Iconic Rivers of Europe - The Rhine, Main & Danube - Eastbound River Cruise (WAO)
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River Cruise Description
Welcome to beautiful Holland. This amazing Avalon Waterways river cruise vacation will take you from Holland to Romania, with many wonderful stops at charming towns and villages along the way. This 2019 22 day Avalon River cruise from Amsterdam to Bucharest is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure as you sail across picturesque Europe.
Fantastic Amsterdam, Holland’s bustling capital city, is in a setting where you’ll be surrounded by sophisticated architecture and classic town squares and tranquil canals with an abundance of impressive museums, lively cafés, alluring shops, and fine restaurants to discover and explore. You’ll marvel at the historic treasures of this 700-year-old city while on a relaxing canal cruise along the luxurious grachten. Then, it’s on to picturesque Germany for an expert guided tour in this 2,000-year-old city of Cologne. You’ll sail through the sensational Rhine Gorge, considered by many veteran travelers as the most beautiful stretch of the Rhine River, and you’ll enjoy a stop in fascinating Rüdesheim. There are fabulous guided sightseeing tours ahead for you in beautiful Würzburg, bustling Bamberg, historic Nuremberg, and Regensburg. And you’ll cruise the magnificent Main Danube Canal, which connects with the beautiful Main and Danube Rivers. In charming Melk, Austria, you’ll tour the elegant Benedictine Abbey, then sail through the sensational Wachau Valley wine region to quaint Dürnstein – famous for its colorful blue and white ornate Stiftskirche. Fantastic guided sightseeing in each city will acquaint you with three bustling capital cities: charming Vienna, Austria; impressive Bratislava, Slovakia; and historic Budapest, Hungary. You’ll continue your luxurious river cruise vacation on the exquisite Lower Danube with a magnificent excursion to ancient 2nd-century Pécs, Hungary, where you have opportunity to tour the fascinating underground burial chambers now part of an amazing UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your Avalon Waterways cruise ship will dock in Serbia’s charming Belgrade and then you’ll marvel as you cruise through the sensational Iron Gates Gorge. In beautiful Bulgaria, you’ll tour Belogradchik’s impressive rock formations created by nature over the centuries, and enjoy the ancient capital city of Veliko Tarnovo, and Arbanassi – with its elegant Church of the Nativity home to an fascinating collection of amazing frescoes.
As your fabulous European River Cruise draws to an end, you don’t want to miss experiencing Romania’s lively capital city of Bucharest. Known as the “Paris of the East,” a friendly local expert will show you many of its historical treasures of this must-see city. There will not be a lack of things to do and see during your 2019 22 day Avalon River cruise from Amsterdam to Bucharest.
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River Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive in Amsterdam, Holland (Embarkation)
Welcome to beautiful Amsterdam! Holland’s capital is cosmopolitan and modern, with a rich and impressive history. This fascinating 700-year-old city with its elegant and classic architecture, bustling cafés and restaurants, and busy marketplace has a distinct atmosphere. The narrow streets, intriguing squares, and beautiful canals – not to mention the traveler-friendly bike paths throughout the city – make for a fascinating city to visit. This afternoon, you’ll board your river cruise ship and meet your friendly crew at a casual evening welcome reception. (Dinner) *NOTE: Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.
