Day 1 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands
If you haven’t joined us from either of our independent Brussels or escorted Paris & Ghent Preludes, we will pick you up at the airport or train on your included transfer to your ship, the Amadeus Silver or Silver II. Your cruise begins in Amsterdam, with time to settle into your cabin and unpack before joining your fellow passengers and crew for a welcome reception and festive dinner. We’ll be docked overnight here in Amsterdam, so if you’re up for it, feel free to head out and sample some of the city’s famous nightlife.
Day 2 - Amsterdam / Nijmegen
This morning’s city tour of Amsterdam includes a canal boat tour — the ideal way to explore this charming, colorful capital. Full of canals and cafés, houseboats and bicycles, with masterpieces of art and architecture at every corner, Amsterdam is truly a city like no other. From its roots as a small fishing village, it rose to become a world power during the Dutch Golden Age, the leading center for finance and diamonds. Today it remains one of the world’s most vibrant cities, home to more than 170 different nationalities.
Leaving Amsterdam, we’ll cruise toward the border of Holland, stopping this evening in Nijmegen, the oldest city in the Netherlands. Later, back on board, enjoy a traditional Dutch folklore show as we cruise into Germany.
Day 3 - Cologne, Germany
Enjoy the passing scenery today as we cruise toward Cologne, Germany’s fourth-largest city and an important trading center since Roman times. Keep an eye open as Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Germany’s most visited landmark, looms to greet us. The largest Gothic church in Northern Europe, the cathedral’s treasures draw more visitors than any other historic site in Germany — its celebrated Shrine of the Three Kings is said to contain the remains of the Three Wise Men.
We’ll explore the Cathedral and see the city’s other highlights on a guided walking tour, after which you are free to explore further on your own. Not only is Cologne an easy city to walk around, with wonderfully friendly locals, there are museums filled with riches for every taste.
Day 4 - The Rhine Gorge: Koblenz to Rüdesheim, Germany
On a guided morning walking tour of the charming town of Koblenz, we’ll explore the Aldstadt, with its lovely squares, medieval churches, baroque residences, and charming wine taverns.
Next you are in for what is undoubtedly the highlight of every Rhine cruise: a journey through the fabled Rhine Gorge, one of the most picture-perfect stretches of river in all of Europe, with hilltop castles, terraced vineyards, and wonderfully preserved medieval villages. In fact, the entire Upper Middle Rhine Valley has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site — an ideal blend of manmade marvels and dramatic physical beauty that has been a major tourist attraction since the Romantics made it all the rage in the 19th century, Works like Heinrich Heine’s famous poem, Lorelei, and Richard Wagner’s opera, Gotterdammerung, were inspired here — as you are sure to be as you cruise past the Lorelei Rock. You’ll learn about the legend of the Lorelei and her siren song that lured unwary sailors and feel the power of the looming Rock as we glide safely on our way.
After lunch on board we visit Rüdesheim, with a guided tour that includes a visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Musikkabinett, a fascinating collection of self-playing musical instruments. If you prefer, set off and explore Rüdesheim on your own, perhaps strolling along the Drosselgasse, the lively 15th-century street of restaurants and wine taverns running through the heart of the Old Town, or setting off on one of the ship’s complimentary bicycles to see a little of the countryside like one of the locals.
Day 5 - Miltenberg / Wertheim
Today we leave the Rhine to cruise the Main River, delving deeper into the heart of the region called Franconia. Known to the Romans as “Moenus” and called “Meune” in the epic poem Song of the Nibelungs, the Main (pronounced “Mine”) carries travelers through a breathtakingly beautiful landscape and literally back in time, from modern Mainz to traditional, medieval towns where wine and leather goods are still the primary trades and castles, churches, and picturesque ruins dot the hillsides.
Here we’ll explore two picturesque Bavarian villages that have thrived on income from river traffic: Miltenberg and Wertheim. On a guided walk through Miltenberg you’ll see ample evidence of its affluence through the ages, from its lovely medieval and Renaissance homes to the Gothic splendor of its Merchant Hall. Later we’ll walk through neighboring Wertheim, with its overlapping, half-timbered houses, winding streets, and shops filled with art made by the town’s glassblowers, famed around the world for their beautiful Christmas decorations and distinctive round, flattened glass bottles in which the local Franconian wines are sold.
