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Majestic Rivers of Europe Wine Cruise: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales - 2019

14-night river cruise with Mainz, Cologne, Rüdesheim, Aschaffenburg, Marktheidenfeld, Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau, Vienna, Budapest
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Marvel at storybook castles and cruise past vineyard-covered hillsides on this beautiful river cruise in Europe. Raise a stein at a historic brewery. Surprise yourself with new sensations when you sample juicy, sweet, dry, and effervescent varietals of regional wines (only available in these time-honored regions), enhanced with the expertise of locals who have been producing these vintages for centuries. Savor the flavors of the Rhine Valley at a barbecue with live music in a German village. Hear waltz music in Vienna with the only river cruise company that takes you there for two full days and admire the view across the Danube from Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest. Visit pretty half-timbered river villages and stroll the medieval jewels of Regensburg and Würzburg.

You’re invited to come aboard for our all-time, top-rated riverboat cruise as we follow history down the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers. Thirteen guided tours, including nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as entertaining and informative shipboard lectures and Cultural Connections, transform a river cruise into a delightful immersion in the sights, sounds, flavors, and most of all, the beauty, along Europe’s great rivers.

Traveling solo on your European tour? Vantage is the only company in the cruise line industry whose river ships include cabins built specifically for solo travelers, with free Single Supplements. We’ve also designed this itinerary to give you more opportunities for independent exploring and for staying active. Take one of the ship’s bikes for a spin along the shore, join a longer walk or hike, and sign up for onboard cooking classes.

Budapest to Mainz

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DAY 1:

Fly overnight to Budapest, Hungary

Today, fly overnight to Budapest, Hungary. You can also begin your journey earlier with an optional pre-trip extension to Prague and Bratislava.

DAY 2:

Satisfy your thirst for Hungary

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

Wine Feature: Get settled into the rhythm of your cruise with the first of your wine of the day selection from your bartender in the lounge.

Included Meals:


DAY 3:

Going for baroque on a city tour of Budapest

Draped over several hills on a gentle curve in the Danube River, Budapest is a beautiful, baroque capital whose city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get to know the city on an included panoramic tour. Unforgettable Moment: On the Buda side of the river, take in stunning views of Pest across the Danube from a fairytale-like terrace called Fisherman’s Bastion. You can also opt to enjoy an optional Hungarian Horse Show today. Tonight, celebrate the beginning of your European river cruise with the Captain’s Welcome Party and Dinner. 

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 4:

Make Vienna the apple of your eye

A morning of scenic sailing through Bratislava awaits this morning. Cultural Connection: During the cruising, 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.

Culinary Feature: Enjoy an apple strudel-making session today in the lounge and enjoy dessert before lunch!

Wine Feature: This evening, dinner is on board your ship, or wine enthusiasts can treat themselves to a fun evening with a Viennese Heurigen dinner, cozy family-style affairs with vino and music.

Included Meals:

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

Viennese Heurigen Dinner, Wine & Music

  • Approximate Cost: $99 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3.5 hours
  • Location: Vienna, Austria
  • When: Evening tour, including dinner
Join us for this lively optional tour and take a seat inside a traditional heurigen — a cozy, family-style tavern — for hearty food, lively music, and locally produced vintages, of course. Heurigens customarily feature rustic décor, open courtyards with outdoor seating, and an accordion player playing traditional Viennese songs. Look forward to a fun, authentic, and festive evening!

DAY 5:

Vienna as you like it, and a private Kursalon concert

Join an onboard lecture this morning on "Musical Vienna" prior to venturing to Austria's grand capital. Soon you’ll arrive in Vienna, where you’ll be treated to a city tour that includes the UNESCO-listed city center. Among the many highlights you'll visit are Liechtenstein Palace, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. 

With the afternoon at leisure, perhaps you can schedule a visit to a spa in Vienna through our Vantage Concierge service, or take one of the complimentary bicycles on board the ship for a ride. Unforgettable Moment: This evening, you’ll be treated to a private classical music concert at the Kursalon.

Cultural Connection: This evening on board ship, learn how to waltz with some experts who will give you lessons!

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.

Water Sport opportunity: Alternatively, ask your Concierge about renting a boat or kayak during your free time.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6:

Scenic Wachau Valley cruising, onboard German lessons

Scenic Sailing: Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, now designated a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape.

As you take in the romantic views of hilltop castles, ancient monasteries, and terraced vineyards, you'll cruise by the wine town of Dürnstein. In 1192, King Richard the Lionheart of England was imprisoned in the castle that looms above the town. Cultural Connection: During the afternoon's cruising, 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.

