Day 1Arrive in Budapest, Hungary
Welcome to Budapest, the beautiful “Pearl of the Danube.” This evening, join your Cruise Director for a WELCOME COCKTAIL and brief chat about how you can enjoy the city to the fullest!
Day 2Budapest (Embarkation)–Scenic Cruising Around the Danube Bend–Visegrad
One of Eastern Europe’s most dynamic cities, Hungary’s capital practically begs you to get out and explore! Awaken refreshed and dig in to a hearty breakfast before making the day your own. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- take an enjoyable 2-hour WALKING TOUR with some “Fungarian” instruction of useful local words and phrases;
- join a GUIDED BIKE TOUR along the bike paths and car-free areas for a safe and enjoyable way to see the city’s most fantastic sights, or;
- see the best of Budapest on a CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR featuring Heroes’ Square, Fishermen’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and an inside visit of the OPERA HOUSE.
Afterward, you have free time to shop for Hungarian paprika or handcrafted souvenirs, savor a piece of cream cake in the worldfamous Gerbeaud Café, join an optional tour of Budapest’s limestone cave system or to play nine holes of golf. This afternoon, transfer to the AVALON LUMINARY for embarkation. After a mandatory safety exercise, meet your friendly crew and fellow shipmates at a WELCOME RECEPTION. As your ship pulls away from the dock, be sure to have your camera ready for an unforgettable view of the magnificent Parliament Building. At dinner, your ship’s chef will delight your tastebuds with Hungarian specialties. Later, as scenic panoramas of the Danube Bend drift by, consider toasting your adventure with a cocktail on the Sky Deck. Your ship docks for the night near Visegrád. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Another exciting day is on tap. After breakfast, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- cheer your favorite champion at a MEDIEVAL KNIGHTS TOURNAMENT at Visegrád's Lower Castle, featuring targeting and fighting demonstrations by members of the St. George Knightly Order. During free time here, be sure to explore Palotaház, where stonemasons, smiths, potters, and paper-makers produce their traditional items using age-old techniques, or; ACTIVE DISCOVERY ON THE DANUBE CRUISE WBL 9 DAYS FROM BUDAPEST TO LINZ©
- spend your day in the great outdoors on a GUIDED HIKE through Danube-Ipoly National Park, home to eagles, falcons, bats, terrapins, fire salamanders, and other wildlife.
This afternoon, your ship passes by the mighty Esztergom Basilica, coronation church of Hungary’s monarchs. Relax on board as we sail upstream towards Austria. After a delectable dinner of Viennese specialties, experience the first of 10 locks your ship will pass through on this cruise. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 4Vienna, Austria
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, this “City of Music” inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss—and will inspire you, as well! Waltz ashore and CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- enjoy a BIKE TOUR that takes in the sights along the famed Ringstrasse and areas of Vienna inaccessible to buses and cars;
- slip on your sneakers and join a JOGGING TOUR that shows you the highlights as you run between sites;
- take a unique INSIDERS TOUR that features something different every day. It could be anything, from a visit to a musical instrument maker to a crash course on etiquette and protocol at diplomatic gatherings. You will meet locals, have the chance to prepare some food at a cooking class, and will enjoy other surprises as well, or;
- get a proper introduction to Vienna during a CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR that includes an inside visit of Belvedere Palace to see Klimt’s celebrated Kiss.
Afterward, you have free time to explore on your own. Maybe stroll through the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, take a break for a piece of decadent Sachertorte, or join an optional excursion. Tonight’s onboard dinner pays a delicious tribute to the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
A second full day in Vienna presents even more opportunities to immerse yourself in the magic. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY for an experience most meaningful to you:
- wrap yourself in the peace of the city at sunrise during an EARLY RISER WALKING TOUR that includes breakfast at a Viennese café and an exclusive viewing of the Habsburg family’s private art collections at the Museum of Fine Arts;
- for a more leisurely start to your morning, skip the walking tour and onshore breakfast and simply join us for the MUSEUM VISIT, which includes time in the ITALIAN & DUTCH MASTERS GALLERY, or;
- perfect for military history buffs, begin with the MUSEUM VISIT of the Habsburg collection, then explore the MILITARY MUSEUM, commemorating the heroic past of the Habsburg Empire.
In your free time later, consider joining an optional guided hike through the vineyards outside town, with a wine tasting and dinner at a Heurigen wine tavern. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6Krems–Wachau Valley & Strudengau Scenic Cruising–Grein
Early this morning, arrive in Krems, the eastern gateway to the famed Wachau Valley. After breakfast, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- PADDLE A CANOE on a guided tour down the Danube and along some of its tributaries, for a completely unique perspective of the river and riverbank villages;
- bask in the fresh air and incredible views on an easy guided BIKE TOUR from Krems to Spitz. Enjoy sightseeing in Dürnstein that includes the mesmerizing blue Stiftskirche, and enjoy a break to sample local specialties;
- join an interactive WINE WORLD EXPERIENCE with wine tasting, or;
- get a hands-on LOCAL ENCOUNTER that showcases production of regional fruits, vegetables, wine, or other products, depending on the season. A snack and beverage are included.
