The capital of and largest city in Germany, Berlin, is a study in contrasts. Its turbulent past gives way to a modern metropolis that is an artist's haven brimming with galleries and cultural institutions. This complex city houses many iconic landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate, its only surviving historical city gate, and the Reichstag Parliament Building. You'll have opportunities to explore Berlin's many notable sights and aesthetic sensibilities throughout your 3-night stay.
Fly overnight to Hungary
Today, you’ll board an overnight flight to Budapest.
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. Get settled into the rhythm of your cruise, unwinding with your first "Cocktail of the Day" selection in the lounge.
Discover the best of Budapest
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.
Enjoy a classical concert in Vienna
Savor breakfast on board this morning as you cruise past scenic Bratislava, Slovakia. Later, you’ll have opportunities to partake in an onboard German language lesson and a cooking demonstration before lunch. Following lunch, you’ll sit in on an engaging lecture about Vienna’s musical heritage. Tonight, you’ll head out for a Vantage-exclusive experience — a classical music concert at Vienna’s 19th-century Kursalon Music Hall. Following this enchanting event, you’ll return to the ship for dinner and a relaxing evening on board.
Discover the historic heart of Vienna
This morning you’ll be introduced to the historic center of Vienna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your city tour takes you by coach and on foot across the famous Ringstrasse and into the Innere Stadt. Here you’ll see the Hofburg Palace, the Stephansdom Cathedral, the fashionable Graben area, and the adjoining Kohlmarkt. Back on board, the balance of the day is at your leisure. This afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to attend an onboard cooking lesson.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Choose an optional Vienna tour and visit either Schönbrunn Palace or the Museum of Art History.
The history of Schönbrunn, and the buildings that previously stood on this site, dates back to the 14th century, when the original estate belonged to the manor of the abbey at Klosterneuburg. Towards the end of the 17th century, Baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach was commissioned by Emperor Leopold I to design an imperial hunting lodge. It was to be a gift for his son, Crown Prince Joseph, who later became emperor in his own right. This optional tour will give guests a chance to visit this magnificent 1,441-room palace, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for themselves.
Due to high call volume, we recommend you visit MyPortfolio to book this Destination Enhancement. Don’t wait — these optional experiences are limited to a select number of guests and are selling out fast!
Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum — or Museum of Art History — is Austria’s largest art museum, opened in 1891. On this optional tour, guests will visit this palatial building which houses the Imperial family’s extensive collection. Numerous major works by European masters are on display here, among them Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow, Vermeer’s The Allegory of Painting, and the Infanta paintings by Velazquez. Other masterworks by Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Titian, and Tintoretto are also housed in the paintings gallery, and the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection contains fascinating treasures from mysterious cultures long past. It’s no wonder why this is considered one of the most eminent museums in the world.
Scenic cruising through the Wachau Valley
Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, 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. Your Cruise Director will provide live commentary from the bridge.
Learn how to kick your next breakfast, lunch, or brunch up a notch with a cooking demonstration of Tiroler Gröstl, a hearty mountain mash-up of potatoes, onions, beef, bacon, and egg. Follow it up with a tour of the ship’s galley. Tonight’s dinner will be further enhanced by a pairing and tasting of local wines.
Passau organ concert and painting class
Passau is a charming Bavarian university town set at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz, and Danube rivers. The town is dominated by the hilltop Veste Oberhaus and the Veste Niederhaus, which are both parts of the Bishop’s former fortress. Your walking tour showcases the town’s tidy Baroque houses, Gothic Town Hall, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
During your tour you’ll go inside St. Stephen’s to enjoy an organ concert played on the world’s second largest pipe organ. Afterwards you’ll be free to enjoy the afternoon as you wish. You might borrow one of the bikes on board to cycle along the riverbanks, or join our painting class, conducted by a local artist.
Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms
Explore UNESCO-listed 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.
Discover Nuremberg’s medieval history
Step back in time and explore Nuremberg’s medieval history today. You’ll visit the grounds of the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg, a group of fortified buildings dating back to the Holy Roman Empire, before continuing on to the Hauptmarkt. You’ll spend some time at this charming market before heading to St. Sebaldus Church, one of oldest and most important medieval buildings in Nuremberg. At the conclusion of your tour, you will have an opportunity to visit the Nuremberg Toy Museum on your own with your entrance fee covered by Vantage. Nuremberg is famous for its inventors and tinkerers, so this is sure to be a delightful visit.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Discover Nuremberg’s place in WWII history with an optional tour. Learn more
The five-day Battle of Nuremberg between the United States’ 7th Army and Nazi Germany took place during the final days of World War II, and saw some of the fiercest combat of the war. As Nuremberg had been the site of many Nazi rallies and was considered a center of the Nazi regime, the loss devastated the German forces. You'll have the opportunity to explore the city’s troubled past during an optional tour, which includes a visit to the Documentation Center, where many of the aforementioned rallies took place.
Daytime sailing, Bamberg walking tour
Some scenic cruising in the morning is followed by a walking tour in Bamberg. The town is ringed by seven hills and is considered one of the prettiest towns in Germany. You be the judge on this morning’s walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, pointing out its showstopping cathedral, Town Hall and pretty Rose Garden. You’ll have free time to explore independently afterward, perhaps stopping at one of the many pubs associated with the town’s nine breweries. The famous Rauchbier, or smoke-flavored beer, is a Bamberg specialty.
