Day 1 Arrive in Vienna, Austria (Embarkation).
Vienna, Austria’s capital, is known as the “City of Music” and inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. (D)NOTE:Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.
Day 2 Vienna.
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital on the blue Danube is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its Vienna Boy’s Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral—plus, countless other sights you’ll see on your GUIDED TOUR. Shop in the delightful pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic Viennese coffee houses, historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture! (B,L,D)
Day 3 Dürnstein–Grein.
Early this morning, arrive in Dürnstein. Standing on the banks of the Danube, the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade is without a doubt the landmark of this small town which lies right in the heart of the Wachau wine region. A Certified Local Guide will take you on a WALKING TOUR, and tell you the tale of England’s King Richard the Lionheart, who was imprisoned in the castle whose ruins still stand above the town. Then, relax on board as your cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley before lunch; in the late afternoon, arrive in the attractive country resort of Grein, nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its castle. Join a local expert for a GUIDED WALK and take pictures of the turreted houses on the main square. Its castle is the oldest residential castle in Austria, and its THEATER—built in 1791—is Austria’s oldest theater. (B,L,D)
Day 4 Linz.
After breakfast this morning your Local Guide will introduce you to Linz, Austria’s third-largest city and an important river port, during an included WALKING TOUR. See the 13th-century Hauptplatz, Austria’s largest medieval square, and the Trinity Column, built in 1723 as thanks for the city escaping the ravages of the plague, war, and fire. Maybe wander around the old castle grounds and take in the beautiful views of the river, or visit the neo-gothic New Cathedral, the largest church in Austria with capacity for 20,000 visitors. Alternatively, you might like to join one of several optional excursions available today. (B,L,D)
Day 5 Regensburg, Germany.
Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, Regensburg has at least 1,300 listed buildings of “historic interest.” Architectural highlights of your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR this afternoon include the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the city’s lanes and alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers. Wealthy families built these towers to emphasize their status and wealth during the Middle Ages, and many still remain today. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy a SNACK at the Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. Here—where the locals congregate—feel the vibrant atmosphere and take in the remarkable views along the river. Before dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS! (B,L,D)
Day 6 Nuremberg.
Today, enjoy a relaxing morning on board, perhaps taking in a LECTURE about the engineering marvel that is the Main-Danube Canal. The afternoon is dedicated to Nuremberg. Although 90% of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Choose from a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, extraordinary gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialized “NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS” tour. (B,L,D)
Day 7 Bamberg.
This morning, arrive in medieval Bamberg, former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your GUIDED WALKING TOUR takes in its historic center, including the great 13th-century Romanesque cathedral and the fascinating Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)—built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River when the bishop refused to give the townspeople land for a town hall! Wander the town’s serpentine streets with their charming houses and 18th-century mansions. This afternoon cruise along the Main River to Würzburg. (B,L,D)
Day 8 Würzburg.
Surrounded by verdant hillside vineyards, Würzburg, the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” makes an immediate impression with imposing Fortress Marienberg perched above town and the 15th-century Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge). On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the magnificent baroque BISHOP’S RESIDENZ, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. This afternoon you are free to explore on your own, or perhaps join an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg. (B,L,D)
Day 9 Main River Village Experience.
On the banks of the Main River you find cultural gems of small towns, many of them tucked away behind defensive walls and towered gates. Half timbered houses, narrow streets and medieval town centers, these picturesque Bavarian villages are a photographer’s delight. Join your Local Guide to experience one of these towns on a GUIDED WALK. (B,L,D)
Day 10 Rüdesheim–Rhine Gorge.
Rüdesheim is the quintessential Rhine Valley wine town. Visit SIEGFRIED’S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM, where you’ll see and hear a large collection of self-playing calliopes and music boxes from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. Enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT, then sail through the dramatic RHINE GORGE, where ancient castles stand sentry on lofty cliffs rising 400 feet above the waters. Cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where echoes of enchanted siren song lured unwitting sailors to their doom. (B,L,D)
Day 11 Cologne, Germany.
One of Germany’s largest cities and capital of the Rhineland, Cologne straddles both sides of the Rhine, and is known for its soaring, twin-steepled gothic cathedral. Choose between a GUIDED CITY WALK or a "JEWISH HERITAGE" walking tour. The Old Town abounds with cafés, shops, and taverns. Be sure to try a Kölsch pale lager, locally brewed in Cologne for over a hundred years! At lunchtime rejoin your vessel and head for Holland. (B,L,D)
Day 12 Amsterdam, Holland.
This morning you arrive in Amsterdam! Holland’s sophisticated, modern capital has a rich and fascinating history. This delightful 700-year-old city with its elegant and classic architecture, cafés, and restaurants has a distinct ambiance. There is no better way to see Amsterdam than by CANAL BOAT, cruising through the elegant grachten lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam’s “Golden Age.” There’s free time this afternoon to enjoy the city or – ask you Cruise Director for suggestions of things to do. If you are fit and feeling energetic, perhaps join a biking optional excursion (weather permitting). (B,L,D)
Day 13 Amsterdam (Disembarkation).
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)