Day 1: ARRIVE IN BUCHAREST, ROMANIA.
Welcome to Bucharest! The remainder of the day is free to start exploring this fascinating city.
Day 2: BUCHAREST-FETESTI (EMBARKATION).
Much recent history has taken place in Romania's capital city, and its wide, tree-lined boulevards and Arc de Triomphe-built in 1922 to honour the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in WWI-have gained it the name "Paris of the East." During your INCLUDED TOUR this morning, see the main sights including Royal Palace Square, the scene of riots in 1989, which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. Later a motorcoach ride takes you to Fetesti, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception. (B,D)
Day 3: 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 kilometres 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 affords the chance to relax and to learn more about the fascinating Delta at an ONBOARD LECTURE. (B,L,D)
Day 4: CERNAVODA. EXCURSION TO CONSTANTA.
From Cernavoda this morning, an excursion takes you to Constanta, the most important commercial centre in Romania, situated on the Black Sea. A CERTIFIED LOCAL GUIDE shows you the highlights of this city and a visit of the NATIONAL HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM is included. This afternoon, relax on board as you cruise westward towards Rousse. (B,L,D)
Day 5: ROUSSE, BULGARIA. EXCURSION TO VELIKO TARNOVO & ARBANASSI-SVISTOV.
Dock this morning in Rousse, Bulgaria's largest inland port. A comfortable motorcoach ride away is the ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Tarnovo. 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 frescs. 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 6: VIDIN. EXCURSION TO BELOGRADCHIK.
Today, enjoy a leisurely morning of cruising before arriving in Vidin, an important Danube port in northwestern Bulgaria. Its medieval FORTRESS, Baba Vidin, is the town's primary landmark. It served as Vidin's main defensive installation during the Middle Ages and is the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in the country. It is now a fortress museum and has been restored to its former appearance. In nearby Belogradchik, view the eclectic group of ROCK FORMATIONS on the western slopes of the Balkan Mountains. Sculpted by natural elements for more than 200 million years and with a variety of sizes and shapes, the Belogradchik Rocks are spectacular. (B,L,D)
Day 7: 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. After lunch, dock at Donji Milanovac from where a short drive takes you to the impressive LEPENSKI VIR EXHIBITION Centre housing archaeological artifacts found in this area and from where you have unique views of the Danube Gorge. (B,L,D)
Day 8: BELGRADE.
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. In your free time, be sure to check out the city's lively pedestrian area and charming outdoor cafes. (B,L,D)
Day 9: MOHACS, HUNGARY. EXCURSION TO PECS.
Relax on board this morning before arriving in Mohacs, the first stop in Hungary. After lunch, an included excursion takes you to Pecs. Established by the Romans in the 2nd century, this was a flourishing and important town for Christianity by the 4th century. These early Christians left behind many underground burial chambers with memorial chapels above ground. With a Local Guide, visit the UNDERGROUND TOMBS- now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site-many of which have splendidly decorated murals with Christian themes. Later, enjoy an ORGAN CONCERT. Pecs is also a rich showcase of Turkish architecture and home to Turkish mosques, striking churches, and an enjoyable atmosphere around its restaurants and cafes. (B,L,D)
Day 10: BUDAPEST.
Enjoy a free day today to explore on your own. Your Cruise Director will have suggestions for things to do. (B,L,D)
Day 11: BUDAPEST.
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 Cafe, Budapest's unique energy is positively palatable. On your GUIDED TOUR of the city, see Hers' Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen's Bastion and 11th-century Matthias Church. Be sure to take note of the city's eight bridges-famous sights in and of themselves-which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. In your free time this afternoon, you may want to walk across Chain Bridge, built in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest; visit St. Stephen's Basilica with marvellous views of the city from its viewing platform; or stroll along Vaci utca, the main shopping street. (B,L,D)
Day 22: COLOGNE.
