Melk, which they subsequently gave to Benedictine monks. These monks, some 900 years ago, turned it into a fortified abbey and the greatest center of learning in Central Europe. Their library was celebrated far and wide (and still is—Umberto Eco paid tribute to it in his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose). Monks there created more than 1,200 manuscripts, sometimes spending an entire lifetime hand-lettering a single volume. Today the library contains some 100,000 volumes, among them more than 80,000 works printed before 1800. This beautiful complex, completely redone in the early 18th century, is a wonderful example of baroque art and architecture, and the views from its terrace are spectacular. As you walk through the abbey’s Marble Hall with your guide, look up at the ceiling fresco painted by Paul Troger: Those classical gods and goddesses represent Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, allegorically bringing his people from darkness to light and demonstrating the link he claimed to the original Roman Empire.

“Let’s Go” vineyard hike

If you're up for a hike, join a group on a hike up through the vineyards. A stairway at the church will take you past the ancient cemetery and up to the hiking trail that leads through the vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes. You'll enjoy expansive views over the river valley as you approach your resting point. An easy walk back to the ship; instead of a reverse hike, you can comfortably stroll back into the village via a different route, passing many small vintners along the way.

Private Mozart and Strauss Concert

  • Duration:
    3.5 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $106 pre-purchase / €96 EUR onboard

Vienna is linked inextricably with music, as so many great composers lived and worked here: Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, Mahler, Brahms- the list is as long as it is glorious. Enjoy an evening of chamber music performed by some of Vienna's world class professionals in a historic and intimate concert venue.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 14: Vienna

Vienna is a cultural treasure trove revered for its art and music (and sinfully rich pastries). Experience the City of Waltzes with your choice of excursions. Begin your day with an itinerary highlight—our “Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum. Then, you can choose between two different guided tours: an Imperial city highlights tour or an Imperial Crypt of the Habsburgs walking tour.

“Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum

The Habsburgs assembled an astonishing collection of artistic treasures over the centuries, which formed the basis for the works now on display at the Vienna Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches). The doors open early especially for you as you join an art historian for a tour of some of the masterpieces gathered here: View a unique group of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Vermeer’s Allegory of Painting, Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow, and portraits by Rembrandt, Velazquez, Rubens, Titian, Tintoretto and Van Eyck, among others, in the Picture Gallery. Then move onto the Kunstkammer galleries, where you can see Benvenuto Cellini’s legendary salt cellar (the only gold sculpture he created that has survived to the present day) and hear its remarkable story. Your tour ends in the magnificent Cupola Hall, perhaps the architectural highlight of the splendid building.

Vienna - Imperial city highlights

Ring Street, the great horseshoe-shaped boulevard lined with many of the city’s major landmarks—Parliament, City Hall, the Vienna State Opera, glorious palaces and museums—is a mere 150 years old, practically an infant for a city of Vienna’s age. It replaced the walls and fortifications that had protected the city for centuries. Its construction was a testament to confidence, forward-thinking and grand urban planning, and it resulted in a 50-year building spree. You’ll pass most of these opulent landmarks on your way to the older section of the city, the area the walls once enclosed.

Later, you’ll walk along Kärntner Street, the celebrated pedestrian boulevard that links the State Opera with St. Stephen’s Cathedral, past the elegant shops on the Graben and the Kohlmarkt. The neighborhood offers a lively combination of historic architecture, street performances, shoppers’ delights and true Viennese atmosphere. 

Imperial Crypt of the Habsburgs walking tour

From the ship, your coach will take you into Vienna and along the Ringstrasse, famous for its beauty and many iconic landmarks, such as the Imperial Palace and the Opera House. You’ll come to a stop in front of the Capuchin Church.

Beneath the surface of this humble church lies the Imperial Crypt, where the remains of nearly 150 members of Habsburg royalty are laid to rest (including 12 emperors and 19 empresses and queens). A guided tour through the crypt will introduce you to 400 years of European history. The highlight? The magnificent double sarcophagus of Maria Theresa and her husband, Emperor Franz I.

Exit the crypt to embark on a walking tour of this wonderful city and enjoy some free time to shop or continue exploring on your own before rejoining the group to return to the ship.

Schönbrunn Palace

  • Duration:
    3.5 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $66 pre-purchase / €59 EUR onboard

Perhaps the apex of baroque design in Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace’s gardens and structures form a perfectly integrated masterwork; it was Empress Maria Theresa’s favorite palace, and she made it the social and political center of her empire, beginning in 1740. Your visit today will concentrate on the rooms occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his empress, Elisabeth (known as Sissi, she was enormously popular in her day). Franz Joseph restored the state rooms to their rococo splendor, but his private rooms reflect his rather severe nature, making for an illuminating contrast.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 15: Budapest

Called the “Queen of the Danube,” in part because of the way the city hugs the banks of the river, Budapest is an enchanting city that vibrantly mixes East and West, medieval and modern. Made up of two parts— Buda (the hills) and Pest (the flatlands)—and divided by the Danube, Hungary’s capital presents an array of architectural styles that reveal its long and varied history. You’ll have two enticing ways to experience the city—a panoramic guided tour aboard a motorcoach with a visit to the Parliament, or discover the Budapest that locals love on a special walking tour of the city’s most important landmarks.

Budapest panoramic highlights with Parliament visit

Take in the highlights of Budapest on a panoramic tour down Andrassy Avenue, a bustling promenade lined with breathtaking Neo-Renaissance architecture. The construction of this street was part of a concerted effort to establish Budapest as a modern metropolis during the 19th century, making the grandeur of these buildings as much a political statement as an artistic one. Today, you can enjoy both the beauty and the history of this UNESCO-designated avenue as you pass through, marvel at Heroes’ Square, and make your way to the top of Gellért Hill, where you’ll look down to incredible views of both the Buda and Pest sides of the city.

Stepping off the coach, you’ll enter the iconic Parliament building that commands Budapest’s skyline. Likely the most famous building in Budapest, this masterpiece of Neo-Gothic architecture is as spectacular inside as out.

Budapest walk with local treats

One of the best ways to get to know Budapest is through its cuisine, in no small part because many of its unique culinary treats can be found inside famous architectural sites and other must-see hotspots.

Today we’ll start off at the Jewish District where we’ll visit the Klauzál Square Market Hall, a food bazaar that has been running on the grounds of a burned-down theater since 1897. Here you’ll try specialty meats before heading to a ruin pub. We’ll grab a beer and some langos, a Hungarian fried bread snack, and take in the eclectic atmosphere. Our last stop is the Great Market Hall, the largest in the city, where you’ll enjoy some delicious strudel for a sweet end to your tour.

Budapest designer's tour

  • Duration:
    3.5 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $40 pre-purchase / €36 EUR onboard

TBA

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Jewish Budapest

  • Duration:
    3.5 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $80 pre-purchase / €72 EUR onboard

TBA

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 16: Budapest

Other passengers are heading home today, but you are only halfway through your marvelous holiday. Today you are invited to enjoy a full-day visit to Hungary's Eger wine region for some lunch and, of course, wine tasting.

Day 17: Budapest

Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each have their own distinctive character and allure. Explore this dynamic and multifaceted city with your choice of excursions—you can see it from a local’s perspective on our walking tour, cover more ground with a panoramic tour or “Let’s Go” with a guided bike ride. Vibrant Budapest, Hungary’s capital, offers an enchanting combination of East and West.

Budapest Communist Tour

Following World War II, Hungary spent 40 years as the Soviet-backed Hungarian People’s Republic, a fascist regime that was massively unpopular for its oppressive politics, brutal secret police force (the ÁVH) and declining economic conditions. An uprising in 1956 failed to eradicate the Soviet-backed government, but did eventually result in more liberal policies. The Hungarian People’s Republic finally ended with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989.

Step into the past for a tour of this fraught history, beginning at the House of Terror. Housed in the former headquarters of the dreaded ÁVH secret police, this museum focuses on the atrocities of Soviet-era Hungary in a permanent exhibition called Double Occupation. You’ll learn about the events leading up to the 1956 uprising and develop a deep understanding of the country’s complex political background.

