Day 1: Australia –– Budapest
Depart Australia today to begin your incredible European holiday.
Day 2: Budapest (D)
Arrive in Budapest, Hungary and transfer to the port. Embarkation will begin at 2 pm. Tonight, a gala Welcome Dinner sets the mood for your delightful river cruise.
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)
Your morning tour begins on the Pest side of the river; view the Parliament, City Park, and Heroes Square. Cross to Buda to see the Royal Palace, Matthias Church and the graceful medieval architecture along the cobbled streets. Explore the city’s wonderful shops and cafes this afternoon on your own. Perhaps, take the optional half day tour of the Parliament, Great Dohany Synagogue and Market Hall. Begin at the impressive Hungarian House of Parliament, where you can view the Crown Jewels. Continue to the Moorish style Great Dohany Synagogue, the largest in Europe. View the magnificent Tree of Life and the stirring Raoul Wallenberg Memorial. Conclude the tour at the Great Market Hall and see the locals do their everyday shopping, the way they did hundred years ago.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Parliament, Great Dohany Synagogue & Market Hall.
This comprehensive tour includes three highlights of Budapest and provides fascinating insight to local politics, religion and products. Begin at the impressive Hungarian House of Parliament which would have paid for the construction of an entire town for 40,000 people. A stunning interior and the Hungarian Crown Jewels await you there, where only a limited number of visitors are allowed to visit each day. Next visit the Great Dohany Synagogue which ranks among the most significant Jewish sights in Europe. This Moorish style building is the largest synagogue on the continent and the second largest in the world. View the magnificent Tree of Life and the stirring Raoul Wallenberg Memorial. Finally your guide takes you to the historic Great Market Hall where, like a hundred years ago, the locals still do their everyday shopping. At your leisure, absorb the unique atmosphere with over 100 market stalls and an endless choice of regional products.
Approximate tour duration is 4 hours.
Day 4: Bratislava (B,L,D)
Relax on board today as you take in the tranquil scenery of the Danube River. In the late afternoon, arrive in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, a mix of modern and Baroque architecture. This capital city is among the youngest in Europe, yet retains a rich history dating back more than 2000 years. Walk along the cobblestone lanes of the historic town center; view St. Martin’s Cathedral, coronation site of the Kings of Hungary, the 13th century Old Town Hall and the Franciscan church. Time to explore this colorful city on your own before returning to the ship for dinner. This evening, the ship will set sail just before midnight.
Day 5: Vienna (B,L,D)
Your morning tour of romantic Vienna introduces you to this Imperial city with its legendary opulence and elegance. Drive along the famed Ringstrasse, Vienna’s main boulevard lined with magnificent Baroque palaces, parks and monuments. View the lavish Hofburg Palace, and the impressive Vienna Opera House. Continue to majestic St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Parliament building. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure, or, join the optional tour to the magnificent Schonbrunn Palace, once summer residence of the Hapsburgs. Visit the gorgeous baroque apartments and stroll through the world-famous manicured gardens. Tonight, perhaps take the opportunity to attend an evening of Viennese culture in the “City of Music” at an optional concert performance of the classical masterpieces of Mozart and Strauss, two of Vienna’s most famous citizens.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Schonbrunn Palace Tour (PM)
Enjoy an afternoon guided tour of the magnificent Schonbrunn Palace, once the summer residence of the Hapsburg emperors. Visit the gorgeous baroque apartments and stroll through the world-famous manicured and aromatic gardens.
Approximate tour duration is 3 hours.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Classical Viennese Concert (PM)
Experience a delightful evening of Viennese culture in the “City of Music.” Attend a concert featuring the classical masterpieces of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss, two of Vienna’s most famous citizens. The musicians will bring to life the passionate strains of Mozart, a child prodigy who blossomed into one of history’s greatest composers and Strauss, the Waltz King, who composed the Blue Danube, the world’s most famous waltz. The chamber orchestra is accompanied by a professional dance performance, recalling the golden age of the 19th-century Viennese ballrooms.
Approximate tour duration is 2.5 hours.
Day 6: Melk Abbey (B,L,D)
This morning, arrive in the village of Durnstein, one of the prettiest towns on the Danube. Free time to stroll this quintessential village in the heart of the Wachau wine district. Walk along medieval cobblestone streets revealing 16th-century town houses and wine taverns. Continue cruising late this morning and relax on board as the boat cruises through the scenic Wachau Valley, with lovely storybook views of vineyards, castles, hilltop ruins and monasteries. Later, disembark in Melk for a guided tour of the historic Benedictine Abbey, considered one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Europe. View the Abbot’s chambers, the Kaiser’s walk, and the lavish library. The ship will set sail as you dine on board this evening.
