Cruise the Heart of Europe 2020 Riviera Travel River Cruise
Crossing half way across Europe, absorb amazing changes, incredible variety of medieval towns, UNESCO heritage sites, Gutenberg bibles, Marc Chagall’s stained glass and sights too numerous to mention.
You fly to Budapest from where a coach will take you to the ship. The dedicated crew will welcome you on board, ensuring you settle into your comfortable and extremely well-equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship, your first-class floating hotel. There’s always a sense of expectancy and excitement on the eve of a cruise, and after an excellent dinner in the stylish restaurant, conversation is sure to revolve around the delights ahead of you.
Your cruise begins in this most beautiful of imperial capitals, which straddles the great river, and you have the whole day to enjoy it. Dominated by its castle, Budapest has been called ‘Little Paris of Middle Europe’ and, with its truly magnificent skyline of soaring spires and grand domes, it’s not hard to see why. Today, Budapest is a collage of ruins from Roman times, Turkish baths from the Ottoman Empire, palatial buildings, Baroque churches and some quite sensational architecture from the Art Nouveau era – all wrapped up in a wonderful atmosphere, enhanced by the unique sound of Hungary’s music and language. Enjoy a guided tour seeing the main sights such as the iconic Parliament Building, a huge and palatial neo-Gothic building, which dominates the river bank with its striking central dome and lofty spires. You will have the rest of the day free to explore this majestic city and, with a host of fine museums and galleries on offer, you will be spoilt for choice. Alternatively, you might want to wander the ancient streets of the Castle District while you enjoy panoramic views of the city, stroll down elegant Andrassy Avenue or visit the spectacular Central Market Hall, where you can find everything from traditional foods to handicrafts. During tonight’s excellent dinner, you'll leave beguiling Budapest behind as your ship glides away from her moorings and your voyage of adventure begins.
Awakening to the gentle lapping of the water and the colourful valley sides slipping effortlessly past your cabin window, there really is no other holiday experience quite like it. Sit back in one of the deck chairs on the sun deck and soak up the tranquillity and spectacular scenery in all its panoramic glory – now you’re really on holiday!
During lunch you’ll arrive in Slovakia’s fast-emerging capital city, Bratislava. Until recently swathed in the drab uniformity of communism, the city has shrugged off its greyness, rekindling the splendour of its imperial past, so evident in its beautifully restored Baroque old town. Enjoy a guided tour after which you are at leisure. Wander the winding streets to the main square, where you will find the former old town hall, now housing a museum dedicated to the history of the city and where you may climb the tower for some lovely views. Equally impressive is the great 17th-century fortress, which dominates the city with its commanding and expansive views across the Danube. Or head for the Primatial Palace with its fabulous Hall of Mirrors and rare collection of 17th-century English tapestries. For something less strenuous, perhaps enjoy a freshly ground coffee or homemade lemonade in one of the many bars or cafés.
Reconvene with your fellow travelling companions in the elegant restaurant to enjoy tonight’s dinner as you slip your moorings once again.
This morning, you awake in Vienna, a truly elegant city and one of the real gems of Central Europe, conjuring up an image in the mind of culture, ornate architecture, elegant cafés, aristocratic palaces, imposing cathedrals and everywhere, the romantic music of the great composers. To be fair the reality is little different and as capital of the Habsburg Empire, which held sway over much of Central and Eastern Europe for centuries, there is an absolute wealth of things to see. At its heart is the lovely Saint Stephen’s Cathedral with its dazzling patterned roof of glazed tiles, then the awe-inspiring Hofburg Palace, now home to the crown jewels and relics of the Holy Roman Empire, the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the famous Spanish Riding School. This morning you will have a guided tour to discover this wonderful city, while the afternoon is free for you to further explore.
This evening after dinner, to celebrate the city’s wonderful legacy, enjoy an arranged classical recital on board by a quartet of talented musicians. To hear this exquisite music whilst in the city of its creation makes a wonderful finale to the day.