Back on the coach, you’ll see Heroes’ Square, designed in 1896 to commemorate the millennium anniversary of the ancestral conquest of the Carpathian Basin, which would later become modern-day Hungary. Your last stop of the tour will be Gellért Hill for spectacular views over Budapest, where you’ll see Hungary’s own Statue of Liberty. Originally erected as a monument to the Soviet “liberation” of Hungary from Nazi occupation, the statue’s inscription was later altered to celebrate Hungarian independence, freedom and prosperity without mention of Soviet intervention.

Budapest panoramic highlights with synagogue visit

Start your tour with a drive down the picture-worthy Andrássy Avenue. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a masterpiece of Neo-Renaissance architecture and city planning. In addition to the many beautiful museums, palaces, and other public buildings lining its sidewalks, this street is also among the most popular in Budapest for shopping and dining. Marvel at such sites as Heroes’ Square, Franz Liszt Memorial House, House of Terror, the Széchenyi Baths, City Park and, of course, the Castle District.

Your coach will head into Budapest’s former Jewish quarter. Despite being one of the smallest districts in Budapest, it is still one of the liveliest, with a dense population and a plethora of bars, coffee shops and street food stands. You’ll see the area’s unique streets and hidden courtyards before exiting the coach at Dohány Street Synagogue.

Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as Central Synagogue or the Great Synagogue, is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second-largest in the world. It’s gilded onion domes and red-striped facade make it one of the most interesting buildings in Budapest. The interior is even more ornate, with intricately designed ceilings and a combined floor and gallery space that can accommodate thousands of worshippers.

Unicum distillery visit

  • Duration:
    3 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $56 pre-purchase / €51 EUR onboard

It was 1790 when Doctor Zwack, Royal Physician to the Imperial Court, offered the Habsburg monarch a sip of Unicum as a cure for his indigestion. Upon tasting, the monarch exclaimed, “Dr. Zwack, das ist ein Unikum!” Translation: “Dr. Zwack, this is unique!”—thus earning this herbal tincture its name. The beverage, which contains over 40 herbs, spread across the royal court in Vienna, growing more and more popular by the day. Learn more about Doctor Zwack and the Unicum brand and take a sip of history on this exclusive distillery tour. This experience is truly one of a kind and sure to delight the mind as well as the palate.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 18: Mohács, Batina (Osijek), Vukovar

Welcome to Croatia! This ancient country, which has made a remarkable recovery from a brutal civil war, is noted for its beautiful countryside and thriving folk traditions, as well as simple, delicious local rustic food.

Vucedol Culture Museum and lunch at a family winery

From Batina you’ll head to Osijek, where you’ll visit Tvrda, a military and civil complex begun in 1687 by the Habsburgs after they took the region back from the Ottomans. You’ll also learn something of Osijek’s long history—which dates back to Roman times—and stop by the Church of the Holy Cross, built by the Franciscans after the Ottomans left.

Later, you’ll visit the Vucedol Museum. The basic idea behind the concept of this unique museum was integration into the terrain—the entire structure is designed to be mostly buried in the ground and only the façade is open to the landscape. Its shape, as serpentine, follows terrain, and on whose green roof you can reach the archaeological sites over the museum. Along the path, you’ll encounter the various Vučedol culture archaeological findings that have been discovered to date, which showcase the daily life and customs during a turbulent time of the immigration of the first Indo-Europeans and their relationship with the natives, the blending of material cultures and religions. Following your time at the museum, enjoy lunch at the Goldschmidt winery.

Next, you're off to Vukovar, whose bullet-riddled water tower stands as a reminder of the bitter Croatian War of Independence, fought between 1991 and 1995, when Croatia sought to break away from Yugoslavia. Thousands died during the siege of Vukovar, which was heavily damaged. As you take a short walk through Vukovar, you will see lasting signs of the conflict, but you will also see a revitalized community, determined to rebuild.

Home-hosted lunch with Karanac Craft Museum visit

Visit the idyllic, countryside town of Karanac, known as an “Ethno Village” for how authentically it preserves Serbian tradition through its architecture, customs and cuisine. Karanac is located in the heart of the Baranja region, over 12 miles from the nearest city, Osijek. In 2016, it was awarded as the best rural destination in Croatia.

Today we’ll join a local family for lunch. They’ll invite you to see their home and garden before its time to re-board our bus and meet the ship in Vukovar.

Day 19: Belgrade

Belgrade, the modern-day capital of Serbia, is one of Europe’s oldest cities, dating back some 7,000 years. Signs of its tumultuous history are visible everywhere, juxtaposed with the city’s vibrant modern-day present.

Belgrade city tour with visit to the Royal Grounds of Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace

As a motorcoach carries you through the city, you’ll see a mix of architectural styles that reveal the city’s past, ranging from Gothic, Ottoman, baroque and art nouveau to utilitarian Communist apartment blocks and modern high-rises. While Belgrade has been no stranger to political upheaval, the 19th-century Residence of Princess Ljubica and serene old residential streets speak of calmer days, as do the bustling present-day café-lined boulevards. You’ll pass the tomb and memorial museum of Josip Broz Tito, which is located at the site of Tito’s former residence in Belgrade’s affluent Dedinje neighborhood, and visit Kalemegdan Fortress, high on a hill above the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.

Ancient Romans built the first fortress here, and successive conquerors and defenders—Slavs, Byzantines, Ottomans, Habsburgs—continued to build and destroy fortifications on this site for another 1,500 years. Walk along the old stone walls, passing monuments and memorials (some will surprise you—poets and composers are honored here as well as military actions), for a sense of Serbia’s distant and more recent history. It’s not the only intriguing historical sight you’ll see today, however. You will also visit the Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace and sip a glass of sparkling Serbian wine as you tour a compound of palaces built in the 1920s and 1930s. Serbia’s royal family, which is related to most of Europe’s royalty, has a strictly honorary position in modern-day democratic Serbia, but Crown Prince Alexander (who did not feel that taking the title of king was appropriate when his father died in exile in the United States in 1972) and his family still live in these palaces. A local expert will show you the public rooms of the Royal Palace, the White Palace, the adjacent chapel and the spacious grounds.

"Let's Go" "I Bike Belgrade" tour

Mount a bike and spend a leisurely half-day getting an up-close look at Belgrade, complete with lively commentary from your guide, who will tell you not just about the tumultuous recent past but also what it’s like to live here. Ride past Branko’s Bridge, Staro Sajmište (a former concentration camp), the Palace of Serbia and Hotel Jugoslavija; after a refreshing stop at a traditional fisherman’s bar, you’ll be ready to pedal to Kalemegdan Fortress and see a bit of Serbia’s more distant past.

Rakija Distillery visit with Avala Tower

  • Duration:
    3 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $66 pre-purchase / €59 EUR onboard

TBA

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 20: Golubac, Cruising the Iron Gates

Head ashore to explore a Paleolithic site and an extraordinarily well-preserved medieval fortress. All along the way, history lines the banks of the river. Keep an eye out for Trajan’s Plaque, which the ancient Romans erected to commemorate the road they anchored in the steep cliffs above the water, and Golubac Castle, built in the 14th century and attacked successively by the Serbs, Magyars and Turks.

Lepenski Vir archaeological park and Golubac Castle

Your first stop is Golubac Castle, one of the best-preserved medieval fortresses in Europe, a powerhouse that has loomed over the Danube for centuries.

Later you'll visit Lepenski Vir which is one of the largest and most significant prehistoric archeological sites from the Stone Age, located on the Danube. It was once the epicenter of one of the most highly developed prehistoric cultures, with complex social relations and even rudimentary urban planning. The discovery of this prehistoric settlement has changed the image experts once had about the early Stone Age, expanding scientists’ knowledge about human communities that walked the earth millennia ago.

Unwind onboard as you cruise the breathtaking Iron Gates, an 83-mile-long (134-kilometer-long) stretch of scenic gorges that were cut through the Carpathian and Balkan mountains over eons by the Danube River. These gorges, which act as a natural border between Serbia and Romania, are among the most dramatic and beautiful sights in all of Europe. This was one of the swiftest and most dangerous stretches of the river before two dams were built: Iron Gate I and Iron Gate II. Construction on the dams began in 1964 and took 20 years to complete; they have dramatically altered the area’s landscape, raising the water level by 114 feet (35 meters) and drowning several islands and villages.

Day 21: Vidin

Vidin is a port town on the Danube that once played an important role in medieval Bulgarian politics, as the great fortress Baba Vida attests. It’s your base for an unusual excursion today—a visit to the fascinating Belogradchik rock formations. Or you can head to a local’s home to bake a traditional Bulgarian dish called banitza.

