From the Black Sea to the North Sea - Westbound River Cruise (WOA)
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River Cruise Description
This fascinating river cruise vacation stretches from the legendary Danube Delta to Holland’s charming capital city of Amsterdam. This 2019 24 day Avalon river cruise from Bucharest to Amsterdam truly promises to be an adventure. You’ll sail past quaint towns and villages, beautiful scenic landscapes, and historic stately buildings along the Blue Danube, Main, and Rhine Rivers. With expertly guided sightseeing onshore and some free time to explore, you’ll make more new discoveries than you ever imagined.
Romania’s bustling capital city, Bucharest, is famous for its wide, tree-lined thoroughfares and many historic treasures. You’ll travel to charming Fetesti and board your luxurious cruise ship and set sail for the beautiful mouth of the iconic Danube River. You’ll marvel as you visit the splendid Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and while your there, enjoy some fascinating guided sightseeing in quaint Constanta and Bulgaria’s ancient capital city of Veliko Târnovo. You’ll have opportunity to tour the impressive Ethnographical Museum and the stunning Church of the Nativity in beautiful Arbanassi. Make sure you remember to take photographs of the fascinating Belogradchik’s diverse group of natural rock formations and the magnificent scenery of the renowned Iron Gates.
Your European river cruise adventure will take you to the captivating capital cities of three vibrant countries: bustling Budapest, Hungary; beautiful Bratislava, Slovakia; and charming Vienna, Austria, where friendly Local Guides will introduce you to all the must-see sites and the outstanding features you’ll have time to explore and discover on your own. During your time in the heart of the sensational Wachau Valley wine region, you’ll have options to go on a fantastic guided stroll of quaint Dürnstein, and later you’ll have time to visit impressive Melk’s world-famous Benedictine Abbey. During you time in Germany, there are exceptional guided sightseeing tours in picturesque places such as: charming Passau, beautiful Regensburg, historic Nuremberg, quaint Bamberg, and bustling Würzburg. You’ll love cruising the beautiful Main Danube Canal, considered a true engineering feat, and you’ll pass through the thrilling Rhine Gorge – considered by many as the most beautiful stretch of the breathtaking Rhine River where fabulous ancient castles stand on towering cliffs more than 400 feet above the water.
Your wonderful European river cruise vacation ends in Holland’s popular, modern capital city of Amsterdam where you get a fabulous perspective of the city as you enjoy an impressive canal cruise along the exquisite Grachten lined with magnificent homes dating back to the city’s renowned “Golden Age.” You’ll love having experienced an amazing adventure through some of the most breathtaking and inspiring destinations on our fascinating Danube, Main, and Rhine River cruise. Book this amazing 2019 23 day Avalon river cruise from Bucharest to Amsterdam today!
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River Cruise Itinerary
Day 1 Arrive in Bucharest, Romania
Welcome to Bucharest! The remainder of the day is free for you to start exploring this fascinating city.
Day 2 Bucharest–Fetesti (Embarkation)
Bucharest seems to never cease being the venue for historic events! Much recent history has taken place in Romania’s capital city. Its wide, tree-lined boulevards and iconic Arc de Triomphe – built in 1922 to honor the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in WWI – since then it has been called, “Paris of the East.” During your INCLUDED TOUR this morning, visit the must-see sights including impressive Royal Palace Square, the scene of riots in 1989, which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. Later, a motorcoach ride takes you to Fetesti, where your river cruise ship is docked and awaiting your arrival. Before dinner, meet your crew at a casual welcome reception. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 3 St. Gheorghe. Danube Delta Excursion
This morning during breakfast, dock in quaint St. Gheorghe, from where the excursion into the beautiful DELTA will begin. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best preserved of Europe’s deltas, this area hosts more than 300 species of birds as well as 45 species of freshwater fish. From its source deep in the Black Forest to pours into the Black Sea, the blue Danube measures 2,845 kilometers in length. The Km markings can be clearly seen on the river banks the length of the river. Depart St. Gheorghe during lunch and enjoy a small CELEBRATION to mark Km “0” – the end of the Danube’s journey. This afternoon, you have a chance to relax and to learn more about the fascinating Delta region during an informative ONBOARD LECTURE. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 4 Cernavoda. Excursion to Constanta
From rural Cernavoda this morning, a full-day excursion will take you to bustling Constanta, the most important commercial center in Romania, located on the banks of the Black Sea. A CERTIFIED LOCAL GUIDE will share the must-see sights of this city including a visit to the NATURAL HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM. Visit a fine WINERY in Murfatlar before rejoining your ship in the late afternoon. Or, you may prefer to relax on board ship in the morning and visit only Constanta in the afternoon. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 5 Rousse, Bulgaria. Excursion to Veliko Târnovo & Arbanassi–Svistov
Dock this morning in lively Rousse, Bulgaria’s largest inland port. A relaxing motorcoach ride away is the ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Târnovo. Sitting on three hills surrounding the beautiful Yantra River, the city was a natural fortress with ancient stone houses clinging to the steep slopes. The oldest part is Tsarevets Hill, home of the impressive ROYAL FORTRESS, and the elegant Patriarch’s Church. With your Local Guide, discover this town that played such an important role in Bulgaria’s history. Then, journey to Arbanassi. Founded in the 15th century, the historic village of Arbanassi is best known for its examples of Bulgarian Revival architecture and its fascinating ETHNOGRAPHICAL MUSEUM, a 400-year-old house preserved as a museum. Visit the historic CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, one of the oldest churches in Arbanassi, and be inspired by its outstanding collection of frescoes. If you do not wish to participate in the full-day excursion, you may choose to remain on board and join an INCLUDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR of Rousse after breakfast. At lunchtime, you’ll sail for Svistov, where excursion participants will rejoin the ship. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6 Cetate