When you set sail this afternoon bound for Würzburg you can attend a fascinating onboard presentation on Germany in the 21st century. Then learn to make maultaschen or meat pockets, a hearty Swabian dumpling filled with minced meat, bacon, spinach, and herbs.
Tonight’s delicious dinner on board includes a pairing of four wines with insights on their local production.
Würzburg tour and wine tasting inside the Residenz
Arrive in Würzburg and set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a spectacular Baroque-European bishop’s palace that was designed by visionary architect Balthasar Neumann. Your tour includes a visit to the on-site wine cellar where you will enjoy a tasting led by an experienced sommelier. A designated UNESCO World Heritage site, the palace grounds are ideal for strolling, and you’ll have time to do so before transferring back to the ship for lunch and an onboard cooking demonstration.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Make the most of your journey with an optional full-day tour of Rothenburg, in addition to visiting the Würzburg Residenz. Learn more
Rothenburg, or Rothenburg ob der Tauber (“Red castle above the Tauber”), is a well-preserved medieval town located in the Franconia region of Bavaria. As part of southern Germany’s popular Romantic Road, it is a favorite destination for visitors. From its ancient buildings and immersive museums to its historical sites and the beautiful Castle Garden, you’ll be charmed by this picture-perfect city. Following your time in Rothenburg, you’ll head to Würzburg Residenz, a spectacular Baroque-European bishop’s palace that was designed by visionary architect Balthasar Neumann. You’ll have time to stroll the palace grounds, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, before returning to the ship.
Village life and a BBQ lunch in Marktheidenfeld
The lovely half-timbered village of Marktheidenfeld boasts several traditional industries, and today you’ll choose which one to explore. You can visit the local paper factory, a forge where traditional blacksmithing is done, or a local château whose owner will show you his antique piano and klavier collection. Your fourth choice is a visit to a family-owned winery, where you’ll sample some lovely Franconian vintages. After your choice of tour concludes you’ll enjoy a German-style barbecue or “grill party,” with traditional live music. Back on the ship, a glassblowing demonstration introduces us to the artistry of this age-old craft. Then, an interactive cooking lesson introduces you to Germany’s answer to mac and cheese, Käsespätzle, or another regional specialty.
A full day in romantic Heidelberg
Disembarking in Aschaffenburg, you’ll set off for a full-day excursion to Heidelberg, a red-roofed town on the Neckar River that is home to Germany’s oldest university. Enjoy panoramic views from the plaza of imposing Heidelberg Castle. You'll also see the famed Heidelberg Tun, an immense wine barrel, now empty, with a capacity of some 58,000 gallons. It would seem the immense volume was warranted, judging by the numerous old student pubs, cafés, and beer gardens that line Heidelberg’s charming alleys. Sample a local restaurant at an included lunch, then have some free time to explore here on your own. Perhaps you’ll poke into the old student jail (the Studentenkarzer), where drunk or unruly collegians were temporarily locked up. It was considered a badge of honor to spend time here, and you can still see the graffiti scribbled by 19th-century “inmates.” After your touring, you’ll transfer back to your ship.
After dinner, enjoy the musicianship of four string virtuosos performing classical and contemporary favorites.
Enjoy Rüdesheim personalized for you and Rhine Valley views
In the morning, arrive in cheerful Rüdesheim, you'll have your choice of three 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, choose a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments. Your third choice of tours is a wine hike where you'll be actively walking through vineyards at a steady pace, popping into different Weinstuben to sample regional vintages.
This afternoon, it’s all hands on deck for some of the most spectacular scenery of the cruise as your ship winds through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Studded with historic castles and beautiful gorges, it is a sight you can only truly appreciate from the river. A highlight will be your sighting of the famous Lorelei, a steep slate rock that makes a soft, murmuring sound under certain conditions. It used to be the site of many shipwrecks, and a legend sprang up about a lovely, golden-haired maiden who would sit atop the rock combing her hair and singing a song that lured sailors too close to the rock . . . and into perilous waters.
Cologne walking tour and Kölsch beer tasting
Begin with breakfast on board before heading out to discover Cologne, Founded in the 1st century, this is one of Germany’s most well-preserved medieval cities.
Your walking tour begins at the historic center of Cologne’s Old Town. Here you’ll find the Romanic Museum and the old City Hall, renowned for its 16th-century Renaissance facade. Next, you’ll pop into a local brewery to sample Cologne’s famous Kölsch beer, a classically-dry and herbaceous ale that is only produced here. Your tour will conclude at the grand plaza of the twin-spired Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction began in 1248, and it took 632 years to complete it. You’ll have the option to visit the inside of the cathedral to see the gilded Shrine of the Three Magi — said to contain the remains of the three kings from the Nativity story — or return to the ship for an afternoon at leisure.
Tonight, you’ll enjoy dinner and then settle in for an evening of onboard entertainment.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Explore the UNESCO-listed palaces of Brühl and their neighboring gardens. Learn more
Head out on a memorable tour of the Brühl Palaces Augustusburg and Falkenlust, two of Germany’s most important examples of Baroque and Rococo architecture. The splendor of these palaces is simply breathtaking and the adjacent Schlosspark (Palace Park), designed in the French style but with perceptible elements of traditional English landscaped gardens, is an internationally recognized monument to the art of gardening. Today, both structures, along with their gardens and parks are jointly listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Disembark ship and return home
Today you will disembark in Bonn and return home. Alternatively, you can stay on to enjoy an optional post-trip Paris 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 may affect itinerary.