Belogradchik red rock valley

Drive through the scenic Bulgarian countryside to Belogradchik, a small town in the foothills of the Balkan Mountains, not far from the Serbian border. After some light refreshment at a local hotel, you’ll be ready to explore the astonishing rock formations nearby, which are over 200 million years old—and have inspired nearly as many legends! Many of the strange wind- and weather-hewn shapes have names, such as Adam and Eve, the Bear and the Castle. The outcroppings formed a natural defense for the town that was enhanced with man-made fortifications over the centuries. Whether you choose to hike with a local expert to the top of the path or not, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. Your return will take you past some sights that highlight Vidin’s mixed heritage: the Orthodox cathedral, the Turkish mosque, the Konak (the 18th-century headquarters of the Turkish police) and the cruciform barracks (which date to the 1790s). The final stop will be Baba Vida, whose stern 10th-century stone walls were built on the site of a Roman watchtower.

Banitza home baking experience

Today, a local baker will welcome you into their home for a demonstration and workshop on how to make a traditional Bulgarian treat, banitza. Typically made with filo dough, yoghurt and cheese, banitza can always be found at Bulgarian celebrations. First, your hostess will show you how the bread is made, then you will try your own hand at preparing this delicious treat while her banitza is in the oven.

You’ll also learn how yoghurt, a Bulgarian staple, can be made at home. When the hostess’ banitza is ready, you’ll sample it alongside the homemade yoghurt. In the meantime, your own banitza will be baking and will be ready to take back to the ship with you when the tasting is finished.

Before returning to the ship, you’ll stop at a local kindergarten to join the afternoon’s lesson. Enjoy some light refreshments while chatting with the kids, lending a hand in their craft session and watching their English poetry and song performance.

Day 22: Rousse

Bulgaria’s foremost Danube port, Rousse is sometimes called “Little Vienna” for its elegant 19th-century mansions and public buildings.

Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi with authentic Bulgarian lunch

Twice the capital of Bulgaria—before and after the Ottomans conquered the nation—Veliko Tarnovo climbs steep hills above the Yantra River, topped by the ruins of Tsarevets, the stronghold where Bulgaria’s kings ruled between 1185 and 1393. The remains of the great stone walls and towers that you see formed the historic heart of the Second Bulgarian Empire. History lives in this town, as a quick look at the wares for sale in Samovod Marketplace will show you: Handicrafts are all made by local artisans using ancient, medieval or Renaissance technologies. You’ll have time to peruse the exceptional local pottery and textiles there before heading to Arbanassi, home to six amazing 17th-century stone churches, each one decorated with colorful and intricate frescoes. Learn something of the multicultural history of this fascinating town at the Ethnographic Museum and visit the UNESCO-designated Nativity Church, where murals of the Nativity, the Last Judgment and the zodiac brilliantly blend religious and humanist iconography. At another of the churches, Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, you’ll hear the otherworldly singing of an Orthodox choir in a short concert. Your day’s adventure includes a traditional three-course Bulgarian lunch, complete with live folk music.

Rousse walking tour with Ivanovo and Basarbovo Monasteries

Walk through the woods of Rusenski Lom, a protected region that is home to a wide variety of rare birds, among other wildlife, to Ivanovo Rock Monastery—once an enclave of more than 40 churches and chapels that the devout built inside caves above the Lom River Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is famous for its beautiful and well-preserved 14th-century murals.

Your next destination, the Basarbovo Rock Monastery, is the only rock monastery where monks still live and worship today. Climb the narrow rock stairway to the 15th-century cloister, which is cut into the limestone cliffs high above the Lom River, and take a look at the arresting frescoes. You’ll also spend some time in Rousse, a city with an easygoing, gracious feeling. Freedom Square, a huge open plaza, takes its name from the Freedom Monument, which soars from the center of the square; the stately Belle Epoque buildings surrounding the square attest to the city’s prosperity in the 1890s. Stroll along wide, tree-lined Alexandrovska, the main pedestrian street that links the city’s many attractive squares, encountering such landmark sights as Rousse’s grand theater, the city museum and the first movie theater (it opened in 1896).

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 23: Giurgiu (Disembark), Transfer to Bucharest

This morning, you’ll disembark the ship in Giurgiu and drive through the countryside to Bucharest, where you’ll enjoy a panoramic city tour or walking tour in the old Lipscani district. Tonight, you’ll relax in the comfort of a luxury hotel located in the heart of the city, Romania’s capital and its cultural and economic center.

Bucharest Communist tour with People's Palace

Bucharest began as a fortress in the 15th century, a warlike origin that set the tone for its turbulent history. It saw glory days as the summer residence of the Wallachian princes and was burned to the ground by the Ottoman Turks; then Austria-Hungary and imperial Russia fought over it for a century. After Wallachia and Moldavia united to form Romania in the mid-19th century, Bucharest enjoyed a prosperity that was reflected in its extravagant architecture, some of which miraculously survived WWII bombing and Communist building programs.

You’ll see Bucharest’s very own Triumphal Arch, which is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and Victoria Boulevard, lined with chic shops and handsomely restored pre-war buildings—and sites where protests brought down Ceaușescu’s regime in 1989. These days Bucharest enjoys a lively and eclectic cultural scene, hosting international arts festivals and concerts, and a measure of prosperity apparent in its busy cafés and thriving street life.

For the most dazzling stop of the day, you’ll visit the colossal People’s Palace, the second largest office building in the world. It’s certainly one of the grandest as well, filled with crystal chandeliers, mosaics, marble, gold leaf and stained-glass windows. A remnant of the city’s communist history, the building’s original design took a team of approximately 700 architects and was inspired by Socialist Realism, Modernism and Neoclassical architecture. Though the People’s Palace was ordered by Nicolae Ceaușescu, the last communist leader of Romania, it was not completed until 8 years after his death. The Palace now houses the Romanian Parliament and three museums, including a contemporary art museum and the Museum of Communist Totalitarianism.

Day 24: Bucharest

Get to know the bustling heart of Romania's capital city with a full day to explore Bucharest on your own.

Day 25: Bucharest

Check out of your hotel this morning. If your cruise/tour package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport for your flight home.

Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

Day 1: Bucharest

Arrive at Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the hotel.

Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit Uniworld.com/transfers. For Port Location details, please visit Uniworld.com/ports.

Day 2: Bucharest

Get to know the bustling heart of Romania's capital city with a full day to explore Bucharest on your own.

Day 3: Bucharest, Transfer to Giurgiu (Embark)

Bucharest is a fascinating combination of Communist grandiosity, elegant French-influenced 19th-century buildings and surprising survivors dating from the 1500s. Today in Bucharest you’ll enjoy a panoramic city tour or a walking tour in the old Lipscani district. Later, you'll travel via motorcoach to Giurgiu, where your ship awaits.

Bucharest Communist tour with People's Palace

Bucharest began as a fortress in the 15th century, a warlike origin that set the tone for its turbulent history. It saw glory days as the summer residence of the Wallachian princes and was burned to the ground by the Ottoman Turks; then Austria-Hungary and imperial Russia fought over it for a century. After Wallachia and Moldavia united to form Romania in the mid-19th century, Bucharest enjoyed a prosperity that was reflected in its extravagant architecture, some of which miraculously survived WWII bombing and Communist building programs.

You’ll see Bucharest’s very own Triumphal Arch, which is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and Victoria Boulevard, lined with chic shops and handsomely restored pre-war buildings—and sites where protests brought down Ceaușescu’s regime in 1989. These days Bucharest enjoys a lively and eclectic cultural scene, hosting international arts festivals and concerts, and a measure of prosperity apparent in its busy cafés and thriving street life.

For the most dazzling stop of the day, you’ll visit the colossal People’s Palace, the second largest office building in the world. It’s certainly one of the grandest as well, filled with crystal chandeliers, mosaics, marble, gold leaf and stained-glass windows. A remnant of the city’s communist history, the building’s original design took a team of approximately 700 architects and was inspired by Socialist Realism, Modernism and Neoclassical architecture. Though the People’s Palace was ordered by Nicolae Ceaușescu, the last communist leader of Romania, it was not completed until 8 years after his death. The Palace now houses the Romanian Parliament and three museums, including a contemporary art museum and the Museum of Communist Totalitarianism.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 4: Rousse

Bulgaria’s foremost Danube port, Rousse is sometimes called “Little Vienna” for its elegant 19th-century mansions and public buildings.

Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi with authentic Bulgarian lunch

Twice the capital of Bulgaria—before and after the Ottomans conquered the nation—Veliko Tarnovo climbs steep hills above the Yantra River, topped by the ruins of Tsarevets, the stronghold where Bulgaria’s kings ruled between 1185 and 1393. The remains of the great stone walls and towers that you see formed the historic heart of the Second Bulgarian Empire. History lives in this town, as a quick look at the wares for sale in Samovod Marketplace will show you: Handicrafts are all made by local artisans using ancient, medieval or Renaissance technologies. You’ll have time to peruse the exceptional local pottery and textiles there before heading to Arbanassi, home to six amazing 17th-century stone churches, each one decorated with colorful and intricate frescoes. Learn something of the multicultural history of this fascinating town at the Ethnographic Museum and visit the UNESCO-designated Nativity Church, where murals of the Nativity, the Last Judgment and the zodiac brilliantly blend religious and humanist iconography. At another of the churches, Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, you’ll hear the otherworldly singing of an Orthodox choir in a short concert. Your day’s adventure includes a traditional three-course Bulgarian lunch, complete with live folk music.

Rousse walking tour with Ivanovo and Basarbovo Monasteries

Walk through the woods of Rusenski Lom, a protected region that is home to a wide variety of rare birds, among other wildlife, to Ivanovo Rock Monastery—once an enclave of more than 40 churches and chapels that the devout built inside caves above the Lom River Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is famous for its beautiful and well-preserved 14th-century murals.

Your next destination, the Basarbovo Rock Monastery, is the only rock monastery where monks still live and worship today. Climb the narrow rock stairway to the 15th-century cloister, which is cut into the limestone cliffs high above the Lom River, and take a look at the arresting frescoes. You’ll also spend some time in Rousse, a city with an easygoing, gracious feeling. Freedom Square, a huge open plaza, takes its name from the Freedom Monument, which soars from the center of the square; the stately Belle Epoque buildings surrounding the square attest to the city’s prosperity in the 1890s. Stroll along wide, tree-lined Alexandrovska, the main pedestrian street that links the city’s many attractive squares, encountering such landmark sights as Rousse’s grand theater, the city museum and the first movie theater (it opened in 1896).

Day 5: Vidin

Vidin is a port town on the Danube that once played an important role in medieval Bulgarian politics, as the great fortress Baba Vida attests. It’s your base for an unusual excursion today—a visit to the fascinating Belogradchik rock formations. Or you can head to a local’s home to bake a traditional Bulgarian dish called banitza.

Belogradchik red rock valley

Drive through the scenic Bulgarian countryside to Belogradchik, a small town in the foothills of the Balkan Mountains, not far from the Serbian border. After some light refreshment at a local hotel, you’ll be ready to explore the astonishing rock formations nearby, which are over 200 million years old—and have inspired nearly as many legends! Many of the strange wind- and weather-hewn shapes have names, such as Adam and Eve, the Bear and the Castle. The outcroppings formed a natural defense for the town that was enhanced with man-made fortifications over the centuries. Whether you choose to hike with a local expert to the top of the path or not, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. Your return will take you past some sights that highlight Vidin’s mixed heritage: the Orthodox cathedral, the Turkish mosque, the Konak (the 18th-century headquarters of the Turkish police) and the cruciform barracks (which date to the 1790s). The final stop will be Baba Vida, whose stern 10th-century stone walls were built on the site of a Roman watchtower.

Banitza home baking experience

Today, a local baker will welcome you into their home for a demonstration and workshop on how to make a traditional Bulgarian treat, banitza. Typically made with filo dough, yoghurt and cheese, banitza can always be found at Bulgarian celebrations. First, your hostess will show you how the bread is made, then you will try your own hand at preparing this delicious treat while her banitza is in the oven.

You’ll also learn how yoghurt, a Bulgarian staple, can be made at home. When the hostess’ banitza is ready, you’ll sample it alongside the homemade yoghurt. In the meantime, your own banitza will be baking and will be ready to take back to the ship with you when the tasting is finished.

Before returning to the ship, you’ll stop at a local kindergarten to join the afternoon’s lesson. Enjoy some light refreshments while chatting with the kids, lending a hand in their craft session and watching their English poetry and song performance.

Day 6: Cruising the Iron Gates, Donji Milanovac, Golubac

Today’s main attraction will be the spectacular scenery along the Danube, as you cruise a stretch of gorges known as the Iron Gates. Later, head ashore to explore a Paleolithic site and an extraordinarily well-preserved medieval fortress. All along the way, history lines the banks of the river. Keep an eye out for Trajan’s Plaque, which the ancient Romans erected to commemorate the road they anchored in the steep cliffs above the water, and Golubac Castle, built in the 14th century and attacked successively by the Serbs, Magyars and Turks.

Lepenski Vir archaeological park and Golubac Castle

Lepenski Vir is one of the largest and most significant prehistoric archeological sites from the Stone Age, located on the Danube. It was once the epicenter of one of the most highly developed prehistoric cultures, with complex social relations and even rudimentary urban planning. The discovery of this prehistoric settlement has changed the image experts once had about the early Stone Age, expanding scientists’ knowledge about human communities that walked the earth millennia ago.

Later, you’ll visit Golubac Castle, one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe, a powerhouse that has loomed over the Danube for centuries.

Unwind onboard as you cruise the breathtaking Iron Gates, an 83-mile-long (134-kilometer-long) stretch of scenic gorges that were cut through the Carpathian and Balkan mountains over eons by the Danube River. These gorges, which act as a natural border between Serbia and Romania, are among the most dramatic and beautiful sights in all of Europe. This was one of the swiftest and most dangerous stretches of the river before two dams were built: Iron Gate I and Iron Gate II. Construction on the dams began in 1964 and took 20 years to complete; they have dramatically altered the area’s landscape, raising the water level by 114 feet (35 meters) and drowning several islands and villages.

Day 7: Belgrade

Belgrade, the modern-day capital of Serbia, is one of Europe’s oldest cities, dating back some 7,000 years. Signs of its tumultuous history are visible everywhere, juxtaposed with the city’s vibrant modern-day present.

Belgrade city tour with visit to the Royal Grounds of Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace

As a motorcoach carries you through the city, you’ll see a mix of architectural styles that reveal the city’s past, ranging from Gothic, Ottoman, baroque and art nouveau to utilitarian Communist apartment blocks and modern high-rises. While Belgrade has been no stranger to political upheaval, the 19th-century Residence of Princess Ljubica and serene old residential streets speak of calmer days, as do the bustling present-day café-lined boulevards. You’ll pass the tomb and memorial museum of Josip Broz Tito, which is located at the site of Tito’s former residence in Belgrade’s affluent Dedinje neighborhood, and visit Kalemegdan Fortress, high on a hill above the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.

Ancient Romans built the first fortress here, and successive conquerors and defenders—Slavs, Byzantines, Ottomans, Habsburgs—continued to build and destroy fortifications on this site for another 1,500 years. Walk along the old stone walls, passing monuments and memorials (some will surprise you—poets and composers are honored here as well as military actions), for a sense of Serbia’s distant and more recent history. It’s not the only intriguing historical sight you’ll see today, however. You will also visit the Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace and sip a glass of sparkling Serbian wine as you tour a compound of palaces built in the 1920s and 1930s. Serbia’s royal family, which is related to most of Europe’s royalty, has a strictly honorary position in modern-day democratic Serbia, but Crown Prince Alexander (who did not feel that taking the title of king was appropriate when his father died in exile in the United States in 1972) and his family still live in these palaces. A local expert will show you the public rooms of the Royal Palace, the White Palace, the adjacent chapel and the spacious grounds.

"Let's Go" "I Bike Belgrade" tour

Mount a bike and spend a leisurely half-day getting an up-close look at Belgrade, complete with lively commentary from your guide, who will tell you not just about the tumultuous recent past but also what it’s like to live here. Ride past Branko’s Bridge, Staro Sajmište (a former concentration camp), the Palace of Serbia and Hotel Jugoslavija; after a refreshing stop at a traditional fisherman’s bar, you’ll be ready to pedal to Kalemegdan Fortress and see a bit of Serbia’s more distant past.

