23 days from Bucharest to AmsterdamOverview
The Black Sea, the North Sea, and the rivers in between are the focus of this memorable river cruise along the magnificent Danube, Main, and Rhine Rivers. Relax and enjoy as you cruise past cities and quaint villages, taking in the scenery and learning about the history. Enjoy included guided sightseeing in each city, with inside visits of the Natural History & Archaeological Museum in Constanta, Belgrade’s Kalemegdan Fortress, and the stunning Bishop’s Residenz in Würzburg. Take small boats to explore the fascinating Danube Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; cruise through the dramatic gorge of the Iron Gates, along the Main Danube Canal, and past the legendary rock of the Lorelei. Your trip ends with a cruise through Amsterdam’s lovely canals—a wonderful way to conclude this marvelous vacation!Duration:
Ships Serving this Tour: Illumination
Day 1 Bucharest, Romania–Fetesti (Embarkation).
|11 September, 2019
||03 October, 2019
In the early afternoon, a motorcoach ride takes you to Fetesti, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception. (D)Day 2 St. Gheorghe. Danube Delta Excursion.
This morning during breakfast, dock in St. Gheorghe, from where the excursion into the DELTA will start. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best preserved of Europe’s deltas, this area hosts over 300 species of birds as well as 45 species of freshwater fish. From its source in the Black Forest to its delta at the Black Sea, the Danube measures 2,845 kilometers in length. The Km markings can be clearly seen on the river banks the length of the river. Depart St. Gheorghe during lunch and enjoy a small CELEBRATION to mark Km “0”—the end of the Danube’s journey. This afternoon, a chance to relax and to learn more about the fascinating Delta at an ONBOARD LECTURE. (B,L,D)Day 3 Cernavoda. Excursion to Constanta.
From Cernavoda this morning, a full-day excursion takes you to Constanta, the most important commercial center in Romania, situated on the Black Sea. A CERTIFIED LOCAL GUIDE shows you the highlights of this city and a visit of the NATURAL HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM is included. Visit a WINERY in Murfatlar before rejoining your vessel in the late afternoon. Alternatively, you may prefer to relax on board in the morning and visit only Constanta in the afternoon. (B,L,D)Day 4 Rousse, Bulgaria. Excursion to Veliko Târnovo & Arbanassi–Svistov.
Dock this morning in Rousse, Bulgaria’s largest inland port. A comfortable motorcoach ride away is the ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Târnovo. Situated on three hills surrounding the Yantra River, the city was a natural fortress with ancient stone houses clinging to the steep slopes. The oldest part is Tsarevets Hill, home of the ROYAL FORTRESS, and the Patriarch’s Church. With your Local Guide, discover this town that played an important role in Bulgaria’s history. Then, journey to Arbanassi. Founded in the 15th century, the historic village of Arbanassi is best known for its examples of Bulgarian Revival architecture and its ETHNOGRAPHICAL MUSEUM, a 400-year-old house preserved as a museum. Visit the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, one of the oldest churches in Arbanassi, and see its outstanding collection of frescoes. If you do not wish to participate in the full-day excursion, you may choose to remain on board and join an INCLUDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR of Rousse after breakfast. At lunchtime, sail for Svistov, where excursion participants will rejoin the ship. (B,L,D)Day 5 Cetate.
Today, enjoy a leisurely day of sailing. At first, the river separates Romania on the right bank from Bulgaria on the left and is relatively wide. Then, it carves a path through the lower Carpathian Mountains to the north and the Balkan Mountains to the south, creating a series of four steep gorges known as the Iron Gates. Until Romania and Yugoslavia jointly constructed a hydro-electric dam across the Danube (Djerdap I) between 1964 and 1972, this section of river presented great hazards to the shipping trade. A second dam and a power station (Djerdap II) were built in 1984. Before lunch, stop at Cetate and enjoy a TASTING of excellent local wines. (B,L,D)Day 6 Iron Gates. Excursion to Lepenski Vir, Serbia.