Day 2 Amsterdam
Everyone agrees, there is no better way to see Amsterdam than by CANAL BOAT, cruising through the elegant grachten lined with grand homes dating back to Amsterdam’s “Golden Age.” There’s free time this afternoon for you to enjoy the city before bidding tot ziens (farewell) to Holland and setting sail for intriguing Germany. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 3 Cologne, Germany
Today, you’ll enjoy some tranquil cruising before reaching charming Cologne. One of Germany’s largest cities and capital of the Rhineland, Cologne straddles both sides of the Rhine, and is known for its towering, twin-steeple gothic cathedral. You’ll choose between a GUIDED CITY WALK or a JEWISH HERITAGE WALK. Later, during your free time, perhaps you’ll look in on the Romano-Germanic Museum, home to a large collection of ancient artifacts from the Roman settlement on which modern Cologne is built – a must-see for serious history buffs! Be sure to try a Kölsch pale lager, locally brewed in Cologne for more than a hundred years! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 4 Rhine Gorge–Rüdesheim
The sensational RHINE GORGE is the most beautiful stretch of river. Here, ancient majestic castles stand like sentries on lofty cliffs rising 400 feet above the waters. You’ll cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where enchanted siren song lured unsuspecting sailors to their doom, before arriving in charming Rüdesheim, the ultimate Rhine Valley wine town. You’ll visit SIEGFRIED’S fascinating MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM, where you’ll see and hear a large collection of self-playing calliopes and amazing music boxes from the 18th to the early 20th centuries; and you’ll enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT – it’s a secret. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 5 Main River Village
On the banks of the beautiful Main River you find cultural gems of small towns and villages, many of them tucked away behind defensive walls and towered gates. With grand half-timbered houses, charming narrow streets, and bustling medieval town centers, these picturesque Bavarian villages are a photographer’s delight. You’ll join your Local Guide to experience one of these towns on an exciting GUIDED WALK. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6 Würzburg
Würzburg, surrounded by lush hillside grape vineyards, is known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road.” This charming village makes an immediate great first impression with the majestic Marienberg Fortress perched high above town and its historic 15th-century Alte Mainbrücke (Old Main Bridge). On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the extravagant BISHOP’S RESIDENZ, home to the largest amazing ceiling fresco ever painted. During afternoon free time, consider joining an optional excursion to quaint medieval Rothenburg. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 7 Bamberg
Today you’ll enjoy a relaxing morning onboard your luxurious ship as you cruise along the beautiful Main River. This afternoon, you’ll explore medieval Bamberg, former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties. Your GUIDED WALKING TOUR takes in its historic center, including the elegant 13th-century Romanesque cathedral and the fascinating Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built on an island in the middle of the beautiful Regnitz River when the Catholic bishop refused to give the townspeople land for a town hall! You’ll stroll around the serpentine streets with their charming homes and 18th-century mansions. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 8 Nuremberg
Welcome to historic Nuremberg. Although 90% of this city’s Old Town suffered extensive damage from bombings by the allies during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. This morning, you’ll choose either a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s massive medieval fortifications, extravagant gothic churches, and the majestic Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or you’ll join a more specialized “NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS” tour. During your free time, be sure to try some tasty Lebkuchen and make a wish at the beautiful fountain in the Hauptmarkt (main square). Legend says your wish will come true if you turn its gold ring three times. Before a wonderful dinner, we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 9 Regensburg
Charming Regensburg, dates back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, and is one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities. The highlights of your exciting GUIDED WALK this morning include the impressive Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and imposing Porta Pretoria, gates to a Roman fort built in 179 AD. In the tumultuous Middle Ages, many mansions were built with high towers to emphasize the prestige of their owners – many remain standing today. You’ll enjoy a beer and a nice included SNACK at the popular Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 10 Passau, Germany
Lined with beautiful patrician houses, Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets and is uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers meet. A masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture, St. Stephen’s Cathedral houses one of the world’s largest church organs boasting 17,774 pipes. Take the included GUIDED WALK through this charming town, and explore much more about the “City of Three Rivers.” Or, you might like to join a full-day optional excursion to Salzburg to see some of The Sound of Music sights or to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ceský Krumlov in the Czech Republic. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 11 Dürnstein–Vienna
This morning, you’ll cruise through the sensational Wachau Valley before arriving in beautiful Dürnstein. The magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade is the famous landmark of this small town. A Local Guide will take you on a WALKING TOUR and tell you the tale of England’s King Richard the Lionheart, who was imprisoned in the castle whose ruins still stand high above the town. This evening, you’ll arrive in fabulous Vienna, where an optional concert is available to you tonight. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 12 Vienna
Vienna, once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s amazing capital on the legendary Danube is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the extravagant Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its world-famous Vienna Boys’ Choir and stunning Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and the elegance of the awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral – plus, countless other must-see sights on your included GUIDED TOUR. Shop in the bustling pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the popular classic Viennese coffeehouses – considered historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 13 Bratislava, Slovakia
