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Cruise Information

What entices you most about a river cruise through Central Europe? Does visiting historical sites pique your interest? How about architecture preserved from the 14th century or cities virtually untouched since Roman times? Maybe it’s walking down narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses or enjoying Germany’s famous beers? From Prague to vibrant Budapest, this Danube river cruise vacation takes you to four countries. Sail through a winter wonderland and revel in the Advent season as each town is festively lit and decorated, and Christmas markets selling traditional wares, abound.
 

Enjoy three nights in Prague, one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Stand in front of Old Town’s medieval Astronomical Clock, an intricate art piece and visualization of time unlike anything else in the world and don’t miss the beautifully decorated tree! This is your first chance to visit a Christmas market, eat a sausage at one of the stalls, and get some inner warmth with a cup of svareno vino. Travel to Nuremberg, Germany, to board your ship, and visit this thousand-year-old city with a Local Guide. The Christmas market is one of Europe’s oldest—be sure to try the traditional gingerbread for which the city is famous. Next, reach Regensburg—the only German city not bombed during WWII. Here, you’ll taste some of Germany’s famous beers and sausages. Next stop is Passau, known for its narrow winding streets lined with patrician houses, and the magnificent Italian baroque St. Stephens Cathedral which forms a perfect backdrop for the delightful Christkindlmarkt. In Melk, visit Austria’s majestic Benedictine Abbey, and enjoy a traditional Austrian cookie tasting as you cruise through the wintry Wachau Valley to romantic Vienna. Here, where Christmas markets are scattered around the city, you may opt for a culinary walk through the markets to taste some of the local traditional specialties.
 

Your European river cruise vacation ends in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, with guided sightseeing and free time to explore one more Christmas market and buy last-minute gifts.
 

Pricing starts at $3,228 per person based on double occupancy. Air and recommended travel insurance are additional. Passports are required. 
 

Tour prices are land only, land tour taxes are $168 per person. All tour specials are subject to availability and rates are subject to change. Travel insurance is highly recommended. Not responsible for publishing/printing errors. Additional surcharges, and luggage fees may apply.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Prague, Czech Republic 
Welcome to Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. This fascinating city straddles the Vltava River with domes, cupolas, spires, and pinnacles highlighting its skyline. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring.
 

Day 2: Prague
Prague is a 1,200-year-old city preserved in time, and, unlike other Central European capitals, it was not bombed during the 20th-century wars. A local guide shows you its best-known treasures, such as the Old Town’s Astronomical Clock, built in 1410 and once the envy of all of Europe; HradCany Castle Grounds; St. Vitus Cathedral; and the Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague. Browse the shops for hand-cut crystal or art books and stroll through the Christmas markets. Rows of brightly decorated wooden huts sell Christmas tree ornaments, wooden toys, and Czech handicrafts. Get a little inner warmth with a cup of svarene vino (hot mulled wine) and a traditional hot sausage from one of the stalls. The beautifully decorated tree in the Old Town is an impressive sight.
Meals: Breakfast
 

Day 3: Prague
Enjoy a free day to explore at your own pace and visit the Christmas markets. Perhaps visit the Communist Museum, sample local plum dumplings and Pilsner, or stroll along the Vltava River. Your Cruise Director will have suggestions for things to do. 
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
 

Day 4: Prague – Nuremberg, Germany (Embarkation)
After lunch, drive to Nuremberg, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew for a welcome reception. 
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
 

Day 5: Nuremberg
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. This morning, choose a guided sightseeing tours and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, extraordinary gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialized “Nuremberg Rally Grounds” tour. The Old Town is illuminated with festive lights, and the Christmas market is one of the biggest in Germany, featuring 200 stalls selling traditional wares and foods. After your free time at the Christmas market, a shuttle bus service will be at your disposal to take you back to the ship. 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 6: Regensburg
This morning, during a relaxing morning sailing, enjoy an onboard lecture about Christmas traditions. After lunch, arrive in Regensburg. Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, Regensburg has at least 1,300 listed buildings of “historic interest.” Architectural highlights of your guided walk include the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the city’s lanes and alleys to discover the many 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. Grab a beer and enjoy an included snack at the Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. During free time, explore on your own or visit the Regensburg Christmas markets, including the ones hosted by Thurn and Taxis Palace The tempting aromas of mulled wine, sweet roasted almonds, sausages, and gingerbread create an unforgettable atmosphere. Before dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s famous beers!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 7: Passau
Uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge, Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. The Christkindlmarkt, Passau’s charming Christmas market, is set against the stunning backdrop of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture. Take in the highlights of the “City of Three Rivers” on an included guided walk. Afterward, set sail for Linz, where you arrive in the evening. Alternatively, you might like to join a full-day optional excursion to Salzburg to see some of the sites from “The Sound of Music,” find out how mice caused the composition of the famous "Silent Night" Christmas carol, and learn how the Austrians celebrate Christmas.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 8: Melk, Austria – Vienna 
This morning, enjoy an included guided visit of Melk’s magnificent 11th-century Benedictine Abbey, one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The abbey houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. You’ll be captivated by the splendor of the church with its frescoed ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 210-foot-high cupola. The view from the terrace over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! Then, cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy a special onboard Austrian cookie tasting. Pass the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade, the landmark of Dürnstein before arriving in Vienna this evening. Known as the “City of Music,” Vienna inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available tonight.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 9: Vienna
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital on the blue Danube is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its Vienna Boys’ Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral—plus, countless other sights shown to you by your LOCAL GUIDE during your included city tour. Alternatively, taste all the best flavors that Austria has to offer during Christmas time during our culinary walking tour. Then time to explore on your own... delight in the shops of the 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! In the late afternoon, leave Vienna for Budapest. 
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 10: Budapest, Hungary
Spanning the banks of the Danube, Budapest is one of Eastern Europe’s liveliest 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 renowned Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively palatable. On your guided sightseeing tour, see Heroes’ Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the city’s eight bridges-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 Chain Bridge, built in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest. Perhaps, visit St. Stephen’s Basilica; shop at the Great Market Hall and purchase paprika at one of its 180 vendor stalls; wander around the Royal Palace grounds; or stroll along Váci utca, the main shopping street. Don’t miss the unique Christmas markets that Budapest hosts every year during the Festive season.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
 

Day 11: Budapest (Disembarkation)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.
Meals: Breakfast

Ship Information

Ship: Illumination

Part of Avalon's cutting-edge fleet of Suite Ships®, the Avalon Illumination came onto the river cruising scene with a bang in 2014. This gorgeous ship features two full decks of Panorama SuitesSM with Wall-to-Wall Panoramic Windows that transform the living space into a unique Open-Air BalconySM. With 200 square feet, Panorama SuitesSM are more than 30% larger than the industry standard, affording you the incomparable opportunity to wake each morning facing the splendid passing scenery. Onboard amenities include an alternative light dining option in the Panorama Bistro, a Fitness Center, complimentary Wi-Fi access, and a spacious Sky Deck with premium lounge chairs, whirlpool, and light al fresco lunches at the Sky Bistro on the Sky Deck. The ship has 16 staterooms and 67 junior suites available on board.