Rakija Distillery visit with Avala Tower

  • Duration:
    3 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $66 pre-purchase / €59 EUR onboard

TBA

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 8: Vukovar (Osijek), Batina, Mohács

Welcome to Croatia! This ancient country, which has made a remarkable recovery from a brutal civil war, is noted for its beautiful countryside and thriving folk traditions, as well as simple, delicious local rustic food. You’ll dock in Vukovar, Croatia’s biggest port, at the confluence of the Danube and Vuka rivers.

Vucedol Culture Museum and lunch at a family winery

The bullet-riddled water tower stands as a reminder of the bitter Croatian War of Independence, fought between 1991 and 1995, when Croatia sought to break away from Yugoslavia. Thousands died during the siege of Vukovar, which was heavily damaged. As you take a short walk through the town now, you will see lasting signs of the conflict, but you will also see a revitalized community, determined to rebuild.

Later, you’ll visit the Vucedol Museum. The basic idea behind the concept of this unique museum was integration into the terrain—the entire structure is designed to be mostly buried in the ground and only the façade is open to the landscape. Its shape, as serpentine, follows terrain, and on whose green roof you can reach the archaeological sites over the museum. Along the path, you’ll encounter the various Vučedol culture archaeological findings that have been discovered to date, which showcase the daily life and customs during a turbulent time of the immigration of the first Indo-Europeans and their relationship with the natives, the blending of material cultures and religions. Following your time at the museum, enjoy lunch at the Goldschmidt winery.

From Vukovar you’ll head to Osijek, where you’ll visit Tvrda, a military and civil complex begun in 1687 by the Habsburgs after they took the region back from the Ottomans. You’ll also learn something of Osijek’s long history—which dates back to Roman times—and stop by the Church of the Holy Cross, built by the Franciscans after the Ottomans left.

Home-hosted lunch with Karanac Craft Museum visit

Visit the idyllic, countryside town of Karanac, known as an “Ethno Village” for how authentically it preserves Serbian tradition through its architecture, customs and cuisine. Karanac is located in the heart of the Baranja region, over 12 miles from the nearest city, Osijek. In 2016, it was awarded as the best rural destination in Croatia.

Today we’ll join a local family for lunch. They’ll invite you to see their home and garden before its time to re-board our bus and meet the ship in Vukovar.

Day 9: Budapest

Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each have their own distinctive character and allure. Explore this dynamic and multifaceted city with your choice of excursions—you can see it from a local’s perspective on our walking tour, cover more ground with a panoramic tour or “Let’s Go” with a guided bike ride. Vibrant Budapest, Hungary’s capital, offers an enchanting combination of East and West.

Budapest Communist Tour

Following World War II, Hungary spent 40 years as the Soviet-backed Hungarian People’s Republic, a fascist regime that was massively unpopular for its oppressive politics, brutal secret police force (the ÁVH) and declining economic conditions. An uprising in 1956 failed to eradicate the Soviet-backed government, but did eventually result in more liberal policies. The Hungarian People’s Republic finally ended with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989.

Step into the past for a tour of this fraught history, beginning at the House of Terror. Housed in the former headquarters of the dreaded ÁVH secret police, this museum focuses on the atrocities of Soviet-era Hungary in a permanent exhibition called Double Occupation. You’ll learn about the events leading up to the 1956 uprising and develop a deep understanding of the country’s complex political background.

Back on the coach, you’ll see Heroes’ Square, designed in 1896 to commemorate the millennium anniversary of the ancestral conquest of the Carpathian Basin, which would later become modern-day Hungary. Your last stop of the tour will be Gellért Hill for spectacular views over Budapest, where you’ll see Hungary’s own Statue of Liberty. Originally erected as a monument to the Soviet “liberation” of Hungary from Nazi occupation, the statue’s inscription was later altered to celebrate Hungarian independence, freedom and prosperity without mention of Soviet intervention.

Budapest panoramic highlights with synagogue visit

Start your tour with a drive down the picture-worthy Andrássy Avenue. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a masterpiece of Neo-Renaissance architecture and city planning. In addition to the many beautiful museums, palaces, and other public buildings lining its sidewalks, this street is also among the most popular in Budapest for shopping and dining. Marvel at such sites as Heroes’ Square, Franz Liszt Memorial House, House of Terror, the Széchenyi Baths, City Park and, of course, the Castle District.

Your coach will head into Budapest’s former Jewish quarter. Despite being one of the smallest districts in Budapest, it is still one of the liveliest, with a dense population and a plethora of bars, coffee shops and street food stands. You’ll see the area’s unique streets and hidden courtyards before exiting the coach at Dohány Street Synagogue.

Dohány Street Synagogue, also known as Central Synagogue or the Great Synagogue, is the largest synagogue in Europe and the second-largest in the world. It’s gilded onion domes and red-striped facade make it one of the most interesting buildings in Budapest. The interior is even more ornate, with intricately designed ceilings and a combined floor and gallery space that can accommodate thousands of worshippers.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 10: Budapest

Other passengers are heading home today, but you are only halfway through your marvelous holiday. Today you are invited to enjoy a full-day visit to Hungary's Eger wine region for some lunch and, of course, wine tasting.

Day 11: Budapest

Called the “Queen of the Danube,” in part because of the way the city hugs the banks of the river, Budapest is an enchanting city that vibrantly mixes East and West, medieval and modern. Made up of two parts— Buda (the hills) and Pest (the flatlands)—and divided by the Danube, Hungary’s capital presents an array of architectural styles that reveal its long and varied history. You’ll have two enticing ways to experience the city—a panoramic guided tour aboard a motorcoach with a visit to the Parliament, or discover the Budapest that locals love on a special walking tour of the city’s most important landmarks.

Budapest panoramic highlights with Parliament visit

Take in the highlights of Budapest on a panoramic tour down Andrassy Avenue, a bustling promenade lined with breathtaking Neo-Renaissance architecture. The construction of this street was part of a concerted effort to establish Budapest as a modern metropolis during the 19th century, making the grandeur of these buildings as much a political statement as an artistic one. Today, you can enjoy both the beauty and the history of this UNESCO-designated avenue as you pass through, marvel at Heroes’ Square, and make your way to the top of Gellért Hill, where you’ll look down to incredible views of both the Buda and Pest sides of the city.

Stepping off the coach, you’ll enter the iconic Parliament building that commands Budapest’s skyline. Likely the most famous building in Budapest, this masterpiece of Neo-Gothic architecture is as spectacular inside as out.

Budapest walk with local treats

One of the best ways to get to know Budapest is through its cuisine, in no small part because many of its unique culinary treats can be found inside famous architectural sites and other must-see hotspots.

Today we’ll start off at the Jewish District where we’ll visit the Klauzál Square Market Hall, a food bazaar that has been running on the grounds of a burned-down theater since 1897. Here you’ll try specialty meats before heading to a ruin pub. We’ll grab a beer and some langos, a Hungarian fried bread snack, and take in the eclectic atmosphere. Our last stop is the Great Market Hall, the largest in the city, where you’ll enjoy some delicious strudel for a sweet end to your tour.

Budapest designer's tour

  • Duration:
    3.5 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $40 pre-purchase / €36 EUR onboard

TBA

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Jewish Budapest

  • Duration:
    3.5 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $80 pre-purchase / €72 EUR onboard

TBA

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 12: Cruising the Danube River, Vienna

Today is your day to relax onboard, enjoying the luxuries of your river cruise ship while soaking in the spectacular scenery all around you as your ship heads for Vienna. Come up to the Sun Deck to admire the city’s landmarks strung along the riverbanks.

Schönbrunn Palace After hours visit

  • Duration:
    3.75 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $88 pre-purchase / €79 EUR onboard

Imagine strolling through the royal chambers and gardens of Schönbrunn Palace without the crowds. That’s the agenda this evening, as you visit this baroque masterwork after the doors close to the public. Schönbrunn was Empress Maria Theresa’s favorite palace, so the state rooms reflect the luxury and splendor of the baroque and Rococo eras, but you’ll also see the suites occupied by the last significant Habsburg emperor, Franz Joseph, and his empress, Elisabeth (known as Sissi, she was enormously popular in her day). Franz Joseph’s private rooms reflect his rather severe nature, making for an illuminating contrast with the opulent public rooms. Follow your tour of the palace with a tranquil stroll through the famous baroque gardens, with their parterres, gloriettes and fountains, before driving past the beautifully illuminated monuments of Vienna on your way to the ship.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 13: Vienna

Vienna is a cultural treasure trove revered for its art and music (and sinfully rich pastries). Experience the City of Waltzes with your choice of excursions. Begin your day with an itinerary highlight—our “Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum. Then, you can choose between two different guided tours: an Imperial city highlights tour or an Imperial Crypt of the Habsburgs walking tour.

