Day 1: ARRIVE IN PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC.
Welcome to Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. This fascinating city straddles the Vltava River with domes, cupolas, spires, and pinnacles highlighting its skyline. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring.
Day 2: PRAGUE.
Prague is a 1,200-year-old city preserved in time, and, unlike other Central European capitals, it was not bombed during the 20th-century wars. A LOCAL GUIDE shows you its best-known treasures, such as the Old Town's Astronomical Clock, built in 1410 and once the envy of all of Europe; HRADCANY CASTLE GROUNDS; St. Vitus Cathedral; and the Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague. Browse the shops for hand-cut crystal or art books and stroll through the Christmas markets. Rows of brightly decorated wooden huts sell Christmas tree ornaments, wooden toys, and Czech handicrafts. Get a little inner warmth with a cup of svarene vino (hot mulled wine) and a traditional hot sausage from one of the stalls. The beautifully decorated tree in the Old Town is an impressive sight. (B)
Day 3: PRAGUE.
Enjoy a free day to explore at your own pace and visit the Christmas markets. Perhaps visit the Communist Museum, sample local plum dumplings and Pilsner, or stroll along the Vltava River. Your Cruise Director will have suggestions for things to do.(B)
Day 4: PRAGUE-NUREMBERG, GERMANY (EMBARKATION).
After lunch, drive to Nuremberg, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew for a welcome reception. (B,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.This morning, choose 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. The Old Town is illuminated with festive lights, and the Christmas market is one of the biggest in Germany, featuring 200 stalls selling traditional wares and foods. After your free time at the Christmas market, a shuttle bus service will be at your disposal to take you back to the ship (B,L,D)
Day 6: REGENSBURG.
This morning, during a relaxing morning sailing, enjoy an ONBOARD LECTURE about Christmas traditions. After lunch, arrive in 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." 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. 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 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. During free time explore on your own or visit the Regensburg Christmas markets, including the ones hosted by Thurn and 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 7: PASSAU.
Uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge, Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. 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 8: MELK, AUSTRIA-VIENNA.
This morning, enjoy an included GUIDED VISIT of Melk's magnificent 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. You'll be captivated by the splendor of the church with its frescd ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 60 metre (210-foot) high cupola. The view from the terrace over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! Then, cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy a special onboard Austrian COOKIE TASTING. Pass the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue facade, the landmark of Durnstein.before arriving in Vienna this evening. Known as the "City of Music," Vienna inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available tonight. (B,L,D)
Day 9: VIENNA.
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 shown to you by your LOCAL GUIDE during your included CITY TOUR. Alternatively, taste all the best flavors that Austria has to offer during Christmas time during our CULINARY WALKING TOUR. Then time to explore on your own - delight in the shops of the 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! !. In the late afternoon, leave Vienna for Budapest. (B,L,D)
Day 10: BUDAPEST, HUNGARY.
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 SIGHTSEEING TOUR, see Hers' Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen's Bastion 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. Perhaps visit St. Stephen's Basilica; shop at the Great Market Hall and purchase paprika at one of its 180 vendor stalls; wander around the Royal Palace grounds; or stroll along Vaci utca, the main shopping street. Don't miss the unique Christmas markets that Budapest hosts every year during the Festive season (B,L,D)
Day 11: BUDAPEST (DISEMBARKATION).
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)