Today, enjoy a leisurely day of sailing. At first, the river separates Romania on the right bank from Bulgaria on the left and is relatively wide. Then, it cuts a path through the lower Carpathian Mountains to the north and the Balkan Mountains to the south, creating a series of four steep gorges known as the dramatic Iron Gates. Until Romania and Yugoslavia jointly constructed a hydroelectric dam across the blue Danube (Djerdap I) between 1964 and 1972, this section of river was very dangerous threatened the shipping trade. A second dam and a power station (Djerdap II) were built in 1984. Before lunch, stop at the city of Cetate and enjoy a TASTING of excellent local wines. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 7 Iron Gates. Excursion to Lepenski Vir, Serbia
The most spectacular scenery must surely be the sensational gorge of the IRON GATES, a narrow and formerly very dangerous passage dividing Europe’s Alps in the northwest from the Carpathians in the southeast. It serves as a natural border between Serbia and Romania. Dock at charming Donji Milanovac from where a short drive takes you to the impressive LEPENSKI VIR EXHIBITION CENTER, which houses archaeological artifacts found in this area and from where you have unique views of the beautiful Danube Gorge. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 8 Belgrade, Serbia
Early today, arrive in bustling Belgrade. One of the oldest cities in Europe, the capital of Serbia is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. A Local Guide will be glad to show you its must-see sights, including extravagant St. Sava, the world’s largest orthodox church. Also visit the city’s principal landmark, the imposing KALEMEGDAN FORTRESS, which showcases the history of Belgrade. Built in stages between the 1st and 18th centuries, the fortress has witnessed many battles and observed the courage of those individuals trying to defend the city from conquerors. The surrounding park is the most beautiful and largest park in Belgrade. During your free time, be sure to check out the city’s bustling pedestrian area and charming outdoor cafés. Perhaps you will visit one of the many exquisite art galleries or museums, relax in the park, or walk along the city streets and browse the local shops. Late tonight, you’ll depart for Vukovar in beautiful Croatia. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 9 Vukovar & Osijek, Croatia
Today, learn more about the complex history of beautiful Croatia and the events that led to the Croatian War of Independence as you explore vibrant Vukovar and Osijek accompanied by your Local Guide. Vukovar, Croatia’s largest river port, is located where the Danube and Vuka Rivers meet. Vukovar was scene to an 87-day siege in 1991, known as The Battle of Vukovar, and is today considered a symbol of Croatian resistance. The siege and other dramatic events in the recent past have shaped both the present and the future of this region. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 10 Würzburg
Today enjoy a leisurely morning of sailing, before reaching Budapest, Hungary’s capital. Spanning the banks of the Danube, Budapest is one of Eastern Europe’s bustling cities. Whether you’re seeing the sights, shopping for handcrafted embroidery or Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffee house culture over a rich cream cake in the world-renowned Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique atmosphere 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 fascinating Fishermen’s Bastion – with spectacular views of the city – and elegant 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of 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 considered a symbol of Budapest. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 11 Budapest
You have more free time this morning to explore Budapest further. Perhaps you’d enjoy a visit to elegant St. Stephen’s Basilica for marvelous views of the city from its popular viewing platform. This afternoon, you will set sail for bustling Bratislava. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 12 Bratislava, Slovakia–Vienna, Austria
During a wonderful breakfast this morning, your cruise ship will dock in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, situated at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Join your Local Guide for an outstanding tour of the city, including a GUIDED WALK of its fascinating Old Town, where winding cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways twist and turn to reveal the historic Town Hall, one of the oldest stone buildings in the city. Also visit the impressive gothic ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL, coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary from the 16th to 19th centuries. Then, a relaxing motorcoach journey stops for a visit of fascinating SCHLOSSHOF PALACE, en route to Vienna, where you will rejoin your ship. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 13 Vienna
Vienna, once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital city on the blue Danube is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the impressive Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its world-famous Vienna Boy’s Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral – plus, countless other awesome sights you’ll see on your GUIDED TOUR. Shop in the charming pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic Viennese coffee houses, historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 14 Dürnstein–Grein
Early this morning, arrive in beautiful Dürnstein. Standing on the banks of the Danube, the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade is without a doubt the landmark of this small village, which lies right in the heart of the popular Wachau wine region. A Certified Local Guide will take you on a WALKING TOUR, and tell you the story of England’s King Richard the Lionheart, who was imprisoned in the castle whose ruins still stand high above the town. Then relax on board ship as your cruise takes you through the colorful and charming Wachau Valley before lunch; in the late afternoon, you’ll arrive in the stunning country resort of Grein, nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its imposing castle. Join a local expert for a GUIDED WALK and take pictures of the ancient turreted houses on the city’s main square. Its castle is the oldest residential castle in Austria, and its THEATER – built in 1791 – is Austria’s oldest theater. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 15 Linz
