4 DAYS FROM $899
4 DAYS FROM $699
Discover three of Europe’s most legendary waterways — the Rhine, Main, and Danube — on a grand journey that combines two of our most popular cruises: Majestic Rivers of Europe and Passage to Eastern Europe & Transylvania. On a single voyage you will enjoy 22 included tours in 7 countries, see 10 different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and enjoy 17 exclusive Cultural Connections that engage you in the customs, cuisine, and craftsmanship of daily European life. Even more impressive than those numbers is the lifelong enrichment your experiences will yield. Witness a parade of castles on the Rhine, roam the fairytale towns of Bamberg, Heidelberg, and Rudesheim, celebrate the vivid folk traditions of Kalocsa, Marktheidenfeld, and Ruse, and behold the architectural splendor of Regensburg and Budapest. Plus enjoy two full days in Vienna, an exclusive Vantage feature!
Depart home for Frankfurt, Germany
Your adventure begins with an overnight flight to Germany, arriving in Frankfurt on Day 2. Upon arrival, we have the remainder of the day to rest up after our journey.
Willkommen! Embark ship in Mainz and begin your river cruise
If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you at the Frankfurt airport and assist with your transfer to the pier in Mainz. This is where you will board your Deluxe river ship and officially begin your European river cruise. You can also begin your journey earlier with an optional pre-trip extension.
Sip Kölsch while exploring the historic cultural center of Cologne
This morning, take a walking tour of this historic German cultural center. 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. This evening, we'll enjoy a Welcome Reception and Dinner as well as some onboard entertainment. Culinary feature: Enjoy a tasting of Kölsch beer, a signature brew that is only made here in Cologne. 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.
Rhine Valley views; Rüdesheim personalized for you
After some scenic sailing in the morning — during which we'll marvel at the scenery and hear about local lore — you'll arrive in Rüdesheim, 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 sour cabbage and sausage. You'll also get a chance to taste some delightful Reisling wine.
Day-trip to romantic Heidelberg, a UNESCO site
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.
Discovering village life in Wertheim and Marktheidenfeld
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.
Tour and wine tasting inside the Würzburg Residenz
Arriving in Würzburg, set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a baroque European castle and 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: Late this afternoon, attend a lecture on “Germany in the 21st Century: Changes & Challenges.”
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.
Altmühl Valley sailing and walking tour of Bamberg
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. There is also an opportunity to partake in a cooking demonstration today, one of several available on your journey.
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.
Culinary feature: Watch a cooking demonstration on kasspatzle (the German version of macaroni and cheese).
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.
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 river. On your tour, enjoy an organ concert inside St. Stephen’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.
Waltzing into Vienna and Liechtenstein Palace
Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape, on your way to Vienna. After arriving in Vienna, you'll enjoy a half-day tour that includes a visit to the National Library, a stunning Baroque treasury inside Hofburg Palace. 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 Gröstl.
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, music, and wine! You can look forward to a fun and festive evening!
Your choice of tours in Vienna, followed by a private Kursalon concert
You'll have your choice of two tours today: either the city'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.Unforgettable Moment: Later, listen to a lecture on "Musical Vienna" before enjoying today's highlight: a private classical music concert at the Kursalon.
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.
No sleep ’til Budapest
Enjoy a morning at leisure with shuttle service available. This afternoon, sail leisurely towards another great European capital: Budapest.
Panoramic tour of Budapest, the “Queen of the Danube”
Begin the day with a panoramic city tour of regal Budapest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unforgettable Moment: You’ll take in the spectacular panoramic views of the city from Fisherman’s Bastion, a magnificent terrace overlooking the Danube. The rest of the day you’re free to explore Budapest at your own pace. 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.
Budapest at your own pace — free day to shop, explore, or take an optional tour to the “living village” of Hollókő
Enjoy a day at leisure, perhaps taking advantage of our onboard bicycles to ride along the Danube pathways, or to do some shopping on the Váci Utca, Budapest’s most famous shopping street. You can also join our delightful full-day optional tour to the Hungarian village of Hollókő, a "living village" of early rural life that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A scenic journey back in time, into the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, takes you to the medieval UNESCO World heritage village of Hollókő. Here life follows the same patterns it did centuries ago — the houses are built in a medieval style with whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs, and the locals still honor age-hold customs and dress in traditional embroidered clothing on special occasions — such as your arrival! You'll be greeted with singing, dancing, and a snack of Hungarian cheesecake. Then, in small groups, we'll be invited into a home for lunch — a truly wonderful way to meet people of Hungary. Afterwards, you'll take a walking tour through the village's cobbled streets.
Delving into Hungary’s musical heritage — and goulash
Today you'll tour the Hungarian State Opera House, an opulent masterpiece of neo-Renaissance architecture where greats such as composer Gustav Mahler performed. A statue in front of Ferenc (Franz) Liszt reminds you of Hungary's storied musical heritage. Much of the structure was destroyed by American bombing during World War II, then restored afterwards. Cultural Connection: You'll also sample some amazing cake and coffee at the famed Cafe Gerbeaud, an atmospheric landmark of Budapest's legendary coffee culture.Culinary feature: Learn how to make goulash, and then sample this superb regional dish.