Day 6 - Würzburg / Rothenburg
All the pomp and pageantry of medieval Europe come alive today in beautiful Würzburg, the Pearl of Germany’s Romantic Road. Surrounded by sloping hills covered with vineyards, crowned by the ancient stones of Marienberg Fortress, Wurzburg is where the powerful prince-bishops of the 18th century built their “Franconian Rome,” a city of wealth and beauty. The highlight of our guided tour here is a visit to the magnificent Residenz, a UNESCO World Heritage treasure considered one of the most important baroque palaces in Europe. A synthesis of German, Imperial, and French architectural styles, the result is an utterly unique masterpiece. The palace’s sweeping staircase and breathtaking ceiling frescoes by Tiepolo miraculously survived the bombs which leveled much of Würzburg at the end of World War II — the meticulous reconstruction of this beautiful and historic city is literally a story you must see to believe!
From Wurzburg we set off on an excursion along Germany’s famous Romantic Road to Rothenburg, known as Europe’s “most fairy-tale town,” with its Gothic cathedral, towered walls, and gabled houses, for a walking tour followed by some time at leisure. Back on board ship this evening, gather to celebrate your Rhine adventures at the Captain’s Gala Dinner.
Day 7 - Bamberg
It’s possible you might recognize our destination today, even if you have never been here before — picture-perfect Bamberg is the epitome of a prosperous medieval town, its entire Old Town a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On our guided tour we’ll explore the town’s historic sites, including the 17th-century Neue Residenz, former home of Bamberg’s powerful bishops, and the stunning 11th-century cathedral that holds the tomb of Pope Clement II. If you wish, feel free to explore Bamberg’s charms further on your own: a stroll through the romantically lit streets offers a rare chance to step back in time, and beer lovers won’t want to miss their chance to sample the local specialty, the unique smoky brew called Rauchbier.
Day 8 - Nuremberg
This afternoon we will enjoy a welcome cocktail party for some new passengers followed by dinner on board. This evening, if you’re so inclined, you might step out to get a look at Nuremburg. Founded more than 1000 years ago, the city was the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire for centuries and the preferred residence of the German kings, attracting scholars and artists alike. Martin Luther claimed that “Nuremberg shines throughout Germany like a sun among the moon and stars,” and by the 19th century the city had become an industrial powerhouse. Infamous during WWII as the site of Hitler’s vast party rallies, the city was reduced to rubble by an Allied bombing campaign. Following the Nuremburg Trials, painstaking reconstruction began, using the original stone, and today many of the city’s main buildings, including the castle and old churches in the Alstadt, have been rebuilt. Just as importantly, over the years, Nuremberg has regained its lively Bavarian cheer. If you have time while we’re here, set out and sample a slice of the city’s acclaimed nightlife, or visit a tavern for a tankard of fresh-brewed beer.
Day 9 - Kelheim & Regensburg, Germany
This morning we arrive in Kelheim. Boasting more than 1,000 years of brewing tradition, this is a beer-lover’s paradise — in fact, the world’s oldest operating brewery/monastery is located here. We’ll end our guided tour of Kelheim with a visit to Weltenberg Monastery, where you can judge their brewing expertise.
Next we cruise on to another charming Danube port of call, Regensburg. The first capital of Bavaria, home of dukes, kings, and bishops, Regensburg has been a busy trading center since Roman times — as attested to by the numerous Roman, Romanesque, and Gothic sites that complement the town’s essentially medieval character. On a guided walking tour, your guide will point out many of the highlights, including the remains of the emperor’s old Roman Wall and Porta Praetoria, the 12th-century Old Bridge, the Dom St. Peter, one of Bavaria’s grandest Gothic cathedrals, and stroll through medieval Old Town, with its narrow lanes, elegant patrician houses, charming churches, and stone towers.
With some time to explore on your own, you’ll find the city and its environs a delightfully easy — and rewarding — place to explore on your own. This evening, enjoy a Bavarian folk show on board.
Day 10 - Passau, Germany & Linz, Austria
Located at the confluence of three rivers—the Danube, Inn, and Ilz—Passau has been an important center of European trade for more than 2,500 years. It is also an ideal town for walking, filled with pastel houses, cafés, romantic cobblestone lanes, inviting riverfront promenades, and a delightful mix of Roman, Italian baroque, and German Gothic architecture. On our guided walking tour we’ll visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a baroque masterpiece filled with statues and frescoes that is also home to the world’s largest pipe organ. We’ll also visit the 14th-century Rathaus, or Town Hall, decorated with murals depicting scenes from the Nibelungenlied, the 12th-century epic poem believed to have been composed here.
Alternately, you might decide to pass on the walking tour of Passau and set off on either of two offered full-day excursions, one featuring Mozart’s lovely alpine city of Salzburg and the other to the 13th century medieval town and castle of Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the South Bohemian region of the Czech Republic.