After a wonderful breakfast this morning your Local Guide will introduce you to Linz, Austria’s third-largest city and an important river port during an included WALKING TOUR. See the bustling 13th-century Hauptplatz, Austria’s largest medieval square, and the impressive Trinity Column, built in 1723 as thanks for the city escaping the ravages of the plague, war, and fire. You might stroll around the old castle grounds and take in the beautiful views of the river, or visit the outstanding neo-gothic New Cathedral, the largest church in Austria with capacity to seat 20,000 visitors. Or, you might like to join one of several optional excursions available today. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 16 Regensburg, Germany
Regensburg dates back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, and represents one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, historic Regensburg has at least 1,300 listed buildings of “historic interest.” Architectural highlights of your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR this afternoon include the historic Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and imposing Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Stroll through the fascinating city’s lanes and alleys to discover the many elegant mansions with high towers. Wealthy families built these towers to emphasize their status and wealth during the Middle Ages, and many still remain today. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Enjoy a beer and a SNACK at the popular Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. Here – where the locals congregate – experience the vibrant atmosphere and take in the memorable views along the river. Before dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s most FAMOUS BEERS! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 17 Nuremberg
Nuremberg is steeped in history. This afternoon is dedicated to that fascinating city. Although 90% of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. You may choose from a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this ancient thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, marvelous gothic churches, and the elegant Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialized “NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS” tour. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 18 Bamberg
This morning, you’ll arrive in medieval Bamberg, former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your GUIDED WALKING TOUR takes in its historic center, including the fantastic 13th-century Romanesque cathedral and the fascinating Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) – built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River when the Catholic bishop refused to give the townspeople land for a town hall! Stroll the town’s serpentine streets with their charming houses and stately 18th-century mansions. This afternoon, cruise along the beautiful Main River to Würzburg. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 19 Würzburg
Surrounded by lush green hillside grape vineyards, Würzburg, known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” makes an immediate impression on visitors with its imposing Fortress Marienberg perched high above town and the ancient 15th-century Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge). On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the outstanding baroque BISHOP’S RESIDENZ, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. This afternoon you are free to explore more of Würzburg on your own, or perhaps join an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 20 Main River Village Experience
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 imposing towered gates. With elegant half-timbered houses, narrow streets and medieval town centers, these gorgeous Bavarian villages are a photographer’s dream come true. Join your Local Guide to experience one of these charming towns on a GUIDED WALK. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 21 Rüdesheim–Rhine Gorge
Welcome to Rüdesheim, the ultimate Rhine Valley wine town. Visit the intriguing SIEGFRIED’S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM, where you’ll see and hear a vast collection of self-playing calliopes and music boxes from the 18th to the early 20th centuries; and enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT. Then, sail through the sensational RHINE GORGE, where ancient castles stand sentry on lofty cliffs rising as much as 400 feet above the river. Cruise past the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where echoes of enchanted siren song lured unsuspecting sailors to their doom. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 22 Cologne, Germany
In the early morning hours, you’ll cruise into fascinating Cologne. One of Germany’s largest cities and capital of the Rhineland, Cologne straddles both sides of the Rhine River, and is known for its towering, twin-steepled gothic cathedral. Choose between a GUIDED CITY WALK or a “JEWISH HERITAGE” walking tour. The Old Town abounds with bustling cafés, charming shops, and festive taverns. Be sure to try a Kölsch pale lager, locally brewed in Cologne for more than a hundred years! At lunchtime, you will rejoin your ship and head for beautiful Holland. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 23 Amsterdam, Holland
Welcome to Holland and the capital city of Amsterdam! You arrive this morning in Holland’s most sophisticated, and modern metropolis with a rich and fascinating history. This charming 700-year-old city with its ornate and classic architecture, exquisite cafés and restaurants provide an unmistakable ambiance. There is no better way to see Amsterdam than by CANAL BOAT, cruising through the elegant grachten lined with stately homes dating back to Amsterdam’s “Golden Age.” There’s more free time this afternoon to enjoy the city. Your Cruise Director will have numerous suggestions for things to do. If you are fit and feeling energetic, perhaps join a biking optional excursion (weather permitting). (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 24 Amsterdam (Disembarkation)
While your wonderful river cruise vacation ends with a wonderful breakfast this morning, take note of the amazing memories you will carry with you as you return home, not to mention the many colorful photographs you took during your cruise that will be pleasant reminders of your fabulous vacation. (Breakfast)
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