Begin with an overnight stay in Bucharest for a guided sightseeing tour, including the Royal Palace Square. Travel to Oltenita to embark on your Danube River cruise. Sail through the striking landscapes of the Balkans—Rousse, Bulgaria, Veliko Târnovo, and Arbanassi, one of the oldest towns in Bulgaria. Guided sightseeing in Vidin is followed by a guided tour of Belogradchik, with its ancient fortress and tremendous rock formations on the Balkan Mountains. After cruising through the narrow Iron Gates Gorge, visit Lepenski Vir for a guided tour with ancient archaeological finds. In Serbia, take a guided tour of Belgrade, including one of the world’s largest Orthodox churches, and see the most preserved Croatian fortress in Osijek. You’ll also attend a stirring performance by young students of the Franjo Kuhač music school.
During the second portion of your holiday, you will explore some of Central Europe’s most splendid capitals and charming towns. Delve deeper into this historic era on a special departure cruise with special guest, His Imperial Highness Archduke Carlos Felipe, who shares insight into the first World War that changed the map of Europe and signified the downfall of most of Europe’s great monarchies. Hear first-hand accounts the Archduke gleaned as a scholar and from personal conversations with his grandmother Zita – the last empress of Austria and Hungary. A fascinating journey through history comes to life! Begin this timeless European river cruise in Budapest, where guided sightseeing acquaints you with the highlights of the vibrant capital of Hungary, including a visit to Gödöllö Royal Palace. Set sail on the Danube, take pictures of the impressive Parliament Building as you leave Budapest, and head for Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Here, enjoy a guided walk through the delightful Old Town and visit the Gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral. Vienna, Austria, the “City of Music,” was also the home of the Habsburg monarchy, with the stunning Schönbrunn Palace and summer home of the family dynasty. Hear a fascinating lecture on royal dynasties in Europe with a historian on board your ship, and take a Viennese waltz lesson.
Enjoy the magnificent views through the picturesque wine region of the Wachau Valley, with stops for a guided walk in Dürnstein, a visit of the impressive Benedictine Abbey of Melk, and a tasting of renowned local wines. In Linz, walk around the Hauptplatz, Austria’s largest medieval square, which forms the center of the city, and be sure to photograph the splendid Trinity Column. Passau, Germany, the “City of Three Rivers,” is uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube rivers converge. See its maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful Patrician houses, and marvel at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Baroque architecture. A memorable last stop on this delightful Danube River cruise holiday!