Cruise the Heart of Europe (Rhine, Maine & Danube) - Travel Agency in York
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Cruise the Heart of Europe (Rhine, Maine & Danube)

Call: 01904 767511

Your Itinerary Cruise the Heart of Europe

Arrive for your flight to Düsseldorf or Cologne, or take the Eurostar from
London St Pancras International to Brussels. On arrival, transfer by
coach to your cruise ship moored in Cologne’s picturesque centre. The
dedicated English-speaking crew will welcome you aboard your firstclass floating hotel, ensuring you settle in to your luxurious and well equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship.

The first morning on a river cruise is always a thrill as you awake to the
gentle lapping of the water and the colourful valley sides slipping
effortlessly past your cabin window. We call at historic Koblenz, situated
at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers and dominated by the
immense Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. This morning we take a guided walk
around the old town, exploring its twisting streets and charming
During a relaxed lunch we cruise to Boppard, known as the ‘Pearl of the
Rhine’ for a guided tour. Wonderfully situated on a sweeping meander,
it is one of the Rhineland’s most attractive villages. Its stone quayside is
lined with boats of all descriptions set against a backdrop of archetypal
half-timbered buildings and cobbled streets. There are also some
superb Roman walls, reputed to be the finest in Germany. Uncover its
fascinating Roman past on our guided walk, seeing the 4th-century
fortress, reputedly the finest and best-preserved in the country. You’ll
also see the striking St Severin Church, with its lovely stained glass and
the picturesque marketplace, encircled by colourful facades.

Today you experience one of the real highlights of your cruise – the
passage through the Rhine Gorge. Here the river narrows, the current is
swifter and the towering valley sides soar 600 feet, while the ruins of
castles, which once held sway over passing mariners, crown every
tortuous turn. We pass rocky outcrops and cruise around endless
twisting bends to the famous Lorelei or ‘murmuring rock’, where
according to legend, enchanting maidens lured unsuspecting sailors to
watery graves.
Next we call at Rüdesheim, a true Rhine wine town surrounded by
vineyards whose fruits you can sample in the many wine taverns you’ll
find in its cobbled streets. This afternoon’s guided tour takes us on a
delightful walk through the heart of the old town, seeing the
Klunkhardshof, a magnificent half-timbered building dating back to the
16th century and the Brömserhof, which today is home to a quirky
museum with an unusual collection of mechanical musical instruments.

This morning we take the short cruise to the town of Mainz, situated at
the confluence of the Rhine and Main Rivers, for a city walking tour. An
important Roman city for over 450 years with the largest amphitheatre
north of the Alps, Mainz is also home to the magnificent Romanesque
Saint Martin’s Cathedral and Saint Stephen’s Church, whose interior is
filled with beautiful blue light flooding through stained glass windows
featuring intricate biblical figures – a masterpiece by the great artist
Marc Chagall.
Mainz’s most famous son is Johannes Gutenberg, father of modern
printing, and there’s an excellent museum housing a reconstruction of
his workshop and two original 1455 Gutenberg Bibles, among the
earliest books ever printed. This afternoon our ship cruises up the Main
River. Due to locks and low bridges the main part of the sun deck will be
closed between Mainz and Passau. The other outside areas in front of
the lounge, the lido bar and the lower section of the sun deck are still

The views this morning are of dense emerald green forests as we cruise
to Miltenberg, one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval villages. It
became prosperous during the Middle Ages under the protection of its
castle and today its colourful half-timbered houses and market square
with its octagonal Renaissance fountain are an atmospheric reminder of
times past.
During lunch we cruise around the first of the many meandering bends
that characterise the Main River, pausing at Wertheim, one of those
towns that’s a joy to stumble across because it’s completely unknown on
the mainstream tourist trail. A russet-walled 12th-century castle
overlooks the old town, with views of the church spires, turrets and
patchwork of multicoloured buildings below.
This afternoon we’ll discover the secrets of Wertheim on a walking tour.
Overlooked by a mighty ruined castle, it’s a joy to stroll through the
town’s atmospheric streets, soaking up the ambience of this delightfully
picturesque spot.

