Experience timeless holiday traditions and elegant pageantry in four countries—Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany. Let iconic capital cities — Budapest and Vienna — decked in holiday finery with glittering Christmas trees illuminated by thousands of lights, bells pealing from cathedral towers and children dressed as angels singing Christmas carols, dazzle you. Wander the stalls of Europe’s most traditional and enchanting Christmas Markets, including Nuremberg, Regensburg and Salzburg, shopping for handcrafted toys and gifts, sipping hot mulled wine and inhaling the fragrance of gingerbread and roasted chestnuts. Cherish all the glory and magic of the season in grand European style as you cruise along the Danube during this festive time of the year.
EMBARKATION – VILSHOFEN. Board the ship in Vilshofen for your Christmas Markets on the Danube cruise. Then, join Vilshofen locals and fellow guests for a glass of beer and a traditional German pretzel ashore at a festive Oktoberfest celebration.
VILSHOFEN – PASSAU. During the season of Advent, beautiful Passau dresses in her Bavarian holiday splendor, which you will discover on your walking tour through the city and at its Christmas market at St. Stephen’s Square—also home to its magnificent cathedral. Go in search of unique crafts, including Bavarian-style houses and glass ornaments.
LINZ. Linz is known for being the city of Christmas crèches and its ever-popular Linzer torte. While here, you have a choice excursions. The first is a morning walking tour through Linz’s old city center and by the Mozart House, where he composed the Linz Symphony in only three days, as well as visit Linz’s Christmas markets. Or you could go on a guided bike tour or visit the idyllic and breathtaking Austrian Lake District – a favorite among many past guests. During the afternoon, you can join a half-day excursion to Salzburg or visit the charming mountain town, Česky Krumlov, located just over the Czech-Austrian border.
WEISSENKIRCHEN. After reaching Weissenkirchen, you’ll have a choice of excursions. Join a walking tour in Dürnstein and then visit the magnificent Benedictine Abbey of Melk. Or hike up to Dürnstein Fortress where Richard the Lionheart was once held captive and enjoy incredible views of the river and village below. Alternatively, you can visit a local boutique where you’ll enjoy a tasting of special apricot treats. If you’re a wine connoisseur, you won’t want to miss the excursion to a local winery where you can sample some of the Wachau Valley’s finest wine.
VIENNA. The “City of Waltzes” offers a treasure trove of gems just waiting to be discovered. Join a tour showcasing its regal splendors, such as the majestic Opera House and the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburgs, before concluding in Vienna’s historic city center. Or go off the beaten path to discover some of Vienna’s hidden treasures. If you prefer a more active adventure, then join a guided bike ride along the Danube or pedal all the way to Klosterneuburg Monastery for a visit to the iconic church.
BRATISLAVA. Host to the crowning ceremonies of 11 Hungarian kings and queens between 1536 and 1830, Bratislava certainly has earned the title “Coronation City of Kings,” as you’ll discover during your walking tour. You’ll also have an opportunity to visit Bratislava’s charming Christmas market. Or join a special “Slovakian Specialties” tour. For a more active adventure, hike up to Bratislava Castle, offering magnificent views of the city.
BUDAPEST. Home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Buda Castle quarter in Castle Hill and Heroes’ Square, Budapest offers an unmatched combination of culture and tradition. Your city tour begins with a visit to the vibrant Great Market Hall. The remainder of this tour takes you to both the Buda (hilly) and the Pest (flat) sides of the river. Afterwards, you’ll visit Vorosmarty Square, the oldest, richest and the most spectacular of all the Christmas markets in Budapest. As an alternative, you can hike to Castle Hill, walking along Fishermen’s Bastion and take in all the iconic sites of Budapest with an active exploration. During the evening, be treated to an Illuminations cruise around Budapest’s famed Parliament building.
BUDAPEST – DISEMBARKATION. Disembark the ship as you prepare for your flight home.