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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 on select 2022 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. 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 one of 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.
Thirteen included features, 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.
Journey to the heart of Bavaria to experience a fairy-tale town that hosts a very special celebration once every decade. On this once-in-a-lifetime extension, be enchanted by a breathtaking village frozen in time, home to famous Lüftlmalerei wall paintings and wood carvings that depict traditional mythical stories. And, every ten years, the town puts on a Passion Play about the life of Jesus, fabled to have kept a plague at bay more than four centuries ago.
This year is even more unprecedented, as the current global state of affairs delayed the event from 2020 now to 2022. You'll have the opportunity to take part in this tradition that remains alive and well and has been an international allurement for the faithful and historians alike since 1634.
Not only will you have a seat on one of the most dramatic and unforgettable performances, you'll also be able to explore modern and storied Munich, and discover what makes this city so wonderful. Enjoy some of the best seats in the house on the Oberammergau Passion Play and more of the most enriching features on this spectacular extension in Germany.
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.
Fly overnight to Budapest, Hungary
Today, fly overnight to Budapest, Hungary.
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.
Going for baroque on a city tour of Budapest
Draped over several hills on a gentle curve in the Danube River, Budapest is a beautiful, baroque capital whose city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Get to know the city on an included panoramic tour. On the Buda side of the river, take in stunning views of Pest across the Danube from a fairytale-like terrace called Fisherman’s Bastion. Tonight, celebrate the beginning of your European river cruise with the Captain’s Welcome Party and Dinner.
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.
Waltzing into Vienna and the Austrian National Library
This morning during your sail, you can learn the secrets of making a perfect Austrian apple strudel during an onboard cooking demonstration. There will also be a German language lesson as well as lunch onboard.
In the afternoon, set off on a panoramic city drive of Vienna, giving you a comprehensive view of this storied city at the heart of central Europe, including a visit to the Austrian National Library, the largest Baroque library in Europe.
Vienna as you like it, and a private Kursalon concert
Join an on board lecture this morning on "Musical Vienna" prior to venturing to Austria's grand capital. Then you'll experience another Vantage Exclusive on your choice of two tours: either the Museum of Art History or Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the grandest of European castles. With the afternoon at leisure, perhaps you can schedule a visit to a spa in Vienna through our Vantage Concierge Service, or take one of the complimentary ship-board bicycles. Vantage Exclusive This evening, you’ll be treated to a private classical music concert at the Kursalon.
Back on board ship, dancers will entertain you and welcome you up into the crowd to enjoy some fancy stepping with a waltzing lesson.
Scenic Wachau Valley cruising
Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, now designated 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.
Culinary Feature: Enjoy a demonstration on how to make sour cabbage and sausage. This evening, enjoy a wine pairing dinner on board the ship.
Music 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.
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.
Biking Opportunity: Explore Regensburg’s monuments and history, including The Walhalla memorial hall, during a moderate 14-mile route. Click here for details.
Nuremberg, customized for you — tour the town’s highlights or explore its WWII history
This morning, attend an on board "Bavarian Beer Experience" lecture, followed by lunch.
This afternoon, 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.
Later this evening, enjoy the "Magic of Rhythm Show," where International tap stars showcase a variety of styles, from ferociously fast Paddle-and-Roll rhythms to languid, elegant Soft Shoe to fiery a-cappella counterpoint. From the first taps to last, these artists will captivate you with thrilling, humorous and unforgettable performances.
Altmühl Valley sailing and walking tour of Bamberg
After arriving in Bamberg this morning, we'll embark on a fascinating walking tour of the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cultural Connection: This afternoon, attend a lecture on "Germany in the 21st Century."
This evening, savor an on board dinner and wine pairing. Culinary Feature: You'll also learn how to make Swabian meat pockets, a hearty dish that is well known in this region.
Tour and wine tasting inside the Würzburg Residenz
Your European river cruise continues to Würzburg. Here, you'll set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a baroque European castle that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour includes a visit to the wine cellar for a tasting and lecture.
Culinary Feature: During an on board cooking demonstration today, try making and savoring some beef roulade.
Biking Opportunity: Explore the scenic banks of the Main River during this moderate 17-mile route. Click here for details.
Exploring village life in Marktheidenfeld, with a BBQ lunch and traditional live music
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.
Culinary Feature: Watch a cooking demonstration on kasspatzle (the German version of macaroni and cheese).
Day-tripping through romantic Heidelberg
Depart for a full day tour to Heidelberg from your pier in Aschaffenburg. Unforgettable Moment: Enjoy panoramic views from the plaza of imposing Heidelberg Castle, a Gothic-Renaissance ruin of red stone looming above the downtown and see the castles famed Heidelberg Tun, an immense wine barrel, now empty, with a capacity of some 58,000 gallons. Afterwards, descend via funicular from the castle to the town center to stroll the pedestrian-only main street.
Sip Kölsch while exploring the historic cultural center of Cologne
After a morning of relaxing sailing and lunch on board, we'll make an afternoon arrival in Cologne. Then, take a walking tour of this historic German cultural center, which includes a Kölsch beer tasting. This evening, we'll enjoy some onboard entertainment following a sumptuous Captain's Farewell Dinner.
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 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, embark on 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 newly added vigorous hiking tour, where you’ll sample three different regional vintages. Afterwards, you'll return to the ship for dinner.
Disembark ship and return home (or begin your extension!)
Today, return home or opt for our optional extension to Oberammergau and Munich (select departures).
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.