The most spectacular scenery must surely be the dramatic gorge of the IRON GATES, a narrow and formerly very dangerous passage dividing Europe’s Alps in the northwest from the Carpathians in the southeast and forming a natural border between Serbia and Romania. Dock at Donji Milanovac from where a short drive takes you to the impressive LEPENSKI VIR EXHIBITION CENTER housing archaeological artifacts found in this area and from where you have unique views of the Danube Gorge. (B,L,D)Day 7 Belgrade, Serbia.
Early today, arrive in Belgrade. One of the oldest cities in Europe, the capital of Serbia is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. A Local Guide will be proud to show you its main sights, including St. Sava, the world’s largest orthodox church. Also visit the city’s principal landmark, KALEMEGDAN FORTRESS, which showcases the history of Belgrade. Built in stages between the 1st and 18th centuries, the fortress witnessed many battles and observed the courage of those trying to defend the city from conquerors. The surrounding park is the most beautiful and largest park in Belgrade. In your free time, be sure to check out the city’s lively pedestrian area and charming outdoor cafés. Perhaps visit one of the many art galleries or museums, relax in the park, or walk along the city streets and browse the local shops. Late tonight, depart for Vukovar in Croatia. (B,L,D)Day 8 Vukovar & Osijek, Croatia.
Today, learn more about the complex history of Croatia and the events that led to the Croatian War of Independence as you explore Vukovar and Osijek accompanied by your Local Guide. Vukovar, Croatia’s largest river port, is located at the confluence of the Danube and Vuka Rivers. Vukovar was scene to an 87-day siege in 1991, known as The Battle of Vukovar, and is today considered a symbol of Croatian resistance. The siege and other dramatic events in the recent past have shaped both the present and the future of this region. (B,L,D)Day 9 Budapest, Hungary.
Today enjoy a leisurely morning of sailing before reaching the country’s capital. Spanning the banks of the Danube, Budapest is one of Eastern Europe’s liveliest cities. Whether you’re seeing the sights, shopping for handcrafted embroidery or Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffee house culture over a rich cream cake in the renowned Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively palatable. On an INCLUDED TOUR with your Local Guide, see Heroes Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion—with spectacular views of the city—and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the city’s eight bridges—many famous sights in and of themselves—which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. You may even want to walk across Chain Bridge, built in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest. (B,L,D)Day 10 Budapest.
You have time this morning to explore Budapest further. Perhaps visit St. Stephen’s Basilica for marvelous views of the city from its viewing platform. This afternoon, set sail for Bratislava. (B,L,D)Day 11 Bratislava, Slovakia–Vienna, Austria.
During breakfast this morning, dock in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia and situated at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Join your Local Guide for a tour of the city, including a GUIDED WALK of its fascinating Old Town, where winding cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways twist and turn to reveal the Town Hall, one of the oldest stone buildings in the city. Also visit gothic ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL, coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary from the 16th to 19th centuries. Then, a comfortable motorcoach journey stops for a visit of SCHLOSSHOF PALACE, en route to Vienna, where you rejoin your ship. (B,L,D)Day 12 Vienna.
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital on the blue Danube is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its Vienna Boy’s Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral—plus, countless other sights you’ll see on your GUIDED TOUR. Shop in the delightful pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic Viennese coffee houses, historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture! (B,L,D)Day 13 Dürnstein–Grein.
Early this morning, arrive in Dürnstein. Standing on the banks of the Danube, the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade is without a doubt the landmark of this small town which lies right in the heart of the Wachau wine region. A Certified Local Guide will take you on a WALKING TOUR, and tell you the tale of England’s King Richard the Lionheart, who was imprisoned in the castle whose ruins still stand above the town. Then relax on board as your cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley before lunch; in the late afternoon, arrive in the attractive country resort of Grein, nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its castle. Join a local expert for a GUIDED WALK and take pictures of the turreted houses on the main square. Its castle is the oldest residential castle in Austria, and its THEATER—built in 1791—is Austria’s oldest theater. (B,L,D)Day 14 Linz.
