Arrive Nürnberg & embark your riverboat
Tour begins: 5:30 PM, Nürnberg, Germany. A transfer is included from Airport Nürnberg to ms Savor or ms Joy. Guests enjoying a pre-cruise stay in Nürnberg will receive a transfer from the Tauck hotel to the riverboat. You'll find Nürnberg all done up for the holidays; like its neighboring countries, during the season of the Christmas Markets Germany is at its most festive. Join the captain for his welcome reception followed by dinner aboard the riverboat this evening.
Holiday time in Nürnberg
Nürnberg - On Nürnberg's main market square opposite the Church of Our Lady sits perhaps the most famous of Germany's Christmas Markets, with its iconic, golden-haired Christmas Angel and charming Zwetchgenmannle (“Plum People”) – unique to Bavaria and made from dried plums and other fruits. By the time Christmas Eve rolls around, this “Little Town from Wood and Cloth” will have welcomed two million folks from around the globe – including you – delighting them with its authentic ornaments, Bavarian crafts, Christmas candles, lebkuchen and other kinds of cookies, tasty fruit loaves, tangy gingerbread, handmade toys and glühwein!
You'll have a choice of sightseeing in historic Nürnberg this morning. You may choose to explore old Nürnberg, including a walking tour along its centuries-old ramparts and defensive walls, past the opera house and St. John's Cemetery to the old city and marketplace, and visiting the Dürer House. Or take a tour that includes the Zeppelinfeld rally grounds, the Documentation Center and other Nürnberg city sites associated with World War II and its aftermath. Following your visit to Nürnberg's famous Weihnachtsmarkt, you'll have lunch and some time to spend as you please before rejoining the riverboat and continue cruising to Regensburg. After dinner tonight, you might want to join in as we trim the riverboat's Christmas tree for the holidays and enjoy some special treats.
Regensburg and a Christmas market at a palace
Regensburg - Sausages and song are big in Regensburg, as your visit to its centuries-old Weihnachtsmarkt on the Neupfarrplatz will attest. Market goers feast on the city’s famed sausages, along with steamed dampfnudel dumplings, gingerbread, roast chestnuts and, naturally, glühwein from Bavarian claret, as they admire the work of glassblowers, chandlers and potters, and listen to the joyous strains of the acclaimed Regensburger Domspatzen choir – some of whose alumni will perform on your riverboat tonight! The Thurn und Taxis family’s Palace of St. Emmeram is the setting for your tour and visit to its private Christmas Market. During the seasonal Christmas Markets Germany glows with holiday cheer as each town celebrates the season – and Regensburg is one of the most special.
You'll understand why Regensburg calls itself "Europe's best-preserved medieval city" as you explore its Christmas Market set against a backdrop of centuries-old buildings during a walking tour and have some free time to enjoy the town on your own. After lunch aboard the riverboat, it's off for a private visit to an opulent palace that the founders of Europe's first large-scale postal system converted from a monastery for themselves. The Thurn und Taxis family's impressive Palace of St. Emmeram is said to have more rooms than Buckingham Palace, and hosts its very own Christmas Market in the intimate setting of the beautiful inner courtyard every year. On your visit, tour the palace and browse the fine private market, where you might interact with artisans displaying their wares. Rumor has it that Her Highness Princess Gloria of Thurn und Taxis and her family often wander through, enjoying the market themselves. After returning to the ship, alumni of the famed Regensburger Domspatzen choir perform aboard the riverboat this evening.
Christmastime in Passau
Passau – Navigating the narrow lanes and archways of this Bavarian town on the Danube, Ilz and Inn rivers is a pleasure any time of year – but never more so than now, when one of the Christmas Markets Germany is most famous for transforms Passau’s historic Baroque center into a wonderland brimming with bratwurst, lebkuchen, glühwein and good cheer. At the center of it all is St. Stephan’s Cathedral, whose massive pipe organ – the largest in Europe – stars in concerts throughout the season.
Baking gingerbread… it's one of the best aromas of Christmas! More than four generations of the Simon family have perfected the art of making gingerbread and you'll see how it's done during a demonstration at Passau's famous Café Simon. After a walking tour of the city and its Weihnachtsmarkt, the afternoon is yours to explore as you wish. Please join us back aboard the riverboat for a discovery briefing with your Tauck Director before dinner.
