Day 1: Australia –– Budapest
Depart Australia and board a flight bound for Budapest, Hungary.
Day 2: Budapest (D)
Land in Budapest and be transferred to the port. Embarkation begins at 2pm and a welcome gala dinner ensures you set sail in grand style.
Your cruise vessel: Monarch Duchess or Monarch Governess
Built in 2010, with a maximum capacity of 136 passengers each, both vessels feature 64 spacious cabins and 4 suites each fully air conditioned with private bath facilities, shower, telephone and flat screen satellite TV.
Day 3: Budapest (B,L,D)
The morning tour begins by discovering the Pest side of the River Danube. Expect to see the Hungarian Parliament Building, City Park and Heroes Square. Then cross to the other side of the river, the Buda side, to take in the Royal Palace, Matthias Church and the city’s grand medieval architecture. This afternoon is free time that can be used to wander Budapest’s streets.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Parliament, Great Dohany Synagogue & Market Hall.
This half-day tour includes three highlight landmarks of Budapest. Begin at the impressive Hungarian House of Parliament and admire its stunning interior and the Hungarian Crown Jewels that are housed inside – the number of visitors allowed to view these glittering jewels each day is limited. Next, seek out the Dohány Street Synagogue, which ranks among the most significant Jewish sites in Europe. View the Tree of Life and the Raoul Wallenberg Memorial. Finally, this tour takes you to the Great Market Hall. Explore the more than 100 stalls at your leisure.
Approximate tour duration is 4 hours.
Day 4: Bratislava (B,L,D)
The morning is spent relaxing on-board and mingling with fellow travellers as you cruise past the stunning scenery that fringes the banks of the mighty River Danube. The cruise ports in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, in the afternoon. Despite being a young capital city, Bratislava retains much of its rich heritage which spans back more than 2000 years. Travellers will love walking along the cobblestone lanes of the historic town centre and seeing St. Martin’s Cathedral, the coronation site of Hungarian kings; as well as the Franciscan Church and 13th century Old Town Hall. There is some free time before returning to the ship this evening for dinner. The cruise begins its journey to your next destination just before midnight.
Day 5: Vienna (B,L,D)
Vienna is a romantic city of grand architecture, marvellous palaces and a legacy of imperial opulence. While in Austrian capital, drive along Ringstrasse to take in the beauty of the city’s main boulevard. Take in the lavish Hofburg Palace and the Vienna State Opera. Continue to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Austrian Parliament Building. This afternoon is leisure time, or there is an optional tour to Schönbrunn Palace. There is another optional activity tonight – a concert performance.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Schonbrunn Palace Tour (PM)
Take up an afternoon guided tour of the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Hapsburg emperors. Look inside the opulent Baroque apartments and wander about the impeccably manicured gardens.
Approximate tour duration is 3 hours.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Classical Viennese Concert (PM)
Attend a concert featuring classical works by Mozart and Strauss, two of Vienna’s most famous citizens. A performance is conducted by a chamber orchestra and is accompanied by a dance performance, recalling the golden age of 19th-century Viennese ballrooms.
Approximate tour duration is 2.5 hours.
Day 6: Melk Abbey (B,L,D)
Arrive in Durnstein this morning, one of the many pretty villages strung along the Danube. Make the most of free time to explore this town by roaming the cobblestone streets and admiring the 16th-century townhouses and wine taverns. Return to the boat and relax on deck as the cruise continues travelling through the Wachau Valley, a famous wine-producing region that is dotted with vineyards, castles, hilltop ruins and monasteries. Later in the day, the group disembarks for a guided tour of the historic Benedictine Abbey in Melk. The abbey clings to a rocky outcrop overlooking the river and visitors can view the Abbot’s chambers, the Kaiser’s walk and the library.
Day 7: Passau (B,L,D)
Call into Passau today. There is an optional tour to Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and the story behind ‘The Sound of Music’. Otherwise there is a free day to explore Passau at your own pace. As the city that intersects three rivers – Danube, Inn and Ilz – there are ample waterfront strolls and promenades lined with cafes.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Full Day Tour of Salzburg
A full-day excursion to Salzburg. A walking tour encompasses some of Salzburg’s most historic sites including Mirabell Palace, Nonnberg Abbey, Salzburg Cathedral, St. Peter’s Cemetery, and an old house where Mozart once lives. The day includes lunch at a local restaurant and some free time.
