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What could make the charm of a classic Alpine village even more magical than mountainous scenery punctuated by woodcarvings and Lüftlmalerei wall paintings? It’s the once-every-decade Passion Play, staged by villagers in Bavaria, re-enacting the life and times of Christ. A fascinating pageant and cultural tradition that can’t be replicated anywhere else is available to you on deluxe small-group tours with Vantage Travel when you add on exclusive extension to Oberammergau, on select 2020 departures only — we offer you the best seats and accommodations among American cruise lines today.
No matter which departure you choose, Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales offers you storybook castles and vineyard-covered hillsides. The opportunity to raise a stein at a historic brewery. Savor the flavors of the Rhine Valley at a barbecue with live music in a German village. Hear waltz music in Vienna, where we are the only European river cruise company that takes you there for two full days and take in the view across the Danube from Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest.
You’re invited to come aboard 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 deluxe riverboat cruise into a delightful immersion in the sights, sounds, flavors, and most of all, the beauty, along Europe’s great waterways.
Nestled deep in the heart of the Bavarian Alps, Oberammergau is one of the postcard-perfect Germany villages filled with charming homes decorated with Lüftlmalerei wall paintings, intricate woodcarvings, and a small tight-knit community of just 5,100. It’s always special indeed, but once every 10 years this village expands to an even larger community of the faithful or just about anyone interested in history for one of the most fascinating, long-running spectacles in the world: the Oberammergau Passion Play. Occurring every decade since 1634, with roles depicting the life of Jesus filled by just about every villager, this 380-year event in the making will be presented exclusively for Vantage travelers on special Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals and Fairytales trip extensions. In three extra days, explore Munich and the Alps, and enjoy some of the best show seats and the most enriching features as only Vantage can present them — but hurry, tickets sell out months in advance so you should reserve this experience today.
Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience on our June 20, 2020 departure.
Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience on our August 5, 2020, departure.
Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience on our September 20, 2020, departure.
Fly overnight to Frankfurt, Germany
Today, if you’re on our Oberammergau pre-trip extension, transfer to Frankfurt; or, fly overnight to Frankfurt, Germany, from your convenient U.S. gateway city.
Enjoy the Mainz attraction
Today, you’ll land in Frankfurt. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to the pier in Mainz, where you will board your Deluxe river ship and officially begin your European river cruise. If you were already in Germany for our exciting pre-trip Oberammergau extension, meet the other travelers on your base tour.
Sip Kölsch while exploring the historic cultural center of Cologne
This morning, take a walking tour of this historic German cultural center. 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. 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
Biking Opportunity: Explore the scenic banks of the Main River during this moderate 17-mile route. Click here for details.
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.
Culinary Feature: Learn how to make Swabian meat pockets, a regional treat customary in southwestern Germany, during an onboard demonstration this evening.
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.
Culinary Feature: Watch a cooking demonstration on kasspatzle (the German version of macaroni and cheese).
Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms
Explore 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. 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.
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.
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 Liechtenstein 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 Grostl.
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!
Vienna as you like it, and 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 a kayak or boat rental.
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 moderate 8-mile route. Click here for details.
Watersport Opportunity: Alternatively, ask your Concierge about renting a boat or kayak during your free time.
Bustling Budapest and the Captain’s Farewell Party
Enjoy a morning at leisure with shuttle service available. This afternoon, sail leisurely towards another great European capital: Budapest. You’ll gather with your fellow travelers tonight for the Captain’s Farewell Party.
Going for baroque on a city tour of Budapest
Your European river cruise comes to a conclusion in grand style, as you arrive in Budapest. During your tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, enjoy the stunning panoramic views across the Danube River from the hilltop terraces of Fisherman’s Bastion. You can also 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.
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.
Disembark ship and return home (or begin your extension to Bratislava and Prague!)
Transfer to the airport for your return flight home, or begin your optional post-trip extension to Prague.
Make the most of your included airfare by adding two more European countries to your passport — three nights in magnificent Prague, an elegant, Old World capital boasting many grand castles, and two nights in Bratislava, the delightful capital of Slovakia.
In Prague, you'll enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Jewish Quarter. En route to Bratislava, you'll stop in Brno, Czech Republic for a stroll with your city host.
Then, in Bratislava, a baroque city along the Danube River cruise portion of your journey, you'll be captivated by the many historic treasures on a walking tour. To conclude your journey, you'll stop in the village of Dunaalmas, Hungary for a community hosted lunch, where you can help prepare the meal with guidance from your friendly hosts.
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.