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Today you’ll board an overnight flight to Budapest, Hungary.
Arrive in Budapest, and settle into your river ship with a Welcome Briefing
Arrive in Budapest today. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, our representative will meet you outside the arrivals area and assist with your transfer to your deluxe river ship. Or, if you embarked on our optional pre-trip extension to Poland, you’ll arrive on Day 2 to join the program. Tonight, attend a Welcome Briefing and enjoy a drink in the lounge before dinner on board.
Vantage Onboard Enrichment:
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. Back on the ship this evening, a folk music and dance show rings in your eastern European journey in style.
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.
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. Tour the inside of the Parliament building in this Vantage-exclusive experience that allows us fast-track entrance. We’ll also explore Castle Hill and Fisherman’s Bastion before we cast off towards Kalocsa this afternoon.
Get folksy with craft and cooking lessons in Kalocsa
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, followed by an organ concert in the local cathedral. We’ll then transfer by coach 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. Alternatively, you might also embark on an hour-long city tour by mini-train. Afterwards, we'll transfer by coach to Mohacs, board our river ship once more, and set sail for our next destination: Croatia.
Explore Croatia, and savor a home-hosted lunch in Vukovar
As we make landfall in Croatia today, prepare for two memorable experiences to unfold. The first is a visit to a Franciscan monastery before we join a local family in their home for a riveting lunch. Learn more about day-to-day life, regional food, and Croatian culture as we break bread with welcoming hosts. 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. 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 — setting the mood for this evening’s festive Captain’s Gala Dinner.
Discover Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress — then embark on a pub crawl
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. Tonight’s sure to be festive, too, as we enjoy a traditional Serbian salt and bread welcome performed by two local women in traditional garb and an accordion player. We’ll enjoy another folk music and dance troupe as the evening’s entertainment.
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. 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.
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. As you cruise this morning, a presentation 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. Just before lunch, we'll fire up the BBQ on the sun deck for a festive Balkan-style cooking demo, weather permitting. Our dish? Cevapcici, or traditional Balkan sausages. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
Transfer to the Bucharest airport today for your return 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 2020!
Please note that in an effort to better the pacing, two days (Days 11 and 15) from your base journey will take place within your extension. The order of these two base days in the extension itinerary is subject to change.
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.