Grand European River Cruise - 2020

Frankfurt | 23-night river cruise with Mainz, Cologne, Rüdesheim, Heidelberg, Wertheim and Marktheidenfeld, Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau, Vienna, Budapest, Kalocsa, Mohacs, Vukovar, Belgrade, Donji Milanovac, Ruse, Giurgiu | Bucharest
  • $342
  • 26
  • 55
27 DAYS FROM $8,899
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Transylvania, Romania

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Bonn to Bucharest

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Amsterdam, the Netherlands

FROM: $1099 PER PERSON | 4 DAYS | $275 PER DAY
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DAY 1:

Germany bound

Your adventure begins with an overnight flight to Germany, arriving in Frankfurt on Day 2. Upon arrival, you’ll have the rest of the day to rest up and relax after your journey.

DAY 2:

Willkommen! Embark ship 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 Bonn, where you’ll board your deluxe river ship and officially begin your European cruise. You can also begin your journey earlier with an optional pre-trip extension.

Included Meals:


DAY 3:

Sip Kölsch while exploring the historic cultural center of Cologne

Today, take a walking tour of the historic German cultural center of Cologne, where you’ll see the iconic Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This evening, we'll enjoy a Welcome Reception and Dinner as well as some onboard entertainment.

Culinary Feature: Enjoy a tasting of Kölsch beer at a traditional German brewhouse, a signature flavor that is only made here in Cologne.

Biking Opportunity: Enjoy a 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; 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 Rudesheim, where 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. 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 — and have a nifty souvenir glass to take home! Afterwards, you'll return to the ship for dinner, which will be followed by onboard entertainment.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 5:

Day-tripping 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. Cultural Connection: Tonight, enjoy onboard entertainment from four musical virtuosos.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 6:

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

We'll arrive in Wertheim this morning and will set out to explore the town after breakfast. Unforgettable Moment: The highlight of our day will be a delightful half-day tour during which learn about local industry. Later, we’ll savor a BBQ lunch and take in some traditional live music.

Cultural Connection: Back on the ship, a glassblowing demonstration introduces us to the artistry of this age-old craft. Later tonight, you’ll have the opportunity to take part in a fun culinary demonstration and sample what is whipped up! Savor traditional spätzle, or another regional specialty that’s in season.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 7:

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 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: Late this afternoon, attend a lecture on “Germany in the 21st Century: Changes & Challenges.” This evening, you can try your hand at cooking German-braised beef roulade in the Captain’s Club during an intimate cooking lesson.

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

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 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.

Note: Christmas Museum is not available during holiday season departures.

DAY 8:

Altmühl Valley sailing, walking tour of Bamberg, wine tasting dinner

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. 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 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. This evening, chat with your fellow travelers during cocktail hour in the lounge and enjoy a delectable dinner on board.

Cultural Connection: Germany is renowned for its handmade goods, including wood carvings and toys. Learn about some during an afternoon presentation on what’s made in Nuremburg today.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 10:

Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms

You’ll arrive at picturesque Regensburg today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with history stretching back to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. 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 the Walhalla memorial hall, during a moderate 14-mile route. Click here for details.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 11:

Music and pub crawls 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.

Cultural Connection: Join a local artist to learn how to capture the scenery with a brush during a painting lesson.

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

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 12:

Music and dancing in Vienna

Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape. This afternoon, an apple strudel making demonstration awaits in your Captains Club. Cultural Connection: Be prepared for what awaits you later this evening with an insightful onboard lecture about Musical Vienna. Once in Austria’s capital, you’ll be treated to a delightful evening filled with tunes and revelry at an exclusive Kursalon music hall concert. Later onboard, keep the party going with dancing onboard; local dancers will show you their fancy footwork and teach you a few steps. Wine Feature: Tonight’s dinner will be further enhanced by a pairing and tasting of local wines with commentary.

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

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 13:

Vienna and Liechtenstein Palace

This morning you’ll be treated to a city tour of Vienna, whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the many highlights are Liechtenstein Palace and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. After lunch on board your ship, enjoy some exciting waltz-dancing lessons. This evening, treat yourself to a fun evening with an optional Viennese Heurigen Dinner, cozy family-style affairs with wine and music.