“Morning with the Masters” at the Vienna Art History Museum

The Habsburgs assembled an astonishing collection of artistic treasures over the centuries, which formed the basis for the works now on display at the Vienna Art History Museum (Kunsthistorisches). The doors open early especially for you as you join an art historian for a tour of some of the masterpieces gathered here: View a unique group of works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Vermeer’s Allegory of Painting, Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow, and portraits by Rembrandt, Velazquez, Rubens, Titian, Tintoretto and Van Eyck, among others, in the Picture Gallery. Then move onto the Kunstkammer galleries, where you can see Benvenuto Cellini’s legendary salt cellar (the only gold sculpture he created that has survived to the present day) and hear its remarkable story. Your tour ends in the magnificent Cupola Hall, perhaps the architectural highlight of the splendid building.

Vienna - Imperial city highlights

Ring Street, the great horseshoe-shaped boulevard lined with many of the city’s major landmarks—Parliament, City Hall, the Vienna State Opera, glorious palaces and museums—is a mere 150 years old, practically an infant for a city of Vienna’s age. It replaced the walls and fortifications that had protected the city for centuries. Its construction was a testament to confidence, forward-thinking and grand urban planning, and it resulted in a 50-year building spree. You’ll pass most of these opulent landmarks on your way to the older section of the city, the area the walls once enclosed.

Later, you’ll walk along Kärntner Street, the celebrated pedestrian boulevard that links the State Opera with St. Stephen’s Cathedral, past the elegant shops on the Graben and the Kohlmarkt. The neighborhood offers a lively combination of historic architecture, street performances, shoppers’ delights and true Viennese atmosphere. 

Imperial Crypt of the Habsburgs walking tour

From the ship, your coach will take you into Vienna and along the Ringstrasse, famous for its beauty and many iconic landmarks, such as the Imperial Palace and the Opera House. You’ll come to a stop in front of the Capuchin Church.

Beneath the surface of this humble church lies the Imperial Crypt, where the remains of nearly 150 members of Habsburg royalty are laid to rest (including 12 emperors and 19 empresses and queens). A guided tour through the crypt will introduce you to 400 years of European history. The highlight? The magnificent double sarcophagus of Maria Theresa and her husband, Emperor Franz I.

Exit the crypt to embark on a walking tour of this wonderful city and enjoy some free time to shop or continue exploring on your own before rejoining the group to return to the ship.

Private Mozart and Strauss Concert

  • Duration:
    3.5 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $106 pre-purchase / €96 EUR onboard

Vienna is linked inextricably with music, as so many great composers lived and worked here: Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, Mahler, Brahms- the list is as long as it is glorious. Enjoy an evening of chamber music performed by some of Vienna's world class professionals in a historic and intimate concert venue.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 14: Cruising the Wachau Valley, Weissenkirchen (Melk)

Awaken to the spectacular scenery of the Wachau Valley, one of the most beautiful stretches of river landscape in all of Europe. Named for its white church, Weissenkirchen may very well be the prettiest village in the Wachau Valley. A local expert will show you around and introduce you to some regional delicacies, including a wine tasting. Prefer to go for baroque? Visit the 900-year-old Melk Abbey and its extraordinarily opulent library. Later, you can stretch your legs with a vineyard hike.

Weissenkirchen village walk with wine tasting

You’ve seen the apricot orchards along the river banks; now taste the fruit. Begin with an easy walk to Weissenkirchen, which may be the prettiest village in the Wachau—and that’s saying quite a bit. Named for its famous white church, Weissenkirchen is simply picture-perfect. Its centuries-old wine estates, houses with colorful flower boxes, lovely gardens and apricot orchards make for a wonderfully idyllic setting between the river and the mountains. Later, sample some Wachau wines at a local winery where your guide will share various details about why these extraordinary wines are so unique.

Melk Abbey with library visit

The Babenbergs, a great medieval ducal family that controlled a wide swath of Austria before yielding to the Habsburgs, were the first to erect a castle on the hill above Melk, which they subsequently gave to Benedictine monks. These monks, some 900 years ago, turned it into a fortified abbey and the greatest center of learning in Central Europe. Their library was celebrated far and wide (and still is—Umberto Eco paid tribute to it in his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose). Monks there created more than 1,200 manuscripts, sometimes spending an entire lifetime hand-lettering a single volume. Today the library contains some 100,000 volumes, among them more than 80,000 works printed before 1800. This beautiful complex, completely redone in the early 18th century, is a wonderful example of baroque art and architecture, and the views from its terrace are spectacular. As you walk through the abbey’s Marble Hall with your guide, look up at the ceiling fresco painted by Paul Troger: Those classical gods and goddesses represent Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, allegorically bringing his people from darkness to light and demonstrating the link he claimed to the original Roman Empire.

“Let’s Go” vineyard hike

If you're up for a hike, join a group on a hike up through the vineyards. A stairway at the church will take you past the ancient cemetery and up to the hiking trail that leads through the vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes. You'll enjoy expansive views over the river valley as you approach your resting point. An easy walk back to the ship; instead of a reverse hike, you can comfortably stroll back into the village via a different route, passing many small vintners along the way.

Day 15: Passau

Just before reaching Passau, the ship will pass through the famous Schlögener Schlinge—a “gooseneck” or hairpin turn in the Danube. Located at the confluence of three rivers—the Danube, Inn and Ilz— Passau is well known for its ornate baroque cathedral. Today, the city is unusually well preserved, having been spared the brunt of Allied bombing during WWII, as you’ll see on your walking tour.

Passau walking tour

The skyline of Passau is dominated by two buildings that owe their existence to the prince-bishops who ruled the city until 1803: the great fortress looming on a hill above the three rivers, home to the bishops until the 17th century, and the green onion domes of St. Stephan’s Cathedral. As you walk through the cobblestone streets toward those green onion domes, you’ll realize that Passau retains the layout of the medieval town. However, many of the wooden medieval buildings burned to the ground in the 17th century, and the prince-bishops imported Italian artists to build a new cathedral and a grand new residence for the bishops themselves. As a result, these splendid structures flaunt Italian baroque and rococo style and ornamentation, complete with opulent gilding and wonderful frescoes. Your guide will introduce you to some of the architectural highlights—the rococo stairways of the New Residence; the cathedral; and the Town Hall, which boasts a magnificent atrium adorned by large paintings by Ferdinand Wagner—and make sure you get a close-up view of the point where the three rivers meet: The waters of each one are a different color. Because it’s built on a peninsula between the Danube and the Inn, the city has flooded often over the centuries; you can see high-water marks on many buildings (2013 saw the worst flooding in 500 years).

“Let's Go” bicycle ride along the Inn River

The Inn River rises in the Alps, near Innsbruck (hence the name of the famous Swiss ski resort) and flows through three nations (Switzerland, Austria and Germany) on its way to Passau, where it joins the Danube. While the Danube bike path may be Europe’s best-known route for bicyclists, the Inn River bike path, which follows the river from Innsbruck to Passau, has plenty of fans. The route through the Inn River valley outside Passau is an especially attractive stretch, with great views of the lovely countryside, picturesque villages and the sparkling clear river itself. Your guide will make sure you know the local traffic and safety rules before you and your group set out along the partly flat and paved path. You’ll be traveling on both sides of the river, crossing between Germany and Austria as you cross the Inn, and your journey will include a comfort stop before returning to the ship. All in all, it’s an idyllic way to enjoy the scenery and get some exercise at the same time.

Day 16: Regensburg

Today in Regensburg, you can travel through time or get a crash course in making craft beer, then watch high-tech robots assemble the Ultimate Driving Machine. Regensburg is a friendly town with quaint cobblestone streets, historic Roman ruins and a medieval city center. The remnants of Regensburg’s golden age are still on display, but don’t let its illustrious history fool you into thinking the town’s best days are all in the past.

