Day 1: ARRIVE IN LINZ, AUSTRIA (EMBARKATION).
A European Capital of Culture and Austria's third-largest city, Linz, welcomes you today with open arms and plenty to see and do. Depending on your arrival time, there's free time for shopping, exploring on your own, or joining an optional activity. This afternoon, board the AVALON LUMINARY, and after a mandatory safety exercise, meet your friendly crew and fellow shipmates at a WELCOME RECEPTION. (NOTE: Flights into Linz must arrive by 3:30 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.) (D)
Day 2: ENGELHARTSZELL-SCHLOGEN OXBOW SCENIC CRUISING-LINZ.
As you slept, your ship arrived in the pretty market town of Engelhartszell near the German border. Step ashore and CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* visit the stunning rococo ENGELSZELL ABBEY to tour its brewery, explore its SENSORY GARDEN-complete with stone labyrinth, herb garden, and vineyard-and attend a TASTING of locally produced cheeses and beer brewed by the Trappist monks, or;
* join a fun GUIDED HIKE along the route that smugglers took during World War II, when a tightly controlled border existed between Austria and Germany.
Back on your ship, an excellent lunch of Bavarian specialties will leave you energised and ready to join an exhilarating HIKE ALONG THE DANUBE. Fresh air and incredible vistas await as you watch the Avalon Luminary pass through the Schlogen Oxbow, a particularly beautiful horsesh-shaped curve of the river. In Aschach, rejoin the ship, which returns to Linz for the night. This evening, optional theatre or music excursions are available-or you can mingle with the locals at a fun pub crawl! (B,L,D)
Day 3: LINZ-MAUTHAUSEN-GREIN-SPITZ.
Arrive this morning in Mauthausen, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Neolithic Age. Here, we let you place your own personal stamp on your day as you CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* take a GUIDED BIKE TOUR to an ancient Roman border defense fort dating back to the 2nd century AD. Visit the museum dedicated to the site, with military weaponry, accounts of daily life, ceiling frescs, sacred art objects, and more;
* visit the 9th-century ST. FLORIAN MONASTERY, an architectural rival to Melk Abbey. While exploring, you may meet one of the monks (when available) or attend a short music recital, or;
* join a heart-wrenching tour of MAUTHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP, one of World War II's largest and most brutal Nazi work camps.
This afternoon, your ship passes through another breathtaking area, the Strudengau, popular among climbers and hikers for its enticing geological formations. Dock in Grein, a pretty country resort in the shadow of its castle. The GUIDED WALK includes a visit of the historic THEATRE, the oldest in Austria still holding regular performances. Then, visit GREINBURG or CLAM CASTLE, where you will meet the owner. After dinner, don't miss the spectacular views as we pass by Melk Abbey, perched high on a cliff above the river. The ship docks late tonight in Spitz. (B,L,D)
Day 4: SPITZ-VIENNA.
Exciting activities abound today! CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* PADDLE A CAN on a guided tour down the Danube and along some of its tributaries, for a completely unique perspective of the river and riverbank villages;
* bask in the fresh air and incredible views on an easy guided BIKE TOUR from Spitz to Krems. Enjoy sightseeing in Durnstein that includes the mesmerising blue Stiftskirche, and enjoy a break to sample local specialties;
* join an interactive WINE WORLD EXPERIENCE with wine tasting, or;
* get a hands-on LOCAL ENCOUNTER that showcases production of regional fruits, vegetables, wine, or other products, depending on the season. A snack and beverage are included.
This evening, arrive in Vienna, where you have free time to join an optional guided hike through the vineyards outside town, with a wine tasting and dinner at a Heurigen wine tavern. (B,L,D)
Day 5: VIENNA.
Once the centre of the mighty Habsburg Empire, this "City of Music" inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss-and will inspire you, as well! Waltz ashore and CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* enjoy a BIKE TOUR that takes in the sights along the famed Ringstrasse and areas of Vienna inaccessible to buses and cars;
* slip on your sneakers and join a JOGGING TOUR that shows you the highlights as you run between sites;
* take a unique INSIDERS TOUR that features something different every day. It could be anything, from a visit to a musical instrument maker to a crash course on etiquette and protocol at diplomatic gatherings. You will meet locals, have the chance to prepare some food at a cooking class, and enjoy other surprises as well, or;
* get a proper introduction to Vienna during a CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR that includes an inside visit of Belvedere Palace to see Klimt's celebrated Kiss.
Afterward, you have free time to explore on your own. Maybe stroll through the pedestrian Karntnerstrasse, take a break for a piece of decadent Sachertorte, or join an optional excursion. Tonight's onboard dinner pays a delicious tribute to the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire. (B,L,D)
Day 6: VIENNA.
A second full day in Vienna presents even more opportunities to immerse yourself in the magic. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY for an experience most meaningful to you:
* wrap yourself in the peace of the city at sunrise during an EARLY RISER WALKING TOUR that includes breakfast at a Viennese cafe and an exclusive viewing of the Habsburg family's private art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts;
* for a more leisurely start to your morning, skip the walking tour and onshore breakfast and simply join us for the MUSEUM VISIT, which includes time in the ITALIAN & DUTCH MASTERS GALLERY, or;
* perfect for military history buffs, begin with the MUSEUM VISIT of the Habsburg collection, then explore the MILITARY MUSEUM, commemorating the heroic past of the Habsburg Empire.
Tonight, enjoy a delectable dinner of Viennese specialties on board. (B,L,D)
Day 7: VISEGRAD, HUNGARY-BUDAPEST.
This morning, the Avalon Luminary passes by mighty Esztergom Basilica, coronation church of Hungary's monarchs. Later, arrive in Visegrad, where another exciting day is on tap. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* cheer your favourite champion at a MEDIEVAL KNIGHTS TOURNAMENT at Visegrad's Lower Castle, featuring targeting and fighting demonstrations by members of the St. George Knightly Order. During free time here, be sure to explore Palotahaz, where stonemasons, smiths, potters, and paper-makers produce their traditional items using age-old techniques, or;
* spend your day in the great outdoors on a GUIDED HIKE through Danube-Ipoly National Park, home to eagles, falcons, bats, terrapins, fire salamanders, and other wildlife.
Later this afternoon, your ship arrives in Budapest, affording magnificent views of the beautiful Parliament Building. Prepare for an exquisite GALA FAREWELL DINNER featuring foods specially paired with just the right area wines or beers. (B,L,D)
Day 8: BUDAPEST (DISEMBARKATION).
One of Eastern Europe's most dynamic cities, Hungary's capital spans the Danube in a majestic way. Awaken refreshed and dig in to a hearty breakfast before disembarking and deciding how you would like to explore. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
* take an enjoyable, 2-hour WALKING TOUR that includes some "Fungarian" instruction of useful local words and phrases;
* join a GUIDED BIKE TOUR along the bike paths and car-free areas for a safe and enjoyable way to see the city's most fantastic sights, or;
* see the best of Budapest on a CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR featuring Hers' Square, Fishermen's Bastion, Matthias Church, and an inside visit of the OPERA HOUSE.
Afterward, you have free time to shop for Hungarian paprika or handcrafted souvenirs, savour a piece of cream cake in the world-famous Gerbeaud Cafe, join an optional tour of Budapest's limestone cave system, or play nine holes of golf. (B)
Day 9: BUDAPEST.
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning! (B)