Arrive in Cologne this morning. 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 an included GUIDED CITY WALK or JEWISH HERITAGE WALK. Later, during free time, perhaps look in on the Romano-Germanic Museum, home to a large collection of artifacts from the Roman settlement on which modern Cologne is built-a must for history buffs! The Old Town abounds with cafes, shops, and taverns. Be sure to try a Kolsch pale lager, locally brewed in Cologne for over a hundred years! (B,L,D)
Day 21: RUDESHEIM-RHINE GORGE.
Today, arrive in Rudesheim, a 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. Enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT, then head downstream from Rudesheim, through the dramatic RHINE GORGE, the most beautiful stretch of river. Here, ancient castles stand sentry on lofty cliffs rising 120 metres (400 feet) above the water. Cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where echs of enchanted siren song lured unwitting sailors to their doom. (B,L,D)
Day 20: MAIN RIVER VILLAGE.
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. With half-timbered houses, narrow streets, and medieval town centres, 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 19: WURZBURG.
Surrounded by verdant hillside vineyards, Wurzburg, 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 included 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 18: 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 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 afternoon, cruise gently along the Main River as you head for Wurzburg. (B,L,D)
Day 12: BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA.
Today, arrive in Bratislava, situated at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains and the dynamic capital of Slovakia. Join a 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. Later, enjoy free time to explore on your own. Tonight, depart for Vienna. (B,L,D)
Day 16: REGENSBURG.
Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germany's best preserved medieval cities. Architectural highlights of your GUIDED WALK 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. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brucke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy an included SNACK at the Historische Wurstkuche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany's oldest restaurants. Bask in the vibrant atmosphere and take in the remarkable views along the river. Before dinner, we'll introduce you to some of Germany's FAMOUS BEER. (B,L,D)
Day 15: PASSAU, GERMANY.
Today, choose from full-day optional excursions: to Salzburg, taking in some of The Sound of Music sights, or to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rejoin your ship in Passau in the early evening. Alternatively, you may choose to stay on the ship and relax as you cruise to Passau, uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge. Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses and dominated by St. Stephen's Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture. Take in the highlights on the included GUIDED WALK. (B,L,D)
Day 14: DURNSTEIN-MELK.
Durnstein, situated in the heart of the Wachau wine region, is known for the magnificent baroque, blue Stiftskirche built in the 1700s. The main street of this small town-with a population of less than 1,000 people-is lined with 16th-century residences and charming cobblestone streets. A 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, cruise through the beautiful Wachau Valley to reach Melk after lunch and visit the magnificent 11th-century BENEDICTINE ABBEY. Melk's abbey towers over the town and is one of Europe's largest. It houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. Words cannot describe the splendour of its church with its frescd ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 60 metre (210-foot) high cupola. This evening, you'll be able to sample some of the FAMOUS WINES of this region. (B,L,D)
Day 13: VIENNA, AUSTRIA.
Once the centre 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 Boys' 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 included GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR. Stroll through the delightful pedestrian Karntnerstrasse, 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! An optional concert is available tonight. (B,L,D)
Day 23: AMSTERDAM, HOLLAND.
Holland's sophisticated, modern capital has a rich and fascinating history. This delightful 700-year-old city with its elegant and classic architecture, cafes and restaurants, and lively marketplace has a distinct ambiance. With over 60 museums, Amsterdam has the highest museum density in the world. Get a unique perspective of the city on an included CANAL CRUISE, floating along the elegant grachten lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam's "Golden Age." There's free time this afternoon to enjoy the city or perhaps join an optional excursion. (B,L,D)
Day 17: ROTH-NUREMBERG.
This morning, relax on board, before docking in Roth. After lunch join a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING of the city. This delightful Bavarian town, with its half-timbered houses and market square, is also an industrial centre for textile manufacturing. Take pictures of Schloss Ratibor, an ancient hunting lodge built in 1535, with a most picturesque inner courtyard. Or you may prefer to choose a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR of nearby 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. 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 24: AMSTERDAM (DISEMBARKATION).
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)