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Celebrate the holidays with Vantage on a leisurely yet festive cruise over Christmas — one departure only! You’ll discover the joys of traveling in Europe during the low season, including fewer crowds, all while discovering the pleasures of a European wintertime. Setting sail from Budapest, you’ll explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, hear an organ concert at a Franciscan church in Bratislava, and spend Christmas Day in Vienna.
You’ll sail the Danube on the 5-star m/s River Splendor, which we’ve reoutfitted with even more supplement-free single cabins with French balconies and adjoining cabin options that are perfect for traveling with the family or a group of friends! Learn how to make gingerbread . . . Hear about Austrian Christmas traditions . . . Follow “The Sound of Music” to Salzburg . . . Discover Regensburg, the gem of Bavaria, and its famous sausages . . . And enjoy a special Christmas dinner and deck the halls of your ship for a spirited journey.
Add on a pre-trip extension to Budapest and see the breadth of what this grand city can offer — plus, add an optional post-trip extension to Prague and experience the full glory of this cultural capital at Christmas time, while also spending your New Year’s Eve celebrating with some of the world’s best beer!
Next stop: Budapest!
Your holiday cruise begins with an overnight flight to Budapest, Hungary. You can also begin your journey earlier — and spend more time in Budapest — with an optional pre-trip extension.
Enjoy a Welcome Drink in Budapest and board your deluxe ship
Prepare to experience the joys of a festive river cruise when you arrive to grand Budapest, steeped in old-world splendor and yuletide flair. Upon your arrival, a Vantage representative will transfer you to the m/s River Splendor. This evening, you’ll gather with the Captain and your fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink & Briefing before your first dinner on board.
Exploring Budapest on a half-day city tour, optional Hungarian Culinary Tour
Wake up in Budapest, which you’ll see this morning on a city tour.
Almost the entirety of Budapest’s historic center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ll see the best of it as you visit City Park; Heroes' Square with its statues of Magyar chieftains; elegant Andrassy Avenue; the iconic Parliament building; and Castle Hill, where you’ll have free time and entrance to Fisherman's Bastion.
Your afternoon is free for you to explore. Perhaps you’ll explore the more than 100 stalls comprising the Budapest Christmas Market, or ask your Concierge to help arrange a visit to one of Budapest’s famous thermal baths, such as Széchenyi or Gellért.
Foodies will particularly enjoy our optional Hungarian Culinary Tour, which includes a tour of Budapest’s Central Market Hall and entrance to the Zwack Museum, with a tasting of the country’s trademark Unicum herbal liqueur.
Tonight, attend the Captain’s Reception and Gala Dinner.
If you ask a Hungarian what some typical Hungarian products are, you will very likely hear of the Hungarian paprika, Tokaj wine, salami, goose liver, and the bittersweet liqueur known as Unicum. Join us on this afternoon tour, and you'll discover the culinary treats offered by this wonderful country! Your tour begins with entrance to the Zwack Unicum Museum, where your English-speaking guide will introduce the secrets of liquor production that have been passed from one generation to the other in the Zwack family since the 18th century. Your visit includes a short film about the history of Unicum, a museum tour, entrance to the cellars, and a tasting of Unicum.
Your tour continues to the Central Market Hall, the largest and most beautiful market in the city. This three-story hall offers plenty to do and see, and with the help of your guide, you'll have a great experience at the market! You'll see the local housewives’ shopping habits as well as the colorful Hungarian products — including strings of red paprika and garlic, Hungarian salamis, sausages, hams, and other meat products; fresh pastries; dairy products; Hungarian wines and palinka; and more. As you walk row by row to get ideas for souvenirs, you'll take in the vibrant atmosphere of this exceptional hall. Following your market visit, you'll transfer back to your hotel and your tour will come to an end.
Apple strudel, organ recital, and treasure hunting in Bratislava; plus, a Christmas tree decorating workshop and the Captain’s Gala Dinner with evening entertainment
Warm apple strudel . . . it’s a European holiday staple, and you’ll learn how to make it today during a cooking demonstration. While you’re whipping up this specialty, enjoy delightful scenic sailing to Bratislava, including views of Bratislava Castle.