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning as we glide towards Würzburg,
situated at the head of Germany’s Romantic Road, so called because of
its spellbinding procession of captivating scenery, medieval towns, lofty
castles and grand palaces. Würzburg is best explored on foot and we
have a walking tour through neat streets dotted with fine pastelcoloured Baroque and Rococo buildings. Its crowning jewel is the truly
magnificent Residenz, the former seat of the prince-bishops and one of
Europe’s finest Baroque palaces, constructed to compete with the
greatest courts of the day such as Vienna and Versailles.

Today we visit Bamberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s quite
simply one of the most outstandingly preserved and beautiful small
towns in Europe, easily on a par with Prague. The masterpiece you see
today began its artistic journey during the 11th century when Emperor
Heinrich II chose Bamberg as the location for a capital city he planned to
be as grand as Rome. Although it never became as large as Italy’s
capital, Bamberg nevertheless has a wealth of fine buildings including a
stupendous cathedral, a town hall built in the middle of the Regnitz
River, a network of canals and former fishermen’s houses called ‘Little
Venice’ and hundreds of medieval buildings in the tangled lanes of its
Old Town.

Today we call at Nuremberg, the Bavarian city which will always be
associated with the Nazi period – Hitler’s pre-war rallies and the
international war crimes trials that brought down the final curtain on
that notorious regime. What is less well known is that Nuremberg is
regarded as the unofficial capital of Germany’s First Reich, better known
as the Holy Roman Empire, which was founded with the coronation of
Charlemagne in 800 AD and lasted for over a thousand years.
This morning we have a fascinating guided tour taking in the city’s great
ramparts and many fine historic buildings, including the enormous
Kaiserburg castle, Craftsmen’s Court, the Church of Saint Lawrence and
the Market Square, with its exquisite fountain that resembles a Gothic
church tower.

This morning we cruise along the Main– Danube Canal to Kelheim,
where we join the Danube River. Our next port of call is Regensburg,
formerly an important garrison guarding the most northwesterly point
of the Roman Empire whose camp gate, the Porta Praetoria, can still be
Regensburg was spared war damage and today its historic centre is a
UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s a delight to explore. This afternoon
take in the sights of this fascinating Bavarian city on our guided tour.
See the wealthy merchants’ houses, the Old Town Hall. Stroll along the
iconic stone bridge; see the Altes Rathaus – the seat of the Diet, or
parliament, of the Holy Roman Empire from 1663 to 1806 – and gaze in
wonder at the Gothic cathedral. Regensburg calls itself ‘Germany’s
medieval miracle’, and it’s hard to argue as you wander along the
glorious winding streets and elegant squares of the old town.

Another day dawns as our journey brings us to Passau, the last town we
stop at in Germany, nestling where the Inn and Ilz Rivers join the
Danube. After a leisurely breakfast take the opportunity to explore the
‘Three Rivers City’, overlooked by the Veste Oberhaus, a 13th-century
hilltop fortress on our guided tour. The old town below is known for its
Baroque architecture including Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, where the
world’s largest cathedral organ sounds.
Back on board, make sure to keep an eye on the superb views slipping
silently by as we cross into Austria. It’s a country synonymous with
superb scenery, but this beautiful section of the Danube Valley is
something of a secret.

On a striking rocky bluff above the town of Melk is the enormous
Benedictine Abbey, which we visit this morning. This extraordinary
building was originally a castle that was subsequently bequeathed to
the Benedictine order during the 11th century and has been a
monastery ever since. Reconstructed in full Baroque style during the
18th century, the Abbey has many fine rooms and a stupendous library
with 100,000 priceless volumes, including some intricate illuminated
As lunch is served we cruise downstream through the delightfully
picturesque Wachau Valley before approaching our next destination:
Vienna, the city of Strauss. To celebrate Vienna’s wonderful legacy we
have arranged a recital on board by a quartet of talented classical
musicians. Listening to this exquisite music while in the city of its
creation makes a wonderful finale to the day.