This morning you can relax, kick back, and take it easy. Either stay onboard your cruise ship and enjoy a leisurely cruise to charming Bratislava or spend more time in fascinating Vienna on your own, joining a motor coach transfer to Bratislava in the early afternoon. The capital city of Slovakia, Bratislava is located at the lush green foothills of the massive Carpathian Mountains. You’ll arrive here in mid-afternoon and join your Local Guide for a tour of the city, including a GUIDED WALK of its charming cobblestoned Old Town with its impressive Town Hall, one of the oldest stone buildings in the city. Also visit elegant gothic ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL, coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary from the 16th to 19th centuries. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 14 Budapest, Hungary
Budapest, spanning the banks of the Danube, is one of Eastern Europe’s most energetic cities. Whether you’re seeing the must-see sights, shopping for popular handcrafted embroidery or fine Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffeehouse culture over a rich cream cake in the famous Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively alluring. On an INCLUDED TOUR with your Local Guide, see historic Heroes Square as well as the majestic hilltop castle complex with its incredible Fishermen’s Bastion and elegant 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to note the city’s eight bridges – many famous sights, in and of themselves – which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. You may even want to walk across historic Chain Bridge built in 1849, and a symbol of Budapest. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 15 Budapest, Hungary
Enjoy a free day to explore more of this fascinating city on your own. Your friendly Cruise Director will have numerous suggestions for other things to see and do. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 16 Mohács. Excursion To Pécs
You’ll enjoy peaceful cruising through southern Hungary before arriving in charming Mohács. From here, an excursion takes you to the beautiful Villány district, where some of Hungary’s best red wines are produced. As you enjoy a WINE TASTING, you’ll learn about which varietals are grown and why the climate and soil conditions are ideal for wine production. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 17 Belgrade, Serbia
Early this morning, you’ll arrive in beautiful Belgrade, one of the oldest cities in Europe and capital of Serbia. A LOCAL GUIDE will show you its most important sights, including extravagant St. Sava, the world’s largest orthodox church. Also visit the city’s principal landmark, massive KALEMEGDAN FORTRESS, which showcases the history of Belgrade. Built in stages between the 1st and 18th centuries, the fortress witnessed many military battles and observed the courage of those brave soldiers trying to defend their beloved city from invading conquerors. In your free time, check out the city’s busy pedestrian area and festive outdoor cafés, visit one of the many impressive art galleries or museums, or browse the local shops. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 18 Excursion to Lepenski Vir–Iron Gates
This morning, your cruise ship will dock at quaint Donji Milanovac, where a short drive takes you to the impressive LEPENSKI VIR EXHIBITION CENTER, which houses area archaeological artifacts and has unique panoramic views of the sensational Danube Gorge. You’ll return to your cruise ship before lunch, then cruise what must surely be the most spectacular scenery of the sensational IRON GATES gorge, a narrow and formerly very dangerous passage dividing Europe’s majestic Alps in the northwest from the massive Carpathians in the southeast and forming a natural border between Serbia and Romania. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 19 Cetate, Romania–Vidin, Bulgaria. Excursion To Belogradchik
You’ll stop in Cetate, an old Danubian grain shipping port, now used as a cultural center. The owner will explain the concept of this fascinating venture before you have a chance to see for yourself and to TASTE some of the locally made products. From there you’ll travel to Vidin, an important Danube port in northwestern Bulgaria. Its medieval FORTRESS, Baba Vidin, is the town’s primary landmark. It served as Vidin’s main defensive installation during the course of the Middle Ages and is the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in the country. It is now a fortress museum and has been restored to its former appearance. View the eclectic group of ROCK FORMATIONS on the western slopes of the Balkan Mountains. Sculpted by natural elements over more than 200 million years into a variety of sizes and shapes, the Belogradchik Rocks are a sight to see! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 20 Rousse–Excursion To Veliko Târnovo & Arbanassi
Situated on three hills surrounding the Yantra River, the city of Rousse was a natural fortress with ancient stone houses clinging to the steep slopes. One of the oldest towns in Bulgaria, the oldest part is Tsarevets Hill, home of the ROYAL FORTRESS, and the Patriarch’s Church. A LOCAL GUIDE, will help you discover this town that played a major role in Bulgaria’s history. Next, travel to Arbanassi, known for its Bulgarian Revival architecture and ETHNOGRAPHICAL MUSEUM, a 400-year-old house preserved as a museum. Visit one of the town’s oldest churches, the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, and see its beautiful collection of frescoes. Return to your ship in Bulgaria’s largest inland port of Rousse. Or you may opt to stay on board and relax or join a GUIDED TOUR of Rousse. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 21 Oltenita, Romania (Disembarkation)–Bucharest
After a wonderful breakfast say goodbye to your friendly crew. Beautiful Bucharest, Romania’s bustling capital, is only a short drive from quaint Oltenita. Its wide, tree-lined boulevards and iconic Arc de Triomphe – built in 1922 to honor the bravery and sacrifice of Romanian soldiers who fought in WWI – have gained it the name, “Paris of the East.” A lot of recent history has taken place in the city. During the INCLUDED TOUR this afternoon, see the main sights including historic Royal Palace Square, the scene of riots in 1989, which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. In your free time, you’ll discover more about this fascinating city even further. You’ll stroll down famous Calea Victoriei, “Victory Avenue,” Bucharest’s most historic and alluring street. Initially built in 1692, today it is lined with busy shops, alluring museums, elegant churches, bustling restaurants, cafés, and fine houses. (Breakfast)
Day 22 Bucharest.
Your fabulous 22-day river cruise vacation ends with a wonderful breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)
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