Regensburg walking tour

People have been describing Regensburg as “old and new” for a thousand years. A single structure perfectly illustrates this: Porta Praetoria, the gate built by the Romans during Marcus Aurelius’ reign. The gate and adjacent watchtower have been incorporated into a much newer building, but the plaster has been removed to reveal the ancient stones laid so long ago.

As you walk through the cobbled lanes of the UNESCO-designated Old Town, the city’s 2,000-year history is similarly revealed: the Stone Bridge that made Regensburg a 12th-century trading powerhouse, the Gothic town hall where the Imperial Diet met for three centuries, the 13th-century fortified patrician houses and the spectacular Cathedral of St. Peter, whose magnificent 14th-century stained-glass windows alone are worth your walk.

You’ll have free time to explore on your own. It’s very hard to get lost in Regensburg because the spires of the cathedral are visible all over town, so don’t hesitate to roam. The historic quarter not only boasts almost a thousand beautiful old buildings, but also many cozy pubs and some great shopping. The ship is docked conveniently close, so it’s easy to drop your treasures off and go back for more.

BMW factory visit

Here is your opportunity to see German engineering, famous the world over, in operation as you tour the state-of-the-art BMW factory on the outskirts of Regensburg. About a thousand cars a day roll off the assembly line here, many of them in the BMW 3 series. You’ll see various stages of the process, from rolls of sheet metal being stamped out into body parts to watching elements of the car being robotically assembled. Follow an already assembled car into the finishing department to see it painted, polished and have the final touch applied—the BMW roundel.

Note: For safety reasons, BMW does not allow those with pacemakers or insulin pumps to participate in factory tours. The plant is closed on Sundays and holidays, so no visit is possible if the tour lands on those days.

NOTE: If the tour lands on a day when the BMW factory is closed, we will visit the Museum of Historical Maybach Vehicles instead.

Bavarian Sausage Making Workshop

  • Duration:
    3.25 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $85 pre-purchase / €76 EUR onboard

Germany’s oldest restaurant, Alte Wurstkuche, has been serving sausages to Regensburg’s residents for almost 900 years—which tells you just how much Regensburg loves sausages. Delve into the craft and art of this delicious regional specialty after a tour of the town’s medieval core (presided over by the splendid cathedral) that ends at the Regensburg Ratskeller. It’s housed in part of the Old Town Hall, so it’s a historic site in its own right, but it’s also home to a family-owned shop where Bavaria’s beloved Weisswürste are made—weiss, meaning white (for veal), and würst, meaning sausage. Roll up your sleeves and help create some white sausage under the supervision of the shop’s master butcher, who shares the traditional recipe with you. Once you’ve weighed and mixed the ingredients and stuffed the casings, you’ll watch them cook to delicious perfection. Then comes the best part: eating your own hand-made sausages with local Händlmaier mustard and a fresh pretzel—and, if you want a truly traditional Regensburg experience in the heart of Old Town, you’ll sip a local beer with it.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 17: Nuremberg

Arrive in the archetypal medieval German city of Nuremberg. Nuremberg is justifiably famous for its gingerbread and pocket watches, and it was also the site of some key moments in 20th-century history. You’ll choose between two memorable ways of exploring this exceptional city. You can join a panoramic tour of the city, or you can accompany a local expert to the city’s most important WWII sites, including the enormous Nazi Party Rally Grounds—the actual site of the Nazi Party rallies.

Nuremberg panoramic city tour

Nuremberg was never officially the capital of the Holy Roman Empire, but German rulers made this city their base for 500 years. They surrounded the medieval city with stout walls and built a great castle on a hilltop, which they expanded again and again over the centuries. Prosperous, secure and vibrant, Nuremberg lured artists and thinkers, merchants and scientists, for centuries.

Discover this archetypal medieval German city today as you trace the great ramparts and gate towers around the Old Town. Stroll through the castle gardens and enjoy breathtaking views of the city, then walk through a maze of cobblestone lanes down to the central Market Square, gathering around the well-named Beautiful Fountain, first erected in 1396. The red sandstone Church of Our Lady stands on the east side of the square—the 14th-century façade survived WWII bombing and, like much of Old Town, was meticulously reconstructed after the war, with the original stones plucked from the rubble.

Browse on your own following your tour; there is much to see and enjoy. The Germanisches National Museum is one of the largest museums in the world; in it, you'll find the first pocket watch ever made, the first globe produced in Europe, works by German artists and more. The half-timbered shops in Crafts Court, next to the King's Gate in the old wall, give you a sense of what it was like to buy goods in Renaissance Nuremberg—wooden toys, pewter cups and leather goods are for sale here, as are commemorative coins hand-stamped on a 15th-century press. Visit Dürer House, where Nuremberg's most famous native son, Albrecht Dürer, lived, or simply relax in a beer garden and enjoy the city's specialty sausages and dark beer.

Nuremberg city tour with WWII Rally Grounds and Documentation Center visit

Hitler considered Nuremberg the perfect expression of German culture (partly because of its significance in the Holy Roman Empire, which he called the First Reich), and so beginning in 1927, he chose to hold his massive rallies in the city. By 1933, his favorite architect, Albert Speer, had designed the vast Nazi Party Rally Grounds, where thousands upon thousands of Nazi troops saluted Hitler. (Leni Riefenstahl captured these events in her famous propaganda film Triumph of the Will.) Not all of Speer’s plans were executed, and some of his grandiose structures were bombed out of existence, but the remainder stand as vivid testimony to Hitler’s megalomania. A four-square-mile (10-square-kilometer) complex known as Zeppelin Fields contains parade grounds and a huge grandstand, the excavation site where a stadium for 400,000 people was begun—the hole is now filled with water.

NOTE: The permanent exhibition at the Documentation Center will be closed until the fall of 2023. In its place, a special temporary exhibition may be available.

Onboard: This morning, head up to the top deck or find a seat with a good view—you won’t want to miss seeing the ship navigate its way through a marvel of modern engineering, the Main-Danube Canal. A formidable set of locks, 16 in all, lifts your ship to the crest of the European “continental divide.”

Day 18: Bamberg

Your floating boutique hotel takes you to Bamberg today, a well-preserved town that offers a fascinating glimpse of medieval times. Explore the city on foot or opt to head deeper into the Franconian countryside to experience an authentic slice of rural life—including a tractor ride. Like Rome, the city is built on seven hills—but in Bamberg, a church tops each one.

Bamberg walking tour

Now a pleasant city with a lively student population and a world-famous symphony orchestra, Bamberg was the center of economic and political life for a huge swath of Central Europe in the Middle Ages. Spared WWII bombing, the entire heart of historic Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval layout of the city remains intact, along with 2,000 historic buildings; it is yours to explore today. In the splendid late- Romanesque Imperial Cathedral you will find the only papal tomb in Germany, that of Pope Clement II (who was the bishop of Bamberg before he became pope), as well as the tomb of Emperor Henry II (who established the bishopric). Near it is the magnificent Old Palace, the late-Gothic imperial residence (if you saw the 2011 3-D version of The Three Musketeers, you’ll recognize it immediately), which sits across from the New Residence, where the 17th-century prince-bishops lived, separated by a lovely rose garden. Cross the cobblestone footbridge to the Old Town Hall, which is adorned with colorful frescoes, and ramble along the narrow lanes lined with picturesque half-timbered houses.

Franconian “Village Day”

If you’re interested in getting to know more about the landscape and local farming techniques in the beautiful Steigerwald region, this visit to a Franconian village is perfect for you. Meet a local farmer who is determined to make sure that his way of life continues for future generations; he’s dedicated to restoring the natural environment around him and making sure that school kids know more about where their food comes from. Join him as he introduces his village to you: the typical farmhouses and the crops, the hardships of the life as well as the pleasures of living among the vineyards and forests. Take a tractor ride over the rolling hills to a small-scale vintner’s where you can sample the wine they make strictly for home consumption.

You’ll spend the rest of the day on the peaceful Main River, cruising past quiet Franconian hamlets and picturesque countryside. It’s the perfect time to indulge in the many comforts of your luxury ship while watching some of Europe’s loveliest scenery glide by.

Day 19: Würzburg (Rothenburg)

Your ship will dock in the charming Franconian town of Würzburg, where you can visit the extraordinary Würzburg Residence, one of the most opulent baroque palaces in Europe.