Wine Feature: Tonight's dinner will be further enhanced by a pairing and tasting of local wines with commentary.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7:

Music 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 river. On your tour, enjoy an organ concert inside St. Stephan’s Cathedral. 

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 8:

Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms

You’ll arrive at the picturesque Regensburg today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating to the Roman era. A morning walking tour reveals what many call the most charming town on the Danube River — it's sure to be a highlight of your Europe river cruise.

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

Culinary Feature: Join another interactive cooking lesson and learn how to make a regional specialty!

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 Nuremberg” tour that includes a visit to the delightful Toy Museum. 

Enjoy an afternoon at leisure with shuttle service to the city center. After, ready yourself for more Cultural Connections with a lecture titled, "Made in Nürnberg," followed by dinner and more evening entertainment — the Bavarian Brass Band!

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 10:

Altmühl Valley sailing and walking tour of Bamberg

Cultural Connection: You’ll cruise toward Bamberg today and arrive mid-morning for a walking tour of the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll have free time to explore independently afterward and return to your ship in time for lunch.

Set sail bound for Würzburg and hear a fascinating lecture on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal along the way.

Culinary Feature: Learn about to make Swabian meat pockets, a hearty dish that is well known in this region.

Wine Feature: Tonight’s delicious dinner onboard includes a pairing of four wines with insights on their local production.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 11:

Tour and wine tasting inside the Würzburg Residenz

Wine Feature:

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 from an experienced sommelier. The Residenz is ideal for strolling, and you’ll have time to do so before transferring back to the ship for lunch.

Alternatively, you may join an optional tour of medieval Rothenburg ob der Tauber, whose timbered homes and cobbled streets are like stepping back in time. Those who’ve been on the optional tour will have their wine tasting at the Residenz Cellar this afternoon.

Culinary Feature: During an onboard cooking demonstration today, try making and savoring some beef roulade.

Included Meals:

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

Full-day Rothenburg Tour with Christmas Museum

  • Approximate Cost: $69 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 6.5 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 take in the stunning views, explore the shops and enjoy lunch on your own.

Note: Lunch is not provided on this tour. The Christmas Museum is not available during holiday season departures.

DAY 12:

Exploring village life in Marktheidenfeld, with a BBQ lunch and traditional live music

Wine FeatureToday you’ll immerse yourself in the culture of two fascinating villages. You’ll have your choice of tours after breakfast when you dock in Wertheim, all of which feature local manufacturing traditions, ranging from an iron mill to a winery, where you’ll get to sample the wares, of course! (Sign-ups will be on board.)

Unforgettable Moment: The highlight of our day today will be a delightful half-day tour of Marktheidenfeld, during which we’ll savor a BBQ lunch and take in some traditional live music. 

Cultural Connection: During scenic sailing today, a glassblowing demonstration will introduce you to the artistry of this age-old craft. 

Culinary Feature: Watch a cooking demonstration on

Käsespätzle (the German version of macaroni and cheese).

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 13:

Day-tripping through romantic Heidelberg

Unforgettable Moment: Enjoy panoramic views from the plaza of imposing Heidelberg Castle, a Gothic-Renaissance ruin of red stone looming above the downtown and see the castles famed Heidelberg Tun, an immense wine barrel, now empty, with a capacity of some 58,000 gallons. Afterwards, descend via funicular from the castle to the town center to stroll the pedestrian-only main street and have lunch in a local restaurant. After, transfer back to the ship for dinner on board.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 14:

Sip Kölsch while exploring the historic cultural center of Cologne

After breakfast on board, the ship will arrive in Cologne! Embark on a walking tour of this historic German cultural center, which includes the Cologne Cathedral and a Kölsch beer tasting. 

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.

Afterwards, return to the ship for the Captain's Farewell Dinner and live entertainment.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 15:

Rhine Valley views, Rüdesheim personalized just for you

Scenic Sailing: This morning begins with some scenic sailing down the Rhine featuring onboard commentary from our Cruise Director. Some highlights include Lorelei, a steep slate rock that sits at the center of local lore and has enamored singers, poets, and viewers for centuries. We’ll also pass a series of castles along the Rhine Gorge, and your Cruise Director will identify them and offer some history!

You'll soon arrive in Rüdesheim, where you'll have your choice of two tours. You can also embark on a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments. Wine Feature: Your third choice of tours is a newly added wine-tasting walking tour, where you’ll sample three different regional vintages! Afterwards, you'll return to the ship for dinner, which will be followed by onboard entertainment.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 16:

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

After disembarking in Mainz, transfer to the airport in Frankfurt for your return flight home. Or, join our enriching optional post-trip extension.

Included Meals:


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 Wine Cruise: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales - 2019

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