Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales - 2018

Austria • Germany • Hungary
  • $206
  • 15
  • 13
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To see the hilltop castles along the Rhine is a traveler’s dream. To do so while cruising on a vessel fit for a king river adds another order of magnitude to your experience. Come aboard for our all-time, top-rated river voyage, as we sail from Cologne to Budapest along the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers. You’ll unpack just once aboard a 5- or 6-star Vantage river cruise ship whose amenities, service, and style make every day a special occasion.

In addition to grand cities like Vienna (we are the only river cruise line that takes you there for two full days!) and Budapest, you’ll visit pretty half-timbered villages and medieval jewels such as Regensburg and Würzburg. Along the way, visit eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and delve into local culture with onboard lectures, beer tastings, cooking demonstrations, and exclusive “extras,” including a private classical concert at Vienna’s elegant Kursalon. 

Why wait? Treat yourself to an enchanting voyage down the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers that takes you through the scenic heart of Europe. It’s a one-of-a-kind European river cruise, at an unbeatable value. And if you’re traveling solo, you’ve come to the right place — Vantage is the only company in the travel industry whose river ships include cabins built specifically for single travelers, with free Single Supplements. Join us on a magical European vacation and discover what makes Vantage the best cruise line for elegant deluxe travel.

Mainz to Budapest

Pre-Trip Extension

Amsterdam, Netherlands

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DAY 1:

Fly overnight to Frankfurt, Germany

Today, fly overnight to Frankfurt, Germany. You can also begin your journey earlier with an optional pre-trip extension to Amsterdam.

DAY 2:

The Mainz attraction

Today, you’ll land in Frankfurt. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to the pier in Mainz, where you will board your Deluxe river ship and officially begin your European river cruise.

Included Meals:


DAY 3:

Sipping Kölsch in Cologne

This morning, take a walking tour of this historic German cultural center. Culinary Feature: Enjoy a tasting of Kölsch beer, a signature brew that is only made here in Cologne. This evening, we'll enjoy a Welcome Reception and Dinner as well as some onboard entertainment. 

Biking Opportunity: Enjoy this scenic path along the iconic Rhine River, with terrific views of the Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge, during this easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 4:

Rhine Valley views; Rudesheim revelry

Cultural Connection: During some scenic sailing in the morning, join your Cruise Director in the lounge for a lively German lesson — pick up a few key words and phrases, to use when interacting with locals. Then you'll arrive in Rudesheim, where you'll have your choice of two tours. The first is a cable car ride to the historic Niederwald Monument, which overlooks the Rhine Valley and commemorates the unification of Germany in the late 19th century. Or, embark on a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments. Afterwards, you'll return to the ship for dinner, which will be followed by onboard entertainment.

Culinary Feature: Enjoy a cooking demonstration of German braised beef roulade.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 5:

Daytripping through romantic Heidelberg

Today, set off from Frankfurt for a full-day excursion to Heidelberg, a UNESCO site that is home to Germany’s oldest college, Heidelberg University. Unforgettable Moment: In Heidelberg, you’ll tour 15th-century Heidelberg Castle, one of the most famous of European castles, an imposing Gothic-Renaissance ruin of red stone that illustrates the history of Germany. Ride the funicular from the castle to the town center, where you’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then have free time to explore.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 6:

Marktheidenfeld’s idyllic village living

Unforgettable Moment: The highlight of our day today will be a delightful half-day tour of a local German village, during which we’ll savor a BBQ lunch and take in some traditional live music. Back on the ship, a glassblowing demonstration introduces us to the artistry of this age-old craft. 

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

Touring and winetasting inside the Würzburg Residenz

Arriving in Würzburg, set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a baroque European castle that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour includes a visit to the wine cellar for a tasting and lecture. Alternatively, you may join an optional tour of medieval Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Cultural Connection: Your visit to Würzburg will be amplified by a morning lecture on “Germany in the 21st Century: Changes & Challenges.” 

Biking Opportunity: Explore the scenic banks of the Main River during this medium 17-mile route. Click here for details.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Rothenburg Tour with Christmas Museum

Rothenburg Tour with Christmas Museum

  • Approximate Cost: $69 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 4 hours
  • Location: Würzburg, Germany
  • When: Full-Day tour

Picturesque Rothenburg ob der Tauber features winding cobbled lanes lined with half-timbered houses, as well as massive towers and intact city walls around the Old Town where one can take in views over both the city and the Tauber valley. Known for its “eternal Christmas” atmosphere, the town’s various shops sell beautiful, handcrafted Christmas gifts and souvenirs all year round. Come December, the area comes to life with the famous Christmas Market, one of the most romantic markets in Germany. You’ll take a walking tour and pay a visit to the Christmas Museum; plus, you’ll enjoy some free time to explore the shops and take in the stunning views.

    DAY 8:

    Altmühl Valley sailing, Bamberg walking tour

    Cultural Connection: While we cruise this morning, attend a lecture on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, one of Europe’s greatest engineering feats. Later, we’ll pass through the locks of the canal and enjoy a day sailing through the lovely Altmühl valley. Arriving in Bamberg, we'll embark on a fascinating walking tour of the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

    Included Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

    DAY 9:

    Nuremberg, customized for you — tour the town’s highlights or explore its WWII history

    This morning you'll have your choice of two city tours of Nuremberg. Choose “Nuremberg and World War II” to explore the city’s World War II history and visit the Documentation Center, or take the “Highlights of Medieval Nuremberg” tour. Before evening cocktails, learn about “Bavaria: Germany’s Special State” during a special presentation. After, chat with your fellow travelers in the lounge and enjoy a delectable dinner onboard.