Exploring Hungarian traditions and cuisine in Kalocsa
Today, you’ll visit the town of Kalocsa, where you’ll enjoy a city tour that includes workshops on folk painting, folk embroidery, and the making of traditional Hungarian paprika bread, as well as an organ concert. Sample Hungarian specialties during lunch on board. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure. Cultural Connection: You'll take part in an insightful Folklore Workshop today.
Trek to the Croatian border on an exploration of historic Pécs
From our berth in Mohar we’ll set out on an excursion to Pécs, a multicultural city where Hungarians, Croatians, and Swabians have lived together in peace for generations. Our tour will reveal the city’s ancient and religious significance with a visit to the magnificent Basilica of St. Peter and the Roman Necropolis — together recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Those who enjoy additional walking can also visit the Museum Quarter. Savor lunch in Pécs at a local restaurant.
Hello, Croatia: Exploring Vukovar and Osijek
Today we’ll enjoy a tour of Vukovar, Croatia’s largest river port whose history dates back to the 6th century, when Slavic tribes first settled here. Cultural Connection: You’ll also visit the vibrant university city of Osijek, where you’ll meet a Croatian family while enjoying lunch in their home. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about Croatia’s independence firsthand. If you’re in Osijek when school is in session, you’ll also visit an elementary school classroom and meet the children, or you’ll attend a guitar concert in a church courtyard.
Inside Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress
Following an informative lecture on modern Serbia, discover the country’s 2,500-year-old capital, Belgrade, on a half-day tour. Belgrade’s recent history has left the city somewhat disheveled — yet you’ll be impressed by bold redevelopment and the positive outlook of the residents. You’ll also visit Kalemegdan Fortress. This afternooon, you may want to take advantage of the optional tour to Tito’s Memorial and Royal Palace. If you're up for something a bit more adventurous, speak to your Concierge about where you can rent a canoe or kayak on the river. Later, raise a glass during an informal pub crawl.
Cruising the Iron Gates of the Danube, and a Balkan-style BBQ party
Relax on deck and enjoy the views as your river cruise passes through one of the most dramatic and beautiful stretches of the Danube river, the series of gorges known as the Iron Gates of the Danube. As your ship passes through two sets of locks, you’ll hear commentary from the bridge describing the process. You'll also enjoy a Balkan-style BBQ party on the sun deck, weather permitting. Cultural Connection: Enjoy a fascinating introduction to the Cyrillic alphabet, the script invented by a Byzantine monk in the 9th century that is now widely used throughout the Slavic world.
Amused in Ruse, Europe’s “Little Vienna”
Cultural Connection: As you cruise, take in a morning presentation on the “Bulgaria, Romania, and the Expansion of the European Union.” You’ll arrive in the Bulgarian river port of Ruse, nicknamed “Little Vienna” for its attractive baroque architecture. Cultural Connection: Enjoy a charming dance performance by Bulgarian children. Later, witness a fascinating icon painting demonstration on board.
A day Veliko Tarnovo, with choir performance in Arbanassi village
Step ashore for a full-day tour to Veliko Tarnovo, a 12th-century Bulgarian capital where colorful houses perch above the winding Yantra River.
While in Veliko Tarnovo, you’ll have lunch with university students. You’ll continue to the 16th-century village of Arbanassi, where you’ll be treated to a heavenly Eastern Orthodox choir performance at the Church of the Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel.
Panoramic tour of Bucharest and exploring its historic buildings
This morning we’ll disembark ship and transfer to Bucharest, Romania’s largest city and capital, where we’ll embark on a panoramic tour and have lunch. Afterwards, explore Bucharest’s grand monuments and leafy, old-world boulevards on a city tour that includes a choice of entrances. Unforgettable Moment: You can visit the infamous People’s Palace, the grandiose, sprawling, and never-completed administrative building initiated by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Alternatively, take a fascinating walking tour of Manuc’s Inn, Bucharest’s oldest hotel building, which was built as a way station for caravans and surrounds a large open courtyard. Tonight, we’ll savor a delicious dinner at a favorite among those who live in Bucharest.*Please note, for the best airport pacing, passengers on the post-trip extension will enjoy all of the same features from the base tour in a different order. Extension travelers will complete the final Bucharest portion of the base itinerary on their last day.
Traveling through Transylvanian history
Today we’ll venture into Transylvania, the mountainous, legend-haunted region in central Romania. On the way, we’ll stop for lunch in Sinaia, a former royal summer retreat, and visit fairy-tale Peles Castle. As we enter Transylvania proper, you’ll see why it’s known as the last medieval landscape in Europe. You’ll return to Bucharest in the afternoon. Dinner is included at your hotel.
Depart Bucharest and fly home
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Vantage invites you to Transylvania, where the lure of vampire legends awaits in Romania’s fabled central region, home to mountainous scenery, medieval villages, and Bran Castle — Dracula’s legendary manse. You’ll visit Prejmer Fortified Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and check off another UNESCO Site off your list when joining our optional tour to enchanting Sighișoara. Step inside elegant Bucharest, bohemian Brasov, and a forested region of fairytales — now with an extra day added for better pacing in 2019! *Please note that for pre- and post-trip extension passengers to enjoy the best pacing and airline routing, two days of base tour features will be listed in the itinerary below as noted (Days 25 and 29 for the post-extension). For post-trip extension passengers, your price includes:
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.