'Tis the season in Salzburg & Linz
Salzburg / Linz - The angelic voices of choirs singing carols on Cathedral Square... the pealing bells of old Salzburger Dom, overlooking neat rows of lit-up booths fragrant with the aroma of roasted almonds and hot mulled wine... ornate Baroque domes, towers and rooftops tipped with snow in the heart of Old Town... the clatter of horse-drawn carriages over cobblestoned streets... sweet candy apples and marzipan... the warm laughter of families having the time of their lives... and music everywhere, in the city that gave us Mozart. The Christmas Markets of Salzburg, a true feast for the senses... and Linz’s Christkindlmarkt, the curving roofs of its stalls symbolizing the waves of the Danube.
The riverboat arrives in Linz, Austria, for a full-day excursion to Mozart’s magical hometown of Salzburg, with its Baroque town center dressed in its holiday best. After a walking tour and wander through the Christkindlmarkt in this charming city, enjoy a special festive lunch at Hotel Sacher with your fellow travelers. Following some free time, return to Linz for a different Christmas Market experience… and, as you’ve learned, each town’s market has something all its own to offer. Or, if you prefer, spend the entire day in Linz, enjoying its Christmas Market, exploring on your own, or just relaxing aboard the riverboat. Enjoy a live musical performance by Donau Klang aboard ship tonight.
Melk Abbey on the Danube
Melk - Perched high on a rocky bluff overlooking the Danube and the town of Melk, Stift Melk (Melk Abbey) has shone as a beacon of culture and learning since its founding nearly a millennium ago. The 18th-century Baroque complex is home to a magnificent church and its own Christmas legend – about a miraculous visit from the Virgin Mary and the Christ child, and a young novice whose juggling so entertained the infant that he clapped for joy.
A visit to one of the world's most famous monasteries, beautiful Melk Abbey, inspires with Baroque architecture and facades, soaring ceilings, magnificent frescoes, gold and marble statues and artistic treasures. Black-robed Benedictine monks go about their simple daily lives here today, just as they have done for hundreds of years. Situated high above the town overlooking the river, the Abbey is home to a stunning library housing a massive collection of medieval manuscripts, including a famous group of musical manuscripts. Be sure to take time to admire the views of the Danube from its terraces. From Melk, you'll cruise through the Wachau Valley this afternoon, arriving in grand old Vienna after dinner tonight.
Making very merry in Vienna
Vienna - Images of St. Nicholas – with his devilish nemesis, Krampus – Advent wreaths, twinkling lights, roasting chestnuts, sausages and kartoffelpuffer (potato cakes), hot glühwein and fruity punsch... all signs of Christmastime in Vienna! Many Christkindlmarkts big and small grace Austria’s capital at yuletide, and you’ll explore two of the major ones. Magic’s in the air at the Wiener Christkindlmarkt on the Rathausplatz in front of the city hall, Vienna’s oldest and largest Christmas market... live music, tastefully lit trees, holiday arts and crafts, tempting treats and smiling faces are everywhere. And at opulent Schönbrunn Palace, you’ll tour rooms that the Habsburgs once lived in, and browse through lovely hand-blown glass ornaments, red Viennese hearts, Victorian-style sweets and other treasures in the palace’s own, equally impressive Christmas Market... guaranteed to warm your heart.
“Imperial” Vienna, which you’ll explore on a sightseeing tour this morning, seems even grander with Christmas decorations everywhere you look. Get a glimpse of what “happy Habsburg family holidays” might have been like on a tour of Schönbrunn Palace, and take in the palace’s own Christmas Market. After a holiday lunch at the historic Palais Pallavicini, enjoy an afternoon at leisure to sample more of Vienna’s holiday cheer and its many Christmas Markets; complimentary shuttles run back and forth between the city and the riverboat. Share your memories of this wonderful week with your new friends at the captain's farewell reception, followed by dinner this evening... as your Christmas Market cruise draws to a close.
Tour ends: Vienna. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the riverboat to Vienna International Airport. Guests enjoying a post-cruise stay in Vienna will receive a transfer from the hotel to the airport. Please allow at least 3 hours for airport check-in.