As your cruise ship navigates the picturesque Wachau Valley, arrive this morning in Melk for your visit to the enormous Benedictine Abbey, situated on a striking and resplendent rocky bluff above the town. This extraordinary building was originally a castle, which was subsequently bequeathed to the Benedictine order in the 11th century and has been a monastery ever since. Reconstructed in full Baroque style during the 18th century, the abbey has many fine rooms and a stupendous library with 100,000 priceless volumes, including many intricate medieval manuscripts. After lunch is served, you'll cruise upstream towards the German border. Synonymous with breathtaking scenery of course, this wonderful section of your fascinating journey is still something of a secret however, so sit back and relax as the Captain skilfully navigates us through the narrowing valley.
After tonight’s dinner, retire to the lounge for your favourite digestif to reflect on all you have seen so far.
This morning you have left Austria behind, and your first German port of call is the picturesque town of Passau, sitting at the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. For centuries, the rivers ensured that Passau was a significant centre of trade, particularly for Central Europe’s precious Bohemian salt. This morning enjoy a guided tour through the Altstadt’s tight lanes, tunnels and archways decorated with an Italianate flourish and built by the powerful prince-bishops. See the beautifully baroque Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, where the world’s largest cathedral organ sounds, before returning to the ship in time for lunch followed by an afternoon’s scenic cruising.
Please note: when cruising from Passau to Mainz, the main part of the sun deck is closed due to low bridges.
Your ship moors in the delightful town of Regensburg for an insightful guided tour. Originally a Roman garrison guarding the most northwesterly point of their empire, the town is dominated by its cathedral, the finest in Bavaria. Thankfully spared war damage, Regensburg is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is a joy to explore this historic gem. Stroll along the iconic Stone Bridge and meander through the ancient centre; see the Altes Rathaus, the town hall with its great Gothic hall, where many of the great events in Germany’s history were solemnised, and be enchanted by the wonderful ambience of the place. Indeed, Regensburg calls itself Germany’s best-preserved medieval city, and it is hard to argue as you wander through the glorious winding streets and alleyways.
Relax on board this afternoon as you cruise on to your next destination, leaving behind the Danube, one of the most famous and beautiful rivers in the world.
Now cruising on the Main-Danube Canal, call at the historic Bavarian city of Nuremberg, where history buffs will be fascinated by its associations with the Second World War as the site of many pre-war Nazi rallies and later, the International War Crimes Tribunal. What is less well-known is that Nuremberg is regarded as the capital of Germany’s First Reich, the era that lasted 1,000 years and was central to the trade routes and power of the Roman Empire. Today its picture-perfect streets and stunning landmarks, such as the beautiful Gothic Church of Saint Lawrence, can only enchant the visitor and there is plenty to admire about this historic city.
youwe have a fascinating guided tour taking in the city’s great ramparts and many fine historic buildings from Nuremberg’s Imperial Age, including the enormous Kaiserburg Castle, Craftsmen’s Court and the market square with its exquisite fountain that resembles a Gothic church tower.
Today visit Bamberg, quite simply one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe, easily on a par with Prague and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The masterpiece you see today on your guided tour began its artistic journey in the 11th century, when Emperor Heinrich II planned a capital as grand as Rome and selected Bamberg as the location for this, sited on seven lush green hills like its inspiration. Although it never became as large as Rome, it has a wealth of fine historic buildings for its size. See the striking multi-spired cathedral, wander the fascinating tangle of lanes in the pretty old town lined with tall merchants’ houses, and explore the picturesque canal paths reminiscent of Venice, before returning to the ship for another delicious lunch.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and relax on board this morning before arriving and mooring in Würzburg, a Bavarian city situated at the head of Germany’s ’Romantic Road’. A former seat of the Prince-Bishops, their truly magnificent Residenz is one of Europe’s finest Baroque palaces, constructed to compete with the greatest courts of the day, such as Vienna and Versailles, which in artistic terms they more than succeeded in doing.
After enjoying a guided tour, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure, allowing you to further explore this picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its art, architecture and delicate wines.
This morning, your journey brings us to Wertheim, one of those towns which is a joy to stumble across because it’s still relatively unknown on the mainstream tourist trail. Nestling beautifully at the confluence of the Main and Tauber, it’s a patchwork of twisting alleys and superb panoramic viewpoints with a ruined russet-walled 12th-century castle looming high above. Here you'll enjoy an expert-led tour which takes you past the highlights of this charming town. During lunch, cruise around some of the many meandering bends which so characterise the River Main and arrive at the beautiful small town of Miltenberg for your second tour of the day. Developing through the Middle Ages under the powerful protection of the nearby castle, surrounded by walls, it is one of Germany's best-preserved medieval villages. Its colourful half-timbered houses and market square, with an octagonal Renaissance fountain, are atmospheric reminders of times past.