Back on board, we’ll glide across the border into Austria, cruising to Linz. A fascinating blend of old and new, industrial and cultural, home of the Linzertorte, Linz was named a European Capital of Culture in 2009, and its blend of modern museums, daring public art installations, and charming medieval Alstadt are sure to delight. This is also prime country for bicycling along the Danube, so if you’re up for it, grab one of the ship’s complimentary bikes set off through the surrounding pear and apple orchards, perhaps rewarding yourself with a fresh-baked pastry when you return.
Day 11 - Melk, Wachau Valley, Spitz & Vienna
Spend the morning cruising to Melk through the Wachau Valley. If you were a fan of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, you are in for a very special treat today — a visit to the 900-year-old Benedictine abbey that inspired the novel. On our guided tour we’ll see the Marble Hall, with its allegorical painted ceiling, the Imperial Rooms, and the famous library, housing more than 80,000 priceless volumes. Our guided tour will also take us by coach through the picturesque Wachau Valley, a UNESCO-designated landscape of rolling vineyards, fairy-tale castles, and ancient hilltop ruins and monasteries.
Meeting the ship in Spitz, we’ll have time to wander this quaint village, with its picturesque castle set atop the hill.
Day 12 - Vienna, Austria
This morning you awake in Vienna. After breakfast on board, start off on a guided city tour featuring all the highlights. We’ll travel the Ringstrasse, past one baroque masterpiece after another, take a walk through the gardens of royalty in the Hofburg, and stroll along Austria’s “5th Avenue,” the Kaernterstrasse, to see St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Afterwards, you may return to the ship for lunch or stay in town to sample Austria’s Imperial capital for yourself.
This afternoon, you have a choice of two Viennese treasures: join our guided tour of the Kunsthistoriches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts), housed in a festive palatial building on the Ringstrasse that is a work of art in itself; alternately, you might decide to join a guided tour of Schonbrunn Palace, the Habsburg’s 1,441-room Rococo “summer home” that has been preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 13 - Bratislava, Slovakia
Welcome to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, an Eastern European gem of a city set between the Danube and the legendary Carpathian Mountains. On our city tour we’ll take in centuries of wonderfully-preserved architecture, from the 13th-century Old Town Hall to Habsburg-era palaces and the city’s famous modern art spaces. Following lunch, we’ll set off on a trip to the outskirts of town to visit Schloss Hof, the far-from-humble country estate of Prince Eugene of Savoy, Austria’s great general and patron of the arts, who later in life hosted hunting parties here.
If perhaps, you’ve had your fill of palatial treasures, you might want to wander the old town center of Bratislava on your own, or take out one of the ship’s bicycles to set off on one of the city’s numerous cycle paths. Tonight, we gather for the Captain’s gala dinner.
Day 14 - Esztergom, Szentendre & Budapest, Hungary
From Slovakia we travel next into Hungary, Europe’s hidden jewel. With its exotic culture and cuisine, abundance of thermal hot springs and spas, and wealth of architectural marvels, Hungary is a traveler’s idyll. Get your first taste of Hungary in Esztergom, the original capital and seat of the Hungarian Catholic Church, before traveling on to the artists’ colony of Szentendre, a town that has been populated since the Stone Age. Today it is a popular spot for souvenir shopping, but a stroll through town will also reward you with countless treasures: beautiful old churches and homes, cobblestone streets, museums and galleries, and breathtaking views of the Danube and the tree-lined banks on the far side of the river.
While we lunch on board, we’ll cruise to our final destination, Hungary’s capital city of Budapest. Of all the gracious cities that line the Danube, it is Budapest that truly has the river at her heart, separating the two halves of Buda and Pest, which you’ll see on our city tour that takes in the highlights: St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Dohány Street Synagogue, the Hungarian National Museum, the Opera House, the Parliament Building, and the UNESCO-designated Castle Hill district, home to the glorious St. Matthias Church. After dinner tonight, enjoy an evening cruise along Budapest, illuminated in all her glory, followed by a traditional Hungarian folklore show.
Day 15 - Budapest, Hungary
After breakfast this morning, transfer to the airport for your return flight home, unless you’ve decided to finish off your cruise in style with an escorted or independent Finale. With so much to see and do in Budapest, consider our three-day independent Finale featuring a centrally-located hotel with the services of your own concierge and a walking tour of the city. If you have more time, join our escorted 6-day tour of the surrounding region, starting with a walking tour of Budapest and head to the Republic of Slovenia and two of its unspoiled gems, Zagreb and Lake Bled.