Fairytale Rothenburg

Step into a fairytale version of the Middle Ages in Rothenburg with its great stone walls surrounding the medieval core, linking towers, bastions, and parapets. Narrow cobblestone lanes will lead you past the charming old monastery, Germany’s oldest half-timbered houses, and splendid fountains before winding your way to the town’s perfectly Medieval Market Square, a hotspot for locals and guests alike. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see magnificent Town Hall (which seamlessly blends together Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture), spirited dance performances and on special occasions—knights pulling horses through the city in a wonderful spectacle. Savor a taste of the beloved Bratwurst, a type of German sausage made from veal, beef, or pork. Take some time to explore the town and have lunch on your own after your tour. This afternoon, you’ll have a chance to explore or shop on your own.

Würzburg Residence visit with Court Gardens

This incredibly lavish 18th-century palace was created under the auspices of two Schönborn prince-bishops, Lothar Franz and Friedrich Carl, who brought enormous knowledge and passion, as well as a budget for the best, to the project. Over the course of 60 years, they fostered the creation of a 300-room palace that contains jaw-dropping baroque art. The magnificent grand staircase boasts the world’s largest ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Portions of the building were damaged by Allied bombing in 1945, but, fortunately, most of the historic furnishings had been stored off-site and key rooms were unharmed, so you can see the original—and matchless—artwork, gilding and statuary. Check out both the spectacular Hall of Mirrors and the imposing Imperial Hall, which boasts a large oval dome and 20 half-columns. Even the gardens have been restored, right down to the topiary fruit trees in the kitchen garden, which are re-creations of the trees grown there in the 18th century.

Note: Visitors may not take photos or videos or carry backpacks inside the Würzburg Residence.

Day 20: Wertheim

After today, you may never eat a pretzel again without thinking of the town of Wertheim. You’ll meet one of Germany’s best pretzel makers, as well as the owner of a historic wine estate. If you’re more in the mood for a scenic bike ride, you are welcome to do that as well.

Wertheim walk with local treats

This region of Bavaria is known for its amber-colored beer, spicy bratwurst, traditional soft pretzels and unique wine bottles with short necks and round bodies—and you’ll encounter several of these local specialties today. First, though, you get to see a little of Wertheim itself. Despite centuries of flooding, a great deal of the Old Town remains. The Pointed Tower, used as a jail for drunkards and shrews in the 13th century, leans toward its neighbors, not from age but because flood waters have undermined it. It’s not the only architectural wonder you’ll see on your tour. You may choose to spend some leisure time in the village or head straight to nearby Kreuzwertheim, a wine-growing area, for a hike through the vineyards—your efforts will be rewarded with a glass of sparkling wine and a wonderful view of the Main River valley. Whichever option you select, your next stop is a historic winery that produces Franconian wines. Its charming sandstone architecture, vaulted cellars and covered courtyard make for a delightful afternoon. You’ve probably tasted some yummy soft pretzels on your trip already, but these are special: Watch a fifth-generation baker make some for you and discover for yourself why he supplies some of Berlin’s top hotels. Then meet the winery’s winemaker, who will present a special wine tasting.

“Let's Go” Wertheim bicycle tour

Get out and about on one of the finest and most popular cycling routes in Germany, the bike path along the Main. Starting in Wertheim, a fairytale town with half-timbered homes and quirky cobblestone lanes, nestled amidst beautiful mountain scenery. You can pedal your way along flat stretches of the riverside path, passing red sandstone quarries, farms, verdant fields and meadows, and charming villages. Then you'll bike back to Wertheim, where you can explore this enchanting medieval town with its historic castle and town center, or you can visit a nearby wine estate for some well-deserved wine tasting.

Day 21: Frankfurt (Heidelberg)

Frankfurt is known as the “Mainhattan” of Europe due to its profusion of bankers and soaring skyscrapers, which coexist with the city’s traditional Old Town architecture. Choose a brief tour that gives you an overview of this major European financial and trade center. Alternatively, visit romantic Heidelberg and its Renaissance castle.

Heidelberg Castle visit

Walk up a cobblestone incline to Heidelberg Castle, where you’ll have a guided tour of the courtyard and the Heidelberg Tun—the world’s largest wine barrel. The views from the hilltop castle ruins, which greatly inspired writers and artists of the Romantic era, are simply spectacular. Later, enjoy a leisurely lunch on your own and explore the culinary treasures and charming shops in town before boarding the coach back to your ship.

Note: lunch is not included with this excursion.

Day 22: Rüdesheim

Experience Germany’s fabled Rheingau in one of two ways today. Take in spectacular views of the region’s famous vineyards from the perspective of an aerial cable car, or venture within an atmospheric medieval monastery and taste the Rieslings made on site. The town is best known for its narrow avenue of shops and wine bars called the Drosselgasse. Experience the most spectacular scenery on the Rhine later in the afternoon as you cruise past the famous Middle Rhine Valley.

Rüdesheim wine village and panoramas of Niederwald Monument

The huge statue of Germania atop the hill above Rüdesheim is visible for miles. Erected by Wilhelm I to commemorate the unification of Germany following the Franco-Prussian War in 1877, the monument may perfectly embody 19th-century imperial grandiosity—but the ride to and from it is the real point of your expedition. Hop aboard an aerial cable car and begin your ascent to Niederwald Heights. You'll get a great view of the town and the entire Rheingau wine-growing region as you climb high into the air, with the precipitous vineyards falling away below you and spectacular views of the Rhine valley spreading into the distance. Don't worry if you find there are far too many glorious things to see as you ascend; anything you miss while going up, you'll have a chance to catch coming back down. Explore the historic Niederwald Monument, then head back down into Rüdesheim, where you can enjoy some free time.

Abbey Eberbach medieval monastery tour with Riesling tasting

Kloster Eberbach is a former Cistercian monastery built in the Romanesque and early Gothic style, and is considered one of the most significant architectural sites in the region. In fact, some of the interior scenes of the 1986 movie The Name of the Rose—based on the best-selling novel by Umberto Eco—were filmed here. You’ll have a guided tour of the monastery followed by a tasting of locally grown Rieslings.

Day 23: Cologne

Enjoy a delightful tour of Cologne’s Old Town, where three medieval gates remain standing, as does the old city hall with its stunning Renaissance façade. Wander through the historical center and take in its charming atmosphere and narrow alleyways flanked by old houses. No matter how you choose to explore Old Town, you’ll also have ample free time to explore the city on your own.

Cologne walking tour

Follow your guide around some of the most popular sites of Cologne, the largest city on the Rhine. You’ll pass the old fish market, City Hall with its Renaissance façade and the old Jewish mikvah (a bath used for ritual cleansing).

Meander through the narrow, cobbled lanes of Old Town, lined with traditional houses in every color and a plethora of restaurants and pubs. One of the city’s 12 Romanesque churches provides a castle-like backdrop to this quaint, riverside quarter of Cologne.

Your local expert will take you all the way to the Domplatte, the square where you’ll find the Cologne Cathedral. Should you wish, you can head inside this Gothic building on your own to see the Shrine of the Magi and the beautiful stained-glass windows. Otherwise, try asking your guide for tips on what to explore. Whatever your interests, our local expert knows all the best spots in town!

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 24: Amsterdam

Enjoy the luxury of a full day in the “Venice of the North.” Explore the city with a canal ride or on foot with a local expert.

Amsterdam Canal cruise

It’s called the “Venice of the North” for a reason: Canals crisscross the heart of the old city, and bridges link some 90 islands. As the principal city in a newly independent Holland, Amsterdam was a boom town in the early 17th century, rapidly outgrowing its medieval walls. The city’s fathers responded by demolishing most of the old city and building an entirely new one, creating Europe’s first planned city. That “new” district is now 400 years old, and as you glide along the main canals, you’ll pass stately merchants’ houses built centuries ago (some of them are now house museums you can visit on your own). But the canals are not merely scenic; they are essential thoroughfares—people take water buses to work and live in houseboats along the banks—so a canal cruise also gives you a look at the busy modern city. 

Polders and Windmills 

  • Duration:
    4 hours
  • Activity Level:
    Intermediate
  • Price:
    $69 pre-purchase / €62 EUR onboard

TBA

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date; if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 25: Amsterdam (Disembark)

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for your flight home.

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