Today there’s ample time to relax on board before your guided tour of Mainz – why not catch up on some reading in the lounge or make an appointment with the on-board hairdresser before your ship arrives at the fascinating town of Mainz, situated at the confluence of the rivers Main and Rhine. An important Roman city for over 450 years, with the largest amphitheatre north of the Alps, it is home to the magnificent Romanesque Saint Martin’s Cathedral and the fine Saint Stephen’s Church, where light flickers through beautiful, blue stained-glass windows featuring intricate biblical figures – a masterpiece by the great artist Marc Chagall. Mainz’s most famous son is Gutenberg, father of modern printing, and there’s an excellent museum housing a reconstruction of his workshop and two original 1455 Gutenberg Bibles, among the earliest books ever printed. The afternoon is free for you to explore.
Later this evening all at Rüdesheim, a true Rhine wine town with many famous wines available to sample as you wander the quaint backstreets so typical of the area. After dinner, why not take a stroll along the Drosselgasse to sample a small Asbach – the locally distilled brandy.
Spend the morning moored in Rüdesheim, where you'll enjoy a fascinating tour of the old town. Over a delicious lunch you experience one of the real highlights of your cruise as you sail through the spectacular Rhine Gorge. Here the valley narrows, the current is swifter and the towering valley sides soar 600 feet, crowned at every tortuous turn by the precarious ruins of castles, which once held sway over passing mariners. Pass rocky outcrops and around endless twisting bends to the famous Loreley Rock, where legend has it that enchanting maidens lured unsuspecting sailors to watery graves.
It’s not long before you arrive in Boppard, ‘Pearl of the Rhine’; wonderfully situated on a sweeping meander, it really is one of the most attractive villages in the Rhineland. Its delightful stone quayside is lined by boats of all descriptions against a backdrop of archetypical half-timbered buildings and cobbled streets, all surrounded by Germany’s finest Roman walls. There will be some time at leisure before dinner to enjoy discovering this delightful spot. Yoy will arrive in in Koblenz later this evening.
Arrive in imperial Budapest, straddling the beautiful river. Dominated by the castle, the city, often called ‘Little Paris of Middle Europe’, is famous for the monuments that reflect both local culture and that of numerous foreign powers, which ruled here for most of its existence. Today, Budapest is a collage of palatial buildings, baroque churches with archaic spires and a wonderful atmosphere enhanced by the unique sound of Hungary’s music and language.
Enjoy a guided tour and this evening the ’Captain’s Dinner’ will take place, serving delicious specialities of the countries and regions you have visited during your cruise. It will feel like you have been away from home for months, as you recall all the places you have visited, sights you have seen and people you have met, with your fellow travellers.
After breakfast, it’s time to say goodbye to your crew and transfer to the airport for your flight home, or to Brussels for the Eurostar service to London St Pancras International.
|26 October 2020||£2,499|
- Deposit of only £250pp
- Return flights from the UK - regional airports are available but may carry a supplement or return Eurostar from St Pancras
- 14 Nights on board your choice of River Cruise Ship
- All Meals on board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day. Including Welcome Cocktails & Dinner & Captains Dinner
- Guided tours in Budapest, Vienna, Nuremburg, Bamberg, Bratislava, Koblenz & Wurzburg and visits to majestic Benedictine monastery, Melk Abbey.
- 5 Star service from English-speaking crew & knowledgeable local guides
- Complimentary WIFI on board
- All Port charges, airport taxes & overseas transfers
- Services of a Riviera Travel cruise director and tour manager
Dining Drinks Package
- For all departures you can now purchase a dining drinks package, at a cost of £209pp
- Draught beer; non-alcoholic beer; soft drinks; juices; red, white and rose house wines; and wine recommendations from the menu are included with lunch & dinner.
- The drinks package must be purchased prior to departure. Ask the team for more information