Afterwards, get to know Bratislava on a walking tour of the city’s historical sites including the Main Square, National Theater, and an inside visit to the Bishop’s Palace before attending a classical organ recital at a local Franciscan church that’ll put you even more in the holiday mood. After, deck the halls of your ship in a fun Christmas tree-decorating workshop. This fun, family activity culminates with a competition, and the winner will be announced afterward at the festive Captain’s Gala Dinner, followed by evening entertainment.
Enjoy Christmas in Vienna, hear a lecture on Austrian Christmas traditions, and explore Schönbrunn Palace or the Museum of Art History
Merry Christmas! As you wake up and enjoy a delightful holiday breakfast, your ship will arrive in gilded, grand Vienna. A fascinating lecture on Austrian Christmas traditions puts you further in the holiday spirit.
After a panoramic tour introduces this capital, you'll have your choice of two tours in Vienna: either the city's excellent Museum of Art History or the grand Schönbrunn Palace, former summer residence of the Habsburgs and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Later, prepare yourself for a special Christmas dinner, whipped up by our esteemed culinary team. After, warm-up dancers join us on board for a lively show and, if you’re feeling up to it, join your Concierge for a pub crawl.
Vienna’s best: Lipizzaner horses, Christmas markets, a private Kursalon concert
A lecture on the Habsburg monarchy kicks off your second day of discoveries in Vienna. Afterward, attend a rehearsal of the famed Lipizzaner horses at the Spanish Riding School. After lunch on the ship, catch the Vantage shuttle back to the center of Vienna where more fabulous Christmas market shopping awaits.
This evening, attend an exclusive private classical music concert at the Kursalon music hall — a frequent haunt of Vienna’s own Johann Strauss.
Ride a moderate 8-mile route past Vienna’s stunning architecture during a medium 8-mile route. Click here for details.
Follow "The Sound of Music" to Salzburg, or explore the cultural capital of Linz
You'll have a choice of tours in Austria today. Set off today for storybook Salzburg, nestled in the Austrian Alps. This city — Mozart’s hometown, in fact — also boasts a few locales featured in the beloved classic, The Sound of Music. Or, choose to explore lovely Linz, a cutting-edge city at the forefront of the arts and technology that UNESCO dubbed a City of Media Arts. No matter which tour you choose, you’ll have time to soak up the charm. After dinner, enjoy more local entertainment in the ship’s lounge.
Christmas-themed Passau tour, painting and gingerbread making, and the Captain’s Farewell Dinner
More baroque splendor awaits you in picturesque Passau, located at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz, and Danube rivers. On a Christmas-themed walking tour, we’ll admire the UNESCO-listed Old Town. Don’t forget to try the gingerbread here in Passau — it’s spiced, warm, delectable, and you’ll even learn how to make it later this afternoon.
This afternoon, a local painter comes on board for a colorful painting lesson. Then, learn the secrets of making Germany’s treasured lebkuchen — also known as gingerbread — in the ship’s lounge. Tonight, attend the Captain's Farewell Dinner.
Wandering Regensburg’s historic streets by foot or bike
Delve into Bavarian custom and culture with a day in medieval Regensburg. Largely spared from World War II bombing, Regensburg is remarkably well-preserved, with an Old Town doubling as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander the city on a walking tour of the city’s medieval highlights, and meet Martin, the city guard, in a special acting scene we’ve arranged — don’t forget your camera!
Later, you'll have leisure time to explore on your own, including a chance to dine at the Regensburg Sausage Kitchen, a historic restaurant on the Danube that’s also the oldest continuously open restaurant in the world. Don’t miss the finger-sized sausage, sauerkraut, and sweet mustard — a delicacy!
Fly home from Munich, or head to Prague on an extension
Disembark your river cruise ship in Regensburg and transfer to the Munich airport to return home, or head to Prague for a post-trip extension.
Important Notice:The above day-by-day itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion.
Please Note: Port times & itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels and winter weather may affect itinerary. All Christmas markets are subject to local traditions and opening dates and times are dependent on the local authorities.