After breakfast this morning your Local Guide will introduce you to Linz, Austria’s third-largest city and an important river port during an included WALKING TOUR. See the 13th-century Hauptplatz, Austria’s largest medieval square, and the Trinity Column, built in 1723 as thanks for the city escaping the ravages of the plague, war, and fire. Maybe wander around the old castle grounds and take in the beautiful views of the river, or visit the neo-gothic New Cathedral, the largest church in Austria with capacity for 20,000 visitors. Alternatively, you might like to join one of several optional excursions available today. (B,L,D)Day 15 Regensburg, Germany.
Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, Regensburg has at least 1,300 listed buildings of “historic interest.” Architectural highlights of your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR this afternoon, include the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the city’s lanes and alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers. Wealthy families built these towers to emphasize their status and wealth during the Middle Ages, and many still remain today. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy a SNACK at the Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. Here—where the locals congregate—feel the vibrant atmosphere and take in the remarkable views along the river. Before dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS! (B,L,D)Day 16 Nuremberg.
This afternoon is dedicated to Nuremberg. Although 90% of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Choose from a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, extraordinary gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialized “NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS” tour. (B,L,D)Day 17 Bamberg.
This morning, arrive in medieval Bamberg, former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your GUIDED WALKING TOUR takes in its historic center, including the great 13th-century Romanesque cathedral and the fascinating Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)—built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River when the bishop refused to give the townspeople land for a town hall! Wander the town’s serpentine streets with their charming houses and 18th-century mansions. This afternoon cruise along the Main River to Würzburg. (B,L,D)Day 18 Würzburg.
Surrounded by verdant hillside vineyards, Würzburg, the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” makes an immediate impression with imposing Fortress Marienberg perched above town and the 15th-century Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge). On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the magnificent baroque BISHOP’S RESIDENZ, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. This afternoon you are free to explore on your own, or perhaps join an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg. (B,L,D)Day 19 Main River Village Experience.
On the banks of the Main River you find cultural gems of small towns, many of them tucked away behind defensive walls and towered gates. Half timbered houses, narrow streets and medieval town centers, these picturesque Bavarian villages are a photographer’s delight. Join your Local Guide to experience one of these towns on a GUIDED WALK. (B,L,D)Day 20 Rüdesheim–Rhine Gorge.
Rüdesheim is the quintessential Rhine Valley wine town. Visit SIEGFRIED’S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM, where you’ll see and hear a large collection of self-playing calliopes and music boxes from the 18th to the early 20th centuries; and enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT. Then, sail through the dramatic RHINE GORGE, where ancient castles stand sentry on lofty cliffs rising 400 feet above the waters. Cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where echoes of enchanted siren song lured unwitting sailors to their doom. (B,L,D)Day 21 Cologne, Germany.
In the early morning hours, arrive in Cologne. One of Germany’s largest cities and capital of the Rhineland, Cologne straddles both sides of the Rhine, and is known for its soaring, twin-steepled gothic cathedral. Choose between a GUIDED CITY WALK or a "JEWISH HERITAGE" walking tour. The Old Town abounds with cafés, shops, and taverns. Be sure to try a Kölsch pale lager, locally brewed in Cologne for over a hundred years! At lunchtime, rejoin your vessel and head for Holland. (B,L,D)Day 22 Amsterdam, Holland.
This morning you arrive in Amsterdam! Holland’s sophisticated, modern capital has a rich and fascinating history. This delightful 700-year-old city with its elegant and classic architecture, cafés, and restaurants has a distinct ambiance. There is no better way to see Amsterdam than by CANAL BOAT, cruising through the elegant grachten lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam’s “Golden Age.” There’s free time this afternoon to enjoy the city – your Cruise Director will have suggestions for things to do. If you are fit and feeling energetic, perhaps join a biking optional excursion (weather permitting). (B,L,D)Day 23 Amsterdam (Disembarkation).
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
- Captain’s welcome & farewell receptions with sparkling wine and canapés
- Welcome dinner
- Daily Afternoon Tea
- Daily Night Fare
- Farewell dinner
- Complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; soft drinks with lunch; and wine, beer, or soft drinks with dinner are included daily on board your vessel