Culinary Feature: Tonight’s culinary demonstration features mouthwatering Styrian pot roast.

Water Sport 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: $109 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 décor, 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!

DAY 14:

Vienna as you like it, then Budapest-bound

You'll have your choice of two tours this morning: either the city's excellent Museum of Art History or the grand Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This afternoon, sail leisurely towards another great European capital: Budapest.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 15:

Going for baroque on a city tour of Budapest

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, or you can opt to enjoy an optional Hungarian Horse Show today.

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: $69 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 driving. 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:

Head to Hollókő, or spend a day at leisure in Budapest

Join our delightful full-day optional tour to the Hungarian village of Hollókő, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a “living village” of early rural life before the agricultural revolution of the 20th century. Alternatively, enjoy a day at leisure in Budapest, perhaps taking advantage of our onboard bicycles to cruise along the Danube pathways, or to do some shopping on the Váci Utca, Budapest’s most famous shopping street.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Hollókő: A Step Back in Time

Hollókő: A Step Back in Time

  • Approximate Cost: $109 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 8 hours
  • Location: Budapest, Hungary
  • When: Full-day tour, including home-hosted lunch

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-old 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.

DAY 17:

Exploring the Pest side of Budapest, and a Jewish Heritage optional tour

Divided by the Danube, Budapest is actually two cities — Buda and Pest. Today we’ll explore Pest, beginning with an inside visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica, as well as a tour of City Park, Heroes’ Square, and neighboring Andrássy Avenue — a UNESCO World Heritage Site lined with Neo-Renaissance palaces and homes — and a glimpse of the Parliament building, which you’ll explore in-depth tomorrow. This afternoon, take an optional Jewish Heritage tour that reveals the historic Jewish Quarter and local landmarks, or simply enjoy some leisure time to explore Budapest on your own. Cultural Connection: Back on the ship this evening, a folk music and dance show rings in your eastern European journey in style.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Jewish Heritage Tour

Jewish Heritage Tour

  • Approximate Cost: $39 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3 hours
  • Location: Budapest, Hungary
  • When: Afternoon Tour

Discover the largest Jewish community in eastern Europe during your stay in Budapest. This tour offers an illuminating look into the rich cultural, historical, and religious heritage of Hungary, with visits to Budapest’s Jewish Quarter, Dohány Synagogue — Europe’s largest — and more.

Please note: This tour is not available on Saturdays.

DAY 18:

Take a walk on the Buda side and go inside Parliament

Arguably Budapest’s most historic building, the Parliament towers over the Danube with its intriguing blend of architectural styles and 365 spires — one for every day of the year. Unforgettable Moment: Tour the inside of the Parliament building in this Vantage-exclusive experience that allows us fast-track entrance. Then, continue the afternoon with visits to the Citadel, Chain Bridge, Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle, and more local landmarks; or, transfer to the Great Market Hall for a guided tour and an afternoon at leisure. We’ll cast off towards Kalocsa later this afternoon.

Please note: The Parliament can cancel any confirmed visit at any time. In the event of a cancellation, travelers will instead visit the Opera House.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 19:

Get folksy with craft and cooking lessons in Kalocsa

Cultural Connection: Visit the town of Kalocsa today and embark on 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. We’ll then transfer to charming Pécs in the foothills of the Mecsek Mountains. After lunch here, we’ll set off on a walking tour that includes a visit to the city’s UNESCO-listed Necropolis, which hearkens back to the 4th century, as well as the Pécs Cathedral. Alternatively, you might also embark on an hour-long city tour by train.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 20:

Explore Croatia, and savor a home-hosted lunch in Vukovar

What better way to learn about local life than with a visit to a local family? Unforgettable Moment: As we make landfall in Croatia today, we’ll join a local family in their home for a riveting lunch. Cultural Connection: Then, if school is in session, we’ll meet some local students, or otherwise attend a guitar concert in a local courtyard. After, we’ll make our way to Eltz Manor, a baroque castle housing the Vukovar City Museum. Cultural Connection: More music awaits us back on the ship when a local band comes on board to play some modern-day classics that have been rejiggered into new arrangements.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 21:

Discover Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress — then embark on a pub crawl

Cultural Connection: An illuminating lecture on modern Serbia sets the stage for our discovery of the country’s 2,500-year-old capital, Belgrade, on a half-day tour. Belgrade’s recent history can be felt in the city’s grittiness, but bold redevelopment and the positive outlook of residents will undoubtedly impress you. As a counterpoint to Belgrade’s comeback, we’ll visit the Kalemegdan Fortress. Dating back to a staggering 279 BC, the fortress was since destroyed more than 40 times in approximately 115 battles.