Imagine Vienna and you think of an elegant imperial city that’s one of
the gems of Central Europe, and perhaps the world’s most musical city.
Its name conjures up an image of culture, ornate architecture,
resplendent cafés, aristocratic palaces and imposing cathedrals, with
the romantic music of the great composers filling the air. In fact, the
reality is little different and there’s an absolute wealth of things to see in
this former capital of the Habsburg Empire, which held sway over much
of Central and Eastern Europe for centuries until its demise at the end
of the First World War. For such a grand city Vienna is quite compact
and this morning we enjoy an enlightening guided tour. This most
civilised of cities first rose to prominence in the 17th century, and over
the next 200 years a magnificent array of galleries, churches and
palaces was built. At its heart we have the lovely Saint Stephen’s
Cathedral with its dazzling patterned roof of glazed tiles, then the aweinspiring Hofburg Palace, the former royal court that’s now a collection
of museums, home to the Crown Jewels and relics of the Holy Roman
Empire as well as the famous Spanish Riding School, and where the
Vienna Boys’ Choir performs. The rest of the afternoon is free to enjoy
this wonderful city at your leisure.

This morning we explore Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, which has
shrugged off the greyness of the communist era and rekindled the
splendour of its imperial past in its painstakingly restored Baroque Old
Town. Wander the winding streets to the main square where you’ll find
the former Old Town Hall, now housing a museum dedicated to the
history of the city and where you may climb the tower for some lovely
views. Equally impressive is the great 9th-century castle that dominates
the city, with its expansive views across the Danube. Or head to the
neoclassical Primatial Palace with its fabulous Hall of Mirrors and rare
collection of 17th-century English tapestries. For something more
relaxing, perhaps enjoy a refreshing homemade lemonade – a speciality
of the city – in one of the many cafés.
Our cruise reaches another highlight this afternoon as we navigate the
dramatic Danube Bend, one of the most spectacular stretches of this
mighty river. Winding our way through a narrow twisting valley flanked
by high mountains and verdant hillsides, we pass a kaleidoscope of
exceptional river views, ancient castle ruins and historic towns. We
reach our journey’s end cruising into Budapest and enjoying spectacular
views of this breathtaking city on our stately final approach.

You rise refreshed in this breathtakingly beautiful imperial capital that
straddles the great Danube River, and we have a whole day to enjoy it.
Dominated by its castle, Budapest has been called ‘Little Paris of Middle
Europe’ and, with its truly magnificent skyline of soaring spires and
grand domes, it’s not hard to see why. It’s renowned for the bewitching
blend of monuments reflecting Hungary’s national culture and those of
the foreign powers that have dominated most of the city’s history.
Today Budapest is a collage of Roman ruins, Turkish baths from the
Ottoman Empire, palatial buildings, Baroque churches and sensational
Art Nouveau architecture and design – all wrapped up in a wonderful
atmosphere enhanced by the unique sound of Hungary’s music and
You’ll really get to know this beguiling city on our guided tour of the
main sights, such as the iconic Parliament Building, a huge neo-Gothic
building that dominates the river bank with its striking central dome and
multitude of soaring spires. You have the rest of the day free to explore
at your leisure, and culturally you’re spoilt for choice with the city’s array
of fine museums and art galleries. Alternatively you might want to
wander the ancient streets of the Castle District while you enjoy
panoramic views of the city, stroll down elegant Andrassy Avenue or
visit the spectacular Central Market Hall, where you can find everything
from traditional foods to handicrafts.
Call Riviera Travel on 01283 245 322
The main event this evening is the ‘Captain’s Dinner’, the chef’s delicious
selection of specialities from the countries and regions we’ve visited
during our cruise. Afterwards, perhaps retire for a digestif in the bar to
reflect on all the wonderful sights you’ve seen and the people you’ve
met on this unforgettable river cruise through the heart of Europe.

After breakfast, transfer to the airport at the appropriate time for your
return flight.
Please note: This document has been compiled based on the information available to us at the time it
was created for you, we reserve the right to alter or cancel itineraries, accommodation or other
arrangements at any time. Prices and accommodation are subject to change as they are based on
availability at the time of booking.

  • Per Person Based on 2 Sharing
  • May-October 2020
  • 14 nights
  • Full Board
    • 14 nights on board a 5-star ship
    • Return flights & transfers
    • 15 visits & tours
    • Full Board
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