And whatever activity you are enjoying, marvel at today’s SCENIC HIGHLIGHT, the picturesque Wachau Valley. Slowly cruise past the stately Benedictine Melk Abbey, and through the stunning Strudengau, popular among climbers and hikers for its enticing geological formations. Arrive in Grein, and visit GREINBURG or CLAM CASTLE, where you will meet the owner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
This morning, a GUIDED WALK through Grein features a visit of its unique historical THEATER, the oldest in Austria still holding regular performances. Back on board, relax, enjoy lunch, and bask in the breathtaking scenery. Disembark in Mauthausen, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Neolithic Age. Here, we let you place your own personal stamp on your day as you CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- take a GUIDED BIKE TOUR to an ancient Roman border defense fort dating back to the 2nd century AD. Visit the museum dedicated to the site, with military weaponry, accounts of daily life, ceiling frescoes, sacred art objects, and more;
- visit the 9th-century ST. FLORIAN MONASTERY, an architectural rival to Melk Abbey. While exploring, you may meet one of the monks (when available) or attend a short music recital, or;
- join a heart-wrenching tour of MAUTHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP, one of World War II’s largest and most brutal Nazi work camps.
This evening in Linz, Austria’s third-largest city, optional theater and music excursions are available—or you can mingle with the locals at a fun pub crawl! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 8Engelhartszell–Schlögen Oxbow Scenic Cruising–Linz
As you slept, your ship arrived in the pretty market town of Engelhartszell near the German border. Step ashore and CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- visit the stunning rococo ENGELSZELL ABBEY to tour its brewery, explore its SENSORY GARDEN—complete with stone labyrinth, herb garden, and vineyard—and attend a TASTING of locally produced cheeses and beer brewed by the Trappist monks, or;
- join a fun GUIDED HIKE along the route that smugglers took during World War II, when a tightly controlled border
existed between Austria and Germany. Back on your ship, an excellent lunch of Bavarian specialties will leave you energized and ready to join an exhilarating HIKE ALONG THE DANUBE. Fresh air and incredible vistas await as you watch the Avalon Luminary pass through the Schlögen Oxbow, a particularly beautiful horseshoe-shaped curve of the river. Re-join your ship in Aschach, and prepare for an exquisite GALA FAREWELL DINNER featuring foods specially paired with just the right area wines or beers. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 9Linz (Disembarkation)
A European Capital of Culture and,Austria’s third-largest city welcomes you with open arms and plenty to see and do. This morning CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- Join a GUIDED CITY WALK or
- A contemporary HISTORY TOUR during which your guide reveals what life was like in the city during WWII and how Linz just managed to escape becoming a divided city like Berlin
- The more active might enjoy a CASUAL HIKE to Mount Pöstlingberg
Then there’s free time for shopping, exploring on your own, or joining an optional activity. How about a cooking class so you can dazzle your friends back home with an authentic Linzer Torte, the world’s oldest known cake? Or what about a farm visit where you’ll learn how to milk a cow, mow grass using a scythe, saw wood, and more? The evening is free for independent activities. (Breakfast)
Day 10Linz–Česky Krumlov, Czech Republic–Prague
Today we leave Austria as we travel north to the charming city of Česky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here time seems to have stood still. GUIDED SIGHTSEEING gives you an overview of this medieval jewel. In the late afternoon, arrive in Prague. This evening you might like to join an optional dinner excursion. (Breakfast)
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. To explore the “Golden City”, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- Participate in an URBAN HIKE characterized by stunning views of the city, steep cliffs and woods – and all this a few minutes form the crowded city center; or
- Join a conventional GUIDED TOUR during which 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; HRADČANY CASTLE GROUNDS; St. Vitus Cathedral; and the Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague.
Later browse the shops for hand-cut crystal or art books. Mix with the locals in Wenceslaus Square, an important meeting point and where people demonstrated against the communist regime; or watch performers on Charles Bridge. And if that is not enough to keep you busy, how about joining one of a variety of optional excursions: a microbrewery tour, focusing specifically on local mini-breweries which produce really unique beers, varying in color, and taste and the overall drinking experience; or participate in a cooking class which introduces you to typical Czech cuisine. Maybe an e-bike tour around the city is more to your liking and tonight we can even offer you the “Dark Shadows of Old Town” tour. (Breakfast)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning! (Breakfast)