    Culinary Feature: Watch a cooking demonstration on kasspatzle (the German version of macaroni and cheese).

    Included Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

    DAY 10:

    Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms

    Explore Regensburg today. This city has a history stretching back to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and you’ll get to know its heritage during a walking tour. Admire the impressive cathedral, as well as the famous stone bridge which was built in the 12th century. Cultural Connection: Later, back on the ship, enjoy some local entertainment.

    Biking Opportunity: Explore Regensburg’s monuments and history, including Walhalla Memorial Hall, during a medium 14-mile route. Click here for details.

    Included Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

    DAY 11:

    Organ concert in picturesque Passau

    Today, join a walking tour of baroque Passau, known as the "town of three rivers" because it's located where two tributaries join the Danube. On your tour, enjoy an organ concert inside St. Stephan’s Cathedral. (Travelers on August 5 and November 16 departures will enjoy a live organ concert in Regensburg.)

    Biking Opportunity: Follow the beautiful Ilz River along a scenic 10-mile route (moderate level). Click here for details.

    Painting Lesson: Join a local artist to learn how to capture the scenery with a brush.

    Included Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

    DAY 12:

    Waltzing into Vienna, and a private Kursalon concert

    Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape, on your way to Vienna. Unforgettable Moment: You'll hear all about "Musical Vienna" as a prelude to tonight's festivities — a private concert at the Kursalon. Afterward, you'll have dinner onboard and enjoy a little dancing entertainment. 

    Included Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

    DAY 13:

    Vienna city tour, visit the National Library

    Tour Vienna in the morning with a visit to the Austrian National Library. We'll have lunch onboard ship with an afternoon waltz lesson. Later, take some time on your own, or join us on an optional Heurigen Dinner.

    Culinary Feature: Take part in another cooking demonstration today, during which you'll learn about Tiroler Grostl.

    Biking Opportunity: Enjoy the architecture of Vienna, including panoramic sights of the city’s skyscrapers, during a medium 8-mile route. Click here for details.

    Watersport Opportunity: Alternatively, ask your concierge about renting a boat or kayak during your free time.

    Included Meals:

    Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
    Optional Tour: Viennese Heurigen Dinner, Wine & Music

    Viennese Heurigen Dinner, Wine & Music

    • Approximate Cost: $89 USD per person
    • Approximate Time: 3.5 hours
    • Location: Vienna, Austria
    • When: Evening tour, including dinner
    The congenial atmosphere of cozy, family-style wine taverns, known as heurigens, is perfectly complemented by hearty food, lively music — and locally produced vintages, of course. Heurigens traditionally have rustic decor, open courtyards with outdoor seating, and an accordion player playing traditional Viennese songs. You’ll visit an authentic heurigen for dinner and music, plus a wine tasting of three varietals beforehand. You can look forward to a fun and festive evening!

      DAY 14:

      No sleep ’til Budapest at the Captain’s Farewell Party

      You'll have your choice of two tours today: either Vienna's excellent Museum of Art History or the grand Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During free time this afternoon, take a bike for a spin, stop into the lounge for onboard dancing demos, or speak to the concierge about arranging to rent a kayak or boat.This afternoon, sail leisurely towards another great European capital: Budapest. You’ll gather with your fellow travelers tonight for the Captain’s Farewell Party.

      Included Meals:

      Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

      DAY 15:

      Going Baroque in Budapest

      Your European river cruise comes to a conclusion in grand style, as you arrive in Budapest. During your tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, enjoy the stunning panoramic views across the Danube River from the hilltop terraces of Fisherman’s Bastion. You can also opt to enjoy an optional Hungarian Horse Show today.

      Culinary Feature: Learn how to make goulash, and then sample this superb regional dish.

      Biking Opportunity : Enjoy the most magnificent sites of Budapest, including Freedom Bridge, Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament Building during an easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.

      Included Meals:

      Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
      Optional Tour: Hungarian Horse Show

      Hungarian Horse Show

      • Approximate Cost: $65 USD per person
      • Approximate Time: 4.5 hours
      • Location: Budapest, Hungary
      • When: Half-day Tour
      Enjoy the romantic scenery of the countryside as you visit the Equestrian Park of the Lázár brothers, who have won several world championships in carriage riding. Hungarian horsemen will welcome and accompany you to the inn’s yard where you will enjoy the famous Hungarian “pálinka” (brandy) before going to the show. The horse show features varied styles of dressage and fun competition with guests. After the show, a carriage awaits you for a scenic ride through the surrounding area.

        DAY 16:

        Disembark ship and return home (or begin your extension to Bratislava and Prague!)

        Transfer to the airport for your return flight home, or begin your optional post-trip extension.

        Included Meals:


        Post-Trip Extension

        Bratislava, Slovakia & Prague, Czech Republic


        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 may affect itinerary.

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        Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales - 2018

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