Day 7: Passau (B,L,D)
Today presents a wonderful opportunity to join the optional full day tour to beautiful Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and setting for the Sound of Music. The walking tour will include some of Salzburg’s most historic sites including the Mirabell Palace, the Abbey, Salzburg Cathedral, and St. Peter’s Cemetery. After lunch at a local restaurant, there will be time to discover Salzburg on your own before returning to the ship. If you choose to remain on board, the day is free to explore the 2500-year-old Passau. Well known for its pastel patrician houses, cafes, cobblestone lanes and riverfront promenade, Passau is a town with a mix of Roman, Italian Baroque and Gothic architecture. In the early evening, all passengers will rejoin the ship and set sail for Regensburg.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Full Day Tour of Salzburg
Enjoy a full-day excursion to beautiful Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart and setting for the Sound of Music. The walking tour will include some of Salzburg’s most historic sites including Mirabell Palace, the house where Mozart lived, Nonnberg Abbey, Salzburg Cathedral, St. Peter’s Cemetery. Lunch is included at a local restaurant, and then there will be time to explore the streets of Salzburg on your own before returning to the boat.
Approximate tour duration is 9 hours.
Day 8: Regensburg (B,L,D)
Arrive in Regensburg this morning, one of Germany’s largest and best-preserved medieval cities designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The guided walking tour highlights the city’s stunning architecture as you view the Old Town Hall, the Dom St. Peter, and the Porta Praetoria, gateway to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Marvel at beautiful churches and one of the oldest stone bridges crossing the Danube. Return to the boat or spend the afternoon at leisure discovering the delights of Regensburg on your own.
Day 9: Nuremberg (B,L,D)
This afternoon, explore Nuremberg, an energetic city with a visible history of almost one thousand years. The guided excursion begins at the historic Palace of Justice where the War Crimes Tribunal met in 1946 and continues to the vibrant Market Square. Stroll through the shops that fill the Old Town or walk along the fortified walls of Nuremberg Castle. This evening set sail as you dine on board.
Day 10: Bamberg (B,L,D)
This morning, dock in historic Bamberg, former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin your walk in the medieval city center with its impressive 11th century Romanesque cathedral and gorgeous rose garden. After, view the very unusual City Hall built on a tiny island in the middle of the Regnitz River and Little Venice, an area of colorful fisherman’s houses. This afternoon set sail for Wurzburg.
Day 11: Wurzburg (B,L,D)
Discover Wurzburg, named the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” with its dramatic Marienberg fortress, 15th century bridge and lush vineyards. Your walk takes you to the ornate Bishops’ Residenz Palace, a stunning example of Baroque architecture, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This afternoon, explore the town on your own, or join the optional tour along Germany’s “Romantic Road” to Rothenburg, with its turreted city wall and impressive Gothic architecture.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Rothenburg City Tour (PM)
Drive from Wurzburg to Rothenburg, a fairy tale town located on the famous “Romantic Road.” Best known for its well-preserved medieval old town, Rothenburg has managed to maintain its medieval appearance into the 21st century. Explore the main square, highlighted by the famous Church of St. Jacob and the richly decorated Patrician houses, and listen for the Town Hall Clock, which chimes once a day to commemorate the 30 Years War.
Approximate tour duration is 5 hours.
Day 12: Wertheim & Miltenberg (B,L,D)
This morning, stroll through Wertheim, a charming German town well known for its glassworks and Franconian wine. Continue by coach to the picturesque village of Miltenberg, a jewel on the banks of the Main River. Discover the Market Square with its Renaissance-era fountain, the Merchant Hall with its stunning Gothic architecture and the unique 14th and 15th century half-timbered houses. After lunch on board, enjoy free time in Miltenberg before the ship sails this evening.
Day 13: Koblenz (B,L,D)
Spend a relaxing morning on board, taking in the spectacular vistas as the ship sails past castles perched on lofty cliffs, terraced vineyards and tiny villages. Pass the mighty Lorelei Rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine rising vertically from the waters, named for the siren “Lorelei” who bewitched sailors passing by. This afternoon the ship docks in Koblenz, located at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. Join an orientation walk with free time to explore the Romanesque architecture and imposing defensive towers of this 2000-year old city. Perhaps join the optional tour to the dramatic Marksburg Castle, the only hill castle on the Rhine that’s never been destroyed and has been continuously occupied for over 700 years.
Optional Tour (additional cost applies): Marksburg Castle (PM)
Join a guided tour of the dramatic Marksburg Castle, the only hill castle on the Rhine that has never been destroyed. The castle has been continuously occupied for over 700 years and houses a host of artifacts that bring the Middle Ages to life.
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 capital of the Rhineland. The city is highlighted by the soaring, twin-steeple Gothic cathedral that is the geographical and spiritual heart of the city. Known for its vibrant art scene, Cologne abounds with cafes, galleries, shops and taverns. Set sail in the late afternoon for Amsterdam.
Day 15: Amsterdam (B,L,D)
Today’s panoramic tour of 700-year-old Amsterdam introduces you to both the old and the new sections of this city. View the Royal Palace on Amsterdam’s Dam Square, the Queen’s official home-away-from-home. On to the Dutch National Monument dedicated by Queen Juliana as a memorial to the victims of WWII and to the unusual Skinny Bridge, once so narrow that pedestrians could not pass each other. Then, board a glass-top boat and cruise the winding canals for an up-close view of the stately historic homes, 16th-century warehouses and charming churches with striking bell towers. This evening bid farewell to your traveling companions on your final night on board.
Day 16: Amsterdam – – Australia (B)
Bid farewell to Europe as you disembark the cruise and take a transfer to the airport.
Day 17: Australia
Arrive home today.