This afternoon, take advantage an optional tour to Tito’s Memorial and Royal Palace. Or, if you're up for something a bit more adventurous, speak to your Concierge about where you can rent a canoe or kayak. Ready to raise your glass? Set off on a fun pub crawl later this afternoon. Cultural Connection: Tonight’s sure to be festive, too, as we’re initiated into the Captain’s Gala Dinner with a traditional salt and bread welcome performed by two local women in traditional garb. We’ll enjoy another folk music and dance troupe as the evening’s entertainment.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner
Optional Tour: Tito's Memorial and Royal Palace

Tito's Memorial and Royal Palace

  • Approximate Cost: $79 USD per person
  • Approximate Time: 3.5 hours
  • Location: Belgrade, Serbia
  • When: Afternoon Tour
Start your tour at the Royal Compound in Dedinje, a fashionable district of Belgrade. King Alexander I Karađorđević built it for his family in the 1920s, before his assassination in 1934 changed the course of Yugoslavian history. Today, the Crown Prince Alexander Karađorđević and his family live in the Royal Palace. You’ll enjoy a guided walking tour of the grounds, the Royal Palace, and the Church of Saint Andrej the First-Called, along with a welcome drink. Your next stop is the memorial to former President of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito and the museum showcasing tributes he received during his rule.

DAY 22:

Uncover the charms of a Serbian village

Begin your day with a walking tour of charming Donji Milanovac, where you’ll visit the Church of St. Nikolas and an elementary school. Cultural Connection: Here, you’ll enjoy a fascinating introduction to the Cyrillic alphabet, the script invented by a Byzantine monk in the 9th century but now widely used throughout the Slavic world.

Relax on deck this afternoon 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.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 23:

Cruise into Ruse with a dance performance, icon painting, a Balkan BBQ, and more

Today promises to be an eye-opening day of rich cultural heritage — and fun, too. Cultural Connection: As you cruise this morning, a lecture on “Bulgaria, Romania, and the Expansion of the European Union” offers some contemporary context to our journey as we sail toward the Bulgarian port town, Ruse. For lunch, enjoy a festive Balkan-style BBQ on the sun deck, weather permitting. Cultural Connection: This afternoon, some local children come on board for a delightful dance performance, and later we’ll learn about the Bulgarian tradition of icon painting from a local artist, and then meet a local Orthodox priest. We’ll enjoy dinner on board before the Contemporary Bulgarian Trio puts a twist on traditional music for us.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 24:

Spend a day in captivating Veliko Tarnovo, including lunch with students and a choir performance

Today offers another high point of your journey when you spend a full day in Veliko Tarnovo, a 12th-century Bulgarian capital where colorful houses perch above the winding Yantra River. Cultural Connection: Have lunch with local university students in Veliko Tarnovo before heading to the 16th-century village of Arbanassi for a lovely Eastern Orthodox choir performance at the Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. This evening, celebrate the joys of your river cruise at the Captain’s Farewell Dinner & Cocktail Reception.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 25:

Panoramic Bucharest tour, then explore its historic sites

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 Bucharest institution.

* 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.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 26:

Travel through Transylvanian history

Venture into Transylvania, the mountainous, legend-haunted region in central Romania. On the way, stop for lunch in Sinaia, a former royal summer retreat, and visit fairytale-worthy Peles Castle. As you 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.

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner

DAY 27:

Return home

Transfer to the airport today for your return flight home.

Included Meals:


Post-Trip Extension

Transylvania, Romania


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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Grand European River Cruise - 2020

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