Approximate tour duration is 9 hours.
Day 8: Regensburg (B,L,D)
Regensburg is your destination today. Arrive in the morning and take off on a guided tour to explore this beautifully-preserved medieval city, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights along the walk include the Old Town Hall, Regensburg Cathedral and the Porta Praetoria, the gateway to an ancient Roman fort built in 179AD. Return to the boat in the afternoon or continue discovering the delights of Regensburg on your own.
Day 9: Nuremberg (B,L,D)
Get to know Nuremberg with a guided excursion that begins at the historic Palace of Justice – where the Nuremberg trials were held in 1945 and 1946 – and that also takes in the vibrant Market Square. Seek out the shops of the old town for a fix of retail therapy or walk along the fortified walls of Nuremberg Castle.
Day 10: Bamberg (B,L,D)
Dock in historic Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was the former residence of some of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties. A guided walk starts in the medieval city centre, taking in the 11th-century Romanesque cathedral and pretty rose garden. Admire the unusual City Hall, which was built on a small island in the middle of the Regnitz River, and Little Venice, an area of colourful fishermen’s houses.
Day 11: Wurzburg (B,L,D)
Today’s itinerary takes you to Wurzburg, nicknamed ‘Pearl of the Romantic Road’. An introductory walk includes a trip to the Würzburg Residence, a World Heritage-listed site that was commissioned by an 18th-century Prince-Bishop. The Residence is a divine example of Baroque architecture and is home to a large ceiling fresco. Explore the town with free time in the afternoon or join an optional tour that ventures along Germany’s Romantic Road to Rothenburg.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Rothenburg City Tour (PM)
Drive from Wurzburg to Rothenburg, a town with storybook good looks that sits on a section of the famous Romantic Road. This 350-kilometres stretch of road is so named for its pretty-as-a-picture towns, villages and sights that are sprinkled along it. Rothenburg has retained much of its medieval heritage and visitors can explore the main square, look up at the Church of St. Jacob, and listen out for the daily chime of the Town Hall Clock.
Approximate tour duration is 5 hours.
Day 12: Wertheim & Miltenberg (B,L,D)
Stroll through Wertheim, a town known for its glassworks and Franconian wine. Continue by coach to Miltenberg, a picturesque village that sits on the banks of the Main River. Here, discover the Market Square with its Renaissance-era fountain; the Merchant Hall and its Gothic architecture; and the unique 14th- and 15th-century half-timbered houses. Enjoy free time in Miltenberg after lunch on-board the boat.
Day 13: Koblenz (B,L,D)
It is a relaxing morning on-board, looking out to castles, lofty cliffs, terraced vineyards and tiny villages as the ship leisurely makes its way toward Koblenz. Pass the Lorelei, a rock named for the siren who bewitched sailors, along the way. The boat docks in the afternoon and there is an orientation walk of the city. Admire the Romanesque architecture and imposing defensive towers of this 2000-year-old city. An optional tour to Marksburg Castle leaves in the afternoon.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Marksburg Castle (PM)
Journey to the dramatic Marksburg Castle on a guided tour. Known as the only hill castle on the Rhine that has never been destroyed, Marksburg Castle has also been continuously occupied for more than 700 years. It houses a collection of fascinating Middle Ages artefacts.
Approximate tour duration is 2 hours.
Day 14: Cologne (B,L,D)
This morning, join a walking tour of Cologne, one of Germany’s largest cities and the capital of the Rhineland. The geographical and spiritual heart of Cologne is the twin-steeple Gothic cathedral, but the city also has a great range of cafes, galleries, shops and taverns to explore.
Day 15: Amsterdam (B,L,D)
Arrive in Amsterdam and fall for the magic of this city on a scenic tour. You will be introduced to the old and new sections of the city along the way, including the Royal Palace, Dam Square and Skinny Bridge. Clamber into a glass-top boat and cruise the winding canals to see the city from the water. Spot stately homes, 16th-century warehouses and charming churches on this excursion. Bid goodbye to your newfound friends with a dinner on-board this evening.
Day 16: Amsterdam – – Australia (B)
Depart Europe today to head back to Australia. A transfer takes you to the airport after you disembark.
Day 17: Australia
Arrive home today.