Day 1: FRANKFURT, GERMANY. (EMBARKATION).
Welcome to Germany! This afternoon board your ship and meet your crew at a welcome reception before dinner, as you sail out of Frankfurt. (D)
NOTE: Flights into Frankfurt must arrive by 3.30 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.
Day 2: MILTENBERG.
Tucked away behind medieval defensive walls and towered gates, the picturesque Bavarian village of Miltenberg is a cultural gem on the banks of the Main River. This afternoon's GUIDED WALK will acquaint you with the town's delightful Marktplatz (market square), which centres around a Renaissance-era fountain and features striking half-timbered buildings, cobblestone lanes, and one of the oldest inns in Germany, Haus zum Riesen (the giant's house) and the gothic splendour of the Merchant Hall. Later, continue your cruise on the Main River to Wurzburg and enjoy a CULINARY DEMONSTRATION onboard. Tonight let your Cruise Director introduce you the ST. NICHOLAS LEGEND.(B,L,D)
Day 3: WURZBURG.
Known as the "Pearl of the Romantic Road," Wurzburg is surrounded by sloping hills covered with vineyards. The city makes an immediate impression with imposing Marienberg Fortress 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 the beautifully decorated streets on your own, visit the Christmas markets, or perhaps join an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg where you will have the opportunity to visit the Christmas Museum. Here, try a Schneeball (snowball), a local specialty not at all suitable for a diet! (B,L,D)
Day 4: BAMBERG.
Learn everything about Christmas Tradition during an ONBOARD MORNING LECTURE Medieval Bamberg is the 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 centre, 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! This time of year, the town is decked out for Christmas. Especially interesting are the many nativity scenes built by local citizens and exhibited throughout the town. Enjoy the Christmas market, where, in addition to candles and decorations, you'll find regional delicacies such as gingerbread and nut bread. Be sure not to miss the special gift we have reserved for you in a local brewery (B,L,D)
Day 5: 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 either a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city's medieval fortifications, gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialised "NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS" tour. The Old Town is illuminated with festive lights and decorations, and the Christmas market is one of the most famous in the world. You'll find dozens of stalls offering traditional wares, including Nuremberg Lebkuchen (spicy gingerbread), baked goods and sweets, Christmas decorations, ornaments, and more. A shuttle service to the ship will be at your disposal (B,L,D)
Day 6: NUREMBERG (DISEMBARKATION). EXCURSION TO MUNICH (EMBARKATION).
After breakfast, disembark the vessel which has brought you to Nuremberg and drive to Munich, where a local expert will proudly show you the sights of the Bavarian capital. An inspiring mix of historic buildings and impressive architecture, you'll see the Olympic Stadium, 305-metre-high (1,000-feet) Television Tower, Nymphenburg Palace, MARIENPLATZ in the historic heart of the city with the Old and New Town Halls, and the gothic Frauenkirche. Later, there's free time to explore on your own. The traditional Christmas market is located on the Marienplatz, with aromas of toasted almonds, roasted chestnuts, and gingerbread filling the air and the strains of alpine Christmas music coming from the town hall. At the nearby Rindermarkt, you'll find the Kripperlmarkt, one of the largest markets in Germany to specialise in mangers and other nativity accessories. And don't leave Munich without paying a visit to the famous Hofbrauhaus for a stein of beer! Return to Nuremberg in the late afternoon and embark on the ship which will take you to Vienna. (B,D)
Day 7: NUREMBERG.
A full morning to relax and enjoy Nuremberg at your own pace. Stroll through the festively lit streets, buy those last-minute Christmas gifts, or ask your Cruise Director for suggestions of things to do. After your free time at Christmas Market, a shuttle bus service will be at your disposal to take you back to the ship. During your sail to Regensburg, enjoy an ONBOARD LECTURE about Christmas Traditions (B,L,D)
Day 8: REGENSBURG.
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." Highlights included on your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR are the 13th-century Old Town Hall, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the city's alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers, built by wealthy families in the Middle Ages to emphasise their status. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brucke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy a SNACK at the Historische Wurstkuche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany's oldest restaurants. This afternoon is free to explore on your own or to visit the Regensburg Christmas market, including the ones hosted by Thurn und Taxis Palace.The tempting aromas of mulled wine, sweet roasted almonds, sausages, and gingerbread create an unforgettable atmosphere Before dinner we'll introduce you to some of Germany's FAMOUS BEERS. (B,L,D)
Day 9: PASSAU.
Uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge, Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. The Christkindlmarkt, Passau's charming Christmas market, is set against the stunning backdrop of St. Stephen's Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture. Take in the highlights of the "City of Three Rivers" on an included GUIDED WALK. Afterward, set sail for Linz, where you arrive in the evening. Alternatively, you might like to join a full-day optional excursion to Salzburg to see some of the sites from The Sound of Music, find out how mice caused the composition of the famous Silent Night Christmas carol, and learn how the Austrians celebrate Christmas. (B,L,D)
Day 10: MELK, AUSTRIA-VIENNA.
This morning, enjoy a GUIDED VISIT of Melk's 11th-century BENEDICTINE ABBEY, one of Europe's largest monasteries. The abbey houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. Words cannot describe the splendor of the frescd ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 64-metre-high (210-foot) cupola. During lunchtime, cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pass the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue facade, the landmark of Durnstein, before arriving in Vienna this evening. During your sail in the Wachau Valley, enjoy a special onboard Austrian cookies BAKING DEMONSTRATION AND TASTING.Vienna, the "City of Music" inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available tonight. (B,L,D)
Day 11: VIENNA.
Once the centre of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria's magical capital 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; awe-inspiring St. Stephen's Cathedral-and countless other sights you'll see on your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR. We will offer you a special CULINARY TOUR at Viennese Christmas markets where you can taste all the best flavours that Austria has to offer during Christmas time Be sure to 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 12: VIENNA (DISEMBARKATION).
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)